The Truth About Cars » Mark VIII The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:26:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Mark VIII Vellum Venom Vignette: Of Portal Handling Pleasures Tue, 09 Jul 2013 12:00:29 +0000
Jeremy writes:

Hi Sajeev,

G’day from Down Under. Big fan of the Vellum Venom column of yours. Car design, and more importantly the smaller details of car design have always fascinated me, even though I couldn’t design a car if my life depended on it. The first bit of design that really hit me was the first appearance of BMW’s “Angel Eyes” on the E39 M5.

Anyway, I’ve always wondered when and more importantly why have the “pull-type” door handles become the norm?

Excluding exotics, pretty much every car on sale now has this type of door handle. It’s obviously not a legal requirement, as the Civic hatch (among others) has “hidden” rear handles. I do think it’s boring though – every door handle is the same. It seems gone are the days of the NA MX-5 handles, or even the door handles on the EA-BF Ford Falcons.

Sajeev answers:

Agreed 100%, and thank you very kindly.  Your (wonderful) note poked at another one of my sore spots in modern automotive design: but while DLO FAIL is a horrid workaround, pull-out handles are merely a disappointment. But are these part of our mandatory modern automotive design lexicon, like goofy tall hoods needed to pass muster with Euro NCAP pedestrian protection standards?

Nope: along with your examples, peep ‘dat Dodge Charger SRT8 above. Two generations of the Dodge Charger wear unique, almost-flush mount door handles! For all the grief this website gives DaimlerChrysler-CerberusChrysler-FIATChrysler for their evil ways (baby) can you believe someone allowed the Dodge version of the Chrysler 300 to have unique door handles?

So Chrysler’s got themselves a mighty-fine handle.  Now take the Toyota Venza for an example of a pull-out handle.

To Toyota’s credit, their corporate pull-out handle is differentiated (by model) through unbelievably simple yet clever/unique door skin stampings: giving the impression of a different handle with just a tweak to the negative area underneath.  Not to say that Toyota has only one type of pull-out handle, far from it.  Which begs the question, why make every unit a pull-out handle casting if you’re making multiple designs for various vehicles?

I think there are multiple reasons, and cost has nothing to do with it.

First, embracing basic Physics: a door handle that pulls straight out shall open a door more efficiently than a flush mount handle with its “dog leg” hinges.  Why pull up and around when you can pull straight out?

Second, durability:  flush door handles with the aforementioned dog leg hinges are less durable.  Take the ones my Lincoln Mark VIII’s door handle (above).  The dog legs behind the plastic bezel are made of cheap pot metal, and careless user inputs mean they will shatter in cold weather…when trying to open a door as magnificently huge as said Lincoln.  They needed to be higher quality (i.e. more $$$) because of point Number Three.

Third, weight: today’s doors are larger (taller) than ever, with more side-impact protection than 20-ish years ago, more speakers, extra sound deadening material (including thicker glass) tighter weatherstripping (more force sucking shut in certain weather conditions) and more power features (power windows, locks, key-less transmitter sensors, etc.).  So, assuming similar construction and material choices (i.e. plastic, not steel) why would you work harder operating a dog leg hinge?

When you combine my three points, you have a slam dunk case for widespread adoption of pull-out handles. Assuming the same level of material quality in both designs, the pull out handles are more durable over years/decades of use.

About your “when” question: the ’00s were the era of abandoning flush mount handles, as almost every mainstream vehicle was redesigned in this decade. Except for the Ford Ranger (2011, out of neglect) and the Dodge Charger/Challenger (out of Who The Hell knows).  Am I right or wrong here?

Anyway, thank you all for reading. Have a great week.

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Piston Slap: Son, You’re Gonna Drive Me to Drinkin’ Mon, 01 Jul 2013 11:10:27 +0000

Justin writes:


Last October I was able to purchase a car I had been swooning over for about 15 years: A ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC. It has about 108000 miles and is my daily driver. During the summer months I generally prefer to ride a motorcycle, so I need to do something with this car. Selling it is out of the question, as it only has a few cosmetic blemishes (that will soon be tended to), so it will require some…more.

