1941 Lincoln Continental #218, Racing Champions - 1956 Ford Thunderbird #6, Racing Champions - 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix #22, Matchbox
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado #V267, Siku - 1967 Cadillac Eldorado, Johnny Lightning (Topper) - 1968 Continental Mark III, Hot Wheels
The Personal Luxury Coupe - A Dying Breed
by Doug Breithaupt
Cadillac Eldorado, Lincoln Continental Mark series, Ford Thunderbird, Buick Riveria, Oldsmobile Toronado, Pontiac Grand Prix - The great names in American personal luxury coupes have been slowly dying. Fortunately, we still have miniature versions to enjoy.
A new addition to the collection is Racing Champions' great 1941 Lincoln Continental. The '41 Continental could be considered the first true personal luxury coupe. The '56 Ford Thunderbird (Racing Champions' version shown) is more of a luxury car than a sports car and the addition of a back seat in 1958 gave the personal luxury coupe the momentum needed to become an American standard. The 1960's brought the best of the personal luxury coupes from General Motors. The Riveria started it in 1963 followed by the Grand Prix from Pontiac, and represented by Matchbox in miniature. The Oldsmobile Toronado debuted in 1966 and Siku offered a headlight-up version. The 1967 Cadillac Eldorado is one of the greatest Personal luxury coupes ever produced. The original Johnny Lightning version is a mild custom but has the feel of the real car. Ford countered the new Eldorado with the Continental Mark III in 1968 and Hot Wheels provided a nice miniature. The '68 T-Bird is well represented by the re-issued Johnny Lightning casting.
The 1970's offered opera windows and vinyl tops. Two Continentals, the Mark IV by Tomica and Mark V by Matchbox represent this era. More modern offerings in the '80's and 90's include a rare Buick Riveria Convertible by Road Champs with two inter-changeable tops. Matchbox did a fine Ford Thunderbird and Maisto added the Continental Mark VII.
Considering the popularity of these cars among collectors, why have so few been done. Look what is missing. Where is the wonderful Continental Mark II of the mid-'50's? The '63-'70 Riveria models are missing. The '71-'72 Toronado (Tomica did a '77) deserves to be done. The '79-'85 Eldorado is another car missing in diecast. The Continental and Thunderbird are reasonably well represented but Chrysler's 300 models and Cordoba should be done. How about a Studebaker Avanti or Hawk GT. Hot Wheels' drag strip casting of the lovely '53 Starliner Coupe is fun but how about a stock version?
The good news is that the real T-Bird is returning, albeit as a two-seater roadster. The Eldorado may follow the Toronado and Riveria or it may become the Evoq. Let's hope that we are at the beginning of a new version of the personal luxury coupe.
1968 Ford Thunderbird #T111, Johnny Lightning (re-issue) - 1975 Continental Mark IV #F4, Tomica - 1980 Continental Mark V #28, Matchbox
1984 Buick Riveria Convertible, Road Champs - 1987 Ford Thunderbird, Matchbox - 1992 Continental Mark VII, Maisto