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20 of the Greatest Hits and Most Memorable Classic Cars of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury

Vukasin HerbezApril 3, 2019

There is much written about Ford’s best classic muscle cars, but this list will cover a different topic. It is a compilation of the greatest hits of the Ford Motor Company as a parent company. It included Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Continental, and Edsel, who created some of the finest automobiles of the 20th century.

Once the biggest car company in the world, Ford has sold cars on almost all the continents, helping to shape the car industry as you know it today. So, keep reading to learn lots more about the 20 best classic Fords, Lincolns, and Mercurys. Find out why these cars have endured the test of time to become icons of the car world.

  1. Ford Model T

The Model T was the first truly mass-produced automobile with Ford building over 15 million up to 1927. This was the car that motorized the world. In fact, it laid the foundation of the modern car industry with assembly plants in foreign countries and many other continents.

However, when Ford presented the Model T in 1908, the world was still using horse-drawn carriages. But by the time Ford discontinued it in 1927, the automobile age had successfully started. During its 19 years of production, the Model T changed the world.

  1. Ford V8

Even though the ‘32 Ford was just a regular, mass-produced and affordable everyday car, it changed history forever. This Ford became one of the most influential American machines due to a simple engine option, the Flathead V8. The 1932 Ford came with one of the best engines of the 20th century. And that was Ford’s effective 3.6-liter V8 engine with just 65 HP at the beginning of production.

Even though other carmakers offered V8 engines, Ford’s design proved to be the toughest. Soon, it became the definitive engine for anybody looking for power in an affordable package. Hot rodders across America found the Flathead V8 had serious tuning potential. Those ‘32 Fords became the favorite base for all kinds of modifications.

  1. Lincoln Zephyr V12

In the mid-30s, Ford wanted to catch up with Chrysler as America’s most advanced car manufacturer. That is why they decided to invest in a new line of upscale models for Lincoln with a V12 engine. They named it the Zephyr, and it was a modern, aerodynamically efficient and fast car that attracted many buyers.

They introduced it in 1936 and sold it until 1942. The Zephyr wasn’t the top of the line Lincoln since it was smaller than the K-Series models. But it featured extremely advanced Art Deco styling, a modern interior and a smaller V12 engine that delivered 110 HP.

  1. Ford Deluxe Station Wagon Woodie

When you think of a classic American station wagon, you probably imagine a classic Ford Woody with surfboards on top and signature wood panels on the side. And the 1937 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon equipped with the famous Flathead V8 engine is exactly that. Ford started the Woody revolution with cool-looking wooden bodies. And soon all the other Detroit-based brands followed their lead.

Those models were the first proper station wagons Ford aimed at regular buyers. They produced them on a standard chassis with standard drivetrains. Those models were a bit more expensive than sedans or convertibles. But they offered more space and usability, which made them popular with surfers and hot rodders in the ‘60s.

  1. Lincoln Continental V12

In 1939, Lincoln introduced their Continental model. And that is still the nameplate people most commonly associate with this brand. The company wanted a car with a European or continental appearance and style. So, they took a Zephyr chassis and a V12 engine and put it in a gorgeous coupe or convertible body. The Continental even featured a spare wheel on the trunk, later becoming a trademark detail on future Continental cars.

This first-generation Continental proved to be popular since the V12 engine had loads of power. Also, the car looked like a million dollars as it cruised the streets. Lincoln offered the car until 1948. Interestingly, it was the last V12 a major U.S. manufacturer ever produced.

  1. Ford F-Series Truck

Among dozens of trucks in the country, there is one nameplate that has been the definitive symbol of quality, durability and consistency. An American tradition for over 80 years is the Ford F-Series truck. Produced in 13 generations with over 35 million examples and countless different variants, the F-Series is the definitive U.S. pickup.

Ford presented the F-Series truck, as you may know them today, in 1948 as the F-100. Although Ford offered various trucks before, the F-Series pickups were the starting point for the most successful story in the history of pickup trucks in America.

  1. 1949 Ford Sedan

From today’s perspective, the 1949 Ford Sedan a forgotten model since they introduced it 70 years ago. But back in the day, it was an immensely important and influential model, and not only for Ford, but for the whole industry. The 1949 Ford was the first fully modern car they produced after World War II featuring the industry’s first advanced styling.

During the war, Ford, like all the other American car manufacturers, suspended passenger car production in favor of military production. And that meant that after the war was over, none of the manufacturers had fresh car designs ready for production. So, Ford started designing and engineering the 1949 model just before the war ended, enabling them to introduce a fully modern and fresh car to eager post-war buyers.

