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These American Luxury Cars Will Make You Sell Your Lexus

Vukasin Herbez October 26, 2022

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Lincoln Continental Mark III

The Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company was enjoying considerable success during the ’60s. That was primarily due to the Continental, which was introduced in 1961 and was a landmark model in many aspects. With healthy sales numbers, Lincoln turned to the personal luxury market. The innovative and advanced 1969 Mark III coupe is considered to be one of the best personal luxury cars Ford Motor Company ever made.

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Introduced in late 1968, the Mark III was built on the Thunderbird chassis and had a powerful new 460 V8 engine. Since the new model used much of the existing mechanics, Lincoln concentrated on design and equipment, departments in which the Mark III excelled. The front had a prominent chrome grille reminiscent of Rolls Royce models. It also had hideaway headlights, which were an interesting touch. The trunk had a cool-looking spare wheel hump with Continental lettering. That, combined with its vinyl top, made the Mark III’s design unique and special (via Black Hawk Collection).

Lincoln Continential
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1961 Lincoln Continental

Back in the late ’50s, Ford’s luxury division Lincoln was far behind Cadillac, not only in sales but also in popularity and style. Ford decided that had to change and the 1961 Lincoln Continental was born. When Lincoln showed the new model, the automotive public was stunned. The beautiful elegance of its styling, conservative use of chrome, straight lines, and futuristic design transformed the four-door luxury model into a work of modern art.

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The best exterior feature was the suicide doors, with the rear doors opening toward 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 which proved very popular and unique on the market (via How Stuff Works).

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Chevrolet Monte Carlo

In the late ’60s, Chevrolet product planners had an idea to enter the personal luxury segment with a new model. Since Chevrolet was known as a mid-priced car brand, moving up the ladder was a big deal. Chevy knew they needed a fresh design, name, and powerful engines. So in 1970, the Monte Carlo was introduced (via Collectors Auto Supply).

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Built on a modified Chevelle platform, the Monte Carlo was a handsome coupe-only car with V8 engines. It had a nice interior and decent performance. Even though most Monte Carlos came with smaller V8 engines, there was one crazy muscle option in the form of the SS 454 package. However, most of them had smaller 350 and 396 V8 engines.

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Cadillac Eldorado 1976

The 1976 Eldorado was an automotive dinosaur in many ways. It was the last Cadillac with the enormous 500 CID V8 engine, one of the most significant engines ever made. The Eldorado was the previous Cadillac convertible for over 10 years. Since the late ’70s safety laws almost killed the convertible class, it was the last massive land yacht that dominated the domestic car industry in the ’70s.

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Even during this generation of the Eldorado, it was obvious the industry was changing. It was also clear that Cadillac had to rethink its strategy to stay on top of the game. However, the 1976 Eldorado was the perfect way to end that era of excess and its monstrous engines, chrome trim, and plush interiors. Never before or since there was such a big, opulent personal luxury car offered on the market (via Top Speed).

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Imperial 1981

In one of the final attempts to resurrect Chrysler’s luxury division Imperial, the company presented a very interesting personal luxury coupe in 1981. This was the project of Lee Iacocca, who came to Chrysler from Ford in the late ’70s and saved the company from bankruptcy.

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So in 1981, the Imperial was a stylish two-door coupe built on the Chrysler Cordoba or Dodge Mirada chassis. It was powered by a 318 V8 engine. Its design was contemporary with several classic cues like a slant buck rear end and hideaway headlights. But it was an aesthetically pleasing luxury car. Chrysler invested a lot in marketing and even used Frank Sinatra as the spokesperson for the new model, but sales were still slim (via Hemmings).

2003 Ford Thunderbird
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Ford Thunderbird 2002

In 2002, Ford introduced the new T-bird with retro-inspired styling reminiscent of the 1955-1957 models. It featured a two-seat configuration, a 3.9-liter V8 in the front, and a stylish interior. The car looked great, and Ford got the retro feel of a classic Thunderbird right. The initial response from buyers and the motoring press was fantastic. But the hype was over soon as sales were disappointing (via Car and Driver).

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The new Thunderbird wasn’t the performance car people seemed to believe. It was comfortable, heavy, and not very fast despite having 280 HP. Ford realized that it wasn’t real competition for the Mercedes SL. Instead, it was just another underperforming and expensive model in the market segment, which is essentially gone today.

Stutz Bearcat
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Stutz Blackhawk

The early ’70s saw the return of one of the most famous classic American brands – Stutz. The company was founded by New York banker James O’Donnell who invested heavily in marketing, design, and production. Stutz commissioned various Italian coachwork companies to produce unique, retro-inspired bodies designed on the Pontiac Grand Prix, using its drivetrain and 455 V8.

