By on February 11, 2010

Ironically, the Continental Mark IV is the most “American” car ever. It’s the ultimate counterpart to that most continental/ European car ever, the VW Rabbit/Golf Mk  I that appeared about the same time. The Golf was a brilliant triumph of modern design: space efficiency, economy, light weight, visibility, sparkling performance and handling. And in Europe, the Golf became known as the “classless” car; one that didn’t make a statement about its owner. The Mark? Well, take all those qualities,  turn them upside down, inside out, and then toss them out the window.  Americans have long had ambivalence about “modern” anyway; it hinted at socialistic and intellectual influences that didn’t always sit so well. The most modern American car ever was the Corvair, and look how that turned out. Even the Kennedy Lincolns were a touch too modern. America was ripe for the first true post-modern car, and Ford was the obvious company to make it. 

That shouldn’t be surprising. Ford’s inner battle with modernity was as deep-seated as Ol’ Henry’s anti-semitism. The Fords were intrinsically a conservative bunch, and they knew how to convert that to sales. We covered the story of the Zephyr in Part 1 of this series, but here’s the recap: In the depth of the Depression, modernity (and socialism) flowered, and the radical Lincoln Zephyr prototype of 1934 turned the classic (conservative) car proportions on its head. With a wimpy, drooping “hood” (that was “empty”), and the engine hidden in its tail, it was profoundly European in layout and design; a bigger VW Beetle, right down to the styling cues. Oh, and before we forget, the Fords turned down an opportunity to buy the whole VW operation for peanuts right after the war.

Ford’s made sure that the production Zephyr ended up with a proper front engine and grille, but its short hood and long body were mighty modern nonetheless. But within a couple of years, Edsel fixed that, with his custom-made granddaddy Continental. Lengthen the hood, move the passenger compartment back, lower the whole thing, and presto! The classic car formula was reincarnated, and Ford never forgot the lesson. Mostly, anyway; they temporarily forgot about the “classic” grille.

In 1940, reviving the traditional radiator would have been all wrong. The first Continental still deftly balanced modern with traditional cues. And the Mark II of 1956 with a classic grille would have been scoffed at by the true elite that was expected to cough up the princely sum it cost. But by 1968, everything had changed; more correctly, it was in the process of changing. And Ford’s brilliance in the late fifties and the sixties lay in exploiting those changes.

The 1958 Thunderbird and the 1964 Mustang, which we included in our “Five Most Revolutionary Cars” series, were the first two hits of that winning streak that culminated in the big Marks. The T-Bird revived the long hood-short tail formula, and the Mustang made it affordable to everyone. Now it was time for the grand slam finale, and perhaps the boldest of the three. Slapping a “classical” grille on the front of the 1968 Mark III was an incredibly insightful and daring move, and one that set off an avalanche.

That fake shiny shell planted so proudly on the front of the longest hood (over six feet) in post-war history tackled two different challenges that Ford presciently saw. It was a response to the rapidly rising fortunes of Mercedes, whose traditional radiator shell was quickly becoming an icon. A less significant nod to Rolls Royce didn’t hurt either. But the real breakthrough was in tapping into the latent power of the most potent symbol that the target demographic of the Mark grew up with: the Duesenberg.

That ultimate expression of world-class design, technology and prestige was the most influential but least affordable icon of the classic era, and gave us the enduring expression “doozy”. For the boys and young men who struggled through the deprivations of the Depression, thanks to the post-war economic exceptionalism period, many were now of the right age to indulge that latent fantasy. Years of schlepping their bratty baby boomer kids in the station wagon were over, and for those whom the Mark spoke to, many answered; especially the Mark IV.

The Mark III may have popped the cork on the whole trend, but it still showed a hint of restraint. And like the Mark I was Edsel Ford’s baby, and the Mark II was William Clay Ford’s toy, the Mark III was Henry Ford II’s personal pet project. He approved all the final details, interior and exterior. The Mark III was a hit in its own right, handily equaling Cadillac’s knife-edge Eldorado, which had a decidedly more “modern” grille. But the Mark IV was a monster, unleashing a pent-up demand for relatively affordable ostentatious pretense the likes of which had never been seen before. It creamed the Eldorado in sales by almost two to one.

