Soon both Lincoln and Bentley will have Continentals for sale, a fact that may lead to some legalistic conversations in the near future involving the two brands.
Neither side has commented on that gathering storm, but then this is not a new issue. Lincoln aficionado Barry Wolk unearthed a letter in the Ford archives dated Aug. 24, 1953, that Ford sent to Bentley regarding use of the "Continental" name.
Ford was worried that the coming Bentley R-Type Continental would confuse luxury car buyers. Ford was gearing up to launch the Mark II and elevate Continental from a nameplate to its own division. Ford lawyers politely suggested to Bentley that "steps be taken now to avoid such confusion."
Bentley apparently never replied. Lincoln and Bentley Continentals appeared on the market at the same time. Continental produced the Mark II in 1956-57, a car that competed with Bentley's S1 Continental. And both companies have used the name on and off since then.
Ford historian Bob Kreipke said he doesn't know how the two companies settled the matter or indeed whether it had ever been settled.