In 1961, the Continental was completely redesigned by Elwood Engel. For the first time, the names Lincoln and Continental would be paired on a car other than one in the Mark series. The design was originally intended to be the new 1961 Ford Thunderbird, but the concept was enlarged and slightly altered before being switched to the Lincoln line by Robert McNamara.
One of the most striking features of the new Continental was its size. It was 14.8 in (380 mm) shorter than its predecessor. So much smaller was this car, that advertising executives at Ford photographed a woman parallel parking a sedan for a magazine spread.
The new Continental’s most recognized trademark, front opening rear doors, was a purely practical decision. The new Continental rode on a wheelbase of 123 in (3.1 m), and the doors were hinged from the rear to ease ingress and egress. When the Lincoln engineers were examining the back seats that styling had made up, the engineers kept hitting the rear doors with their feet. Hinging the doors from the rear solved the problem. The suicide doors were to become the best-known feature of 1960s Lincolns.
To simplify production (in the beginning, anyway), all cars were to be four-door models, and only two body styles were offered, sedan or convertible. The 1961 model was the first car manufactured in the U.S. to be sold with a 24,000 mi (39,000 km) or 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.  It was also the first postwar four-door convertible from a major U.S. manufacturer.
This slab-sided design ran from 1961-1969 with few changes from year to year.