My question is, what do I go with first; Supercharger or 5-6 speed?

A good friend of mine can help me with either. As it sits, the car is completely stock. Money isn’t much of an issue, but I would like to keep total upgrades just under 10K. I am aware that sounds a bit ridiculous, but I have wanted this car since I was 12. I prefer to keep the motor I have; I want it’s heart to stay the same, but I am open to almost anything else mechanical.


Sajeev answers:

This Lincoln-Mercury fanboi’s heart just melts to hear this. It’s nice to see someone join the madness, as sanity is overrated. The sad reality is that the Mark VIII’s release in 1993 was the last time I was excited about a new product hitting the showroom…and remained excited after the initial buzz wore off.

 Sure, plenty of great iron came afterwards, but nothing that’d personally spin my personal-luxury crank.

Since I am in your shoes (sort of) with my Hot Rod Mark VIII, I can rattle off what you need to do.  With that, your $10,000 budget for powertrain upgrades is unrealistic.  I doubt you can DIY the whole thing, you’re gonna need to buy custom bits unique to Ford’s MN-12/FN-10 chassis and labor to make things that never existed for the Last of The Great Lincoln Continentals.

This isn’t a Mustang, making it all look/work like the factory intended will be…challenging.

The 6-speed swap: Temple High Performance supposedly has you covered (i.e. not an endorsement, I don’t know them) with a 6-speed swap for the low-low price of $7500 including installation.  The 6-speed is better as it seems to fit in the factory location in the transmission tunnel: not so with the T-45 5-speed stick from a normal Mustang GT. While you can source most of the parts yourself, their electronic E-brake release sounds pretty trick. The only way to know how much effort is needed is to dig into the swap yourself…or write ‘em a check and watch them do the install to your satisfaction.

The Supercharger Exhaust:  Your first problem is the horrible log manifolds and crush bend tubing on the exhaust. The mid-length Kooks headers are your first purchase. Then a custom, mandrel bent exhaust with fancy mufflers and hi-flow catalytic convertors from a local shop known for high quality work. When you drop the subframe (yes really) to install the headers, this is a good time to spend the cash on new engine mounts, and any worn rubber suspension bit you might find along the way. I’d also install Addco swaybars, personally.

Congrats! You’ve probably burned through your budget! I’d recommend doing the transmission/exhaust and the misc. bits that are easily replaced when tearing into these components.  I’d rather address the transmission before the engine, because there’s a good chance that a worn out transmission behind a supercharged DOHC 4.6L** won’t last very long.

And once you’ve finished here, save your money for a Mustang Cobra whipplecharger kit, a computer re-flash and dyno tune!!!


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 **Yes, the right answer is LSX-FTW, because it always is.  But the DOHC Modular Ford V8 was a pretty interesting bit of kit with a better exhaust note, a similar powerband and the 32-valves respond very well to supercharging (pretty easily to boot). So let Justin have his fun!

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Super Piston Slap: New Tricks For an Old Car Phone? Fri, 21 Jun 2013 11:00:39 +0000

It started innocently enough: Derek Kreindler posted the above photo on Facebook for nothing more than a few social media lulz. Which triggered a memory on my end of Al Gore’s Internet: of a cellular phone residing in the console of my Lincoln Mark VIII. Even worse, it reminded me of the way-cool hack to make it work in the digital age. The conversation went downhill from there, and the boss man suggested I blog all about it. Won’t you join me in the cellular madness?

Before I start: my Mark VIII never came with a cell phone.  But I, the upwardly “mobile” (tee-hee, get it?) junkyard dog that I am, grabbed most of the functional bits from a crusher bound Mark VIII: phone-handset, the plastic cradle, and a voice activated A-pillar speaker/button assembly for about $20.  It plugs and plays, if I grabbed the module from the trunk.  Provided that black box was actually worth something. It is not, especially if you upgraded to an aftermarket stereo.

So I, much like The Esteemed Mr. Kreindler, just did it to show off. Or look stupid. Either way, this system commands attention. Especially if someone looks at the A-pillar.

