In 1961, the Continental was completely redesigned by Elwood Engel. For the first time, the names Lincoln and Continental would be paired together outside the Mark Series; along with replacing the Continental Mark V, the 1961 Continental replaced the Lincoln Capri and Premiere, consolidating Lincoln into a single product line. Originally intended to be the 1961 Ford Thunderbird, the design was enlarged and slightly altered before being switched to the Lincoln line by Robert McNamara. One of the most striking features of the new Continental was its size. It was 15 inches shorter than its predecessor. So much smaller was this car, that advertising executives at Ford photographed a woman parallel parking a sedan for a magazine spread. The new Continental's most recognized trademark, front-opening rear "suicide doors", was a purely practical decision. The new Continental rode on a wheelbase of 125 inches, and the doors were hinged from the rear to ease ingress and egress. When the Lincoln engineers were examining the back seats that styling had made up, the engineers kept hitting the rear doors with their feet. Hinging the doors from the rear solved the problem. The doors were to become the best-known feature of 1960s Lincolns. To simplify production, all cars were to be four-door models, and only two body styles were offered, sedan and convertible. The 1961 model was the first car manufactured in the U.S. to be sold with a 24,000 mile or 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. It was also the first postwar four-door convertible from a major U.S. manufacturer. Walnut paneling was on the doors and instrument panel.
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