The Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible is a moment frozen in time – the American Century, immortalized in metal and chrome. It is a tangible artifact of modern human history that has become an emblem of style, and a political symbol representing the evolution of social governance.
Extraordinarily, this fine example from 1963 still sports an authentic “Kennedy-Johnson” bumper sticker from the 1960 presidential campaign, and made frequent trips to the iconic “Camelot” White House. The car’s very image symbolizes elegance in leadership, though it was driven through streets marked by the violent chaos of the modern world. At first a standout of American industrial design, it was then immortalised as a part of American history with the assassination of JFK in Texas – while the President rode in a modified Continental. Even just the silhouette of this car is immediately recognizable. Through ten generations over 55 years, the Continental is at once a symbol of the past and of an ever optimistic future.
The Continental brand debuted in 1939 at the height of the Art Deco era just before the world would once again fall into war. The original concept came from Edsel Ford, who would inherit the Ford Motor Company from his father Henry Ford, the revolutionary pioneer of automobile mass-production. Often at odds with his father, Edsel wanted to lead the company into a more daring and modern direction to stay competitive with other luxury automakers like Cadillac and Packard. He envisioned a model in a more European style that would rekindle the success that Lincoln had seen previously with the Lincoln Victoria coupe and convertible. A nod to its European-inspired design, the car was named Continental. By the start of the war, the Continental was established not only as a symbol of American style, but of American power.
With revolutionary technology and the elegantly understated design, the early fourth generation Continentals (1961~1964) were exceedingly modern. Fashioned by seasoned designer Elwood Engel, the car was one of the few automobiles on the global market with both four doors and a convertible top, and the only series production 4-door convertible with rear “suicide” coach doors. The top and trunk mechanism is to this day a marvel of engineering sophistication. Opening and closing the top takes less than a minute. At the press of a button, the rear-hinged trunk opens hydraulically, the soft top folding back into the luggage bay via a symphony of ten electrical switches.
The car housed a high-compression 430ci OHV V8 that put out an astounding 345 horsepower. In practice, large convertibles have relatively flexible bodies, but the 4th generation Continental was designed with a reinforced steel monocoque chassis to ensure structural rigidity and integrity. The car was as stylish as it was dependable and came with a full two-year/ 24,000 mile warranty. Engel’s design revived the Continental series and would go on to become one of the most influential designs of all time.
The 1963 Continental used in the 3D renders of our Blackhawk Collection NFT was purchased in Washington DC by Paul Burgess Fay Jr., and the car remained in the Fay family for more than fifty years. Paul B. Fay was a very close friend and confidant of President John F. Kennedy, and served as Secretary of the Navy during JFK’s brief time in office. Both US Navy men, the two met at the PT boat training center in Melville, Rhode Island. During the war, Fay and Kennedy were even stationed at the same naval base, and Fay would be honored there with a Bronze Star Medal for his outstanding heroic service as first lieutenant on PT Boat 167.
After the war, Fay and Kennedy remained friends, and Fay campaigned for Kennedy in his elections for the U.S. House and Senate, and later during his 1960 run for President. Fay even served as an usher at the president’s wedding.The car was often spotted on the White House lawn alongside the President. After the tragic assaination of JFK in 1963, Fay retired from government service soon after and moved back to San Francisco to be close to family. After Fay passed away in late 2009, the car remained tucked away in the garage for several years until the family decided to restore it and put it on the market.
This exquisite 1963 Continental remains perfectly preserved just as it was in the 60s. The car remains painted in its original colors: a metallic green body, red leather interior, and white convertible top – a gorgeous design, worthy of the most styled out White House in modern memory, and of the blend of American mentality and European aesthetics.