(first posted 6/29/2015) When I was very young, I would sit and listen to my father expound with authority on the various subjects that constitute life. Of course, any conversation with me from the age of 4 or 5 onwards would inevitably turn to cars. Dad would talk about big cars, and how they weren’t to his taste or needs. ‘What’s a big car, Dad?’ I once asked him. ‘Six cylinders,’ he replied.
Before emigrating to Australia, Dad had grown up in the austerity of post-war Italy, and a six cylinder car was genuinely large at that time and place. When he came of age, it was with a Fiat 500 Topolino (no, that’s not him) and to this day he has not owned a car of more than four cylinders.
My brother and I (and later my sister) were ferried around in a miscellany of European brands; a Volkswagen Beetle, Vauxhall Victor, Fiat 125 and 131 until Dad settled on a Volvo 145DL which was matched 10 years later with a 240 sedan for Mum. My father did well in life, but his frugality has never left him. Nor did he ever need a bigger car; both his business requirements and our family trips were adequately served by the Volvo wagon.
My brother and I grew up around greater prosperity, and managed to own a Lincoln Continental MkV. Red with white plastic roof, it was first shown in the eagerly anticipated 1979/80 Matchbox Catalogue on the new releases page.
This was a bit of a watershed edition for us; finally Matchbox had produced a US policecar with a twinsonic-type lightbar. The Mercury sedan police car in this range had been around for too long, and featured a boring old single dome flasher. The Plymouth “Gran Fury” Police Car was first on the must-get list, and in time the Lincoln was duly acquired. Once in our hands, its lines and proportions were studied and discussed, although we never noticed that Matchbox had deprived us of the full brougham effect by leaving the headlights exposed.
In the mid to late 1970s, seeing an American car on the streets of Melbourne was not a common event. Our big three had imported fullsize cars in small numbers to top their ranges, but that ended in the early 1970s. You’d see one every now and then, but they were as rare and exotic as a Porsche.
So we had cop shows and movies to educate us. Of course, the police cars screeching around corners with their distinctive panda livery and flashing lights commanded our attention, but eventually we were able to discern the other cars involved. One of the easiest to identify was the two-door Lincoln Continental Mark models.
It was so readily recognisable because of that grille. Fastened to an opulently long coupe body, the grille took on a life of its own far beyond the prestigious British marque that had inspired it. No European car came with those proportions, and no other US marque matched them with that face.
Usually driven by some leather-jacketted baddie or a silver-topped-and-sideburned captain of industry, it was clear to us where this car fitted within the social strata as defined by US television and movies. There was also an added excitement suggested by those hidden headlights; of a grand, dangerous and perhaps dissolute life enjoyed behind closed doors.
As time progessed, it was the extra-seldom seen 1972 Mark IV with its smaller front bumper that became my favourite. But my second favourite is the Mark V. This fine example was caught north of Melbourne’s CBD, and is especially nice. The bronze metallic hue allows the sun to highlight its razor-edged body perfectly. This one doesn’t go overboard with the gingerbread. No vinyl on the roof (a delete?) or on the rear tire mound, nor much other extra decoration save the bodyside pinstripe. Can anyone identify this car’s year?
It does have the opera windows. Mum loves opera, but I doubt she would understand how this optional extra fits with the masterful performances of Pavarotti and Sutherland. For my brother and I there was a singsong aspect to the words ‘Lincoln Continental’ that we would incorporate into our improvised ditties. I can still hear the melody in my head; those multi-syllable words have their own natural meter.
Under that imposing hood lies a 400 cubic inch V8 or possibly the 1977-78 only 460 option; either engine more than enough to make my father blanche. Before I was born, my grandfather had a Ford Galaxie company car, which to the best of my inquiry I can ascertain was a mid to late sixties model.
‘Did it have stacked headlights Dad?’ ‘Can’t remember.’
Dad’s loss of memory was no doubt fuelled by the one occasion he had use of the car when his father-in-law went away on a trip. Come time to fill the tank, it swallowed up his week’s wages – or at least that’s how he recalls it.
