- 1 History
- 2 Continental Mark II
- 3 Continental Mark III
- 4 Continental Mark IV
- 5 Continental Mark V
- 6 Continental Mark VI
- 7 Mark VII
- 8 Mark VIII
- 9 2004 Lincoln MK9 concept
- 10 See also
- 11 External Links
The 1956/57 Mark was produced while Continental was a separate division of Ford Motor Company apart from Lincoln. After 1958 when Continental was merged with Lincoln and the Lincoln Continental became the flagship model, the Mark continued to be sold as the Continental Mark II. The Mark kept the Continental prefix until 1982 upon the introduction of the smaller Continental, which became the Mark VII in 1984. The Mark VIII (1993–1998) was the last generation of the Mark and Lincoln's last personal luxury coupe.
Continental Mark II
The Continental Mark II was a car produced by the newly formed Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company during 1956 and 1957. Many aficionados of the automobile consider the Continental Mark II one of the classics of the postwar period.
The new Continental was intended to be not the largest nor the most powerful automobile, but rather the most luxurious and elegant American car available. What emerged was something quite unlike other American cars of the period. While other makes experimented with flamboyant styling, chrome everywhere, and all the glitz and glamor they could manage, the Continental Mark II was almost European in its simplicity of line and its understated grace.
Even though the Continental Mark II was technically not a Lincoln, it featured the Lincoln hallmark spare tire hump in the trunk lid, was sold and serviced at Lincoln dealerships, and the vehicle's drivetrain and forebears also came from Lincoln; thus causing many to think of the Mark II as a Lincoln.
Most of the car was effectively hand-built to an exacting standard, including multiple coats of paint hand-sanded down and double-lacquered and polished to perfection. Due to this manufacturing process the Continental Mark II cost US$10,000, as much as a Rolls-Royce or two top-of-the-line Cadillacs.
Famous owners included Elvis Presley, as well as Frank Sinatra, the Shah of Iran, and a cross-section of the richest men in America.
Today, approximately half of the cars still exist, about 1,500. Prices range between around $8,000 for a running example in poor condition to around $70,000 in concourse condition - thus, a car in perfect condition costs now, adjusted for inflation, about the same as the new one did in 1955, the notable exception being the aforementioned Mark II owned by Elvis Presley which sold at a Las Vegas auction, in 1999, for US$250,000.
Continental Mark III
The Lincoln Continental Mark III was manufactured by Lincoln from 1968 to 1971, and according to Lee Iacocca in his 1984 autobiography, was created when Iacocca (then a top Ford exec) directed design VP Gene Bordinat to "put a Rolls Royce grille on a Thunderbird."
The Mark III's role was to compete with Cadillac's front wheel drive Eldorado personal luxury coupe, which at the time had the monopoly in the Personal luxury car market. Continental Mark III outsold its Cadillac rival in its first year. The Mark III was the first Mark produced by Lincoln itself since its predecessor the Continental Mark II was manufactured by Continental which for the two years of its manufacture was a separate Ford division apart from Lincoln. While the vehicle took many of its design cues from the mainstream Ford Thunderbird, the vehicle's design was uniquely Lincoln. It featured the hallmark Rolls-Royce like grille, covered headlights, as well as the Continental spare tire hump in the trunk lid. The Mark III was one of the first vehicles to have power-controlled features and anti-lock brakes. In 1970 the until then optional vinyl roof was made standard alongside with radial tires and tinted windows in 1971. The interior woodtrim was also upgraded to real wood in 1970.
Continental Mark IV
While the Mark IV carried over many design themes of the Mark III, such as the grille and spare-tire hump, it grew both longer and wider. The hallmark opera windows were added for 1972, and in 1973 the front bumper was redesigned for the federally mandated 5 mph (8 km/h) bumper. In 1974 the rear bumper was also redesigned.
Powered by Lincoln's 460cid V8, the Mark was characterized by many standard power accessories and a richly appointed interior. The Mark IV, offered only as a two-door hardtop coupe, was heavier than the standard Continental. The Ford Thunderbird was engineered on the same platform, and shared some of the Mark's styling and features, but for 1977 the Thunderbird was moved to a smaller platform.
