Curbside Classic: 1990 Lincoln Mark VII LSC Special Edition – Not Your Uncle Max’s Mark

The Lincoln Mark VII was not your typical floaty, land yacht Lincoln. The new LSC (for Luxury Sport Coupe) model was the first Lincoln marketed as a driver’s car, and could hold its own with pricy European coupes, something that would have been laughable just a year prior. The 1990-92 LSC Special Edition may have been the best of the bunch.

The 1980 Mark VI took the successful styling cues of the previous Mark V and adapted it to the new Panther platform. Slightly awkward proportions and more commonality with the ‘standard’ Continental made the VI less special, and sales never reached the highs of the Mark V.

The all-new 1983 ‘aero’ Thunderbird previewed Ford’s new styling direction, and the Mark got the same treatment for 1984. The Designer Series and chromed-up standard models were (unsurprisingly) back, but the big news was the LSC.

Intended for the serious driver, it included a 5.0L V8, P215/65R15 Goodyears on light alloy wheels, perforated leather bucket seats, fog lamps, black cladding in lieu of chrome, and a specially tuned version of the air ride suspension. Analog gauges replaced the digital ones used in other Marks. The big news for 1985 was anti-lock brakes, added to the already-capable four wheel discs. In 1986, the 200 hp High Output (HO) version of the 5.0L V8 became standard equipment in the LSC. It would do 0-60 in 8.3 seconds.

Detail refinements were the norm during the Mark VII’s long production run. For 1988, the LSC got new 16″ alloy wheels. Bill Blass Marks received the same High Output V8 as the LSC, but retained the digital gauges, special striping and pillow-top seats. The 1989 models carried on in much the same fashion.

The 1990 Mark VII was updated with a new instrument panel and driver’s side airbag. The LSC received attractive new BBS alloys. A new Special Edition package was available on the LSC. Available only in Midnight Black or Garnet Red (Dark Titanium was also available, but rarely seen), it featured special exterior accents. All chrome, save the grille shell and badging, was now monochromatic.

The HO 5.0L was now producing 225 hp and 300 lb ft of torque. Sharing a powertrain with the Mustang GT, the LSC and Bill Blass Mark VIIs were banker’s hot rods for the late ’80s and early ’90s.

You could also get a special sport cloth and leather interior, as the ’90 or ’91 I found on Wednesday shows. This replaced the all leather interior that was standard. It was not an SE exclusive though.

I saw this particular car recently, parked in front of a small store. I wasn’t sure if it was a running vehicle, but it had moved to a garage about a block away when I took these photos. It’s in pretty good shape, though it could use a buffing out, as the paint was a bit oxidized. While it looks like one of the air bags is going out, I’m not sure because it was parked on some pretty uneven pavement.

When I was in grade school, my grandparents had a 1987 Continental in rose quartz metallic (much like the ’87 above, only theirs was not a Givenchy), which was basically a four-door Mark VII. Between about 1986 and ’94 my grandmother frequently took me to lunch, and then we would go to Sexton Ford and South Park Lincoln-Mercury to look at the new cars. In fact, the ’92 brochure I used for some of these photos came from one of those trips. I remember these Marks very well.

While the most obvious competition to the Mark VII was the Eldorado, the Mark was clearly superior, especially after 1985. It was certainly a very attractive car when compared to the over-downsized 1986-91 Eldorado. The Cadillac wasn’t really a bad car, in fact I’ve driven an ’89 Eldorado and it rode and handled nicely, but I’d take a ’90 Mark VII over a ’90 Eldorado just for the styling alone.

Other than the rare 1982-85 Eldorado Touring Coupe, there wasn’t really a direct competitor to the LSC model, but the Lincoln was much sportier with its wind-cheating sheetmetal. And the Cadillacs were handicapped by their engines until the 4.5 came out in 1988. 1988-91 Eldos were much more attractive than their 1986-87 brethren, though. For some reason, Cadillac didn’t reintroduce the Touring Coupe until 1990.

I’ve always liked the Mark VII, especially the SEs. They just looked tough, and could back it up with the HO V8. Woe to the man in the Cross-Fire Injection Z28 who decided to show the middle-aged guy in the Lincoln “a thing or two.”

They never made a ton of Mark VIIs. Despite being in production for nine model years, only a little more than 190K were made during a period when Town Cars were selling between 90-100K annually. I rarely see them these days. About ten years ago, I remember seeing a really nice black SE running around town. This may be that very same car.

The Mark VII was the first Mark that could seriously be called a driver’s car. The styling is pretty timeless, and doesn’t look dated even today. Shame that Lincoln gives us facelifted Fusions and Expeditions these days; they’re decent cars but they’re not really Lincolns. This LSC is a real Lincoln.