There’s an ad making the rounds nowadays that I need to talk about. Here it is. Go ahead, watch it. I’ll wait. Have you watched it yet? Did you see how Matthew McConaughey gave us that look towards the end, and then raised his eyebrows? As if we all understood what was going on there? That we were all in on the apparent fact that the new MKZ has Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings for an engine? WE’RE NOT IN ON IT, MATTHEW! Rust Cohle doesn’t have the depth to understand your Lincoln ads, and you played him, for Christ’s sake. What I’m trying to say is that for their ads to be that weird, times must be tough for Lincoln. But maybe there’s a solution in their past. This is a 1957 Lincoln Premiere Landau.
The first thing that hits you about the Premiere is the styling. There’s a lot of it. This car is very styled. Just looking at all the stuff going on in the picture above. It’s as if some boss at Lincoln looked at the original design and screamed, “More! I need more!” before shooting up more heroin in his office, crushed that his designers misunderstood his plea. You can kind of understand why the (comparatively) understated design of the 1967 Continental we looked at awhile back was such a hit for Lincoln. Though it should be mentioned that the Premiere and the Continental aren’t perfect competitors. The Continental was the biggest, top of the line Lincoln, while on the other end of the spectrum was the entry-level Capri. The Premiere was smack in the middle: the mid-range model.
In reality, the Premiere’s styling was a mish-mosh of a Mercury XM-800 and a Lincoln Futura, which I guess makes it distantly related to the original Batmobile as well. An ad for the Premiere on the Ed Sullivan Show called it “long, low, and lovely,” which actually opens up a pretty interesting chapter in Lincoln’s history, if not its prettiest. Ford and its Lincoln-Mercury dealership network were big sponsors of the Ed Sullivan Show- Ed even traveled to a Ford test center to review some cars in 1950. However, tensions between Sullivan and Ford became strained after the TV presenter threw a Ford executive out of the studio after the businessman suggested that he “stop booking so many black acts,” like Pearl Bailey and Nat King Cole.
I’ve gotten so caught up in the way this car looks that its totally overshadowed the way it drives. You only had one engine option in the Premiere, but it was a good’un: a six liter V8. In typical Frank Underwood fashion, they called the engine the “True Power.” It developed 300 horsepower and was mated to a 3-speed, Turbo-Drive Automatic, which allowed you to start the car from either park or neutral. Power was about on par with comparable Cadillacs of the era, but slightly behind the equivalent Imperial (which was Chrysler’s entry into the market). And the engine wasn’t the only thing with with a healthy dose of powah. Power windows, power steering, power seats and power brakes were standard on all 1957 Lincolns. You’d pay between $4500 and $5300 for a Premiere when it was new, or around $40,000 today. Lovely.
I know the styling is a little overwrought. But sitting here on a street corner in the Bronx, this Lincoln just looks right. It isn’t pretty exactly, but luxury cars in the fifties weren’t sold on pretty. They were sold on boldness. Your car was an outward expression of exactly how well you were doing. The Premiere does that. That MKZ that McConaughey was hawking in that weird ad? Not so much. Sure, the new car makes 100 more horsepower than this one. But I bet you’ve already completely forgotten what it looks like.
- The rear seats in this car had reading lamps, if you were so inclined.
- The heater and the air conditioner in this car could both be controlled through a single knob.
- Speaking of air conditioning, the Premiere’s vents were on the ceiling!