Ever been surprised by something you’ve found in a newly acquired car? I’ve bought so many used cars, I have found a wide variety of items in them. Of course, I’ve found common things like coins, papers, cheap tools, and jumper cables. Years ago, it was common to find half packs of cigarettes and Bic lighters. Other finds have been more unusual. Twice I’ve bought cars which were infested with ants. I once found a person’s driver’s license, another time I found a hidden knife, and a creepy-find was miscellaneous surgical instruments. I’ve found phones, not just cellular ones. In an ‘86 Vette I found an old Motorola car phone mounted in the storage bin behind the seat.
What was in the Mark VII could’ve killed me.
The 1984 Lincoln Mark VII was a radical departure from the Mark VI. The 1983 model was your grandfather’s car. Boxy, very soft, very traditional. For 1984 things completely changed. (I think it would have been interesting to have been a car salesman at a Lincoln/Mercury dealer in the fall of 1983. You would have had two extremely different Lincoln Marks for sale – probably two different kinds of customers too.) The ’84 through ’92 Mark VII was certainly closer to a Thunderbird than a Continental. The Mark VII arrived one year after its new cousin over at Ford.
The Mark was a competent luxury car, but was also a driver’s car. Mark VIIs were available with all the expected goodies, and four wheel discs too. It was the first U.S. built production vehicle to have “Euro” style headlights, and it was the first to have standard four wheel ABS. Virtually all Mark VIIs came with Ford’s 302 cast iron V8. As years passed, this Mustang 5.0 H.O. was improved and the Mark received similar upgrades. Later versions of the Mark used the identical 5.0 H.O. used in the Mustang with no changes.
This car was a BMW killer. A fantastic car in a straight line or the curves. Back in the 1980s my wealthy boss consistently bought German cars until the Mark VII came along. I knew it must have been a good car for him to have traded in his Mercedes for one.
Fast-forward twenty years. When my Cougar sold COAL here I was looking for a project. A friend from church said he sold his Lincoln Mark VII to a guy, but the new owner never registered it or drove it. The car had been sitting for a year or so. Was I interested? This was the only car I can remember ever buying sight unseen. I have never bought a car through Ebay or any other online spot which involved a long-distance transaction. I want to see what I’m getting.
A friend once bought a Buick Century through Ebay. The car was located in Naples, Florida (a retirement area). He assumed it was a Florida car. When the car showed up at his house he found that it was eaten up with rust underneath. It had spent a lot of time somewhere in the northeast. Salted roads had done it in. But it still looked nice on the outside though.
But I digress. The day came when we were to close the deal. I took our half-ton Chevy Express van to go get the Mark VII. A third party had loaned a trailer, and when I arrived, the Mark VII was already loaded. I had a quick look around the car (I had already agreed to buy it.) Then I paid, got the title and we hooked up the trailer to the back of my van.
Towing is not new to me. I have a CDL and have driven many trucks. My van weighed somewhere around 6,000 pounds. I guessed the Mark VII weighed somewhere around 3,700-3,900. The trailer maybe added a thousand. I assumed everything was good-to-go.
When I got up to speed on the interstate, I had an unusual sensation. The trailer started to sway and it was sliding the rear axle of my van side-to-side like a play toy. This porpoise-ing effect often gets worse, not better. The tail wagging the dog. Thankfully, I noticed it right away, and was able to get everything slowed down, I headed toward the shoulder and stopped. I figured that the car needed to come up closer on the back of the trailer. But when I checked, the car was already pulled all the way forward on the trailer (nose first). There was lots of weight on the tongue.
I bought the car only a few miles from home, and I was just about a mile from my exit, so I rolled along the shoulder of the freeway. When I got home, I got in the car to unload it. Then I began to figure things out. The back window had a water leak. It was the rainy season. The carpet was drenched. This added at least 200 pounds. When I opened the trunk, I found it was completely full of spare parts. There was even an extra Ford AOD transmission and a torque converter in there! The trunk also had six inches of water in it too, but not a single drip underneath! My “little” 3,700 pound car was probably tipping the scales closer to 5,000. When I figured in the weight of the trailer, all of this was more than the tow vehicle.
After this, things were good. The ownership experience with the Mark was mostly uneventful. I remember the factory air ride had trouble so I converted the car to coil springs. I enjoyed the car. I rarely see them anymore, but when I do, I think of the tail wagging the dog.
Along with an original Continental and Mark II, this is the one I’d be willing to own. A Mark VIII would only be slightly behind. Everything in between – meh.