Bigger, longer, lower and heavier than the III, the IV actually had less interior space and its trunk was pathetically small. The accommodations were plush, but this nadir of space efficiency was remarkably cramped. The Golf offered a better seating position, not to mention the ability to see anything outside. Never mind; trying to make comparisons like that are utterly irrelevant.

There is a moderating and restraining influence of modernism. The Mark IV unleashed a back lash that presaged the whole rise of America’s conservative swing. Automotively speaking, that swing quickly got ugly: that fake classic grille unleashed the whole neo-classic hell that soon descended on the seventies, the Bugazzi being just one of the many monstrosities the Mark IV spawned. Not to mention fake grilles on the front everything from Granadas to K-cars.  Thank you Hank, for your brilliant insight into the true American psyche.

Is it too much of a stretch to correlate the big Marks with the rise of Ronald Reagan? The Mark II was the flashy high-paid actor in the fifties, chafing against the high tax rates that made the Mark II so unaffordable. The Mark III corresponded to his California governor years; that liberal and trendsetting state portending the coming national swing. And the Mark IV and V marked the conservative upswing that led to his election in 1980.

Of course, the big Marks met their demise just as Reagan took power. But perhaps the downsized and truncated Mark VI of 1980 is the fitting symbol of his presidency: big ideas always sound their best before they actually get put to the test. In any case, America’s love for big cars finally met its reality check in the early eighties oil shock, and suddenly Diesel Rabbits were selling for as much as Mark VIs. And the irony of calling these cars “Continentals” was greater than ever.

But that was just another temporary swing on the (oil) pendulum. The big Marks were history, but big Navigators soon took their place. Anyway, driving a flashy car was soon to be supplanted by the flashy house with its neo-faux-classical front “grille”, the McMansion. Borrowing that remarkably effective All-American prefix and evoking another famous Ronald, shall we  just sum it up and call the Mark IV the McDuesenberg?

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62 Comments on “Curbside Classic: 1973 Continental Mark IV...”

  • avatar

    I forgot that I actually owned one of these, a ’73, briefly in 1984. It was a worse gas pig than even I expected (11 mpg highway if I babied it), and an electrical nightmare. After several trips to the auto electric shop and a couple smoke-out-of-dashboard incidents, I gave up. The final straw was when all electrical accessories simply died one night on a dark highway. Engine still ran, and shutting it off restored the electricals.

    Also, I expected it to drive like a luxury car, but instead it felt like a supersize Gran Torino. Nice looking car, but definitely one to avoid.

    • 0 avatar

      The electrics going out was due to the ignition switch. My ’77 LTD used to cut out like that and a little wiggle almost-to-Start to almost-to-Off would bring eveything back.

      Couldn’t get it to cut out for a mechanic, of course.

  • avatar

    It’s actually a ’73…5 mph front bumper, with the ’72-3 non-impact rear bumper.

    We had a ’74 when I was kid…navy blue/white top, white leather…pretty pimptastic.

  • avatar

    Thanks, this is the first Mk IV I’ve seen in at least ten years that didn’t have someone living in it.

    • 0 avatar

      I once met a guy that was living in his car (it was a Caddy, not a Lincoln). He told me he could afford either his house or a car, but not both. I was incredulous, thinking that a house would be a much better deal than a car; especially during tough times when the “rubber met the road.” He looked at me like I was the fool telling me, “Look mister, I can live in my car, but I can’t drive my house.”

  • avatar

    “the McDuesenberg” Lolz!

  • avatar

    They may have been the zenith of inefficiency but they were certainly good looking beasts. I’ve always had a inexplicable crush on the 70-73 Marks. In fact the first car I ever drove with ABS was a 1970 Mark-III (back in 1976). It was another decade or more before I drove another car with that feature.

    It’s easy to laugh at them now, but they were right for the times in many ways.

  • avatar

    More thoughts on these fantastic dinosuars…yes, they represent some of the best, and the worst, aspects of our American culture.

    Big, brash, flashy…oversized, overdone and yes, shockingly inefficient and alas, ultimately not sustainable…that last thought is probably saddest of all. Along with all the arrogance of these cars, they were also the end result of some dream… of a life without limits, of expansion, of mastery over practical limitations, of rewards so richly deserved…every so often, we “go off the deep end”, turn things ‘up to eleven’…and these cars were there taking us along on the ride…and then reality intervenes, and we are all humbled, broken and/or have our wings clipped.

