(first posted 6/23/2013) Today we celebrate the last Mark. Despite teasing us with intriguing Mark IX and Mark X concepts, Lincoln has seen fit to give us luxurious but identity-free sedans and a chromey SUV in 2013 instead of anything interesting–or anything clearly identifiable as a Lincoln. The odds are that the Mark VIII of 1993 to 1998 is going to be the last Mark, part of a series dating back to 1939. And yes, I am aware that the VIII is not perfect. Parts are decidedly hard to find for cars that ended production a mere 15 years ago, repairs can be complicated, and on and on. But I was an impressionable thirteen year old when the VIII debuted, and thanks to my Grandma Ruby’s love of Lincolns, the last Mark will always have a place in my heart.
As has been written in other Lincoln posts this week, my dad’s parents, Bob and Ruby, were big Ford fans. Grandpa Bob always had Lincoln Continentals, and Grammy always had a T-Bird. When my grandfather passed away in 1989, Grammy took over the 1987 Fox Continental, and her last T-Bird was eventually sold in 1991.
We always did lunch in the summertime when I was a kid. A typical outing would start out at Bishop’s Buffet at South Park Mall, a visit to Toys “R” Us, where I would get to pick out a model car, and then we’d move on to the car dealerships: Sexton Ford, then South Park Lincoln-Mercury (later Classic L-M, and known today as Courtesy
Grammy would always ask to see the new Thunderbird at Sexton, and the new Continental at South Park. We would usually walk out to check it out, and of course get a brochure. Grammy wasn’t really out to buy, she was just that rare woman who enjoyed cars–and she knew I loved cars as well. I specifically remember looking at a circa-1990 Continental out front, in dark red with a dark red cloth interior. She always decided to keep her Continental.
In 1993, the Mark VIII debuted. We naturally both wanted to see one, so it was once again, off to now-Classic L-M. They indeed had a Mark VIII in the showroom, in the striking combination of bright white with aquamarine leather interior. For the first time in our many visits, I strongly encouraged Grammy to get one. I loved that car–especially the aqua interior!
She certainly could have, and there was no need to trade in the ’87 Connie: She had sold her ’77 T-Bird in 1991, and the two car attached garage would have accommodated both Lincolns nicely. My grandfather had been a successful attorney and insurance company executive, so it would not have been a question of money either. She seemed interested, and asked a few pointed questions to the salesman.
We were sent off with a plush Mark VIII catalog (which I still have, to this day), and a few weeks later, when we were visiting, I asked about the Mark. As I recall, she said something along the lines of “Oh, I really didn’t need that car, and I’m used to the Continental.” She did, however, buy my Dad’s ’91 Volvo 940 SE later that year, however, when he got a new ’93 850GLT.
A couple years later, I saw what had to be the car in the showroom parked in a driveway in Rock Island. I could have spotted that aqua interior from a hundred yards away. I saw it in traffic a couple of times (I rode my bike a LOT as a kid) with an elderly lady behind the wheel. Indeed, she appeared older than Grammy, who was still very spry and active at 73.
As for the Mark VIII itself, it had a lot of promise. It was very advanced, with its 280-hp 4.6L DOHC V8, air-ride suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. Zero to sixty came in 7.5 seconds–quite good for the early ’90s.
But personal luxury coupes were on the way out, and the VIII never really took off. A 1997 refresh included a new nose, neon taillamp section and other refinements, but it really did no good: a mere 14,357 were built in 1998, its last year.
All of these memories were refreshed last fall when I came across this Evergreen Frost Mark VIII at the nearby golf course while out on a walk. This is the same color as the ’94 TC my neighbors had (as related in the ’94 Town Car CC earlier this week) and I had forgotten that it was also an available color on the Mark. I especially was taken with the Evergreen leather seating. As some of you may recall, green is my favorite color.
This one is either a 1995 or ’96, as it has the swept-spoke alloys introduced in 1995, along with the revised instrument panel that added genuine wood.
The 1993-94 IP was criticized for being too stark for a Lincoln, resulting in the tree trimmings for ’95. Wood or no wood, I love the wraparound dash on these–they still look modern today.