For the 1976 model year, Lincoln introduced the Designer Series; special edition Mark IVs with color, trim and interior choices by famous fashion designers. All carried the designer's signature on the opera windows, and had a 22 karat (92%) gold plated plaque on the instrument panel which could be engraved with the original owner's name. The concept was successful, and future Lincolns would continue to offer designer editions.
For 1976, four designer editions were offered:
- The Bill Blass Edition was in dark blue with cream accents. The external finish was dark blue metallic paint, with a cream "Normande Grain" landau vinyl roof, cream and gold pinstriping, and cream or dark blue bodyside moldings. Inside, a blue cloth or leather interior used cream accent straps and buttons.
- The Cartier Edition was in dove grey. The external finish was dove grey paint, with a dove grey "Valino Grain" landau vinyl roof, red and white pinstriping, and dove grey bodyside moldings. The interior was in dove grey cloth or leather.
- The Givenchy Edition was in aqua blue. The external finish was aqua blue "Diamond Fire" paint, with a white "Normande Grain" landau vinyl roof, black and white pinstriping, and white or aqua blue bodyside moldings. The interior was in aqua blue cloth or leather, and the instrument panel was in a special, lighter shade of simulated woodgrain.
- The Pucci Edition was in red and silver. The external finish was dark red "Moondust Finish" paint with a silver "Normande Grain" landau vinyl roof, silver and lipstick red pinstriping and red or silver bodyside moldings. The interior was in dark red "Majestic" cloth.
Continental Mark V
The behemoth Lincoln Continental Mark V was sold for only three model years: 1977 to 1979. The last of the true highway cruisers, it replaced the Mark IV's more rounded styling with a more sharp-edged look that was then fashionable. Once again, its size increased both in length and width. It no longer shared its platform with the Ford Thunderbird (which was downsized by shifting its nameplate to the smaller Mercury Cougar/Ford LTD II platform.)
The 460 in³ of the Mark IV remained the standard engine of the Mark V for the 1977 model year. In 1978, the Ford 400 in³ (6.6 L) small-block engine replaced the 460 in³ as standard equipment, the latter available as an option everywhere but in California. The 460 made the car's performance aggressive while the 400 gave the car lackluster acceleration, although allowing Ford to meet CAFE requirements for the year. The 460 in³ option was deleted entirely for 1979.
Lincoln, with the Mark V and Continental, held out for the giant American car longer than anyone else, but after 1979 it would not be possible. Ford came dangerously close to violating the Corporate Average Fuel Economy laws that year, and subsequent models would be substantially smaller.
This Mark, which was an updated version of the '72–'76 model, was completely restyled; and to some degree re-engineered. The soft, rounded look of the '72 car was replaced with razor sharp lines. The vinyl top, the opera windows, the spring-loaded hood ornament, the vertical radiator grille, and large whitewall tires were all part of the package. Interior design remained similar to the Mark IV, with variants in the seat patterns and dashboard trim (while retaining the general dashboard layout of the IV) being the primary differences.
The Mark V was larger and more complex than its predecessor, coming just ten inches short of being 20 feet (6.1 m) long, yet, surprisingly nimble for a car of such gargantuan proportions. The electrical system and mechanical componentry shared less in common with other Ford products, and was harder to service than the corresponding equipment on the Mark IV.
The Mark V design proved to be a hit with customers, setting the highest sales record for any Mark edition automobile at the time, a record never ultimately surpassed by any subsequent Mark edition.
Diamond Jubilee Edition for 1978
To observe Ford Motor Company's 75th year in existence as an automobile manufacturer, the company produced two limited edition cars-the Diamond Jubilee Edition Continental Mark V and the Diamond Jubilee Edition Ford Thunderbird. Both cars were equipped with every luxury feature available to the individual models; the only option being a moonroof for both. Naturally, the Mark V was better equipped and also more expensive; even the brochure described it as "the most expensive domestic production car available". The optional package escalated the price to a then-exorbitant US$23,000. It was available in only two color combinations-a metallic gold or metallic light "diamond" blue with matching velour interior (leather was not offered). The "opera window" featured the title of the car with a fake diamond dotting the "i" in "Diamond". Today these editions are considered quite collectible as an ultimate example of late-seventies automotive excesses.
