COAL: 1978 Lincoln Continental Town Coupe – One of Those “Once in a Lifetime” Finds

Last week we looked at the 1999 Chrysler LHS I owned after returning from a long work assignment in Japan.  Now back in the US for hopefully at least a few years, I was looking forward to fully participating in the hobby I had put-off while overseas; owning a classic ‘60’s – ‘70’s Lincoln.

My 1967 Lincoln Coupe at a Local Car Show

My 1967 Lincoln Coupe at a Local Car Show

I started out looking in the local area around Dayton, and found a 1967 Coupe for sale in nearby Huber Heights.  The son was selling it for his father who had recently passed.  It was a “driver”; all there but not in the best of shape.  We quickly came to a deal and I brought it home.  I owned it for about a year but found out the undercarriage was too rusted to start any kind of restoration – so I sold it.  It’ll be the subject of a future COAL.

My 1978 Lincoln Town Coupe

My 1978 Lincoln Town Coupe (top photo also)

Learning my lesson, I looked for another Lincoln that was in better shape – and came across a 1978 Town Coupe being sold by a classic car dealership in St Louis – it was advertised as an original 5300 mile car.  It certainly looked it in the pictures and in the video that I requested from the dealer.  I splurged on a plane ticket and went down to look it over.

The car was indeed a 5300 mile original survivor.  It was purchased by an elderly gentleman in 1978 but he had passed within the year.  The wife found it too big to drive so it resided in their heated garage for the next 22 years.  Fortunately, she had relatives stop by every several months and take it for a short spin.  When she passed in 2000, it was sold as part of the estate.  It quickly dawned on me that this may be one of those “once in a lifetime” events for a car guy.

1978 Lincoln Town Coupe

1978 Lincoln Town Coupe from Internet

It was a Town Coupe, in optional Champagne Metallic, with similar color vinyl carriage roof.  Other options included faux “wire wheel” covers, leather interior, and an AM/FM radio with integral “10-4 Good Buddy” CB.  Engine was the base 400 cu in (6.6 Liter) V8, rather than the optional 460.  It literally looked like it had just come off the showroom floor.

When they pulled it out of storage, the engine wouldn’t turn, so they squirted some Marvel Mystery Oil down each cylinder and let it sit for two days – it turned freely on the next try.  They cleaned out the gas tank and radiator, put in all new fluids and filters, checked the seals, new shocks, new tires, and it was ready for the road.  The only thing that wasn’t working was the A/C.

I was leaning towards buying it when the salesman said “Not sure if you want to look at it but we found all of this in the glove box”.  It was the Protect-O Plate card, window sticker, Bill of Sale, manual and brochure, and every maintenance receipt since new.  The sticker showed MSRP, including options, was $14,539.00.  A pretty princely sum for 1978.

That did it for me – they wanted $15K and that seemed fair given the condition, so I offered to meet their price as long as they got the A/C working.  They replaced the compressor and shipped the car for me to Dayton.

Driving it sure brought back a lot of memories circa late ‘70’s.  It drove like a new 1978 Ford – with first Gen emission controls.  It would hesitate, shudder, and occasionally stall while the engine was cold.  Once it warmed up it was fairly smooth, but it was definitely a hard starter.  I later found a retired Lincoln Tech and he volunteered to give it a tune.  It improved after that, but it would still take two or three tries before it would start and run, and several minutes for it to warm up and smooth out.

Starting issues aside, performance from the 400 was OK – I would have preferred the legendary 460, but the 400 put out 320 ft lbs of torque, tuned to come in early, so it gave sufficient shove.  It handled like any big ’70’s boat in the city, lots of wheel turning.  There was also a sizable blind-spot, but visibility other than that was superb with lots of high, flat glass.  Once you got on the expressway and up to 65-70 mph, it was really in its element, and you didn’t need a lot of steering input to keep it within its lane like on the ’67.

The only area I was a little disappointed with was the dash – and that wasn’t the car’s fault.  Prior to ’78, Lincoln Continentals had their own unique dash – one that looked like it belonged in a luxury car.  But in ’78, perhaps seeing it had only two model years left and to save a few bucks, Ford used a version of the dash in the LTD and Mercury Grand Marquis.  Ford cost-cutting strikes again.

LCOC Mid-America Meet in Dayton 2016

LCOC Mid-America Meet in Dayton – 2016

I owned the Lincoln for the next several years, taking it out each Spring and storing it in the Fall.  We would attend all the local car shows, Cars and Coffee events, etc., – and it never failed to draw a crowd or bring home a trophy.  I would have loved to have taken it to one of the Lincoln Continental Owners Club (LCOC) meets but never could make the schedule work.  A few years after I put it in storage, LCOC had one of their regional meets in Dayton…my luck.

In 2003, we returned to Japan, and I thought long and hard about taking the Lincoln with me.  But a large enough parking space, Japanese emissions and registration, parts, etc., all led me to decide to put it in storage.  After a few more years when it looked like we might not be going back soon, I concluded it’s best to let someone else enjoy it – and contacted Chris Dunn, owner of Lincolnland in Clearwater Florida – well known in Lincoln circles.  I asked Chris if he would consign and sell the car and he agreed.  In only two days, he had an interested buyer.  I told Chris I was less interested in price than ensuring the car went to a true Lincoln enthusiast – someone who would not jack it up and put on “Dubs”.  The buyer was indeed a Lincoln devotee and we sold it to him for $16K.

I still miss that Lincoln…


Related Posts:

1978 Lincoln Continental Town Coupe – CAFE Is Coming

Curbside Comparison: How Does A 1978 Lincoln Continental Town Coupe Drive Compared To Newer Cars?