This was also the first American car to ditch those bulged fenders with headlights in favor of a more slab side design. And that gave it the nickname, “Shoebox Ford” due to the flat sides. Under the hood, there was a choice between a six-cylinder engine and the venerable Flathead V8 that delivered 100 HP. Needless to say, the 1949 Ford was a massive success that helped the company enter the new era with steady sales and a big market share.

  1. Lincoln Capri

In 1952, Lincoln presented the Capri, their new two-door model. It featured the new 317 V8 that pumped out 160 HP and the new ball-joint suspension. The combination of power and improved handling proved to be great for road races. In fact, the Capri was dominant on the gruesome Mexican Carrera Panamericana race in the early ‘50s.

The Capri’s power steadily grew and reached 225 HP in 1955, earning it the nickname, “Hot Rod Lincoln.” All those V8-equipped models delivered a decent performance and had success in the road races abroad.

  1. Ford Thunderbird

Ford envisioned the Thunderbird to be a competitor to the Chevrolet Corvette in the newly founded sports car market. However, it turned out to be something totally different, so the Thunderbird singlehandedly created a personal luxury market. Ford unveiled the Thunderbird in 1955.

It was a handsome two-seater coupe/convertible model with a higher price tag, powerful V8 engines, and upscale features. Almost immediately, it became popular, so it easily outsold the Corvette. In just a few years, the “T-Bird was one of Ford’s most prominent models as well as the bestselling vehicle in its class.

  1. Continental Mark II

In the mid-50s, Ford decided to establish a separate brand they called the Continental Division. Their goal was to produce new luxury cars positioned above the Lincoln brand. The success of the original Thunderbird showed the way, so Ford decided to build a bigger, more advanced, much more expensive and prestigious luxury coupe. And the first and only car they presented was the famed Continental Mark II, which they introduced in 1955.

Ford’s idea was to present a superb luxury coupe with the finest technology and comfort, and market it as a separate brand. Although the idea sounded well, the market response wasn’t as great. So just five years later, Ford closed down the Continental Division due to the disappointing sales of the Mark II coupe. Sadly, that happened despite it being one of the finest American cars they ever made as well as the ultimate Lincoln.

  1. Ford Falcon

Introduced in 1960, the Falcon was Ford’s first compact model an instant bestseller. With a modern looking body and a nice selection of economical six-cylinder engines, the Falcon was an affordable yet high-quality product that appealed to many customers.

Soon, Ford introduced more powerful versions, V8 engines and a convertible body style that made the Falcon even more popular and interesting. Although not the first American compact car, the Falcon was one of the most popular models that made Ford so well-established in the economy car market.

  1. Lincoln Continental

Back in the late ‘50s, Ford`s luxury division Lincoln was way behind Cadillac, and not only in sales numbers, but also in popularity and style. Despite building big luxurious cruisers with powerful engines, those late ‘50s Lincolns just weren’t good enough or as nice looking as those comparable Cadillacs. So, when Ford decided that had to change, the 1961 Lincoln Continental was born.

When Lincoln revealed the new model, the automotive public was stunned. The beautiful elegance of the styling, conservative use of chrome, straight lines and futuristic design transformed the four-door luxury model into a work of modern art. All of a sudden, sales doubled and the new Continental became the official car of the White House because of its stately appearance and restrained elegance.

The best exterior feature was the suicide doors, with the rear doors opening towards the traffic. Of course, this wasn’t the best solution, but it only added to the charm of the Continental. Interestingly, Lincoln offered a cool-looking four-door convertible model that proved to be popular and quite unique on the market.

  1. Ford Mustang

The love affair between car enthusiasts and the Ford Mustang has lasted for over 50 years. Ever since they presented the first Mustang in April 1964, people across the world haven’t been able to get enough of Detroit’s favorite pony car. Over the years, Ford has produced over 10 million Mustangs, making it one of the most successful nameplates, and not only in the company’s history, but in the entire car industry.

So, what is the secret of the Mustang’s appeal? Ford mixed a good amount of performance with a V8 engine rumble and added a touch of luxury. They gave it good looks and put it in an affordable package with a long list of options. Also, they created an image and legend that was an integral part of the Mustang’s appeal since day one.

The first Mustang was so successful, it started a new class of cars they called pony cars, entering the history books as one of the best first-year sales of all times. Over the years, the Mustang became the automotive symbol of America and one of its finest, most respected Ford products worldwide.

  1. Mercury Breezeway

During the ‘60s, Mercury offered lots of class and style for reasonable prices. And, it was a formidable opponent to Oldsmobile, Buick, and Chrysler. Learning from the Continental, Mercury decided to offer something new to their customers hoping to raise sales numbers.

So, in 1963, they introduced the innovative and interesting Breezeway option on their top model. This was a reverse C pillar design that created a concave profile of the car. Also, it had a tilted rear glass that was retractable.