I fell fully in love with these when they appeared on the scene. Unfortunately I had Champagne taste and (root)beer budget at the time. Therefore waay out of my price range. Always have the song “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody and the lost planet airmen (no kidding!) run though my head when I see one.
When this cars successor the Mark VIII appeared (a car that I thought deserved to do better than it did sales-wise) it got a blurb in Hot Rod Magazine (my father is a long time subscriber.)
The headline? “Hot Rod Lincoln” and a warning to subscribers about the 0-60 and quarter mile times, lest their readers precious hot rods get dusted by a luxury car.
Unfortunately, the Mk VIII styling backslid toward the old-man-in-a-leisure-suit sensibility. The VII got my attention, but I wouldn’t have been caught dead in the VIII no matter how fast it was.
Really, you thought the Mark VIII looked stodgy? I don’t see it!
Sadly, the incredibly-complex MkVIII did not age well.
I had a friend in a similar situation who foolishly allowed himself to look at one of these at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership. While he couldn’t afford a Mark VII he ended up coming home with a new Cougar.
This car was a winning formula that I think could have continued to work for Ford Mo Co.
It wouldn’t have outsold the Lexus SC but I think that Mustang + plus unique body panels + luxury interior could have continued to equal profit.
This car was very impressive to me in 1984. I don’t know why, but the next gen Mark VIII never did it for me. Perhaps because of Japanese competition that didn’t exist in 1984, but the VIII didn’t seem to have the appointments to justify it’s price.
Paladin said it above, “Champagne taste on a (root)beer budget”… I could so relate at 24YO when these came out. I’d bought an ’83 T-Bird earlier in 1984 and loved it. I wasn’t crazy about the notchback look on the Cougar, but when I first saw one of these, I was smitten. I remember a piece on Motor Week about these where John Davis was talking about the new headlights. He mentioned that since this was the first car in the US to have them, replacement bulbs were going to be expensive. A guy down 2 doors down the street from me was a cameraman for this MPT series, and used to get to bring various cars that Motor Week was testing home with him for a day or so. I got a close up look at one, and was impressed. It was way nicer than its T-Bird platform mate. Funny thing about those headlights, by the time I got my 88 T-Bird (which now had those), you could get a 2-pack of Sylvania 9004(s) – if memory serves – for a couple of bucks, not the “hundereds of dollars” of which John Davis spoke.
This is another car that I have always had a secret longing for. I knew a guy who had one from new and he really liked it.
This car was to me the end of a long drought in American luxury cars. Through the 60s, an expensive American car was powerful and fast. In the 70s their big-inch engines at least got you a ton of torque. Then came 1980 and the lost years of no power, no torque and transmissions and axle ratios determined to strangle whatever usable torque might have accidentally made it to the ground. But here, finally there was a Lincoln again that knew what to do when you put your right foot down.
It was a shame that this engine never made it into the Town Car.
I too had a secret longing for this car. I found the interior to be especially handsome when trimmed in leather. The exterior design was a tastefully cleaned-up interpretation of many of the 1970s and 80s brougham-tastic styling cues and not out of place compared to major competitors. Being in my late 20s at the time, however, I felt I was at least 20 years too young to own such a car and gravitated toward smaller, sportier choices instead.
When Lincoln wasn’t afraid of still using their iconic design elements. Notice the RR-inspired radiator shell and the “hint” of a Continental tire on the trunklid? Nowadays when I see a modern Lincoln I often have to wait until I am close enough to see the logo to know just what it is. They have become generic cars just like every one else’s.
I miss cars like this
I’ve always lusted after the Mark VII. The styling is right in between the Aerobird T-Birds of the time, and the Fox Body Mustang. There’s enough sharp, square lines, but enough swooping aerodynamic ones. Interior-wise, it’s quite like the Mustangs of the day, even the steering wheel, but somehow, it still manages to exude an upper class luxury aura. And with the 5.0 HO, along with the snowflake rims, that completes the package of power and sportiness. It looks tough, upper class and prestigious (with the spare tire hump), and though I like the Mark VIII’s as well (especially with the Teksid motor), looks wise, it wasn’t quite the same, because it went to mostly swooping aerodynamic lines. With the Mark VII LSC, there’s still a lineage to the square, sharp styling of Lincolns from the 60’s and 70’s.
