The Lincoln Premiere is a luxury car sold by Ford Motor Company's Lincoln-Mercury division. It was produced in both 2 and 4 door versions both seating 6 people. The Premiere was sold in the 1956 to 1960 model years, inclusive, and was positioned below the company's Continental during 1956-1960 and above the Capri from 1956-1959.
In 1956-57 the vehicle featured a 368 cu in (6.0 L) Lincoln Y-Block V8 and it was approximately 223" (5664 mm) long in 1956. The vehicle weighed 4357 lb (1976.3 kg) and had a price tag of approximately $4,600 in 1956, which equals roughly $31,730 in 2005 dollars.
The Premiere's appearance borrowed from the radically different concept cars, the Mercury XM-800 and the Lincoln Futura, and the Premiere was known for its stylish exterior, high-grade interior and some unique features. For example, when equipped with optional "factory air conditioning in 1956-57," the vents were located overhead, much like those in an aircraft. The cool air was directed to the roof via a pair of clear plastic ducts visible through the rear window at each side, connecting upward from the rear package tray. Four way power seats were standard. Front suspension was independent with a stabilizer bar.
These were the first Lincolns produced at the new Wixom plant, and were made on a unibody platform much like the Lincoln-Zephyr and the original Lincoln Continental. While advertising brochures made the case that Continental was still a separate make, the car shared its body with that year's Lincoln. The Lincolns differed from the higher-model full-size Continentals in trim level and in their roof treatment, with the Continentals featuring a reverse-angle power rear "breezeway" window that retracted down behind the back seat. Lincoln lost over $60 million during 1958-1960, partly reflecting the expense of developing perhaps the largest unibody car ever made. The 1958 full-size Lincoln sold poorly in all models because of the economic recession in the U.S.
The 1958-60 Lincoln Premiere was one of the largest cars ever made, larger than contemporaneous Cadillacs, and with their canted headlights and scalloped fenders had styling considered by many to be excessive even in that decade of styling excess. The used a Unibody design. They are the longest Lincolns ever produced without federally mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers. The 63.1 inches (1,603 mm) front and 63.0 inches (1,600 mm) rear shoulder room they possessed set a record for Lincoln that still stands to this day. FM radio was a rare option.
The reputation for "excessive styling" is perhaps ironic given the enormous amount of styling talent that was connected with the development and modification of Lincolns of this vintage. George W. Walker, known for his contribution to the development of the original Ford Thunderbird, was Vice-President in charge of Styling at Ford during this time. Elwood Engel, famous for being lead designer of the 1961 Lincoln Continental and for his work as chief designer at Chrysler in the 1960s, was Staff Stylist (and consequently roamed all of the design studios) at Ford during this period and worked very closely with John Najjar in developing not only the 1958, but also the 1959 update. After John Najjar was relieved of his responsibilities as Chief Stylist of Lincoln in 1957 he became Engel's executive assistant, and the two worked closely together in the "stilleto studio" in developing the 1961 Lincoln Continental, which of course won an award for its superlative styling. After Engel left Ford in 1961, Najjar became the lead designer of the Ford Mustang I concept car, which later gave birth to the Ford Mustang. Don Delarossa, who succeeded Najjar as Chief Stylist of Lincoln, was responsible for the 1960 Continental and Premiere update, and went on to become chief designer at Chrysler in the 1980s. Alex Tremulis, who was Chief Stylist at Auburn-Cord-Deusenberg in the mid to late 1930s and famous for his work on the 1948 Tucker Sedan, was head of Ford's Advanced Styling Studio during this period, and it was his Ford La Tosca concept car, with its oval overlaid with an "X" theme, that gave birth to the "slant eyed monster" nickname to the 1958 Lincoln front end.