I’ve never owned an American car. The closest I’ve come is a Valiant AP5 Regal Safari with a slant-six 225, pretty much the same car as the 1964 Plymouth Valiant wagon. Or, as Americans would describe it, a compact. I’m lucky in that I don’t need a car as a daily driver – public transport and feet take care of that. So fuel prices are not the barrier to entry here.
If and when the time comes to make the serious commitment, though, it won’t be with a Continental. It’ll be with a fullsize wagon, perhaps a 1965 Pontiac – another formative car from my childhood. But that’s for another CC.
Still, I’ve got a lot of affection for this Mark V. I like its crisp lines and its evocative colour. I like its excessive size and overhangs. I like that it’s not some precious trailer queen. And I love the role the Mark series played in my automotive education.
I love pieces like this. I can relate. Australia seems to many Americans to be a land of V8 sport sedans, and there are certainly plenty, but the U.S. has always embraced the V8 (and indeed, larger cars and trucks) more passionately. Because of the lack of American cars here, what few we have received I became quite attached to growing up. The Ford Probe and Taurus and later, the Dodge Avenger. When the Big 3 want to make a visual statement, they know how to do it!
Personal luxury cars just never would have flown here. Too impractical. Hell, even coupes tend to fizzle out. The one Aussie personal luxury car, the Ford Landau, was a flop.
This is gorgeous and makes such a bold statement. Nowadays, Cadillac is still holding that torch of brash Americanism but backing it up with world-class dynamics and efficient engines. We have come a long way, but the Mark V is still such a phenomenal period piece and one that has left an indelible mark on many. Look how many of us have written about it!
You mention being attached to the American cars we do see. That is so right! I don’t think Americans can ever understand the impact their cars have in a land where they are a rarity.
One of my earliest car memories is a red ’59 Pontiac convertible I saw parked facing the wrong way outside a back-street suburban milk bar around 1960, and the sound it made as it drove off. And Uncle Ted’s ’66 Bel Air sedan, for all the space it had inside. And the ’76-ish LTD I rode in at Uncle Jack’s funeral – you mean this is all the room we get?
Disagree on one detail – you say the Ford Landau was the one Aussie personal luxury car – what about the Chrysler-by-Chrysler hardtop? Even more of a flop.
Look at Norway. There are more Corvette C3s for sale than Suburbans. There are more Mustangs for sale than Ford pickups.
Cars older than 30 years can be imported without taxes. Thousands of cars got here every year since this rule came in 1989.
Before that rule only the rich people could afford an american car, and it was often an cheap Chevrolet or Ford. The king (Olav fifth, almost only american cars) had Lincolns, Cadillacs and Buicks. Sadly, today, the royals have sold many of his cars. For the rest of us these cars was only seen on television, and we would dream of it, until we now, 30 years later, could afford to buy it 🙂
This speaks for me too! Formative American cars- Boatail Buick Riviera, the most exotic looking personal luxury car.
Mid 1960s Pontiac station wagon, used locally as a hearse!
Even in the land from whence the Mark V came, I think this would have been an uncommon and attention-grabbing color — most of the Marks of this vintage that I’ve seen have been in slightly more subdued shades (although some of the other colors are still pretty unusual by modern standards). The ’77 came in a nice shade of deep metallic green that I’ve also seen on Thunderbirds of that era. (I don’t know offhand if it was exactly the same green, but near enough.)
Would your father have parsed the occasional small (sub-2-liter) European or Japanese sixes as “big” or was simply being a six sort of a notional state not having anything particularly to do with capacity? (Which is a fair point, I suppose — there’s no compelling practical reason for using a 1.8-liter V-6 as opposed to an inline four of the same displacement that would produce the same power and better economy.)
I think his interpretation of six cylinder was transfered to the Falcons and Kingswoods we were surrounded with. Dad came of age in the late 1950s when a six cylinder in Italy was still a premium offering. His Topolino was followed by a 600.
Oh, I understand that it’s a cultural distinction rather than a technical one. I’ve talked to some people who think of any engine with more than four cylinders as “big” and actually have some cognitive dissonance when confronted with the idea of, say, a 2-liter V-8. (“Isn’t that just a four?” “Er, well, no…”)
Yes I noticed the dearth of American cars in Australia quite a contrast as they are quite common in NZ always have been but of course NZ had no indigenous motor industry to protect so the range of cars here was always much greater,
I see also that Lincoln is RHD converted another barrier to US car ownership in OZ, NZ laws have been slackened allowing so many LHD cars each year such imports are so popular this years allowance is already spoken for but of course anything old is allowed in without restriction,
You should have read the rego label Don Vic labels spell out what year of manufacture the vehicle is from.