    Yeah, Golfs were light years ahead in efficient design and utilization of resources…but is a diet of all broccoli and other veggies and no ‘death by chocalate’ cake or other decadent desert worth living? Not so much, to me at least…

  • avatar

    McDuesenberg is extremely appropriate.

    Incidentally, I once looked up the etymology of “doozy.” I can’t remember exactly what I found, because it wasn’t clear exactly what the etymology was, but my recollection is that it probably didn’t derive from the Duesenberg. Which may be appropriate since “doozy” has a negative connotation.

    This car is just such stylistic crap compared to the Kennedy Lincolns. And that’s true of all of the big 3 going from the ’60s to the ’70s and ’80s. Why?

    • 0 avatar

      What happened was that the automakers discovered that there was a vast and lucrative market for tasteless ostentation. Designs that get lots of critical acclaim, like the ’61 Continental or the ’66 Toronado, were met with a big yawn by the buying public, but tacky mishmashes like the Mark IV and mid-seventies Chevy Monte Carlo were colossal money-making hits.

      The main thing was anything that looked expensive and excessive. Ersatz Rolls-Royce grilles, padded formal roofs, opera windows, and coach lamps all had associations with limousines, and punters ate it up.

      It reminds me of the classic MAD Magazine parody of the Batman TV show, where “Bats-man and Sparrow” have this enlightening conversation:

      Sparrow: Fame? You call it fame having all my hip friends laughing at me?
      Bats-Man: What difference does it make if they laugh, as long as they watch the program? For years, TV tried to reach the so-called sophisticates with ‘Playhouse 90,’ ‘The Defenders,’ etc. But they wouldn’t even turn on their sets! Then along came ‘Bats-Man,’ and the industry made a revolutionary discovery. Give the ‘in’ group garbage — make the show bad enough — and they’ll call it ‘camp’ and stay glued to their sets!
      Sparrow: Holy Nielsen! You mean the swingers are really squarer than the squares?
      Bats-Man: Exactly! So let them laugh. Because we laugh, too — all the way to the bank!

    • 0 avatar

      I always found it amusing that a car styled and designed during the last years of the Eisenhower Admin., and on-sale nearly a half-year before Kennedy took the oath, would get the moniker “Kennedy Lincolns”…

      By the way, who here doesn’t already know:

      Lincoln elected to Congress in 1846.
      Kennedy elected to Congress in 1946.
      Lincoln elected President in 1860.
      Kennedy elected President in 1960.

      Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.
      Both men were concerned with civil rights.
      Both wives lost children while living in the White House.
      Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
      Both were shot in the head.

      Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
      Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

      Both were assassinated by Southerners.
      Both were succeeded by Southerners.
      Both successors were named Johnson.

      Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
      Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

      John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
      Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
      Both assassins were known by their full names.
      Both names comprise fifteen letters.

      Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse.
      Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.
      Booth and Oswald were both assassinated before their trials.

      And, the most recent, unconfirmed, fact notes:
      A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe Maryland.
      A week before Kennedy was shot, he was in Marilyn Monroe.

    • 0 avatar

      Robert.Walter: “And, the most recent, unconfirmed, fact notes:
      A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe Maryland.
      A week before Kennedy was shot, he was in Marilyn Monroe.”

      Marilyn died in August 5, 1962, more than year before JFK was gunned down on November 22, 1963, so no, this can’t be true. But it does make a good story…

      Unless JFK was into dead… Ew!

  • avatar

    Several pieces of misleading information here. First of all, Lee Iacocca was most assuredly all over the Mark III. According to Dave Ash, who was the lead designer, the Mark III was Iacocca’s idea, which he pushed through despite considerable resistance from Gene Bordinat. Henry Ford II did indeed love it dearly, but it was even more Iacocca’s baby than the Mustang. See Ash’s own account:

    The Mark IV, in contrast, was Bunkie Knudsen’s baby. He approved Wes Dahlberg’s design without even consulting Henry Ford II — a ballsy thing to do for the redesign of the boss’s favorite product. Almost no one in Ford styling like the Mark IV design, and Bordinat was dearly hoping Knudsen would be fired in time to replace it. (As it happened, Knudsen was fired, but after the drop-dead date for the Mark IV.) Bordinat’s preference was for Don DeLaRossa’s design, which became the 1977 Mark V.