The Mark VII and Mark VIII were the only really sporty versions of the long-lived Mark coupes–particularly the LSC models. It all started with the ’84 Mark VII LSC. What if Ford had kept that momentum going?
It is interesting to think what would have happened if Lincoln had kept the Mark Series in production. There was so much brand equity in the Mark and Continental nameplates. Would we have a Mustang-based retractable hardtop Mark XII in 2013, perhaps as a 3-Series competitor?
Who knows? All I know for sure is that current Lincolns do not remind me of Lincolns of yore. Indeed, the ’13 MKZ reminds me more of a modern Olds Delta 88 than a Lincoln. Hey, I like Oldsmobiles, but this is supposed to be a Lincoln! Think 1961 Continental, 1968 Mark III, 1986 EFI Town Car. Yes, I’m sure it is a nice car, but there are dozens of “nice cars” on the market.
And yes, I know that Sunday is technically the first day of the week, but Lincoln Week didn’t start until Monday, so there you go.
Just in case anyone thinks I’m a Lincophobe I like this a lot,not as much as I like the Mk7 but it’s nicer than anything in a Lincoln showroom today.Thank you Tom
Cool memories Tom! Thanks for the write up.
I was waiting for the Mark VIII to wrap up Lincoln week. Having spent a lot of time in the MN12 Thunderbird that these were loosely based on; I lusted after these. I would have liked one in that deep read or a shiny back though. That 32 valve V8 would have worked nicely in my Thunderbird! It is funny looking at the steering wheel and the shifter in the pictures which look exactly the same as the Thunderbird. I guess that the Mustang used the same parts during those years too though.
I wanted to like these, but the droop-at-both-ends look doesn’t work any better here than it would on the fishface Taurus. The Buick Park Ave was the only 90s car that looked good with a sloping tail, IMO.
Yes It looked expensive, yet almost embarassed of that wealth. it was so modestly elegant and well made .
The Mark VIII came from the melting soap school of design which was popular. My problem is that wasn’t much of a Lincoln look. Sure it would have been hard to have fender blades up and down the lineup and, anyway, the Mk VII did just fine without them.
But it still had that long hood and square jaw.
The second problem is that the car looked bloated. A fat car with an anonymous look is not going to do well in a high style segment. The poor Mk VIII always suffered in comparison to the Lexus SC, which pulled off the bar of soap look much better.
I feel the final Mitsubishi Eclipse suffered from the same thing, being soft and bloated at the same time. It met the same fate as the Lincoln.
I’d much rather have a Thunderbird or Cougar built on this platform just for the easier parts availability.
I will though always remember Hot Rod magazine warning its readers that drove older (than the Mark) Mustangs and Camaros that the Mark VIII was a 15 second drag strip car and not to get embarrassed by a Mark owner who wanted to race. Their words? “Don’t get out drag raced by the living room sofa.”
Indeed, the ’13 MKZ reminds me more of a modern Olds Delta 88 than a Lincoln. Hey, I like Oldsmobiles, but this is supposed to be a Lincoln!
Well, then modern-day Lincolns are certainly capturing the mid-fifties Lincoln spirit…
I actually half-expected, when they announced they’d rename the Lincoln division, that they’d call it “Continental” (it’s probably easier to rescue the Lincoln name with new, more upscale and character-filled product than to do the same with a rename, but I have to admit I kind of like the idea).
These didn’t speak to me the way the MK-VII did. Not to say it wasn’t at least as good, if not better After all it had the benefit of an additional ten years of know how.
The MK-VII was such a jarring contrast to what on before, and seemed so avante gard
at the time. It made me think, hey, maybe Detroit is cutting it again.
Ten years on, this just didn’t appear special enough for it’s price. If I had the money at the time it would have been a Lexus SC for me.
+1 MK VII & Lexus fan here too.
The SC400 is the prettiest coupe I have ever laid eyes on. I looked for one recently but all I could find were very high-milers. These cars get driven.
There weren’t a lot of MK VIII’s sold in these parts to begin with and I rarely ever see one. I would assume they are in nice garaged somewhere.
Around here there are quite a few low mile, well kept VIII but there are more with 200K or more miles on them that are pretty ratty.
