Classic Curbside Classic: 1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV – Gas Fed Beef

(first posted 12/19/2011)     Ah, the 1970’s. It was the Big decade, a time for big houses, big hair, big families, and big cars!

Despite this being the Malaise Era, status seekers still knew what they liked. Show the world you have arrived with a Fleetwood. Keep up with the Jones’ by buying a Cutlass.

But according to stories I have heard, if you were the owner of a Steak House, or a Car Wash, you drove one of these.

The Lincoln Continental Mark IV.

The Mark IV debuted in 1972. Once again based on the Thunderbird, it was a huge (no pun intended) success for Lincoln. By 1974 it got even longer, thanks to the mandated larger bumpers, but it was one of the few cars from that era that actually wore them somewhat well.

As time wore on, Lincoln realized that they had to do something to keep the Marks interesting, and in the best of 1970’s ideas, came up with the Decor Options, which was basically different color schemes one could order up. But the big news for these came for 1976 with the introduction of the Designer Series, featuring models with colors and fabrics inspired by Bill Blass, Givenchy, Pucci and Cartier.  Along with these the Decor options were still available, and Lincoln used the tag line, “This year, make your own Mark”.

This particular car holds a special place in my heart. It belongs to my grandparents, who bought it slightly used in the late 1970’s. It became my Grandma’s summer car and trip car. I loved riding in it because it didn’t matter how warm it was outside, the white interior never seemed to get hot.

I remember in 1982 we had to travel to Virginia from Michigan to attend the funeral of my Great Grandmother, my Grandpa’s mother. Mom and I sat in the back while Grandma and Grandpa rode up front. Grandma always cooked for the trip so there was a basket of fried chicken and fritters in the floor for her to feed to us the whole way.

A couple of days later the funeral took place and we were in the processional heading to the cemetery. It was a long ways away, up in the mountains, and for some reason Grandpa seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. He was whipping that big ol’ Lincoln around the curves as fast as he could, with the tires squealing and me sliding across the leather back seat back and forth, and my poor Grandma holding on for dear life, knowing she better keep quiet!!!

The car has the 460 ci engine, which purrs like a kitten still. I always got a kick out of how on the dash there is a light that says “Lo Fuel Econ”. It’s supposed to help encourage efficient driving. However, every time Grandma would pull away from a stop sign, or anywhere for that matter, that light would start flashing!

When I was eighteen they let me take it out for a drive. I always likened the experience to piloting a 747. It was serene yet somewhat ponderous, and I’ll never forget it. That was in 1993, and that was also the last summer they registered it for the road.

Finally this year Grandpa decided to get it freshened up. It’s in remarkably good condition, with just 42,440 miles on the clock. This particular car came with the Jade and White Decor option. It’s rather rare and still looks incredible.

Grandpa has decided that he wants the car sold. Grandma is sad about it, but understands that they don’t need three cars at their age. (There is also a 1991 Town Car and 1997 Grand Marquis in the garage. Yes, Panther Love runs deep in my family)

It’s not everyday that someone can see and touch something from their childhood, and I’m glad that this car has stood the test of time.

Big, heavy, and full of flavor, kind of like that Steak I’m now craving!

Check out Richard Bennett’s facebook page “The Brougham Society”