    Complete history of the Mark III-IV-V:

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Thanks as always for the additional insights. I read your piece on the Marks, and couldn’t help but notice some “misleading information” too.
      You say the Mark V rode on a lengthened LTD II chassis; can you verify that? Given that the V had the exact same wheelbase and general dimensions as the IV, I suspect it rode on the IV’s platform.
      You also say the Mark VI was a Fox body car. The VI was just a slightly modified Town Coupe, and rode on the 114.3″ Panther platform.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mark IV, Mark V and ’72-76 Thunderbird rode on the same chassis, which was very similar to the 1972 Torino and every other “Standard” size Ford that came from that car. The front crossmembers’ hard points are quite similar, but overall dimensions were obviously much bigger. Even the gas tank and filler neck (on models with side gas doors) were almost exactly alike.

      Not that I know for sure, but you wanna know how to put headers for the 460 on your Mark IV or V? Get a set for a 1972 Torino with a 429. Nothing from any other Ford will work because of that crazy steering box location, don’t ask me how I figured that out.

    • 0 avatar


      A buddy of mine had a ’73 Gran Torino that was actually a pretty good car overall – never gave him any real trouble other than wear items and it was build like a tank. In spite of having only a 2bbl 351 Clevland and an FMX auto, it moved fairly well for a car of it’s bulk. We made it more tolerable by putting some of the Ford argent “Magnum 500” style wheels on it with 60-series radials, gas shocks at all 4 corners and a highback bench seat to replace the lowback unit – never could find buckets in the right color for the car in spite of near weekly trips to the junkyard looking for random goodies.

  • avatar

    If it ain’t baroque don’t fix it.

  • avatar

    While I can accept that we’ll never again see such excessive exterior proportions on a vehicle again… Why, oh Why, can’t someone make a car with a nice open interior? I’m so tired of shrink-wrapped, form fit, cockpit interiors. I demand the return of my illusion of automotive spaciousness!

  • avatar

    I have very mixed feelings about these. In the fall of 1971, my dad traded a 70 Mark III and brought home a bronze 72 Mark IV with brown leather. The III had been a disappointment. Flywheel teeth issue, cracked exhaust manifold, and other smaller stuff, all on the most expensive car sold in America, and all by 2 yrs old. It didn’t even make it to the dealer for its trade in under its own power, but on the back of a tow truck. Fitting that it was a yellow one.

    The IV was a better car. Dad kept it 4 yrs and nearly 90K, which was nearly unheard of for him (particularly with his bad maintenance habits). He was a drive it for a couple of years with no maintenance and get rid of it kind of guy. I had my learners permit by 1975, when the IV had 80K+ (on the original 1972 shocks) and I didn’t like the car at all. It wallowed unlike anything else I had driven up to that time. By this time, at least 2 of the hub caps were gone, and it was having master cylinder and freeze plug issues (Thank goodness they don’t make them like they used to.

    On styling, it is not my favorite car. I think this is the car that brought us the opera window. They were optional on the 72s, but standard sometime thereafter. And I don’t think there was a single car that suffered so badly with the addition of 5 mph bumpers in 73-74. But Lincoln sure sold a truckload of these. IIRC, they handily outsold Eldorados in those years. I don’t know why I remember this, but the base price of the 72 Mark IV was the highest in the US at $8800, and they could hit $10K with a little effort on the order form.

    I think that my biggest rap on this car (and most everything else during the Iacocca era at Ford) was that while it gave the appearance of quality at first, it was really just a lot of lipstick on an average pig. I think Lee put all the money into appearance and not so much into deep down durability (much the same as his tenure at Chrysler). Upon reflection, this is STILL a car that I have no desire to own, which is pretty bad given my general love of most Lincolns. I would take a III or a V over a IV any day.

    As for your political observations, I have to disagree. These cars were Nixon-Ford malaise all the way. And don’t lay the Mark VI on Reagan – it was the inevitable result of the Carter-Claybrook-CAFE years that cars did not recover from until the 90s.

    • 0 avatar

      Paul, I knew you were going to take some heat for the Reagan reference, no matter how apt. Talk about a third rail…

    • 0 avatar

      “I think that my biggest rap on this car (and most everything else during the Iacocca era at Ford) was that while it gave the appearance of quality at first, it was really just a lot of lipstick on an average pig.”

