By on February 12, 2010

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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58 Comments on “Curbside Classic Lincoln Fest Finale And Mark VIII...”

  • avatar

    For those of you who view many cars and trucks online and do not have the opportunity to physically connect and feel any one car…

    I just handed over a SHO to a customer and after driving the car to his house 14 miles from the dealership and yes I did find out what a great car it is [use imagination] is and after explaining all of the attributes of the car with the buyer, from EasyFuel to Sync, I am thinking that Ford has a problem on it’s hands.

    The SHO is the high point of the FMC product pyramid. Aside from styling they must raise the bar to make Mercury and Lincoln significantly more appealing to say the least to motivate buyers pay the diff for them.

    Can they? I say yes.


    • 0 avatar

      Agreed! I drove an MKS Ecoboost, and the engine is brilliant. It’s no BMW in the corners (and since the SHO shares the same chassis, I’m assuming it isn’t either), but it’s a darned credible performance sedan, as long as you’re not a gymkhana junkie.

      It’s a modern update on traditional American luxury: powerful, effortlessly fast, roomy, and very, very comfortable. That’s the course Lincoln needs to stay.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m 100% ok with FWD, but I cannot stand the platform-sharing and its compromises. Also, about time to quit with idiotic nomenclature, because it causes me ask “show me that rebadged Expedition, please”. I just cannot remember how it’s called.

    • 0 avatar

      Pete – the MKS and Taurus SHO are both AWD, though as you say, they’re based on a front-drive platform.

      However,so is the Audi A6, and I don’t hear anyone carping about that one…

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry freedmike the audi AWD system is not based on a FWD system. The original quattro design is still used by most audis with a longitudinal mounted motor, hollow driveshaft and center torsen with a fairly even f/r distribution of power. The FWD is just the same design missing a few parts.

      Not that it matters much, nice try though for a stab at Audi.

  • avatar

    Nice call on this one, Paul…I especially liked the later models with the all-blackout trim. Best Batmobile wannabe since the ’67 Riv.

    But I’ll part company with you on the late-’80s Conti and the new Lincolns.

    First, the Conti was NEVER the answer to the Lexus LS model; it was more of a competitor for the ES. And though the initial models had wimpy engines, that changed as the model progressed. As I recall, the facelifted model had the same multi-valve V-8 as this Mark VIII. It was also a decent handler, as I recall.

    As for Lincoln’s current state, I see a lot more light at the end of then tunnel than you do. The MKX is a credible RX fighter, the MKS is a damned nice Big American Car, and the MKT…well, if all the other soccer moms laugh at the styling, at least Mommy can waste ’em at the first stoplight. Lincoln’s new theme seems to be traditional American cars with a modern chassis and powertrain, and since Caddy is becoming a Mercedes/BMW fighter, that might just work for ’em.

    • 0 avatar

      The Continental received a much needed refresh replete with 32 valve V-8 power in 1995, although the styling was still too vanilla overall. The 1998 re-refresh was much nicer looking, almost Jaguar-ish from the rear, but it was probably too little, too late.

    • 0 avatar

      Was that the “Intech V8”? I see this car is a bit low on the airsprings. Anybody interested in buying a air sprung Ford has to look out for cars that have had the air springs replaced with standard dampers…the “good” kits even eliminate the “check suspension” light…

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC all you do is cut one wire to the suspension computer to get rid of the warning display. Not that I’d know, my first set of air springs lasted 12 years, so I got another set from Ford (not reman) and hope to get the same amount of life from them.

      If you want coil springs, do yourself a favor and get a Tbird.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      “Lincoln’s new theme seems to be traditional American cars with a modern chassis and powertrain…”


      FM, that needs to be Ford’s theme, not just Lincoln’s. Although other issues dominate the discussion, the preponderance of ancient powertrains in their stable has hurt them. They admitted a few years ago that the recent gas crunch caught them short, because they hadn’t made the necessary ongoing investments. I think they compromised on powertrain investment, and their powertrain cycle plan did not truly support the type of theme you’re referencing. I hope that’s changing.

  • avatar

    It looks like it was made from butter and left in the sun for too long. It spreads and flows at the bottom like a fat person sprawled on a couch.