Mining and tradie money brought in heaps of US metal over the last ten years or so. Our LHD laws have slackened as well; you can get full rego on one now. Good call on the label for year of manufacture. d’oh.
I always wondered about those RHD conversions on higher end cars. Were the window master switches and controls on the door panel moved over to the other side as well. Who manufactured the dash panels and steering parts and did the conversions. Just curious, but would be an interesting read.
Until the late 1960s, General Motors Canada supplied the CDK or partial CDK for the right-hand-drive North American vehicles to be assembled in Australia or other British Commonwealth countries with local content for seats and some components.
The same type of right-hand-drive dashboard was often fitted to several GM vehicles regardless of brand name and model year as to save the engineering and manufacturing cost.
In the 1970s and 1980s, none of Big Three (Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors) officially ever offered North American vehicles in RHD configuration. This led to the expansion of cottage industry, specialising in right-hand-drive conversion.
Before the 3D scanning and printing as well as CAD, the conversion method was mostly hand-built. There’s two different types of conversion.
One is half conversion, meaning half of steering column is moved to the right and connected by chain, brake pedal is connected by rod (like dreadful AMC Pacer for UK market).
Two is full conversion, meaning moving steering column and box, brake master cylinder, rearranging the HVAC tubes, and so forth to the right side. In some instances, the steering box and wiper mechanism are sourced from local vehicles.
Of course, the switch controls are moved to the right hand side. Not to mention adding amber turn signal indicators as required by Australian Design Rules. Sometimes the windscreen wiper mechanism have to be swapped so the drivers can have clear view.
If you are interested in how Ford Australia organised the RHD conversion for the Ford Mustang (SN-95), here’s the link:
From what I understand, most of these conversions were one-offs, and the quality varies greatly. Apparently, some were real hack jobs. As an example, rather than relocate the steering box, there would be some kind of bicycle chain setup from the RH column to the original steering box. Sounds iffy to me.
This car is a one-off conversion, as RHD Lincolns were never factory built.
On the other end of the scale, are the “mirror image” conversions, where the dash is a mirror image of the original. Not even factory built right handers were done this way. For example, all RHD Chevys up through ’64 used a mirror image of the ’58 Chevy dash. Then, 65-68 Chevys and Pontiacs used a mirror image ’65 Chevy dash. Oz Galaxies used unique dash shells with cobbled up clusters from other Fords. For example, early 60s Galaxies used a unique dash shell with ’59 Edsel components. In ’65, they switched to using ’63 Lincoln parts. The final ’68s used the cluster from a ’68 Montego, and was a very sharp dash, much nicer than the US one. Starting in ’69, they simply reversed the dash shell and moved the cluster over. This meant that on ’69-70 Oz Galaxies, the radio was not out of reach of the passenger.
If any of the boys down under know of any good websites or YouTube videos on this subject, I am curious to see.
Oliver Twist, we must have both posted at the same time.
Glad you could contribute additional information about the dashboard. Much appreciated!
Additional tidbit: General Motors used the RHD dashboard from the second generation S-10 Blazer and stretched it to fit the wider Holden Suburban for Australian market. It turned out to be a huge mistake: Australians complained of excessive rattling, shaking, and squeaking from Blazer dashboard.
That decision was very odd because Quigley 4×4 in Pennsylvania had been doing the RHD conversion for GM full-size pick-up trucks, vans, and SUVs. It built its own mirror image of dashboard, which had higher quality craftsmanship. GM could have sourced the higher quality RHD dashboard from Quigley and save engineering cost!
You know Detroit. Not Invented Here.
Chappels in Melbourne converted lots by beheading the steering column and driving it by chain from the other side of the car usually the dash just gets cut n shut BUT and its a biggie most of the conversions are awful to drive as the chassis is still set up for a left side road crown, plus of course you can see around that truck your following to overtake.