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The first car was the Blackhawk, which entered production in late 1970. Due to its unique style, strong marketing, and celebrity endorsements, Stutz soon becomes one of the most exclusive and in-demand American cars. Although costing over $20,000 (in 1971), which was close to the price of a new Rolls Royce, O’Donnell found many customers who kept his company in business for almost 20 years (via Mecum).

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1963 Mercury Monterey Breezeway

Learning from the Continental, Mercury offered something new to the customers hoping to raise its sales. In 1963, it introduced an innovative and exciting Breezeway option on its top model. This was a reverse C pillar design with a concave profile of the car and tilted rear glass, which was retractable. It was an innovative solution that resulted in more space in the interior and an excellent-looking design.

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Mercury kept the Breezeway option for selected models up to the 1968 model year. Despite being not all that popular or influential, the Breezeway is still one of the coolest luxury US sedans of the ’60s (via Motor City Garage).

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Lincoln Continental Mark V Coupe

After the successful Mark III and IV models, Lincoln presented the ultimate luxury coupe of the late ’70s, the Mark V in 1977. However, a bit smaller than the predecessor, the Mark V was still a big car with a long hood, massive bumpers, and a grille.

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Powered by standard 400 V8 and optional 460 V8, it wasn’t the fastest car on the road. But it was comfortable and good-looking. It had cool Opera-style windows on the back, and a signature spare wheel bump on the trunk lid. Also, Lincoln offered several unique versions in cooperation with various fashion houses, which were very popular with buyers (via Facebook).

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Buick Riviera Boat Tail

The original Riviera was a 1963 model, but in 1971, Riviera became a design classic with the introduction of the iconic boat tail design. It was in production for only three years, but it left a significant mark on the industry with its unusual-yet-elegant styling.

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With powerful engines, decent performance, and overall uniqueness, the 1971-1973 Riviera was one of the best personal luxury coupes and an authentic ’70s classic. Buick continued to produce Rivieras until 1997 but never repeated this generation’s success (via Motor Cities).

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1969 Buick Wildcat

The Wildcat is one of the exciting but almost forgotten models that were popular back in the day. Introduced in 1963, the Wildcat was something between a personal luxury model and a muscle car. It featured restrained and elegant styling. Much as the rest of Buick’s lineup but also had powerful engines, sporty trim, and excellent performance.

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In 1967, Wildcat was a four-door which boosted its appeal and helped improve sales numbers. For 1969, the Wildcat got a new look and powerful new 455 V8 with 370 HP, transforming it into a hidden performance car with room for six adults (via Concept Carz).

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Ford 7-Litre

Using the full-size Galaxie two-door hard top or convertible platform, Ford introduced a brand-new model for 1966 called the 7-Litre. The seven stood for displacement and its Litre spelling gave more charm to the otherwise ordinary Galaxie. Under the hood was the 428 V8 with a respectable 345 HP which delivered a pretty convincing performance (via Hemmings).

Ford Galaxie - Car
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However, the 7-Litre’s equipment was also very interesting as Ford put everything they got into this car. The buyers could get A/C, and bucket seats were standard. There was also its heavy-duty suspension, power everything, a choice of unique colors, and 7-Litre badges on the sides, which helped identify this model.

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Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser 455

You are probably thinking of how a family station wagon could be a powerful luxury car, but it can. The 1970 Vista Cruiser had an optional 455 V8 monster of an engine. It’s essentially the same powerplant from the famed Oldsmobile 442 muscle car. This transformed an ordinary ’70s American suburban wagon into a fire-breathing muscle car disguised as practical family transport (via Car and Driver).

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Of course, the performance of the Vista Cruiser 455 was worse than the regular Oldsmobile 442, and the reason was the wagon’s weight. But the Vista was still pretty quick with a 0 to 60 mph time of around six seconds. Unfortunately, only a few people knew about this in 1970, and Oldsmobile installed 455 in just a handful of Vista Cruisers. That is why those cars are forgotten and rare today.

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Chrysler Ghia Specials

The story of the Chrysler Specials built by the Italian coach-building company Ghia is a very interesting and unique one in automotive history. In the early ’50, the American car industry started promoting wild concept cars and introducing new and jet-influenced shapes into production models. On the other hand, Chrysler presented several very elegant concepts, all of which drew much attention from the crowd. Interestingly, Chryslers were fully operational prototypes on standard car chassis and drivetrains.

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Several of Chrysler’s top managers realized that there was potential for limited production of those prestigious coupes. But in cooperation with Ghia, which had already designed and produced several concept cars. So, in 1951 the first Chrysler Special called the K-301 was for sale, which continued with several other models until 1955 (via Motor1).

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