  • avatar

    All… my… friends… know the low riiider… [doo doo, doo, di, do dee-da-dee-da!]

  • avatar
    Astute Observer

    I have had two MarkVIIIs. Both 97s, the first was a leased Black on Tan. After I turned it in, I never got over the look, ride, power and RW drive. I picked up another 97 with 13K on the clock for about $13K. I gave it to one of my sons for a graduation present and after about a year and half, he gave it back saying it was too expensive for him.

    I put my 2001 740IL in the garage and drive my MKVIII. This car has a very devoted following with a wonderful website with instructions on how to fix everything.

    It is the perfect car for driving through So. Cal. traffic because it can move with speed and power. The sweep of the cockpit, the all around visibility makes me smile.

    After parking, I have given up trying to stop myself from turning around and admiring its shape and flow. It is very distinguished from the nearly uniform shape of other cars and brands.

    Frankly, I think Lincoln should have continued to expand on this car’s concepts of a drivers coupe.

    • 0 avatar

      I concur. Have owned five Marks. Currently own a 1990 Mark vii LSC and a 1998 Mark Viii LSC. Have never had a single issue with air suspension. The Mark Viii is a fabulous car and I plan on owning one for as long as possible. It is the most comfortable car I have ever driven or ridden in. Very good power, 29 MPG on highway, and it handles very good, esp. with high performance tires. I make very good money and used to own Mustang Cobras but the Marks keep calling me back. They are a beautiful car also. Pictures do not do them justice.

  • avatar

    Although I’m not a fan of these, the refreshed versions from 1997-1998 are much better looking overall to me, especially in LSC trim. The 1993-1996 versions have absolutely horrid fit and finish in the grille/headlamp area that is inexcuseable at the price point they were asking. I also never cared for the “space age” dashboard with the weird horizontal slash and the tiny instruments. Having said that, the seats in the ’97/’98 LSC models were some of the most comfortable ever put in a domestic Ford product…too bad they didn’t rescue them and use them in some other products.

    • 0 avatar

      Totally agree about the seats…….by far the most comfortable seats I’ve ever sat in. I’ve owned a 94 and a 97, and thoroughly enjoyed both. The 94 was a track regular, and consistently ran 15.1’s stock in the quarter, even with the peg leg rear-end.

      Fantastic cars for their time.

      IIRC, they even won the “most washable car” award from 93-98 by some car wash trade publication.

      I think I’ve stated this before, but I believe these cars will become collectible in the future.

      As Paul says, these were the last of the breed — the all-American RWD performance coupes.

  • avatar

    I always hoped to get a chance to go against these when I took my Grand Prix to the drag strip.

    Never got a shot at one though.

  • avatar

    I can’t believe Sajeev hasn’t commented on this beauty…HMMM I wonder how hard it would be to swap a manual tranny in this bad boy?

    • 0 avatar

      Come on now, I don’t live on TTAC. That said, yes you can put a manual tranny in a Mark with minor headaches. The Mustang 5-speed is hard, but the 6-speed supposedly goes in with no problem. Then you need a Tbird manual pedal assembly and push around the engine computer to get the clutch pedal free.

      Something I might do in the future, but I’m happy with my built-up 4R70W for now.

  • avatar

    Dive! Dive!! Dive!!! (An aged air-suspension makes for all kinds of odd attitudes and altitudes in this car.)

    Ford wanted this car to be a high-tech showcase … HID-headlamps up front, Vacuum-flourescent lamps out back, and a paradise of green (was it flourescent, can’t remember) lighting in the cluster (which really sucked, due to the angle of the cluster lense, when the overhead sun came in thru just about any window…)

    Re the trunk hump … I always thought Ford should have done one of two things there … either offer a delete-option for the humpage, or incorporate it much more subtly into the rear theme…

    btw, if you have one of these cars, make sure the car was returned to the dealer for repair under a NHTSA recall campaign. in the event a positioning realy jammed closed, or the linear encoders lost track of where the column was, the power steering column in these cars had the annoying propensity to break thru their endstops on the way to full-extension, after which a slight pull rearward would drop the whole upper column in the driver’s lap. With this, one can’t steer, but might still be able to entertain oneself by honking the horn and playing with the blinkers/wipers. (Note: the S-Type and LS had the same column, but I think the design fix was implemented before they achieved Job1).