      You’ve just described the biggest problem with American cars in general throughout the automotive age – with very few exceptions. Only recently did we get away from body-cladding and we still have that damnable chrome plastic on today’s cars.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    The father of my BF in High School had one of these, a 1975…triple black, natch. So, of course, it is what we drove to prom….fond memories. We also cruised in it, with Boston or Queen on the 8-track and lit….er……contraband smoking materials aplenty. It always amazed me, a guy who came from a Rambler family, to watch the huge plain that was this thing’s hood TILT whenever my buddy Jim swung the wheel. It was like watching the flight deck of an aircraft carrier tilt when it swung into the wind to launch…..even then, I felt uneasy about the utter waste involved….

  • avatar

    A high-school friend of mine, Jim Bell, inherited a ’72 or ’73, also triple-black, w/optional everything, from his grandmother in about 1979 …

    Natch, after driving a slug of a late-model LeBaron, we had to exercise the (was it a) 460…

    WOT up a sunny little hill in a sub, at the crest the sun ended, and there was black ice on the otherside … at 50mph, on the ice, the IV transformed into a whirling dervish, chopping down some mailboxes along the way, and after a 360° and into a snowbank, the only damage sustained was the lower brightwork around the cornering lamp had fallen off (never did get replaced as far as I know)…

  • avatar

    Gorgeously vulgar!
    It simply had it all. Faux grille, faux spare tire hump, faux cabriolet top, faux wood trim, faux velour interiors, faux performance, and OH so fauxe riche!

    It is a 5000 pound Cool Whipped covered, chocolate flavored iced, artificially flavored watermelon vanilla creme filled, Twinkie.

    A dessert for the eyes and a gut busting nightmare if consumed.

    God Bless the United States of America!

  • avatar

    What’s that under the tarp in the background, Paul? An early 60’s Merc?

  • avatar

    These always struck me as women’s car, even though Jock Ewing had one. At 6′ 6″, there was no way I could drive one. I really liked the Mark III so much better. I also don’t think you can blame this on Reagan, more like Johnson and his extravagant guns and butter programs on the 1960s which left us in a complete wreck in the 1970s

  • avatar

    Is this it for Lincoln or are we going to get to see the best of the breed, the Mark V?

    I remember that model vividly for two reasons:

    1. It was Cannon’s ride. Remember that particularly lame detective show? Yep, fat guys can be dicks, too. At the end of every “chase” scene, the thing would heave to a stop, still pitching and yawing and Cannon would shove the door open and struggle out with his .38 snubby clutched in his flabby paw. The two were absolutely made for each other.

    2. C&D (I’m pretty sure it was C&D) reviewed it and actually called the suspension “flaccid.” They also described it as a “vast horizontal skyscraper bulk,” if I remember correctly. Notta lotta love for the big machine, there.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m almost positive Cannon drove a Mark IV.

    • 0 avatar

      For what it’s worth, from IMdb:

      In the pilot of the series, Cannon drove a Lincoln Continental Mark III. The car was wrecked by the bad guys in an attempt to scare Cannon off the case. Then, for most of the series, Cannon barreled around in a Lincoln Continental Mark IV. During the last part of the series’ run, the chubby private eye’s Cannonmobile was the Lincoln Continental Mark V.

    • 0 avatar

      For whatever reason, the V is the one I remember.

      ClutchCarGo, Do you have IMDB Pro? Free IMDB just says this in the plot summary:

      “The weekly adventures of Frank Cannon, an overweight, balding ex-cop with a deep voice and expensive tastes in culinary pleasures, who becomes a high-priced private investigator. Since Cannon’s girth didn’t allow for many fist-fights and gun battles (although there were many), the series substituted car chases and high production values in their place.”


      “Most clients paid dearly for the services of Detective Cannon. The high fee underwrote his expensive lifestyle. Fine food left him too overweight to fight anybody, so he mostly drove around Los Angeles in his Continental.”

      which is good enough for humor purposes.

    • 0 avatar

      Kix: I found that paragraph under Trivia.

    • 0 avatar

      My Dad loved that show. IIRC, Frank Conrad was the “voice-over” announcer/narrator for several “Quinn-Martin” (QM) shows of the ’60’s. I think “The Invaders” was one.