In the UK in the 1970s/80s, 6 cylinders just wasn’t really a thing. The standard family car was a 1600cc 4 cylinder, and most people seemed pretty happy with that. 1300cc would be a pretty sad option, but a 2 litre was a luxurious beast. I think this was mostly to do with insurance costs and an innate frugality born from wartime rationing.
Rover V8s were the only vaguely common larger option, but generally viewed as a little bit dodgy. 6/12 cylinder Jags were only for the fat old buggers with golf clubs in the boot.
I’ve never got over the size of US monsters like this, and they just never seemed like a car that you could see in normal, everyday life. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Yeah, I remember my mum discussing her Jag-driving millionaire uncle, and comparing her other uncle who was a senior engineer with a large corporation and would probably be a millionaire today.
Her shorthand for saying he was very comfortably off was “Well, he always had a two litre car”. ( This was the 70s, and at least one of the cars was a mk3 Cortina)
My understanding is that a number of vehicles in the UK are purchased as fleet cars and offered as employment perks for managers. Would such cars have somewhat higher levels of trim and engine size than something bought on one’s own account?
A Rolls Royce Phantom, SWB. That’s the (factory) ride you’ll need these days to match the Mark V’s overall length.
The current Mercedes Maybach S-Class is about 40 cm / 16 inch shorter.
I haven’t looked any further, but next in line are probably the L-versions of the Audi A8 and BMW 7-series.
Nearest equivalent to a Mark would be a Lincoln Navigator, except those have always played a distant second fiddle to the Cadillac Escalade.
The Lincoln Continental always reminds me of the TV show ‘Cannon’ starring William Conrad, by then almost as big as the car itself. I think that was probably a Mk.IV though.
I’ve fond memories of watching w what actually now looks like a quite ridiculous programme as well.
And then Starsky and Hutch came along….
Ridiculous? Just because he could outrun and oufight people half his weight and age, or hit anything at 100 yards or more with a snub-nose 38, doesn’t mean it’s ridiculous…..oh wait 🙂
They show those every day on the over-the-air nostalgia channels like MeTV. Yep, pretty ridiculous, but we ate it up 40 years ago.
This might be little hard to notice, but this Mark V has custom-made taillamps with amber turn signal indicators in the top third of taillamps. The front turn signal indicators have amber lens and square white side lamps inserted inside the assemble. Neither was available in US version of Mark V. Very nicely done.
Those could well be factory export equipment even if RHD is a conversion. The Middle East oil-rich nations bought their share of these and mostly required ECE lighting standards.
I think the Gulf States are the only foreign countries which imported Crown Vics in any quantity. Same goes for the fuel-guzzling M1 Abrams (which is now effectively a jobs program as the military has all it needs).
For a long time in Saudi Arabia, there were no Ford products, they being boycotted by the government for reasons having to do with Ford doing business in Israel. This is why GM products (and to a lesser extent Chrysler) were so big there. The ban was lifted some time in the late 80s, and Crown Vics were quite common when I was there in 2002. Still, the Caprice was empirically far more popular.
Yes, it is possible that the conversion specialist or owner sourced the lighting equipment from Japanese market. No idea whether Ford had officially listed Lincoln cars in its model range for Japanese market during the 1970s and 1980s.
I visited a local conversion specialist in Melbourne during my first visit to Australia in 1987. The specialist explained it’s often cheaper, faster, and easier to make a mould of taillamp then cut out the portion to be cast in amber-colour plastic. Otherwise, he would have to source the ECE taillamps in Europe or Japan, ship them to Australia, then pay the steep import duty.
Aside from Israel and perhaps a few other countries in that region, Middle Eastern market is very much like Mexico, permitting the vehicles with either US FMVSS or ECE compliance to be sold an dregistered.
Be the same for the Uk. GI cars at local air base had to have side light/ turn signal lights deactivated and ugly lighter winker lights screwed on to the bumpers.
Most states in Oz allow LHD collector cars as long as they are not used for every day transport and stay in the state?.
59 and 60 Chevs in OZ had little orange blinker lights hung under the batwings as red indicator lights arent legal in OZ, they always looked odd to me being used to the regular US versions in NZ.