The result is some sort of highbrow-historical respect: last year a friend borrowed the Mark. Upon noticing the brick inside the center console she busted out the Android, expressing glee from her first encounter with a gen-u-wine cellular car phone. Smartphone texting about an analog phone: now ain’t that some shit?

Imagine a fantabulous world where you could re-use this impressive (looking) system in today’s fully digital society! Queue the obligatory Panther Love:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty, this video shows how cell phones from the Golden (Dark?) Age of In-Car communication need not go gentle into that good night.  The obscenely talented and/or tragically bored among us can convert the analog system to digital…and still run the factory’s “hands free operation” gadgets. Like, awesome.

Which begs the question: would you make the change, teach an old dog new tricks, if you could? And would it be less annoying/obnoxious than many newer in-car entertainment systems?

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Monday Mileage Champion: Where Few Caddys Fear To Tread Mon, 04 Mar 2013 20:32:35 +0000

I haven’t recommended a new Lincoln in well over 20 years now.

With rare exception, the brand never lives up to the hype of whatever a Lincoln was supposed to represent at various times in recent history. The ultimate luxury coupe that was the Mark VIII. The import fighting LS. The Lexus/Mercedes wanna-be that was the Lincoln Zephyr.  All of them were flops in the new car marketplace for a long list of good reasons.

Even the Lincoln SUV’s, then and now, seem to be little more than overpriced Fords with razor thin chrome accents. While the current alphabet soup of names makes it nearly impossible to recommend any new Lincoln without delving into a smartphone for confirmation that the MK-whatever is indeed an MK-whatever.

There is only one Lincoln truly worth it. The Town Car.  An old one. A well used one. But maybe not as used as this one.

The black 2006 Lincoln Town Car Signature in the first picture is from the Lone Star State and has 437,229 miles. Still runs. No announcements on the auction block. The same is true for this 2009 model from Hartford, Connecticut with 268,440 miles. 

Lincoln Town Cars have long represented the Holy Grail for livery operators who must shuck off various executives and media grunts from the airports to their destinations.

The wandering Texan in the first pic managed to average over 70,000 miles a year in what must have been a near 24/7 livery operation. Not to be outdone, the Northern sibling averaged nearly 90,000 miles a year. That must have included an awful of airport and traffic related idling as well.

No matter. These Town Cars are custom designed for the road warriors throughout our fair land; especially those cost sensitive souls who must operate these fleets without fear of breakdowns in the middle of nowhere.

This is why, every year for well over ten years now, I see the exact same reality whenever I fly off to some media event in the USA. Lincoln Town Car. Chauffeur’s hat. A sign that may or may not have my name correct. Bingo. Another well isolated travel through the angry streets of airport traffic, to a place that requires my services for 48 hours or less.

After a few years of this I started to have a random thought about this livery business, “Why no Cadillacs?”

Well the answer to that question didn’t exactly have to bite me on the ass. I saw it every week. Cadillacs from the mid to late 90′s with Northstar engines that were about to blow out their last coolant ridden remnants out of their tailpipes at the dealer auto auctions. Professional car buyers stayed away from these things in droves and by the time the mid-2000′s rolled along, you could find countless number of 1990′s Cadillacs at the public auctions for well south of $2000.

It was these vehicles that nearly killed Cadillac. Specifically, any model that had the word Northstar somewhere on the rear deck lid or under the hood.   

Everyone likes to say that the Cadillacs of the 80′s were the ones that did them in. Wrong! Most Americans had no idea that the Cimmaron existed, or the Allante for that matter.  Cadillac may have offered some of the most frumpish designs of the era along with engines that weren’t exactly paragons of reliability. But the grapevine back then wasn’t nearly as well connected as was the case by the late 90′s.

Once the internet became a common tool, Cadillac was screwed. All you had to do was go to one of the well visited auto review sites and there, without the forces of corporate influenced censorship,  you would find a hailstorm of hatred from actual owners of the vehicles.