    • 0 avatar

      William Conrad was actually the voiceover for the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.

    • 0 avatar

      William Conrad was not only the voice-over for Rocky and Bullwinkle (Edward Everett Horton was the narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales, however), he was also the voice of the original Marshall Dillon of Gunsmoke on radio.

    • 0 avatar

      I wish I’d seen this earlier. It made me seek out a really funny Jean Shepherd Car & Driver column from 1976:
      Cannon as a series ran from Fall 1971 until its cancellation in Spring 1976. The Mark V didn’t come out until Fall 1976. Except for the pilot episode, he drove a Mark IV during the whole series run. If Cannon was fat, the spinoff show “Barnaby Jones” was old – a retired private eye who drove a two-door LTD Brougham. But at least Buddy Ebsen, an accomplished dancer, was a spry 70-year-old.
      In those days, TV series characters usually got whatever model year vehicle was new when the series went into production. Quinn Martin Productions shows like “Cannon,” “Barnaby Jones” “Streets of San Francisco” and “The FBI’ exclusively drove Ford vehicles. At the end of “The FBI,” you would always see Efrem Zimbalist Jr. walking out of Washington’s DOJ building with a current model Mustang, Cougar or T-bird conveniently parked out front, windows open and top down. Who’d mess with an FBI Inspector’s ride?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    jplane and jpcavanaugh; I didn’t blame Reagan at all; I just pointed out that the rise of both the big Marks and Reagan’s political career coincided. If you want to blame anyone, it would be the consumers and voters. Hey, I even voted for him, and lost my political virginity as a consequence.

  • avatar

    I absolutely loved the Mark IV, so to speak in its day it was the cat’s meow in metro Detroit. The III, IV, and V I thought were all great cars. I did own a 78 V in 78 and enjoyed every minute of it!!!

    Glad I had the opportunity to enjoy these in their day as save for a Bentley or Rolls coupe nothing like them is likely to ever be offered again.

  • avatar

    These Lincolns were all beautiful cars. The Town Cars, the Continentals, and the Marks. I really wish Lincoln would dig down and reproduce cars in this vein instead of the direction they’ve recently taken. Makes me sad when I look at today’s Lincolns.

  • avatar

    Too bad they could only afford one tarp.


  • avatar

    Really enjoyable series, Paul. Since so many CCs involve
    Lincoln and Cadillac — and I realize the subject might be of very limited interest to TTAC readers — have you ever considered occasionally publishing articles about professional vehicles?

  • avatar

    Limousines, hearses, ambulances, those sorts of things.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I’ve got my eye on a nice old Caddy hearse; I just need to get the owner to move a couple of junker blocking it to get some nice shots. And I have a nice limo in the can too. Sure, anything if it’s old enough and interesting enough.

  • avatar

    Never cared for these. But in your second shot, low from the passenger side rear, the car looks very badass. I guess I can see the appeal. But it has to be black.

  • avatar

    If I was ever going to call a car a ‘douchebag’, this would be it.

  • avatar

    Fine; I get it. Reagan/Conservatives bad. Did you get it out of your system?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    You didn’t mention the imitation Rolls-Royce grille kits for Volkswagen Beatles. I saw a lot of them back in the day.

  • avatar

    My grandparents have a 1976 Mark IV sitting in their garage. Jade Green with white leather, 42,000 original miles. They bought it sometime around 1979. I remember traveling to Virginia in it from Michigan back in ’82, and my grandpa hustling through the curves in the mountains. The tires were howling, my grandma was holding on for dear life, and I kept sliding across the leather back seat trying to hold on myself (I was only seven at the time).

    When I was eighteen, they let me drive it to a few places, and to me it felt more like I was piloting a 747 than driving a car, but oh, what a grand experience!

    Other than a few blemishes where my grandpa got a little too close to the frame of the garage door and a small rust hole near the back wheel, the car still looks great. They would like to sell it, but so far no takers.

    A couple of years ago my grandpa brought home a 1991 Cartier Town Car for my grandma. I don’t know why, but I really hope that car gets willed to me…

  • avatar

    My father’s last new car was a 1974 Mercury Montego, which was styled to be a smaller version of this car. I remember the Mark IV’s as the pimpmobiles of the 1970’s, at least in my neck of the woods. The only other close contender were the boat tailed Buick Riverias, but they were a distant second. And this is in a GM town, no less!