Though I’m not a big Lincoln fan, I’ve always liked the Mark VIII, and that color suits it quite well. My wife would likely rather see it in black, though, and I could certainly live with a black one as well. Nice find.
One big advantage of the MKVII to a Scotsman like me,at least from a used car standpoint , is that if something expensive blows up, a 5.0 EFI or an AOD trans is just a junkyard away. Somehow, I think a 32V Intech is just a little harder to scrounge up.
Talk about a car with overhangs too big for its size. Why go through the expense and weight of a RWD platform just to put FWD styling on it? A big let down after the wonderful Mark VII LSC.
Love the color! My grandfather had a ’98 VIII, a few years ago he gave it to my cousin, who still has it. I remember riding in it and being impressed. It was a cool car, especially in black. Since my cousin got it I haven’t seen much of it, but I have heard its been becoming a bit unreliable.
Boy, a lot of talk over the last few days about overhangs. I LIKE overhangs! What vintage American lux car would look good without them?
I love the VIII and it is a fitting end to a great week of Lincolns. I really liked the VII when it came out but once the VIII hit the streets I lost absolutely all interest in the VII.
It is nice to see that this one still has it’s directional wheels on the correct sides. Years ago there was one in my neighborhood and someone had actually rotated the tires in the correct manner of crossing to the drive wheels instead of the original radial rotation pattern of keeping them on the same side, it drove me nuts to see one wheel facing forward and one wheel facing backwards on each side.
Can’t say I remember seeing one in this color either interior or exterior. I’m not a big fan of green but this is a million times better than the dark green that so many around here have. White with aqua interior sounds great, did not know that they had that available.
I’ve seriously considered purchasing one a few times the last time I was seriously looking and had the money set aside for it I searched Marauder one came up and at a good price. VIII’s immediately were forgotten and a couple days later I had my Marauder.
One problem is finding the LSC version with it’s extra HP and then there was always the dilemma of the first generation with it’s crappy headlights due to being so thin or the later ones with the larger better HID units that you can’t get bulbs for anymore. Then there is the fact that so many of the cars have had their air suspension replaced with steel. The air-over front shocks, like the air-struts used on the FWD Conti are not cheap, particularly if you got a quote with genuine Ford parts, so at least I can sort of see why people do it on an VIII.
However if I do come across a 97-8 that has had the genuine Ford halogen headlights installed, still has it’s air suspension, is the right color and in good condition I’d be all over it. Of course when one comes up I’ll likely not have the cash on hand at that time. If I do have the cash then it would be added to the permanent collection alongside the Marauder.
Well, I’m sure by now everyone’s tired of reading my whining about all the designer Lincolns and how much they were worshipped by me during my “formative years”.
By the time the Mark VIII was out there was no more Bill Blass Edition, no more Carriage Roof option, and no more Wire Spoke Aluminum Wheels option. But there WAS a “Collector’s Edition (Series)”. It featured real wood trim on the doors, two-tone leather seats, and a cool gift set of 8 silver ingots featureing the history of the Mark Series. These cars were available in Cordovan Metallic (red) or White Pearlescent Tri-Coat Metallic only.
The ingot gift set…
Cool. I read about the CS when they were introduced, but my local Lincoln dealer never got the 4-page Collector’s Edition brochure. I had to settle for the plush ’98 Mark VIII catalog instead.
The last Mark VIII I remember seeing new was a deep aqua ’98 sitting front and center in the showroom of Classic Lincoln-Mercury, with the optional chrome octagonal alloys. I knew it was the end of an era…
Don’t forget the Spring Feature cars the rarest of rare VIII that gave many of it’s unique parts to produce the collector models when Ford decided to end production.
I thought “Lincoln Week” would end with the 2011 Lincoln Town Car. Don’t we all consider this the LAST real Lincoln…??
The 2011 Lincoln Town Car Signature (it wasn’t even called a “series” anymore!!): (wallpaper)
Back in 2003 the Mark VIII was on my short list for another car. The 96 Fleetwood eventually won out. I got a little nervous on the Air Suspension and 32 valve engine. But these are really cool looking cars. Thanks for the week.
I too have really enjoyed Lincoln week. Thank you all.