    • 0 avatar

      Those HID headlamps have turned out to be a real problem. According to Wikipedia:“The main issue with these cars since production ended is that HID light bulbs are no longer being produced. Sylvania will not produce them. Ford sells a conversion kit to halogen for $1400, not including the cost of installation. One low beam headlight being burned out can make the car undrivable, as it cannot be driven after dark, nor can it pass state inspection.”Due to these (and other) issues, I would imagine that used Mark VIIIs can be found quite cheaply.

    • 0 avatar

      Odd, according to Ford’s Global Terms and Conditions document, which is the basis for the purchasing and supply relationship between Ford and its suppliers, a supplier is obligated to provide service parts for 10 years after Job Last.

      That said, I know of several cases where suppliers refused this obligation and the Company agreed instead to do a one-time all-time buy at Job Last.

      Regardless of the arrangement between the supplier and the Company, the Company has a legal obligation to provide parts for IIRC a 10 year period post-EOP; I’m not sure how they can demand 1,400 for a conversion kit … if they can’t provide the correct service parts, they, as i see it, should be on the hook for providing the conversion at the same price as the last available service part.

    • 0 avatar

      After further research, it appears that the root of the issue is the bulb base, evidently an oddball 9500 series. It also seems that the OEM fulfilled the 10-year part supplier ‘commitment’ (read: legal obligation) and only stopped making them in 2008 (10 years after the last Mark VIII rolled off the production line).

      It would also seem that remedying the situation is not nearly as dramatic as the Wikipedia blurb makes out, with HID or halogen replacement headlamp kits available on eBay for a fraction of the Ford-sanctioned one.

      Of course, being on eBay, the quality of the kits might be a tad questionable, but at least there’s something of a reasonable solution to the problem.

  • avatar

    I never had a chance to drive one of these in my years at the Blue Oval, but did have a Mk VII LSC from the pool a couple of times as a loaner when my lease car was in for service. That was, ummm…, entertaining (loved to cruise at about 90), so I imagine this would have been as well.

    Regarding the Taurus/Continental, I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the adjustable suspension and steering (three settings – basically soft, normal, and firm). I had one of those as a loaner, and quickly found out soft on both steering and suspension duplicated the experience of driving a 70’s Town Car (ick!). On the other hand, the firm suspension setting just introduced harshness with no benefit to the handling, and the stiff steering setting felt like there was a troll in the front, tugging at the wheels, fighting me for control of the car. Not terribly confidence inspiring when you’re trying to drive fast.

  • avatar

    The refreshed models in the last couple years were the best looking, but all of them look far better in person than in photos. I love the Mark VIII, and hope to own one someday. One of the benefits of living in South Florida as a Lincoln enthusiast is that there are plenty of relatively low mileage vehicles available for gawking or purchase in the area.

    The last gasp of the Continental wasn’t a bad car overall, in fact the owners of them whom I speak to always have nothing but good things to say about them. They remind me a lot of the late and lamented Oldsmobile Aurora – a big comfy car with a nice big engine that can happily eat up highway or around town miles. A shame both were generally ignored by most people because of the lack of sporting dynamics and RWD.

  • avatar

    I’d like one of these and I’d replace the factory bag system with a air system that gives height adjust-ability like the one’s on some hot rods. Normal for go, low for show.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen several people do aftermarket “fast bag”systems on Marks. If you really want to stick with stock (and shorten the life of the bags) you can buy a module that splices in to the stock system and makes it height adjustable. These cars have tons of modification potential.

  • avatar

    Love the lowered look.


  • avatar
    Mr. Sparky

    I bought a two year old 1996 Mark VIII right out of college (thanks to Lincoln’s rock like depreciation it was roughly the price of a well optioned T-Bird). It was a great car that I loved deeply.

    Sadly, it was an electronic tour-de-force (variable assist power steering, computer controlled, air suspension, electronically controlled transmission) for its time, and my was possessed with an eletrical demon. Every couple of months the entire car would experience an electrical failure. One time it happened going down a dark Oklahoma interstate at 80… No lights, no variable assist steering, and no air suspension… Oh the excitement… Nearly as good as a late model Toyota:) Stopping the car, turning it off, and turning it back on generally fixed the problem (apparently it was running Windows 95).