Collector's Series for 1979
To commemorate a dying breed, Lincoln offered a "Collector's Series" edition for the 1979 Mark V and Continental sedan. This option package was quite extensive offering every Lincoln option available except for a moonroof, an engine block heater, and the choice of leather or velour Twin Comfort Lounge seats. It also offered a leather-bound owner's manual and tool kit. It was available in only three paint combinations-dark blue, white, and a rare medium blue with a dark blue vinyl top. Naturally, this option was quite costly pushing the price of a standard Mark V or Continental to almost US$22,000; an enormous sum for a domestically-produced automobile at the time. These editions today are among the most coveted by collectors of late-seventies model Lincolns.
Continental Mark VI
The 1980 design revision and change to the Panther platform significantly reduced the size of the vehicle—the new model was 14 inches (360 mm) shorter and rode on a wheelbase 6 inches (150 mm) shorter than before—and the new car was 500 pounds lighter. Nevertheless, aside from being the only Mark series ever available as a 4-door sedan, the Mark VI retained most of the styling cues of the 1977 Mark V. Even though the car was significantly smaller, it kept the hallmark opera windows, Rolls-Royce style grille and the trademark vestigial spare-tire hump on the deck lid.
As with other 1980 Lincolns, the Mark of that year was available with significantly increased levels of, at the time, high-technology electronic equipment. A digital instrument cluster using Vacuum Fluorescent Displays, pushbutton keyless entry, Automatic Overdrive (AOD) 4-speed automatic transmission, and fuel injection on the 302 in³ (4.9 L) engine were all new introductions for 1980. Reliability of these systems was problematic for the first few years, which earned these cars a poor reliability record for 1980, 1981 and 1982. Revisions and modifications to the electronics improved the cars' reliability record for 1983.
With the old boats, Continental and Mark V, retired after 1979, the new Lincolns for 1980 were highly anticipated cars. When Ford introduced the downsized Lincolns to the press, they were an immediate hit, being more efficient and more spacious than the corresponding Cadillacs of the same year, which had been downsized for 1977. The new Lincolns used new assembly techniques, and had aluminum pieces in the body and mechanicals to lighten the cars, in addition to the 800 pounds (363 kg) weight loss (---Note: Previous commentary states 500 lbs. saved. Advisable to further confirm this information) they received from the redesign. The old 460cid V8 was history, replaced by a fuel-injected version of Ford's 302cid (5.0 liter) V8, and a carbureted version of the 351cid V8, though the latter lasted only for 1980.
The basic body was shared between Town Car and Mark VI, but the Mark bore more resemblance to the Mark V, with hidden headlamps, the spare tire bulge on the trunk, the vinyl top and opera windows, etc. For the first and only time, the Mark series was offered as a four door sedan, but both Marks were dropped after '83 in favor of a new Mark VII, and a small Continental sedan (meant to replace Lincoln's unsuccessful Versailles mid-size). A super-rare car, of potential interest to collectors, is the '80-'81 Town Coupe, which sold only about 3000 copies before being consigned to the pages of history. The Town Car and Town Coupe bore more resemblance to the old standard Continentals of the seventies, but were thoroughly modern. The success of the Mark VI, however, effectively killed off interest in the Town Coupe. The Town Car, however, continued to be Lincoln's best seller for the rest of the 1980s. All told, these Lincolns are quiet, reliable, roomy cars.
Signature Series and Designer Series
Carrying on a tradition it created in the mid-seventies, Lincoln continued to offer designer editions of its cars into the eighties as well. The newly restyled Mark series was no exception. For 1980 a "Signature Series" was available in both coupe and sedan formats. This edition basically copied the option package from 1979's "Collector's Series" including almost every Lincoln option available. No designer series editions were offered in 1980. In 1981 the "Signature Series" edition was offered again joined by designer editions for the coupe model only. These designers included Bill Blass, Cartier, Emilio Pucci, and Givenchy. Each designer edition carried exclusive exterior and interior color combinations as well as more optional equipment over the standard model. In 1982 designer editions received a shuffle of sorts as the sedan was now available as an Emilio Pucci edition removing this package from the coupe. The remaining designers-Bill Blass and Givenchy-were available on the coupe; the Cartier edition was no longer offered. The "Signature Series" carried on as well. For 1983 the Givenchy Edition was dropped and model line-up consisted of the standard coupe/sedan, the "Signature Series" coupe/sedan, the Bill Blass Edition coupe, and the Emilio Pucci Edition sedan. The Blass edition retained its' now iconic "carriage roof" (convertible-look) and a unique exterior paint combination exclusive to the model. The Emilio Pucci Edition shared this roof treatment for 1983 and had a unique exterior color as well.