Tom you continue to find cars that would be in my Millionaires fleet. I Love that cockpit.
I wonder if the actual driving experience pales in comparison.
Very nice piece on a car I really liked when it came out. Like some others, it seemed that Lincoln was staying relevant with some really current hardware. The 32V engine always seemed cool, and in fact, I have always wondered why Ford never did anything else with it, like maybe in the Marauder.
This has seemed to me more of a genuine high-end car than anything else Lincoln has done since the 1960s. You can tell because of the service and maintenance problems due to expensive parts and complex systems.
Today, this car doesn’t really hold my attention. It looks didn’t jump out at me even then, and still don’t. Also, the upkeep headaches don’t appeal to me these days. Still, I am happy to see one or two of these out and about these days. I have seen one around me and have never stopped for pictures. Thanks for saving me the trouble.
“The 32V engine always seemed cool, and in fact, I have always wondered why Ford never did anything else with it, like maybe in the Marauder.”
But they did use it in the Marauder! Updated version of the very same engine. Made 302 HP to the VIII’s 280 (290 on the LSC), and had a few other changes, but it’s substantially the same. The InTech 32V also saw service in the Lincoln Aviator and the 1995-2002 Continental, packaged for FWD no less! Plus several Mustang models: the 2003-04 Mach 1, 1996-2001 SVT Cobra, and, in supercharged iron-block form, the 2003-04 “Terminator” SVT Cobra.
However, the proliferation in 2004 was the last hurrah for the InTech. It disappeared from the lineup except for the Aviator in 2005, and was discontinued with that vehicle at the end of the year. Always wondered what they could have done with that technology if they’d carried on, but the 24V SOHC version of the 4.6 appeared for 2005 and made the 32V redundant.
I thought these were ridiculously cool when they first came out, but haven’t really thought much about them ever since. Never saw one in this color, which looks surprisingly good. I like the earlier front-end style (and dashboard) so much better. Same thing with the MN12 Thunderbird/Cougar – I hated that squished-together grille they switched to at the end. I was never into the directional wheels either, on this or any car. IMO, this would look badass with BBS-style alloys like the Continental shown here has, but much wider of course.
BTW, I think the color on this is the same as Ford/Mercury “Vermont Green” – my brother had a ’97 Grand Marquis in that color until two weeks ago, when the “indestructible” 4R70W transmission flaked out at a rather young age. I was sad to see it go, it was an excellent car and the color made it stand out – plus it had a green (cloth) interior too, though not the same as that Mark VIII photo, unless those colors faded considerably.
Not his, but it looked identical:
I had a Vermont Green ’97 Crown Vic, the profile was almost identical to your brother’s G-M. I wish my interior had been green, but it was tan cloth. I ended up trading mine on an ’07 Rabbit lease. The rabbit was fun, but not a great financial decision at the time.
My ’97 Vic has the green interior, though the exterior is white–that green is one of my favorite things about the car. Ah, for the days when colorful interiors were still commonly available. The VIII had quite a few of them–mine had the “light graphite” gray-tan, but there were also the green in the featured car, a lighter aqua blue, a darker blue, a cranberry color, plus the usual suspects of a true saddle tan and black. I don’t *think* there was a brown but I might be wrong about that one also.
I was really disappointed when I first saw the Mk VIII, after the (relatively) lithe Mk VII, then the Lexus coupe, I was looking forward to a sleek, well finished coupe. It looked, well, plump and the interior, well styled, was underfinished. It ran and handled great, had all the luxury options, but the details and the “love handles’ on the sides let me down.
Thanks so much for Lincoln Week, it was great! I’ve told lots of LCOCers about it, they’ll get on board as soon as they see the site.
Mark VIIIs make great parts doners for MN12s. Aluminum driveshafts(1 piece in 1993), aluminum rear control arms, aluminum differential casing, 32V engines, ect, ect. all make Thunderbird’s and Cougar’s that much better.
The Mark VII spoke to me, the Mark VIII at best gets a meh. I think the 97/98s are more attractive than the TNG Enterprise looking 93-96 but they only went from looking ridiculous to looking elderly. I never liked the styling direction FoMoCo took in the 90s starting with this car. The 95 Continental, 96 Taurus/Sable and even 94 Mustang to lesser extent seemed to fall into this blubbery soft design paradigm soon after.