    In the year and half that I had the car, it spent over 20 days in the shop with the dealer trying to find the problem with no luck. I finally gave in and trade it off. It was a sad day, but I suspect the next owner had many more sad days…

    Of course, I didn’t learn my lesson and found myself in a 2002 LS V8 a few years later. That’s another story… A long and painful one… Let me just leave you with the thought of “plastic laminated lugnuts”… Did I mention they cost $35 a piece and last about 40K with regular tire rotations?

  • avatar

    IMHO, if Ford put its engineering prowess into the Continental Concept, it’s an instant contender to Lexus or MB sedans. I think it would sell in numbers that Lincoln hasn’t seen in over a decade and a half.

    If you offer Americans a large 4-door luxury sedan that has the goods, and is styled as well as the Conti concept, they will buy it in big numbers. Especially now, because Ford has started to earn the perception of quality and better value , not only compared to the domestic competition, but also when being compared against the import competition.

    I assume that it was based on the same structure as the Ford Interceptor concept, can anybody confirm? These two concepts are the best designs to come out of Ford in years. Does anybody know the rationale behind Ford’s decision to not proceed with the new Continental?

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Monty, who cross shops a Lincoln, a Lexus, and a Mercedes? Lincoln made some iconic cars close to 50 years ago, but Lincoln has been a collection of rebadged Fords for more than a generation. There is no Lincoln luxury brand left to salvage. Just Fords with more accessories and chrome. Ford needs to focus its limited cash on developing competitive high volume Ford brand cars and trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      Monty, I disagree. Lincoln needs to re-trench right now and focus on putting out near to mid-luxury models, which, of course, is the Lexus market, but without the bland styling and driving characteristics of Lexus.

  • avatar

    I have always wanted one of these cars, they are so beautiful. There’s a guy on my commute route that has a really nice ’98 LSC for sale, loaded, sunroof and everything, for $6400 USD. I dont wanna even stop and look at it, i know i will fall in love. Also there’s a lincoln dealership about a mile away to go get it looked at.

    I think the rear hump is very classy, and differentaites it from other cars. The thing that keeps me from seriously considering it it that I live in the middle of Philadelphia, and its just too damm big. Sigh.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The best thing about the Mark VIII? The engine. It’s far and away the best engine for it’s class when it comes to power and fuel economy.

    Styling is distinctive. Seats are nice. The trip computers are fun to play with… and for most road warriors who want a personal luxury coupe… it’s a pretty interesting package. I’ve owned a half dozen of them at this point and can vouch that if gas were $1 a gallon, it would be worth double what they are now.

    But the durability of the interior is abysmal. You have to r-e-a-l-l-y baby it in the south to not get the molded plastics to warp and the door panels to tear. The seats wrinkle and crease faster than an 80 year old without botox injections and the electric issues can be a real bitch to sort out.

    Overall, I think they’re far better engineered than the Eldo and Rivera (see Roger Smith’s legacy) and it is more fun to drive than an SC coupe in stock form. But by this point many luxury sedans offered much of the same power and opulence with a far stronger quality record to boot.

    The Mark VIII is luxury on the cheap… but it will cost you.

    • 0 avatar

      more fun to drive than an SC coupe in stock form

      Are you serious? The Thunderbird was way lighter(still too heavy) and the SC motor was an absolute stump puller for torque, way beyond even the 5.0 motor.

      Now sound…the 4 cam V8 cetainly sounds better than a 3.8SC…

    • 0 avatar

      Who said anything about a T-Bird?:

