Ford Authority

1988 Lincoln Continental Handled Well But Needed A V8: Video

In recent months, MotorWeek‘s Retro Review series has given us a pretty fascinating look back at a wide variety of Blue Oval models from the past, including the 1988 Merkur Scorpio, the 2001 Ford Focus, and the 1997 Ford Taurus SHO, to name just a few. However, these old school review videos continue to entertain and remind us of what automobiles used to be like, and the latest is this – a Retro Review of the 1988 Lincoln Continental.

1988 Lincoln Continental MotorWeek Retro Review - Interior 001

By the time the 1988 Lincoln Continental made its debut, the big luxurious sedan already had plenty of European competition to contend with, vehicles that Americans were flocking to at the time. However, as host John Davis points out in this video, vague styling and out-of-date engineering were beginning to plague U.S. luxury models at the time, which Ford quickly combated with the launch of the Lincoln Mark VII coupe with more European-influenced styling.

1988 Lincoln Continental MotorWeek Retro Review - Exterior 002 - Rear Three Quarters

That two-door was soon followed by the 1988 Lincoln Continental sedan, which was “radically different” at the time. On the outside, that meant smoother, cleaner styling, and a “striking” overall appearance. Under the hood, those updates continued with the naturally-aspirated Ford 3.8L V6, which sent 140 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels for a leisurely 0-60 time of 12.2 seconds, while it took a whopping 18 seconds to cover a quarter-mile – making MotorWeek pine for a V8.

Handling “set new heights” for American luxury cars, however, thanks to the Continental’s fully-independent suspension, and it also provided a supple ride to boot. While our reviewers weren’t as enthused about the interior and its copious amounts of wood, they did note that there’s plenty of room for six adults, and also praised its price tag, which undercut the European competition at the time. Ultimately, Ford wanted to change the way we saw American luxury sedans at the time, and in that regard, the 1988 Lincoln Continental certainly did precisely that – even if it wasn’t the grand slam the automaker hoped it would be.

We’ll have more cool videos like this to share soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Lincoln news, Lincoln Continental news, and continuous Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Thurston Munn

    If Ford had put the H.O. 302 in this vehicle it would have been a hit. The 3.8 V6 was under powered and had head gasket issues as well after a few years and mileage whereas the 302 was mostly bullet proof. Otherwise they were a nice car.

  2. CrabbyMilton

    They finally did put a V8 in that car but you would have thought that it would have had it to begin with. For just short trips around town, 140HP would have been fine just not enough highway power for merging and passing. Try to find a 4 cylinder with that little power now.

  3. Dave Mathers

    My wife had one for a demo. Nice smooth ride but it sure wouldn’t win any races.

  4. Jim Gustafson

    Great ride loved car. Became best friends with the service mgr. My wife called for an intervention to separate me from the 1992. However I bought 6 Lincoln’s thereafter. 3 Contintal, 1 LS, and 2 Navigator. You

  5. Chris Page

    My dad was a Ford dealer for twenty five years. When he sold the dealership he started driving Lincoln’s. He bought an 88 Continental. That car was so problematic and was constantly in the shop. Engine, window motors, AC and other issues. He said that he had more problems with that car than he did with all of the demos he had driven, combined.

  6. Crabbymilton

    After the fact, while it was a nice smooth sedan and great highway cruiser regardless of engine, the TOWN CAR was clearly the better car.

  7. Michael K

    I think the Continental has spent most of history as a mediocre FWD sedan based on a cheap Ford sedan, yet the 60’s Continental brand remains strong enough to keep it going after decades of failure. I’m sure they’ll keep trying, even if it’s likely to never be used on a sedan again.

  8. Crabbymilton

    I know I may be one of the very few but I really liked the 2016-2020 version. Very underrated. Sad thing is that FORD actually builds sedans under both the FORD and LINCOLN brands. But not for North America.

  9. DAB

    Love these videos. I really did and still do like these 1988 to 1994 Continentals, but as the video and comments reflect, the car was under-powered even for that time. I purchased a 1992 used with a lot of miles once as my (then new) 1998 Cadillac Catera had just been in a major accident and they told me it would be a long time fixing it. So the Caddy dealer had that 1992 Conti sitting with high miles and they were very eager to get it off the lot. I made them a stupid offer and they took it. I actually really liked that car and it served me well for months. Once my Catera was finished, I sold the Lincoln to my brother in law who drove it for many more years.

    As a side note: I personally love the steering wheel in the 1988 better than almost any car I’ve ever seen. It was pre airbag and had that nice wood trim on it. Looks 10X better than all the huge airbag boxy steering wheels of that day.


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