With the question of what would have happened if Lincoln had kept the Mark Series in production, I often wonder what if Lincoln would have applied the “New edge” styling theme, used to box up the Mustang in 99, on the existing FN10 chassis. That worked really well on the Mustang IMO and those pronounced flared fenders and sharp edges that came with it would have been perfectly fitting for a Mark IX.
Interestingly I saw a TC in this color today, the CC effect strikes again.
Here’s my one problem with this car, and the aero TC, too…what the hell was Ford thinking using the same cheaply molded corporate steering wheel in all of these cars? I mean, sure, perhaps they were covered with leather or a simalucrum of such, but…it’s the same wheel as the Taurus, the Crown Vic, etc. It looks cheap. Was there a reason this was done this way?
Ever compare steering wheels between 90s BMWs? A 318 shares the same steering wheel with an 850. Also a leather rimmed/rubber molded 4 spoke wheel. Same with just about any manufacturer that happened to use airbags in the 90s. Mercedes, Honda/Acura, Toyota/Lexus. It’s not exactly Ford specific to have a corporate design, and I’d really like to see the results of a Pepsi challenge dictating that any one of them are any less cheaply molded than these Ford wheels or vice versa.
Airbags were still new in the 90s, and they were all large. This isn’t anything unique to these cars.
Also The devil is in the details. Cruise buttons were color matched to the interior and lit up in the 95-98 Marks and they are all leather wrapped all the way to the airbag(lesser leather wrapped Ford wheels were only wrapped around the rim). The only other Ford car that got this version of the wheel was the Taurus SHO, sans the cruise buttons.
I mean, there’s a big difference in the perceived quality I have of the wheel in the subject car and the one in the collector’s edition in the comments. So I know Ford was capable of doing something a little more special. It’s just that starting with the airbag-era Fords, they literally all have the same wheel, until relatively recently. Chevy was faulted for the same thing in the C6- the wheel of the vette was the same as the Cobalt. It just seems an odd place to save money on what in all other respects, at least thru ’97, was a truly premium product.
The problem is that the steering wheel and air bag are highly engineered and tested items so they are very expensive development wise.
I’m just saying this wasn’t a Ford only problem. GM as you mentioned did it but so did the Asian and European brands in this era. And their designs weren’t any more attractive or high quality than these IMO. It really wasn’t until the early 00s steering wheels began to become distinct between models again. As Eric mentioned, airbags were expensive to develop and the laws were still fairly new. Think of airbags in 90s cars the same way as 5 mph bumpers were on 70s cars. It’s pretty much the same story
Also the CE wheel was a 1998 only steering wheel. The only difference between it and a regular 98 Mark wheel is the wood. The leather was the same, airbag is the same, cruise buttons are the same, colors are the same and the shape is the same. The airbag cover was revised in 1997 to do away with the split seam and gained a separate Lincoln emblem but that’s really the only other difference between the aqua 93 one in the article and the 98 CE in the comments.
Thanks for a memorable week of reading.
Thank you for a week of memorable reading.
Same here. I thoroughly enjoyed Lincoln Week.
I’ve always appreciated these from a distance, but I’m worried they have far too many rare parts.
When the MK8 was dropped in 1998, the Navigator was a huge hit, making $ hand over fist. Expressive personality types moved on to SUV’s and big coupes were deader than disco.
This was the end plain and simple.
Yup a lot of those people who would have been buying a personal luxury car switched to buying SUVs and the massive profit margins on those meant that the mfgs and dealers were quite happy about that.
Stylistically, I always felt the grille let these cars down. Lincoln designers actually managed to integrate the fake spare hump into an aero design without having it look ridiculous (I think it actually does a decent job of enlivening the sloping tail), but the grille seemed like an afterthought.
Great article Tom, you’ve found a very nice example there!
