After several years with the Town Car, I was ready to sell it on to someone else to have some fun and to explore another car on my list of possible collectibles. Before I was done I’d talk seriously to one seller and wind up buying a car from a totally different seller. Allow me to explain…
There were a couple of cars on my future collectible list that I hadn’t yet owned. One was the first generation (1989-1993) Taurus SHO. I’d actually looked at that car in ’89 before buying the SC, in fact. I particularly liked this first generation car as it didn’t look much different from the basic Taurus of the time – the ’89 model even used the same alloy wheels and wheel caps as the Taurus LX, leaving the only clues to its performance capabilities to a deeper front bumper with fog lights, some side skirts, and an SHO stamped rear bumper. I’d been keeping an eye out for a good example, but like the Thunderbird SC they were a bit difficult to find. The few that did show up had been ridden pretty hard and showed it.
During one cruise through the online classifieds before selling the Town Car I’d seen a pretty nice ’89 SHO that was relatively close by in North Carolina, but it disappeared shortly after it appeared. I assumed that it had been quickly snapped up by a collector. Much to my surprise, the car appeared again in the collector classifieds a month or two later when I was in the market for a car, this time with an extensive list of additional upgrades and repairs done while the car was off the market. The sale price of the car was not that much more than the bills for all the upgrades, so I reached out to the seller to express my interest in buying the car. In doing so, I made a bit of an error, as I thought my e-mail communication to the seller was pretty clear: I wanted to buy the car but just wanted to talk with the owner to confirm a few details. Unfortunately for me, that message didn’t get to the seller in quite the way I intended to, as when I called him to talk about the car he said he’d gotten a second email (after mine) that differed in one critical detail – the second buyer had offered a deposit. The seller was a bit surprised at getting two interested buyers at once, as he said he’d had the car for sale for awhile online and got a lot of virtual tirekickers but no buyers. As the other buyer had offered a deposit the seller felt he had to give the car to that buyer. I told him that I understood but explained that I was intending to buy the car when I e-mailed him. I noted that I was willing to pay the asking price as I thought the car, with all of its repairs and upgrades, was certainly worth it. He got very quiet on the phone at this point and admitted that the other buyer had gotten the car for about 20% less than I was willing to pay. Lesson learned on my end – if you want the car, say so explicitly. Back to the internet for more searches!
I kept an eye out for additional Taurus SHOs but without much luck. At the same time I was looking for another car in my list, the Lincoln Mark VII. Introduced in 1984, the Mark VII was a drastic change from the vinyl-roofed luxobarges of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The first car in the United States to receive flush aerodynamic headlamps (requiring some considerable work on Ford’s part to work with the Feds to make them legal, as I recall), the aerodynamic Mark VII was more closely tied to the current Ford Thunderbird than the boxy Fairmont and Marquis with which it shared Fox-body components. As with many cars from U.S. manufacturers, it overstayed its welcome somewhat and by its last sales year of 1992, what had been a revolutionary car in appearance and capability simply looked like day-old bread. From a high of 38,000 Marks sold in 1988, by 1992’s shortened model year (ending in April) Lincoln could only shift 5732 of these cars, likely because the MN12 Cougar and Thunderbird offered similar performance, more technology, and more contemporary looks. By 1992 Cadillac had finally rid itself of the stubby downsized Eldorados and introduced a much longer and more modern looking version (still with FWD, though).
I had talked my parents into buying a Mark VII LSC in 1986 in lieu of the Buick Park Avenue that they were eyeing, which I considered to be a great success of my teenage years. I distinctly remember the price of that Lincoln – it was $24,612 in 1986 dollars, a number that I recall simply because my father repeated it so many times in amazement. Our previous family vehicles had been used cars of varying quality, the most expensive of which had cost us about $3000, so this was a big jump. I recalled being very impressed with the car’s acceleration, its air-sprung ride and handling, and its braking (the first car I’d ever driven with ABS), so I wanted to have another one for myself.
I’d seen a couple of Mark VIIs for sale at the Carlisle Ford show and had picked up some info and phone numbers for them but hadn’t talked to any of the owners or really pursued a purchase. While trolling the local Craigslist postings for SHOs and Marks, I came across a really nice black 1992 Mark VII in PA that looked familiar. Checking back to the info I’d picked up at Carlisle, I realized that the Craigslist Lincoln was the same one that I’d looked at several times at the show. This car was in great original shape, had just over 49k miles on it, and had clearly been pampered for its whole life. The only flaw that I had seen at the show was a power antenna that didn’t quite retract all the way – otherwise, the car was near-flawless. This included the bright red leather interior that really made the car stand out. (Find me a manufacturer today that will offer an all-red interior!)
I got in touch with the owner to verify the car was still available – he said it was still for sale. He had owned it for about 7 or 8 years but had been trying to sell it for the last couple of years as he had too many toys (how many car collectors have said that). Alas, unlike my other car purchases that had interesting back stories (Ford test cars, VIP leases, etc.) this Lincoln was just a well-cared-for car purchased at a New Jersey dealer. Having learned my lesson from the SHO, I made sure that I expressed my interest in buying the car emphatically so it wouldn’t disappear from under me. Since he’d had it on the market for several years, he wasn’t nearly as concerned and didn’t even require a deposit.
At this point in the COAL entry I’d be telling you about how well the car drives, mentioning the repairs it needs, and maybe talking about car show awards. However, since I bought this car at the very end of summer last year and almost immediately put it into winter storage, I’m afraid I only have a few impressions and only two photos of it so far (hence the lack of pictures for this entry). This Mark VII drives equally as well as my parents’ car did in the 80’s, so my memories of the car from 30 years ago were pretty spot-on (I’d wondered if the passage of time would mean that I’d be disappointed in the car’s performance). Unlike previous collector car purchases, everything on this Lincoln worked, including the often-failed air suspension (many Mark VII owners convert to conventional coils) and the automatic air conditioning. I’ve not yet gotten the car out for the summer show season, but I plan to do so soon. Based on past experience I am sure that there will be something that will have to be fixed, but that’s all part of owning one of these cars. In the short time I had the car out last fall I got into several conversations with people who really appreciated it, and the owner of the garage where I store my cars was very impressed with its condition.
With the purchase of this Lincoln, I think I’ve finally gotten to a collection of cars (Cougar XR7, Thunderbird SC, and Mark VII) that I am satisfied with. I have thought about looking for a Taurus SHO (and did find at least one very nice one on eBay in California recently) but I can’t see myself parting with any one of the cars to get something new. I certainly don’t have the space to get four cars…or do I? Time will tell.