Most states allow anything over 30 years old to be registered and driven in LHD form. There is club registration available too, low cost compared to regular registration but you are restricted on use. However, a 365 day treasure hunt normally takes care of that.
KJ in Oz
I had a Cortina from your Matchbox picture – altough mine had a “glow-in-the-dark” luminescent windows and was red… I think it is still somewhere in my parents home…
Very nice find! The Mark V is my favorite personal luxury coupe of the ’70s. For a car so big, it has a lean, muscular look to it. I had no idea they produced right-hand drive versions for export.
As for the color, I have doubts that it is original. Its lustre and shine is almost too good for 35+ years. Upon looking it up, there was an extra-cost moondust metallic shade called “Cinnamon Gold Moondust” that appears to match up though. It was offered 1977-78.
That most definitely is a factory color. I have seen a few of these over the years. A local gas station owner had one in that same color with a white vinyl top and leather interior. He had that car for many years – I saw that car slowly deteriorate and all of a sudden one day it was gone forever. He traded it for a black late 80’s Grand Marquis LS.
A non-vinyl top Mark V is rare. I don’t recall seeing any growing up, except in the Disney movie ‘The North Avenue Irregulars’. Cloris Leachman plays a rich lady with a poodle, along with a bunch of church-going women that are trying to stop a gambling ring. In the first half of the movie she has a red Mark V with no vinyl top and base hubcaps. In the second half she has a cream colored Mark V (with a vinyl top) that gets destroyed!
Here is the beige one that gets destroyed!
The turbine wheels look so much better. I recall seeing very few of the Mark Vs with the wheel covers pictured.
Could us proles even order one without the vinyl top? It seemed mandatory on every 70s Lincoln.
Here is the option page from the ’77 catalog – it definitely shows the full vinyl or landau vinyl top as optional!
And here is the page of standard equipment – sure enough, they were called luxury wheel covers – and were standard
Is the color the Cinnamon Gold Moondust? I was looking a ’79 color chart and thinking it might be Crystal Apricot, although the only photos I could find in that color looked more brownish and less orange.
My dad bought a new Mark V Cartier edition in 78 painted in what must have been a new color for that year (don’t see it in the 77 color chart above), Champagne, with the maroon Cartier accents. Quite a different look than the subject car – as indicated above, the subtle colors were far more common. It was a midwestern car with the optional 460 (not available in CA). It had the Quadrasonic 8-Track and CB radio options – though I don’t think he used the latter. These cars did manage to look light on their feet despite the huge size but that illusion vanished when you drove and parked them. And those long, heavy doors – unbelievable. Remember never to park on a grade.
How long did your dad have the Mark V? Was he happy with it? Was it a good car?
This is a terrific color, one I’ve never seen, and not having the vinyl roof is icing on the cake.
In my locale, there are a surprising number of these still on the road. I recently saw a black ’77 happily idling away in the McDonald’s drive-thru and a gentleman that lived near me in Hannibal still has a Mark V as his daily driver.
These were heavy cars but had received a 10% weight reduction from the Mark IV. A Mark V is definitely on the bucket list of ’70s era cars I would happily own.
And, in a shameless plug, there is another Mark V article floating around the archives….it was early during my time here and it isn’t exactly subtle. It does show a Mark V in action.
Thanks Jason. This article is a direct response to your suggestion I write about a US car from an Australian perspective. The personal angle is my attempt to work to the style you, Paul and others write to so well, but I must admit I’m much more comfortable with my relatively dry automotive histories.
I’m truly flattered. Thank you.
I always wondered how they were able to cut the weight without downsizing. A ’75 MK-IV weighed in at around 5200#, the ’77 got it down to around 4700#.
Would switch from 460 as the standard powerplant to the 400 have done it? Or at least that could have been part of it.
Making the vinyl roof optional?
All that heavy padding under the vinyl?
I forgot to mention….Don, I truly enjoyed seeing this car from your perspective. Learning the thoughts about a car from someone who has not seen them repeatedly for years is very insightful and provides a new dimension for them to be seen.
This is an outstanding car to make an long-lasting impression on a young mind.