Always loved the Mark VIII, its been pretty much at the top of my all time favorites list for a couple of years now. I just had to get one with the first opportunity that came up, which probably made me the youngest Mark VIII owner in Europe last year when I bought a 1994 base Mark VIII in Champagne with Saddle interior in great shape which I found not too far from my home town (which is as likely as winning in the lottery considering I’m from Germany)! Unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy it for too long, the summers been pretty hot and the car had pretty bad tires that I wanted to replace asap. They couldn’t handle the extremely heavy rainfall one night so I slided right into the crash guard on the highway. The damage was done, it wouldn’t make sense to invest the money to repair it (the whole driver side rear quarter panel was crushed) so I had to part it out, worst thing that could have happened to the car… But there was good news: It’ll keep the 95′ Ivory pearl Mark VIII LSC alive that I recently acquired after moving to the UK after a bit of searching(only LSC I know of in Britain). First thing I did was buying 4 brand new all season tires for it. 🙂 I really hope I can keep the car on the road as long as possible. I don’t plan to be cheap so I will invest the money that needs to be invested to keep it in the best shape possible. Its a extremely unique and distinctive car over here, and it truly deserves it.
The MK 8 second generation (97-98) is the way to go if you’re thinking about getting one. They have the updated internals on the 4 speed automatic, but still suffer from torque converter lockup shudder. Neon light in the back and special HID bulbs in the front are big $$$ when they fail. I have owned 4, 2 97’s and 2 98’s. One I converted to coil springs – bad idea – it is too heavy of a car. AIr springs are much better when the setup works, since the majority of the time it is leaking air pressure and always one end is down kissing the ground. These cars are misunderstood and unappreciated. They came out when the luxury SUV craze was in full swing to compete against the eldorado – luxo barge with front wheel drive – an oxymoron.
I miss having one but the only problem with them, they are too long for normal garage space. They are longer than my S500’s W140 by few inches. Anyway, it was a phase of ownership
The rear tail light is actually a neon light that stretches across the length of the trunk lid.
Stylistically, its an improvement on the stretch T Bird MK.Vlls. Though I`m not much of a MK fan-except for the `56 and `57s,this one is pretty nice. Theres one for sale in Freehold, NJ. I`m thinking about it…….
I picked up a really nice Mark VIII last week. I had a 96 Mark VIII years ago and loved it. This is a 94. Pearl White/Portofino Blue interior. 88K miles, Coil retrofit, new trans with cooler, Flowmaster exhaust. Great Kenwood stereo! $2500.
Pic is when still dirty!
Looking at this (IMO) attractive car, it occurs to me that it could/should have been a Buick Riviera. It is saying Buick to me more than Lincoln. (I suppose except for the trunk lid)
Does anyone else see it or is it just me?
That comment was supposed to be at the end of the thread, not a reply.
I wondered where it had gone.😀
The refresh on this and the T-Bird/Cougar made me gag. It’s like Ford didn’t know what they had or what made it attractive. Or brought in stylists who weren’t at all into cars and juat whipped up some generic shit that didn’t match the rest of the car.
But I guess if it wasn’t selling well, they needed to try something. It just seemed in many cases they didn’t know what they were doing.
My name is “The” and I approve this bitch and moan.😀
Australian Fairmonts ran a very similar styled wheel in the mid to late 1990’s.
I especially like the color of this Mark. Green is my favorite color for cars but I’ve only got a Forest green F150, at the moment. Lately my tastes are running to brighter, lighter, “pretty ” color combos. Back in the Day I had a Naples yellow with yellow leather ’77 Coupe de Ville, I thought that the light color gave it a lighter, sportier look. I went full out gansta’ in my all black ’94 STS with chrome wheels. That was the last black car I ever wanted. Now, I like to look for interesting color combos. My Mustangs both have black interiors, which I don’t really like. I look through CraigsList and often find light colored Mustangs with light two tone interiors. A couple of years back I went to look at a 2007 Jag XK convertible. Metallic light aqua exterior with white seats, and blue and white door panels and dash. The wood veneer was white poplar. It was gorgeous color combo and quite rare. I recently saw a ’06 Jag XJ8 that was a very light metallic blue with a cream and white interior, talk about gorgeous. I hope to never have another red, black, or grey car.