Now with all that being said, there is always an outlier to the bell curve when it comes to automotive longevity. The 500,000 mile Fiat. The 446,000 mile Dodge Neon. And now… the almost made it to 300,000 miles 1998 Cadillac Deville.

293,606 miles to be exact.

It’s sad to think about how much goodwill was lost by Cadillac for what should have been a testament to their engineering prowess. Those who love Panthers (a.k.a Sajeev) may laugh at the thought. But if Cadillac had offered a genuine contender to the Town Car in terms of reliability… and design… and ease of mechanical repair… and…

Well, you get the point. Thankfully the large old fart car has gone the way of the Camry. In fact, the Camry is now to the new affluent retirees what the Cadillacs and Lincolns used to be to the old ones. Some may lament about the loss of luxury bling but to be brutally blunt, I’m kinda glad that the luxury class went straight to the middle class.




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New or Used: Buffalo Butts Need Not Apply… Fri, 05 Aug 2011 23:31:45 +0000  


S.M. writes:

Dear Steve and that other Dude,

As you well know, I am a little hooked on old-school American iron, preferably of the V8, high performance wannabe-GT cum Land Yacht variety. Problem is, they are letting me down in terms of basic transportation to work. Not that my Cougar and Mark VIII are complete turds, that guy with that Piston Slap column would have my ass if it came to that. But the occasional part needs replacement, and every recent modification (defective hi-flow fuel pumps, limited slip differentials assembled rather poorly) left me stranded and car-less for many days…and, well, you see my point.

I have a working budget of anywhere from 20-40k for a vehicle that’s new or lightly used. The ideal vehicle should be well proportioned with good visibility (no buffalo butts, I didn’t go to Industrial Design school for that crap), be RWD and not be a stereotypical European money pit that’s nearly impossible to repair in my garage. The ability to tune/tweak would be a plus and being more practical than my two coupes wouldn’t hurt, either. Not that I want another tuner car that’ll leave me stranded for one reason or another. Oh, and a stick would be nice.


PS: I am not interested in Panther Love. I wish you people would stop pushing these damn things on your readers. The only ones I’d consider are the “fat panthers” from the mid-90s with all the good stuff inside. I am not interested in taking a new, reliable “skinny” one and making it fat with parts from the junkyard. Been there, done that and already won the Fox Body trophies.

Steve answers:

Well Saj…I mean, anonymous dude.

You have a lot of nice wiggle room if you’re looking at the 20k to 40k range. If price is truly no object up to forty grand I would look directly at the the Hyundai Genesis sedan. It has plenty of power, Lexus levels of luxury, and an overall fit and finish that would make the Clinton era Panthers envious.

The 3.8L Genesis coupe with a six-speed would also be a great fit too since you may want something that is more akin to a touring sedan. Other non-Teutonic alternatives I would look at include the Ford Mustang, Chrysler 300, Infiniti G37, and my personal middle-aged favorite…a 2010 Corvette LS3 with a Targa top.

But I must ask… will at least one of your cars be running by the end of the month? Your predicament is why I avoid considering most aftermarket mods. Yeah, they may look good on the surface. But after years of looking at over 10,000+ repos a year as a remarketing rep, I got sick and tired of shiny plastic wheels and ‘upgrades’ that were like made out of recycled Chinese beer cans.

Keep your next ride stock. Only upgrade the obvious and chances are you may indeed forget that misguided chapter of your life called ‘Panther Love’.

Sajeev answers:

Damn son, you got mad issues.

I mean, choosing a car based on the height of its backside is more than a little disturbing. And not picking a “skinny” Panther completely goes against your grain. That said, Steve did a good job laying the truth on you: any Genesis, fat-ass Mustang or C6 ‘vette is what you need. Or maybe an Infiniti G37 coupe, it’s super classy just like that Mark VIII of yours. Good luck trying to keep any of these choices stock, however. You won’t last a month.

My advice to you is to grow the heck up. Stop looking at interesting, fast or inherently cool cars. You aren’t selling your hoopties and you don’t need anything remotely similar to them. It’s time to broaden your horizons and wake up to your future!

