Thanks for the reply:
You are correct I am sure in that the Conti is a "compromise" vehicle in that it is cobbled up/off of another much cheaper platform.
Briefly, I worked for both Volvo and SAAB for 25 years before being knocked out of my "Cat Birds Perch" as a Vice President with Saab when General Motors purchased same in 1989 (I lasted until 1991 but it was ugly).
Although I had devoted almost half my life at that point to working for Swedish car companies, I had continued to have a great interest in muscle cars and street rods.
Having been sort of shafted by my Swedish colleagues, i said "OK" I will switch my allegiance back to American vehicles. As I was very used to what I guess I will call European Touring Cars, I hoped to find a similar type car in the American Catalog. First try was a '96 SHO that was, well not a disaster, but a terrible disappointment. Great motor, just great. Chassis left a lot to be desired but the greatest failure was the transmission, or more properly said the programming of the engine management that robbed the car of most of it's potential. Like shifting an old vacuum shift '41 Chevvy. Slooooooow. It was of course an automatic.
I needed a pickup and got one but still wanted a true American Touring Car close to what I had been used to.
So, late 1998 I leased a '98 Continental for my wife.
This $40K car is just really aggrivating to me. Not only does it have the same lazy trannie, but the engineers put on some really high performance tires that make so much road noise that I generally refuse to drive the car on any kind of long trips anymore. I accept that same noise in/on my Lightning as it is a pure gut wrenching performance machine but I do not like it in a car that was positioned to be a quick responsive touring car in the European tradition. Maybe the current LS is better, but it is a bit small for us.
As a side note, absenting that it is no canyon carver, my recently inherited '92 TC is actually more what I thought the Conti would be. It shifts harder, revs quicker and generally is a neat car to drive considering it's size and it is definitely my car of choice now to take a trip in. I am sure it is slower in absolute terms than the Conti but you don't notice it too much and it also gets about 25% better fuel consumption on cheap gas.
Hindsight being 20/20, I was not aware of performance chips/filter mods and the like a couple of years ago. I have made these mods to my Lightning and am a very happy camper. I will do likewise to the TC as I own it and I am sure it will become an even better car.
Again, thanks for your input, it is always good to hear from someone who actually works on these vehicles.