Here’s something you don’t see every day. A pair of cream-colored 1979 Lincolns with as-delivered mileage: A 1979 Mark V with 10 miles, and a matching 1979 Continental with just 4 miles on the odometer. They both came up for auction last month in Kissimmee, FL, as part of Mecum’s Low Mileage Collection. As most of us know, 1979 would be the final year for both the Mark V and full-sized Continental, as both would be downsized considerably for 1980. These examples, therefore, make a fitting capstone to the Brougham era at Lincoln.
Let’s take a look at the Continental first. This appears to be a fairly well equipped example, sporting the Town Car package, which includes “Valleao” velour cloth seats in what appears to be Jubilee Gold (leather was optional). Surprisingly, Lincoln’s official name of this exterior color (and Valino-grain vinyl coach roof) is just “Cream,” and not some highfalutin name that starts with the letter “V.”
Further options include the aforementioned coach roof (with coach lamps), opera windows, cruise control, tilt wheel, and an AM/FM radio with a “Quadrasonic” 8-Track tape player. Someone wanted to make sure they sent off the brougham epoch in all its crushed velour, opera-windowed glory. While these brougham-tastic colors may not be appealing to modern eyes, they certainly are period-correct.
Next up is the Mark V, also in Cream. Trying to navigate all of the Mark’s special editions is always tricky, as Lincoln offered no fewer than four designer series and two special editions for the Mark V’s final year. However, this Mark appears to be sporting the Gold/Cream Luxury Group, with cream leather seats and Jubilee Gold carpet and interior trim.
Other options include the Cream-color Valino-grain vinyl Landau roof with opera windows, power vent windows, turbine-style cast-aluminum wheels, and a tilt steering wheel.
But the real mystery is how these cars came to be in the first place? Why buys two brand new Lincolns in 1979, and then promptly parks them, never to drive them again? There are some tantalizing clues in the provided documentation.
On June 29, 1979, Clyde L. Farris purchased both Lincolns from Morristown Lincoln-Mercury in Morristown, Tennessee, about 100 miles from Mr. Farris’ hometown of Arden, North Carolina. They appear to have been special ordered, as the paperwork above indicates only leaving a $100 deposit for each.
Looking at the invoice, Farris appears to have been given a pretty generous discount of 20% off the sticker price of both cars. I guess it really does pay to buy in bulk. Why he traveled over 100 miles to an out-of-state Lincoln-Mercury dealer to make his purchase is a bit of a mystery too, but again the invoice provides a potential clue: No taxes were collected, so perhaps Mr. Farris was trying to avoid paying North Carolina taxes on his purchase?
Adding to the mystery is that the dealer appears not to have performed the usual pre-delivery preparation (perhaps at Farris’ request?). There is still factory protective plastic wrap present in the interior of both cars, and factory grease pencil markings under the hood that normally would have been wiped off. I thought it odd that both cars sport plain air canisters, but this because both cars are equipped with the “Ford” 400 cubic inch V8, the sole engine available for 1979. The “Lincoln” 460 V8 (which did get the decals and blue paint on the air canister), was last available in 1978.
From here, the trail gets cold. Clearly, Farris didn’t drive the cars back to his home in Arden, NC – the miles would have registered on the odometer, so the cars must have been shipped. Indeed, these cars never moved any significant distance under their own power, as even a short drive around the block would have added miles to the odometer.
It is hard to fathom what would motivate someone to spend over $27,000 in 1979 ($97,000 in 2021) for a pair of almost identical luxury cars, only to park them, and never drive them again. More than just park them, actually: Farris appears to have gone to great lengths to make sure the cars accumulated no miles, transporting them whenever they needed moving rather than driving them under their own power. The pair doesn’t even appear to have been registered – they are still sporting the Morristown L-M dealer plates on the front.
Back to the auction: Both cars failed to meet the reserve amount (which was not disclosed). The Continental was bid up to $27,000, while bidding for the Mark V peaked at $33,000, both very good money for 1970’s land yachts, but apparently not good enough.