I think one has to thank Lee Iacocca for these cars. He knew intimately the customer for it and was able to keep giving them what they wanted has safety and emissions took the forefront of engineers in the USA. I think the fact that other countries, Japan excluded, did not match the needed standards, means they cannot understand the pressures faced and budgets used just to meet the next standard so the car could stay on the market. It just didn’t happen in your country.
When hearing a foreign perspective on a car like this that never really sold outside North America, it is amazing how big an impression a short writeup in a foreign car mag or a glance at one in a late night cop show had. The over the topness of it would simply not happen in your country and to perhaps some of you, that is a shame.
I wish Lincoln had kept a world beating unit body line in the seventies priced and engineered far above these volume offerings, but that was not Iacocca’s way. When he left Ford the formula was lost and decline set in. Thanks Don for the writeup.
A most excellent treatment! This is a great reminder that there are things happening all over today that we have no idea about. When I was newly of driving age and was wondering whether my father might get one when the lease on his 76 Merc Monarch was up, it never occurred to me that there were young kids a half a world away watching these on TV and playing with the Matchbox versions.
I think I remember seeing a few Lincolns this color, but not a lot. The metal roof was definitely rare, but I think it improves the car. In my basement, I have the dealer color and trim books for 1977 Lincoln and Mercury. They sold a lot of Lincolns that year, and the vinyl cover of the Lincoln book had already separated by the time I got it early in the 78 model year.
Good looking car, very complimentary color/trim combo. The turbine style wheels were definitely the option to have in that era.
With the 400 that car would most likely be a dog though.
Looking at the catalog, I owned the Gran Fury, the Chevy van, the Rolls Royce, the Cortina, the Mercedes, and the Lincoln.Eventually, I tore off the plastic roof and made it a convertible.
Later I acquired a nicer Mk IV from Tomica:
CC Effect: I saw this car in this color two days ago in the Hudson Valley, New York. I was fairly amazed to see it my part of the world, and never would have expected that one also would be found on the other side of the globe.
Thanks for a really enjoyable write-up.
There were a handful of this type car sold new there back in the day, at stratospheric prices.
$11,800 for what seems to be a clearance special on a 1970 T-bird (perhaps it had already been replaced? By comparison the most expensive local Ford, the Fairlane with a 351 in 1970 was $4,700.
Great article Don, you have captured things perfectly. Thinking back to my childhood in the late-70s/early-80s I can’t remember any American cars in that small rural town, there were a handful of Mercedes but a lot of Ford Fairlanes and Holden Statesmans. There were run-of-the-mill British cars, the only large/expensive one I remember was a Humber Super Snipe, primarily because it stood out at roughly 20 years old back then. There must have been more but I don’t remember them.
If you couldn’t swing the Lincoln or T-Bird, there was always the Cougar.
So let me get this straight… In Australia, you can drive a USDM car once it’s been properly equipped to Australian rules? But in the US, I can’t drive an Australian-spec car until it’s 25+ years old, no matter what I do to it?
Hardly seems fair 🙁
You can drive newer Australian-specified vehicle in the US as long as the conversion work to meet FMVSS and EPA regulations are carried out by the approved registered importer.
In addition, if your Australian car has a special merit, you can petition to have it approved for show and display with severe travel restrictions. Holden GTS-R from 2000 is on this list.
The cost is the biggest hurdle: if the vehicle has never been imported by the official manufacturer, expect to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to be the first one. Like this McLaren F1 owner who paid the registered importer obscene amount of money to fabricate the custom components and do the certification process in the late 1990s.
Some registered importers become the ‘manufacturers’, meaning they are allowed to import the vehicles in the US and convert them to the applicable FMVSS and EPA regulations. Europa, Inc. of New Mexico used to import, convert, and sell Mercedes-Benz G-Class in the 1990s until Mercedes-Benz USA added G-Class to its official model range in 2002.
I wish I could do the same with the VW Polo, which is about the size of the 70s era Mk. 1 Rabbit. A 75mpg diesel would easily convert to biodiesel…
With your gas prices I just can’t se any reason to drive a Polo? 🙂
Nice write up Don,
It is always nice to hear about things(good or bad) relating to American cars from the prospective of somebody who does not live in the US and does not see too many of these cars around their country.