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Curbside Classic Lincoln Fest Finale And Mark VIII Sat, 13 Feb 2010 02:19:18 +0000

The Mark VII and the Mark VIII get a passing grade for effort, but that’s not good enough in the car business. There was no way these coupes could could begin to offset the damage that was simultaneously being done to the brand by that lame-assed 140 hp V6 powered Continental sedan. Dressing up this Taurus to compete with the Mercedes W124 and Lexus LS 400 was just a revival of the deadly sin they committed with the Versailles. There may have been enough suckers to buy this pig in a poke v.2, but they were all over seventy years old. Not the way to build a viable brand, especially in the face of the most withering competition for luxury car dollars ever.

I really can’t speak from personal experience regarding this Mark VIII; I know some here will fill in the intimate details. Lets just say that my friends and I were the perfect demographic for it when it first came out in 1993. I helped recommend and picked out a Lexus SC 400 for a close friend. Do you think the Mark VIII even appeared on the radar? Not in Silicon Valley in 1993. It has nothing to do with the merits of the Mark VIII, or the LS sedan that followed it. The Lincoln (and Cadillac) brand was simply not acceptable to a very big chunk of the target demographic, and not just in California. The fact that the SC was probably a better car didn’t exactly help either. But that’s the grave Lincoln dug for itself; and is still struggling to extricate itself from.

The Mark VIII was solid effort (unlike its perpetually leaky air springs), and is dear to the hearts of its fans. It’s the last of the breed: the all-American RWD high performance coupe; well, until the CTS-V comes along here soon. Sitting on a modified T-Bird platform with independent air suspension all-round; a healthy 32 valve version of the modular V8 with 280 to 300 hp; electronics at work all over the place: the very model of a modern major coupe. The styling was not without controversial aspects, like the deeply scalloped sides and the by-now-truly-dispensable trunk hump. Note to Lincoln: some of us didn’t want to be reminded of Mark IVs; in fact way too many of us. The question Lincoln’s product planners should have asked themselves about the hump: will it hurt us more with the Lincoln faithful if we ditch it, than with the Lexus/BMW/Benz cross-shoppers if we keep it?  Enough humping.

And don’t get me started on all the srew ups regarding the unfulfilled potential of the LS sedan and the whole PAG debacle. Oh well; it’s all water under the bridge now. And Lincoln survived, somehow, barely. Well, its future is pretty murky-clear now too: more Versailles and FWD Continentals, just executed a bit more deftly. The Lexus ES and RX are the models of The Way Forward; not surprising coming from that ex-Lexus driver Al Mulally. Had the LS arrived looking like the Continental Concept, we might be having a different conversation. But it didn’t, and as much goodwill as I have for Ford in general, Lincoln’s future is not one that will likely cross with mine.

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Curbside Classic Outtake: Calling Sajeev Mehta Edition – Lincoln Mark VIII Fri, 27 Nov 2009 19:21:38 +0000 arse-in-air syndrome

In my CC hunts, I come across quite a few Lincolns with air suspension issues. Usually, they’re just hunched down on the suspension stops in a Citroen DS or lowrider imitation. But this one has been catching my eye for quite some time, because it gets driven like this. I suspect it’s not intentional, but I do tend to lag in my awareness of the latest automotive cultural fads. Given that this Mark VIII is also lacking a rear window adds to my theory.

We all know that one of our own is a big fan of these: T-Birds with better interiors and air bags. Oh, and that four-cam engine. Did I miss something else? A price almost double that of the supercharged T-Bird SC. Enough ribbing. We all love hot-rod Lincolns. And for lovers of the genre, the Mark VIII was a high point, literally in this case. It was compared favorably to the import luxo-coupes of the time; or is that my memory recalling Lincoln PR speak? The truth about the Mark VIII is that it’s a car that I’m highly unqualified to talk about. It’s from exactly that era in my life when luxury coupes were the very last thing on my automotive radar. I guess I wasn’t the only one, because the shrinking market for the genre meant cancellation after five years, with sales shriveling to a mere 6100 units in 1998. And now Cadillac is unveiling their CTS Coupe. Is there a Mark IX in your future?

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