Back in the day there was a kid who had a really cool 4-door sedan. His name was, and is, Fred Mason – the same Fred Mason who owns Mason Standard Service (Mason University) in Slater today.
When we were teenagers cruising the streets of central Iowa, Fred drove a 1949 Mercury — complete with a piercing wolf whistle and suicide rear doors. One could sit in the back seat of that baby and it was like lounging on a plush sofa in someone’s living room.
Of course, Fred was cool as well. He sported a flat-top haircut, wore a Slater High School letter sweater dominated by a huge gold S and blue jeans rolled up and cuffed at just the right height.
Yep, Fred and his ’49 Merc were cool, but the back doors of his car were also considered a safety hazard by some – even back then. You see, the rear doors’ hinges were located in the back, thus allowing the doors to open to the front rather than the rear. This little rearrangement offered a stylish and easier way to exit or enter the vehicle.
The problem was that while the car was moving down the road, the airflow could force the doors open instead of closed if accidentally opened. As this was before the use of seat belts, a passenger might possibly be sucked out. At least, that was the belief of some “experts” at the time.
The suicide doors lost their appeal after the 1940s and did not appear again in American cars until the Lincoln Continental reintroduced the feature back in the 1960s. Ford offered them in its 1967-71 Thunderbird four-doors.
But that was that, at least for American autos with suicide doors. That is, until now. If you feel it is time for you to own your very own new car with rear doors that open to the front rather than the rear – you are in luck!
In observance of the 80th anniversary of the Continental, Lincoln is offering a limited run of 80 Coach Door (suicide doors) Continentals for 2019.
These cars sit at the top of the heap of custom Continentals and are referred to as Black Label. Not only will they sport the suicide doors, they will be stretched out another six inches, offering even more comfort for the rear seat passengers. It will even go through federal crash testing before leaving the factory.
So how much will this car cost you? Lincoln has yet to name an exact price, but rumor has it that it will be over $100,000. If you are not lucky enough to get one of the first 80, don’t fret, there will be a second batch in 2020.
Gee, I wonder what Fred paid for his Mercury?
Ed Rood is the former publisher for the Tri-County Times.