It seems that Australia had its own fine crop of high powered V8 cars, such as the Holden Monaro HK, HT and HG. The Fold Falcon GT-HO Phase IV (to name a few) and had large cars such as the Holden Kingswood or Ford Fairlane (to name a few)
As for finding Mark Series Lincolns, there is not many of the 1970’s Mark series still roaming around here in the USA. A lot of them succumbed to the tin worm by the end of the 1980’s and others were dumped due to the gas crisis of the 1970’s. I am also sure that more then a few of the Mark V’s were dumped in favor of the Mark VII(heck those were very popular in its day and even those are starting to become hard to find)
Saw this earlier Mark coming through Geelong on a trailer about the time you wrote this, so we’re still finding them! 🙂
The vinyl top killed most of these off so that one just might be one of the few that survive.
The magnetic draw of huge American cars in places they weren’t common or available at all was as massive as the cars themselves. Needless to say, I’ve written about the big Yank tanks I saw as a kid in Austria ad nauseum here.
Moving to America eventually changed that for me, especially during my very rebellious adolescence. If I had been in a kid in Austria or Australia in the 70s, I’m sure I would have had a similar attraction to this Mk V. As it turns out, my feelings for them were quite different. I was lusting over a BMW 3.0Si at the time; the grass is always greener….
Not ad nauseam, Paul. Never that,
To an Aussie it’s more like ad familiarem.
Well captured and written, Don! These are also my favorites of the super-sized personal luxury coupes of the 1970’s. That bronze color is so late-70’s. These outclass concurrent Eldorados by miles, IMHO.
The Mark IV and V have a loyal following here. Driven as a hobby-vehicle, of course. You see them at any US classic car show, and most of them are in an excellent condition. A popular and archetypal seventies landyacht for the enthusiast.
As you can see below it’s a landyacht alright.
US Fords, Lincolns and Mercs were officially imported for many years in a row. I remember for example that the price of a new Mercury Grand Marquis was listed in Euros, so that must have been after January 1, 2002. And I remember reading Dutch tests and reviews of (new) Mustangs, Thunderbirds and Continentals in the nineties.
Lincoln family rolling down the freeway.
(Photo: Stichting Lincoln Club Nederland)
When rolling over land reclaimed from the sea, one should always drive a land yacht… just in case.
Aye aye, captain.
The Mark V color is, I believe, the extra-cost Copper Moondust Metallic – we had a ’72 Continental sedan (a former dealer demonstrator) in that color.
I’m looking forward to any 1965 Pontiac (especially Bonneville) stories/photos. We had a Bonneville Safari wagon like the one in the ad, white with blue interior – our first air-conditioned car and possibly the prettiest wagon ever made – as well as a ’65 Bonneville convertible at the same time.
Pops had a 78 Bill Blass with the 460, I loved that car, it always demanded attention. He bought it new and while recently visiting an old friend who I hadn’t seen since the 80s still mentioned how even he loved that Lincoln back then.
I always found it strange when someone would order a luxury car with the standard basic hubcaps, but I guess to some people the wheels/hubcaps don’t make much of a difference. Not to me. I think they make ALL the difference. I had an Uncle that thought otherwise. He ordered a 1979 Sedan deVille in extra cost Cedar Firemist with a power Astroroof, leather interior, opera lamps, CB radio, Twilight Sentinel and Guidematic Headlamp Control, and yet didn’t check the box for the turbine vaned or wire wheel discs. That car always looked stripped to me and it wasn’t a stripped car. When my grandmother took that car over in 1986 I got her a set of wire wheel discs from a local junkyard. It made all the difference in the world. My Uncle even said one day as I was cleaning it, “Wow, that car looks great! What did you do to it?” I had to expalin that I put the wire wheel discs on it and he said “Wow if I had known that it would look that good I WOULD HAVE GOTTEN THEM TOO!!”
Great find Don – did you get any interior shots? It’s always interesting seeing how LHD-to-RHD conversions turn out.
I remember those Matchbox cars well – I had the Rolls-Royce in gold (and then in black after my first attempt at model-car-painting) and the Mercedes in cream; more recently as a Cortina fan I’ve bought the Cortina in the catalogue colour as well as some other colours. Thank you for a reminder of happy times past!