The Continental Mark VII, later just called the Mark VII, was introduced in 1984. The Continental Mark VII used the Ford Fox platform, which was originally used by the 1978 Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr. It was manufactured at the Wixom Assembly Plant in Wixom, Michigan through 1992.
The Mark VII had most comfort/convenience/performance options that were available in the 1980s. This included all power accessories, leather seating, keyless entry, an onboard computer/message center, digital instruments (on all except the LSC models after 1986). All Mark VIIs came with full air suspension with an electronic ride control system. Mark VIIs also came with a 4-speed automatic transmission, stainless steel tubular headers, dual exhaust, and either SEFI or throttle body fuel injection (dependent on model). Some 1987 models and all 1988 models got a horsepower and torque boost thanks to a larger throttle body and better flowing cylinder heads.
The Mark VII was also the first American vehicle with electronic 4-channel anti-lock brakes (November 1984, six months before the Corvette). It was also the first American vehicle with composite headlights. The vehicle also featured a unique four-wheel air suspension which while being quite reliable for the most part, received a poor reputation for the simple fact that most Lincoln dealership personnel were unfamiliar with diagnosing and repairing the system if a customer returned a malfunctioning car to the dealership for service to the air suspension. The typical repair usually consisted of the dealer mechanics recommending the wholesale replacement of most major components of the air suspension system, often priced at upwards of $2000-$3000...a repair price that easily would send the typical owner of a 5 year (or so) Mark VII into fits of apoplexy. A quick sale of the car to the first buyer that came along was often the result. Unfortunate, really for the Mark VII air suspension is in fact quite a reliable and effective system, and many Mark VII enthusiasts have discovered just how simple to work on and gratifying to own and experience this feature is on these particular cars.
Lincoln once again downsized the Mark series in 1984. As it had in the mid-seventies, the Mark shared a platform with the Ford Thunderbird. Though the Mark VII featured substantially different styling, the resemblance to the Thunderbird was apparent. The Mark was one of the first cars in the US to use headlamps that were flush with the body, creating a very aerodynamic look that the Thunderbird didn't receive until 1987. The standard engine was Ford's 302cid V8, equipped with fuel injection. For enthusiasts, a high-output version of this engine was available in the Mk VII LSC. The LSC model also included sport-tuned suspension and gearing. As the appeal of "personal luxury" coupes declined, the initially strong sales of the Mark VII declined as well. While the Thunderbird was completely redesigned in 1989, the Mark was unchanged until 1992, by which time sales had slowed considerably.
- 1984–1987 Continental Mark VII (base)
- 1984–1985 Versace Designer Edition
- 1984–1992 Bill Blass Designer Edition
- 1984–1992 LSC (Luxury Sport Coupe)
- 1990–1992 LSC SE (Monochromatic paint and trim, Black, Garnet Red Metallic, Electric Current Red Metallic and Titanium Metallic)
The Mark VIII was Lincoln's last personal luxury coupe, sold between 1993 and 1998. The Mark VIII was assembled at Ford's Wixom, Michigan assembly plant and was based on the FN10 platform. The 1996 LSC model got 10 hp (7.5 kW) more, true dual exhaust, lower (3.27) gearing and other luxury features. The 1996 LSC was the first car from an American automaker to be equipped with HID headlights, and the 1997 to 1998 models continued the groundbreaking lighting trend with even larger housings for the HID system, and an innovative neon third brakelight across the entire rear decklid. See also Lincoln Mark VIII for a more in-depth view.
2004 Lincoln MK9 concept
See Lincoln MK9
- Continental Mark II
- Lincoln Continental Mark III
- Lincoln Continental Mark IV
- Lincoln Continental Mark V
- Lincoln Continental Mark VII
|Henry M. Leland||Corporate website||A brand of the Ford PAG|