Yea, the Ford/Lincoln/Mercury styling went to hell with the 96 Taurus, every thing was oval. They probably contacted Honda for advice on using oval pistons. All this melted oval bar of soap look kept spreading like a disease. The really said part is the platform these, Birds, Cats and Lincolns road on was pretty good. But as it has been pointed out the personal luxury coupe was dead. Too bad the platform was “too” expensive for the Mustang. I wonder how it ends up being to expensive vs developing the S197? Would have loved to had the SLA front suspension and the independent rear suspension under my 2012 Boss 302.
I daily drive a ’93 MK8 with 150K miles and I love my car. I paid $3800 for a rear wheel drive, 280HP V-8 and a nice interior a little over a year ago. It has been reliable, but has a few quirks that can be expected in a 28 year old luxury car. I do worry that some day an unobtainable part will break that will leave me without transportation. I could have gotten a newer, higher mileage Camry or Accord for the same price, but I believe I chose well.
I admit to having a bit of a fetish for the Mark VIII. I felt that Ford was on a roll in late 80’s through the early 90’s producing modern, sophisticated – engineered, not assembled – cars with the Taurus, the Thunderbird, the Mustang, and yes, the Mark VIII pointing the way towards a future competitive with any company in Europe. Detroit was getting back into the fight! (Of course, the Catfish-Taurus later shattered *that* illusion.)
I really wanted a Mark VIII when they were new but in those days it was way beyond my budget. Still, it was an aspirational car for me. I thought and still think of it as sort of “American Moderne” in its appearance, sleek and fresh and unmistakably American Luxury. The Aurora took the same path, but less successfully in my opinion.
Sadly by the time I could consider one as a used car, I knew better than to consider owning one. Ford was able to talk the talk but couldn’t walk the walk, at least not for any longer than the warranty period. I went Japanese instead, and it was probably the wise choice.
Now I understand that a car like the Mark VIII is strictly for “Ladies Who Lease” and is intended as a passing pleasure to be gone before anything breaks. See BMW for a modern example of this same thinking.
However, if I had Jay Leno levels of maintenance capability I would still love one of the late examples as a daily driver.
Oh, boy, a Lincoln Mark VIII. These cars’ headlamps are far too small and minimal to do more than just barely meet the minimum legal intensity requirements. The halogen version had to use one of the highest-output bulb types just to scrape past the minimum. Moreover, because they’re so small, the reflectors and lenses run very hot, which makes the reflectors cook to death in a hurry—such degradation is visible in the front pic of this car—and fast and severe deterioration of the cheap, not-very-durable plastic materials the lenses and reflectors are made of.
The optional HID system was also, in addition, a different kind of bad. It was a system co-developed by Ford and GTE-Sylvania, with that duo’s customary priorities: cheap, legal, and cheap. It is a DC-driven system nothing like the AC system that was already well standardized in Europe and Asia (and was fine for use in the USA; Ford just chose not to). That Ford/Sylvania DC system was only used on the Mark VIII—No other make, no other model, no other years. Component reliability and durability were very poor.
The ’97 facelift got bigger headlamps with less marginal output, but kept the problem-prone Sylvania DC HID system. When Osram bought Sylvania from GTE in ’97, they quickly discontinued this troublesome system. Repair parts dried up in a hurry.
I keep this filed under FORD’S BETTER IDEAS.
Ive never had a car with super-small headlights, and had previously assumed that they were made of higher quality parts/design to still do a good job.
Silly me, assuming function would come first.
I am often surprised that I can be so cynical and yet still often naive about stuff like that. I must be a secret optimist.
(I blame all the Star Trek)
Too bad, because I really like the style of the lights. The use of chrome along the top really works for me as well.
I appreciate the continuing education re/vehicle lighting.
It is possible to get practically half-decent performance out of small lights, but it takes a whole hell of a lot more technology (i.e., money) than Ford were willing to even think about considering. Same as Chrysler around the same time.
What fun FAST cars, run like the proverbial scalded dogs.
If Mark VII was the brute in a suit, VIII must’ve been the gorilla in a tuxedo. lol
They could really surprise the unwitting. Even if you knew, whatever you brung in that day you were probably gonna be helpless if Gramps nailed it. lol
Too bad the Intec engine was so wide that it made it unsuitable for many of the usual swaps, because there were always tons of perfect runners around. Tough long-lived powertrains.