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The full-size luxury flagship that could have been.

Lincoln Continental Aston V-12 Lincoln Continental Aston V-12

This is Concept We Forgot, Motor1’s deep dive into weird and wonderful concept cars you might not remember.

Name: Lincoln Continental
Debut: 2002 Los Angeles Auto Show
Engine: 6.0-Liter V-12
Drive Type: Rear-Wheel Drive

The automotive world was very different in 2002. And by different, we mean bigger. SUVs and trucks were getting larger, and big American sedans were still a thing. So when the 2002 Lincoln Continental concept took the stage at the LA Auto Show packing a V-12 engine, a production version was entirely plausible. With the benefit of hindsight, we know a V-12 flagship never emerged and the Continental nameplate—having had a short revival in 2017—is now dead.

A New Look For Lincoln’s Lineup

Lincoln heralded the Continental Concept as a showcase of the brand’s future design language. That future was a rather chiseled one, as sharp body lines with a tall beltline defined the exterior. A set of 22-inch wheels—positively massive rollers for the time—dominated the sedan’s largely clean profile. Flush door handles contributed to that look, and yes, the concept had center-opening doors in a nod to classic Continentals from the 1960s. Inside was an interior fitted with display screens and OLED lighting, technology that is commonplace in today’s market.

Not common was the 6.0-liter V-12 engine under the hood. This was a fully functional concept, borrowing a 12-pot from Aston Martin (which was under Ford’s umbrella back then) that made 414 horsepower. According to Ford’s original Continental concept press release, it powered the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission and had six-piston front brakes with 16-inch rotors. It was a flagship sedan designed not just for luxury, but performance as well.

The Continental concept helped Lincoln launch updated versions of the Town Car and Navigator for the 2003 model year, along with the new Explorer-based Aviator. While none of those vehicles carried design cues established by the concept, the Ford Fusion-based Zephyr did deliver on some of those promises. A next-generation Town Car never materialized, and by the end of the 2010s, Lincoln designs were trending away from sharper lines to more organic shapes.

Had the SUV wave not rushed in with such force, a production version may have come to life. Instead, Lincoln retired the ninth-generation Continental in 2002, leaving the Zephyr as its successor. The storied nameplate returned for the 2017 model year with styling vaguely similar to the concept, albeit rounded off a tad. But it was canceled just three years later.

Where Is It Now?

Concept cars usually end up in two places—automaker heritage collections or the crusher. But on rare occasions, they go to auction, and that’s what happened with this Continental. It sold for $56,100 through RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction in 2010, then went back to auction in 2014 where the selling price was just $27,500. The car is currently on display at the Klairmont Kollections Automotive Museum in Chicago, Illinois.

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