I owned a Mk VII from “89 to ’92 and drove it all over the U.S., particularly the south. It was a great road car, handled well and got great gas mileage (23-24 MPG at high speed). I drove from my office in Houston to Midland, TX without stopping, 524 miles, still the longest non-stop drive I ever had, averaging about 72 MPH. I saw Jack Telnack, the designer at the dedication of the Lincoln Motor Car Museum two years ago and he was very proud of the Mk VII, the bean counters got hold of the interior, but the overall car was very nice. I joked the interior made LSC stand for “Like Something Cheaper”. He was unamused.
In the LCOC, the Mk VII is more numerous than the Mk VIII because of the unavailability of several MK VIII parts (headlights, rear window seal, neon taillight, etc.). All in all, the Mk VII was a landmark car, which is still well thought of and popular today.
I agree that the Mark VII was kind of the best of both worlds. Even David E. Davis of Car and Driver magazine was impressed with them. While all the big personal luxury sporty coupes were gone from American manufacturers for years, the European makes like BMW and MBZ and Lexus have several available. I still miss that kind of car.
I always liked the Mark VII a lot, and I always wanted one as a first car. Sadly, there wasn’t any in the area at the time, so the Eldorado was bought. Then shortly after I bought it, a 5000 dollar triple black LSC example with less than 100k and in fantastic condition showed up on Craigslist.
In hindsight, I should’ve waited. Oh well, it’s going to be a while before these become super valuable so, I should have some chance at getting one.
If it’s any consolation, I don’t think the Mk VII comes anywhere near your Eldorado!
Between this article on Marks and a previous one on the GM clamshell tailgate, I was reminded of this concept video for disappearing car doors. I once owned an 89 Buick Regal that I would’ve loved to see converted like the Mark VIII in the video.
That’s both a happy and frightening surprise.
Spare parts? Good. Unknown extra baggage? Yeesh!
Years back I was into turbo Mopars. I had a couple that were total rust buckets with great (upgraded) drivetrains. I found a rust free 86 Omni roller that already had the 5 lug conversion and Daytona “Crab” wheels for cheap on a forum and it was only 15 miles away. Sent the money and set a date without question. I grabbed a buddies tow dolly and headed off to pick it up. The car was better than described and I was grinning ear to ear. He helped load up and I took off. As I was going down my alley some 14.9 miles later I started hearing a Thunk..Thunk..Thunk sound. Nothing looked strange in the mirrors so I stopped to look around. I kicked the rear bumper and the right rear wheel slumped on it’s studs with one lug nut barely holding things together. The PO never tightened the *@##$& lug nuts. He forgot and I was so excited I never checked.
I remember the Diesel version LM sold in `83 or `84. Good looking car, but that diesel, well……… A neighbor had one.It sounded like a diesel locomotive at idle, and when he drove it down the communal drive, it sounded like a tugboat. Possibly the worst sounding car I`ve ever heard.
I love these. Really different direction for Lincoln to take and it’s a shame they didn’t follow it up with a genuine sport sedan.
My only qualm with the design is the integration of the front bumper. It looks like it’s awkwardly perched there. I’m not a real fan of the tire hump either but at least that’s a Lincoln signature cue.
I had a gold 1985 LSC I bought used in 1992 for use as my everyday driver. As others have mentioned it was a smooth handling car that completely blew contemporary Cadillacs out of the water styling and performance wise. I only had minor problems with it (the fuel line had a crack in it, necessitating a replacement) but the most maddening thing was the digital dash. The speedometer would take random times to tell me I was doing 0 mph while rolling down the road, and then after reading 0, would return to the correct speed. It did it without rhyme or reason. Other than that it was a great car that I wish Lincoln would make again, instead of generic SUVs and weirdly styled Fusion clones. And yes, I realize Lincolns of old borrowed from Fords and Mercuries, but stylists hid it better in the past.
As for the story, at first I imagined a snake or black widow crawling out of the back seat or trunk. I’m surprised the author didn’t pop the trunk to see if it had a jack and spare at least.
Ehhh, the ’17 Lincolns look nothing like their Ford counterparts. If you were talking about, say, the ’07-13 lineup, then I’d agree with you.
I’ve always thought these were sharp cars.
My friend had something similar happen when hauling a car about a decade ago, but his didn’t end well like yours did. I remember him saying afterwards that the hitch angle to the truck was wrong, but I wasn’t there for any of it so I can’t say for sure. All I know is that the double axle dovetail trailer with his BMW 325e on it was fishtailing violently and he was unable to bring it back.
The trailer with the car on it tore off the hitch and flipped at least once before landing on the roof of the car. Now, my friend has hauled cars without incident before and his dad is a truck driver, so I know there were some serious forces at play. Definitely a scary scenario!