  1. Ford GT40

The story of the Ford GT40 is a saga of enormous effort, incredible support and several talented people in one place in one moment in time to create history. After a failed attempt to buy Ferrari in the early ‘60s, Ford was angry at Enzo for his childish behavior. So, they decided to beat him on the race track to prove who the real boss was. But at the moment, Ford didn’t have a racing program or even someone to manage it.

Ford’s answer was to look for outsourcers who could make things happen. They found the basis for the Ferrari-beating race car in England in the form of the Lola Mk6. Soon, they re-engineered and redesigned the car. Also, they gave it a new racing 289 V8 engine, turning it into the first Ford GT40 in 1964. The car didn’t look promising at the beginning, but Ford’s meticulous work and investment in it transformed the GT40 into a world-conquering machine in several months.

Today, the GT40`s recognizable design is as American as apple pie. But to be honest, they designed the car in England and it came in America already fully shaped. But to make the long story short, Ferrari was humiliated exactly four times between 1966 and 1969 when the GT40 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race four times in a row.

It was an amazing success and an incredible achievement by a company that never appeared on the Le Mans before the mid-60s. And that made the GT40 an outright legend and a symbol of American race cars that dominated the European racing scene.

  1. Ford Bronco

Everything started in the mid-60s when Ford realized the market for compact and off-road capable SUVs was emerging. Ford invested a lot of effort and money into constructing the Bronco. They gave it its own platform, suspension, and drivetrain components. And then they equipped it with straight six and V8 engines to give it plenty of power and a decent performance.

The Bronco was compact and therefore, maneuverable on and off the road, making it quite capable when the asphalt ends, and trails begin. The small dimensions meant the interior was cramped. But, the buyers loved it nonetheless, so the sales numbers went through the roof. And the second and third generations were even more successful. However, later models were also bigger, more comfortable vehicles with a longer list of options and better equipment.

Unfortunately, despite the solid sales, Ford decided to retire the Bronco in 1996 to concentrate on its pickup truck lineup, as well as new SUV models. However, the fans of the Bronco were always vocal in their requests to see the legendary off-roader again. So finally, last year, Ford announced the Bronco will return by 2020 in a new form, but with the same old spirit and appeal.

  1. Mercury Cougar

Ford built the Cougar on the Mustang platform but stretched a couple of inches to add comfort and achieve a better ride quality. Also, the Mercury Cougar was available with V8 engines only, while they saved the small six-cylinder units for entry-level Mustangs. The body panels were all totally unique as well as the front fascia with hidden headlights. In the interior, Mercury offered a wood trimmed dash, leather seats and all kinds of creature comforts.

Some could say that the Cougar was just a luxury Mustang. But in reality, it was an independent model and a successful car in its own right. Until 1969, they didn’t offer convertibles, just coupes. The Cougar was a sales success that helped Mercury enter the muscle car market.

  1. Lincoln Mark III

The Lincoln division of the Ford Motor Company was enjoying considerable success during the ‘60s. And that was mostly thanks to the fantastic Continental sedan, which they introduced in 1961. In fact, it was a landmark model in many aspects. With healthy sales numbers, Lincoln turned to the personal luxury market with the innovative and advanced 1969 Mark III coupe.

And it proved to be one of the best personal luxury cars the Ford Motor Company ever made. Ford presented it in late 1968, building the Mark III on a Thunderbird chassis. Also, they used the new and powerful 460 V8 engine. Since the new model used mostly existing mechanics, Lincoln concentrated on the design and equipment where the Mark III excelled.

The front had a big chrome grille, which was reminiscent of those Rolls-Royce models. It had hideaway headlights and a trunk with a spare wheel hump with the Continental lettering. All that, along with the vinyl top made the Mark III’s design unique and special.

Buyers had a long list of optional extras to choose from and this was the first U.S. car with radial tires as standard. In 1972, they replaced the Mark III with the Mark IV and it was one of the finest personal luxury automobiles of the period.

  1. Ford Maverick

The early ‘70s pushed compact cars into the spotlight, so many American brands presented scaled down models. One of the best and most influential was the Ford Maverick. Ford built it on the Pinto platform. The Maverick boasted cool styling, lots of options and dependable mechanics, all of which translated to fantastic sales success and spawned many competitors.

  1. Ford LTD

Although it started in the ‘60s, the early ‘70s marked the rise of Ford’s LTD model. The LTD was the typical formal sedan of the era with dependable mechanics, a signature vertical grille, lots of options and an affordable price. Ford sold them in the millions, so you might recognize this car from numerous old cop movies and TV series. Some people say the LTD the predecessor to the venerable Crown Victoria of the ‘80s and the ‘90s.

These are 20 of the greatest hits and most memorable classic cars of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. Which one struck your fancy? While some of these cars are no longer around, all of them changed automotive history.

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