    My favorite memory of these cars is one day when my dad and I went to the Mercury store for a service, a tow truck delivered a Mark IV to the shop, along with one piss*d off customer. He had just experienced catastrophic engine failure. This was back in the day before flatbed tow trucks were common, so you cold see the trail of oil and shiny bits all over the underside of the car. In addition, if you poked your head up under the driver’s front wheel, you could see a broken piston rod protruding through the block.

    The man claimed (with much profanity) that all he was doing was trying to pass someone on one of Northeast Ohio’s many hills when the engine (#@$*-ing) died and the car stopped. It was quite an entertaining display that afternoon and much to my delight I learned a whole new series of curse words my truck driver father HADN’T taught me. Come to find out some weeks later, that apparently Junior had been drag racing his Dad’s Lincoln in the evenings when he was supposed to be driving to and from catechism class. It seems he did enough damage to hurt the motor, but dear old Dad finished it off.

  • avatar

    In 1978 after an unfortunate accident in which I totaled my 1977 Champagne Edition VW Rabbit I purchased a Silver 99 Turbo SAAB. A wonderful car that I still have many fond memories of 30 years later. A number of friends also had some interesting drives at the time… BMW, Alfa Romeo, Volvo, Porsche, but none more so than our friend Tom with the loaded, 460 cu inch, Lincoln Mk V. Whenever we got together we’d quite literally stare in absolute amazement when Tom pulled up in his Mk V. No matter how much Tom was kidded he truly loved his “land barge” and was unrelenting in his assessment that we’d all come to our senses and own real cars (i.e. full sized American) once we “grew up”. Still know most of the guys and you know what Tom, thank god it looks like we just never grew up :-)

  • avatar

    I never cared much for the Mark IV’s, but I liked the smooth factory wheel covers with the emblem in the center well enough that I started to accumulate a set for my ’68 Lincoln. I only had three when the car got sold, but I found a fourth one and ran them on a couple of different cars.

  • avatar

    This is the ugliest Mark ever, although it’s one of the few cars that actually got ever so slightly better looking with the addition of the 5 MPH rear bumper for 1974. It looks too much like the same era Thunderbird from which it’s derived, much more so than other Marks and their Thunderbird counterparts. Come to think of it, I’m not overly fond of the 1972-76 Thunderbird, either. The Mark V was a much better looking car.

  • avatar

    The car under the tarp is a 61 Mercury Colony Park, one of my favorite year Mercurys. Any chance of a CC [outtake even] on this one?

    That tarp and the big black pile kept getting in the way of fully appreciating it.

    Always great work, Mr. N. Eugene seems to make a professional grade location for car spotting, even for an Angeleno.

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    The Mark III was the pinnacle of this game, IMHO.

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    I’ve wanted a Mk III ever since I saw the brown one charging around New York in the French Connection – the later ones don’t do it for me.

    Anybody remember the King of the Hill comparision tests that either Motor Trend or Car and Driver did – always a Continental Mark versus an Eldorado.

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    I like big cars and 70’s malaisemobiles. A lot. There’s a ’74 Fleetwood Brougham in my garage. But the Mark IV is the one big car I checked out and said no way. It felt like I was driving it from the back seat. A little measurement indicates I was, sort of. The driver’s head is actually behind the front-to-rear center point of the car.

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    What is the car on the right.. mostly covered by the tarp?

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    Brilliant! Dad owned one of these, and he fit the demographic, the times, the zeitgeist. “McDuesenberg.” Perfect! Navigators et al as the current incarnations, exactly!

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    As for me I wasn’t even born that year and here in Europe Lincoln has never been sold. But I adore the Mark IV so much that I bought a 76 Givenchy in perfect condition just to drive it on Sundays and make others frightened… It turned out so much fun that I’m gonna keep it forever!!! Here in Poland it looks so huge and vulgar and imperialistic on the street…

    I get your point about the inefficiency, but it seems totally irrelevant for me as it an almost 40 years old car to drive on a sunny day. Or maybe that’s even why I like it. We only have perfectly efficient cars here and believe me it is so boring. Don’t get me wrong – I have other cars and I love my BMWs for their mechanical perfection and sporty driving. But this is a different category.

    You may see the picture gallery of my Mark IV here:

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