Love these cars, and I really enjoyed hearing about it from your “foreign” perspective. I did always think they were something special, but not exotic–I’m sure it would have made quite the impression amidst a sea of smaller vehicles! I also do really like it without the vinyl roof and love the way that color highlights the lines and angles of the car. Some really fantastic details in those crisp creases.
The Gran Fury police car was always one of my favorites when I was a kid. I had two of them growing up, one of which got repainted, one of which lost most of its original paint, but I held onto them over the years and still have them packed away! Had the Rolls too, but in silver with red interior. A childhood friend had that 450SEL, which I was always jealous of as it was no longer available by that time. (Did get one on eBay many years later…)
I had the red Continental Mark V Matchbox car too! I love every Mark ever, even the much-derided Mark VI. I’m astonished at how well these cars (III, IV, V) sold, considering their high prices. When I was around 8 I remember asking my dad why it had “gills” on the side. He said, “Because it drinks like a fish.” My dream is to own one with the Versailles interior option.
What a beautiful colour. I often think today’s world would be a happier place if there was more colour in it. Funny how nature is so colourful, but all humanity’s products all seem to be greyscale nowadays. Is there a psychology of colour? I’m sure scholarly theses must have been written about it. If not, there’s an idea for you…
And in the first photo the colour of the Lincoln is beautifully reprised by the colour the sunshine brings out on the old brick wall behind. Somehow I think the Linc is even more impressive (or should that be expressive?) because of its lack of a vinyl toupee. The absence of a petrochemical applique to its cranium somehow allows the shape to speak for itself. Which it does, beautifully.
Lovely to read, again. Well done, Dottore Andreina!
I love the car, but my favorite “photo” here has to be the Fitzpatrick/Kaufman Pontiac ad for the ’65. How the member of the duo (I can never remember who did the cars and who did the backgrounds) responsible for the car, got that reflective quality in a painting, never ceases to amaze me.
I take care of a 1979 Lincoln MkV for my buddy, the same one who owns the Grand Lady.
Over the last few years, I’ve been allowed to do pretty much anything I want with the car. I started by pulling the 400 out and having a Tmeyer 434 Stroker kit installed and sourced a set of Australian Cleveland heads. The result was 360 rear wheel horsepower and 430 lb/ft of torque. They are real horsepower, too, since I had it dynoed. It’s an absolute blast to drive. I makes all the appropriate rumbly Cleveland sounds and does seriously good burnouts. It’s pretty funny doing a burnout because nobody is expecting it from an old man car.
I also had a Gear Vendors splitter installed, which makes the C6 into a six speed automatic. With 3.55 gears it still revs reasonably slowly at 100 km/h.
Last year I had the entire suspension done, with new springs, adjustable shocks, new bushings, a rear sway bar and a rebuilt steering box with a faster ratio.
The entire package is stupid fun to drive and incredibly childish. It is not that highly tuned so it runs on pump gas just fine.
I will be driving it in July and I will do a proper CC for it if anyone is interested.
Id be interested in reading that, I really did notice the dearth of American cars in OZ when I lived there after being used to seeing the all the time in NZ, its even worse here now that there are virtually no restrictions or tax on what you bring in all it has to do is pass compliance which can be difficult if there are any non factory welds any rust means it wont pass.
Nice Mk V but its a shame to be doing burnouts with those harder to find whitewalls.
He’s got loads of money and they are not that hard to find anymore. Coker Tire has pretty much anything.
On these particular photos, the color of the Mark V seems to make the photos look as if they are very old faded color photos.
Or the sun shines differently in the southern hemisphere.
The effect is aided by the matching brick and faded tires.
Get the wagon.
Leave the Continental.
In retrospect, these were the “last keg of scotch before Prohibition.” We all knew that cars were going to get smaller – GM had also introduced its downsized B- and C-bodies for 1977 – but Lincoln came out with a 1977 Mark V that was actually a little longer than the previous generation.
The handling of these was purely nautical, but their build quality and materials were better than those of contemporary Cadillacs. And do they ever float down the road.
Also remember the Matchbox catalogue. It was how Lesney (the parent corporation) encouraged us to pester our parents to buy the latest releases.