Curbside Classic: 1975 Lincoln Continental Mark IV – Former Cover Girl Now Living on the Wrong Side of the Tracks

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The church where I serve is in a tough neighborhood. It was solidly middle class when it was built a hundred years ago, but today it knows all of the problems of poverty: un/underemployment, addiction, abuse. One problem not related to poverty is that there isn’t enough parking on the neighborhood’s narrow streets. A few of our nearest neighbors use our lot. We didn’t exactly invite them. But the lot is largely unused except during church events, so we feel like it’s a kindness to leave them be. The cast of automotive characters in our lot changes frequently — transience is one of the problems of poverty. We see a lot of worn-out trucks and Roaches of the Road. But every now and then something unusual and special shows up. Like this ’75 Mark IV.

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Long and low, it commands attention. It commanded attention in 1975, too – these cars have presence. They make today’s tall and stubby cars look almost comical.

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I’ve seen a few of these restored at shows and auctions, and figured that’s where most of these that have survived have ended up. But you’re never going to see any restored classics in this neighborhood. Old cars that pass through are always rough.

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The interior looks pretty good, though. Surprisingly good. And surprisingly flossy. Was this an everyday Mark, I wondered as I snapped these photographs, or was it special?

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Verdict: special. It’s a genuine “Saddle and White Luxury Group” Mark IV!

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This was the second year for this trim option. In 1974, a Mark IV so equipped graced the cover of that year’s Continental brochure.

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Two other Luxury Group options were available in 1975: the Silver Luxury Group (also introduced for 1974) and the new Lipstick and White Luxury Group. How many men would have bought the latter car if only they had called it the Crimson and White Luxury Group?

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The Broughamification of our nation was well underway, and Lincoln quadrupled its Broughamy bet in ’76 with the first of its Designer Series Marks: the Pucci, Givenchy, Cartier, and Bill Blass Editions. So long to the Luxury Groups, but hello to a Lincoln tradition that, even though it shifted to the Town Car in 1982, persisted through 2008.

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This generation Mark was, of course, the first not to have an exclusive platform and body. Ford juiced its margins by basing the Mark on the contemporary Thunderbird. And glory be, you could get a Bird trimmed similarly to this Mark. For less. Jason Shafer found one of these gold-and-white Thunderbirds a few years ago, by the way, sporting a terrible aftermarket hood scoop. Check it out here. And I know it’s entirely subjective but I think the Bird sports a lovelier beak.

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Here’s this Mark’s beak, a little worse for the wear. But the car looks largely intact, and the rust appears to be only on the surface.

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A couple weeks after I photographed this Mark, a funeral packed our lot full. Too full; several cars parked up the middle, blocking everybody else in. It fell to me to find the offending drivers and get them to back their cars out one by one. While I was out directing traffic, a very small woman who appeared to be of Mexican descent approached me, obviously angry, demanding in heavily accented English to know when our lot would be clear and she could park her car in it. Sometimes our neighbors forget that we’re doing them a solid by letting them park here. Anyway, as I drove out I spotted this Mark parked on the busy main road. I have to assume the car and that woman went together. But it was the last time I saw either of them. As is common in this transient neighborhood, both had clearly moved on.

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Related reading:

J.P. Cavanaugh tells a story of his father’s ’72 Mark IV.

Tom Klockau found a ’76 Givenchy Edition Mark IV.

Richard Bennett showcases a pristine ’76 Mark IV.