  • avatar

    The Taurus based Continental I’m pretty sure was the best selling model of all the versions from the early eighties through the later nineties. When that version was introduced in 88 it was sold out for the entire first model year. It was the only Lincoln in my 30 year tenure of selling LM that routinely commanded MSRP and did so for the entire 88 model year. As the country’s largest Lincoln dealership the only way we ever had any in stock was if an order was canceled and that was infrequent. The cancellations were allocated to the salespeople based on drawing a name and the winning salesperson had 24 hours to deliver the car at MSRP. Every single cancellation was sold this way and every one was sold for MSRP and delivered within 24 hours. They were so popular that a buyer who wanted a light color with leather would take a dark color with cloth just to get one. We had buyers offering to pay thousands over MSRP for immediate delivery but didn’t have any to sell. Later in this car’s model run Ford Credit started promoting 2 year leases at $399 + tax w/ zero down and this kept the sales strong. While it is easy to dismiss this car 22 years later it completely ignores the fact that it was a very popular model during its entire production run. Not to have a thread devoted to it during this series and to only mention it derogatorily in passing totally belies the fact that it was a very popular model. It handily outsold the Mark VI, VII and VIII. Unfortunately Ford did not update the mid 90’s Continental forcing its buyers to seek other manufacturers for a comparably sized luxury car. The exact same thing they have done to the Town Car. Ford has a great knack for letting popular Lincoln models die on the vine while moving on to new models which don’t fit the characteristics of the previous models and losing the loyal ownership base. You’d thing they’d be much wiser in their marketing.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      And what was the median age of these buyers?

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, ignoring the semi-revolutionary 88 Conti is a big mistake. The ride and handling compromise due to the trick shocks was really something for Lincoln.

      Paul I bet the average age of the buyers were much lower than you think. I recall a good friends father, a succesful business owner moving up in the world, had gone from his Supra Turbo into one of these in 1988. This guy was not your average Lincoln customer. He came to his senses as soon as the lease was done and switched to a 400E Benz. But Lincoln could have had him…

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      This wasn’t happening where I lived in CA, I can tell you that.

  • avatar

    I have always appreciated these beauties. They were such a step forward design-wise from their predecessors. Of course, I generally like narrow lighting units better than the massive ones that have been the rage more recently.
    I helped a friend negotiate for one of these back in the day, a beautiful black one. She traded in her prized ’80’s T-bird for it. Her only complaint was not specifically related to the car – she said that fellow co-workers looked at her differently once she was driving a Lincoln. It was if she was suddenly too hoity-toity for her fellow Jersey girls.
    She eventually had to trade it in when she moved from Jersey to northern Michigan. She got beans for it – no one out there wanted a rear wheel drive coupe like this due the winter conditions.

  • avatar

    I just read that (last September) Bill Ford announced that the Wixom plant will be re-developed into a 725M USD renewable energy wind park…

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      I wouldn’t ever put much stock in the noise that emanates from Billy’s mouth. The $725M can’t/won’t come from Ford Motor, or Billy’s family. And it sure as heck ain’t coming from the State of Michigan. The Feds? That would eventually get it tagged as another automotive bailout, and wind power is an economic loser.

      15 years ago, that Wixom property was one of the most desirable around, and I’m sure Ford had long had it booked as a cash cow. But the real estate market has since crashed, and now it’s speculation, I suspect. The Silverdome property can’t or hasn’t been sold and developed, and that should tell you something. The industrial parks are overbuilt, vacant and way underutilized. The guys who built them out, and hungered for Ford Wixom during the boom, are struggling to survive.

      I don’t know how much environmental disaster is buried at Wixom, or if that’s even at issue. I’d assume Ford is forever responsible, no matter how or by who that property is developed.

      Hang loose. It ain’t never over ’til it’s over. There are some surprises in store for us, not saying they would include Wixom, but they will include something.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Need very strong and steady wind and lots of open land like the Great Plains has to make wind power sort of work, and even then the price is too high. Wixom doesn’t have the right wind conditions.

  • avatar

    I’ll second the good words for the ecoboost MKS. I wasn’t prepared to be as blown away as I was by the test drive at the LA Auto Show.
    What impressed most was the absolutely granitic body strucure (I’m guessing twice as rigid as my daily driver E350 Benz) and the tomb-like silence. Never mind the so-so styling and the somewhat vague 10/10ths handling, this is a car that has to be driven to be appreciated.

  • avatar

    Thanks Paul for this series on Lincoln. I always loved the ’61 through’69 Continentals and the Mark III’s. By the Seventies Lincoln (and Cadillac) lost the recipe as you have chronicled during the week. Despite some pretty good efforts (Mark VII, VIII, LS) Lincoln is not on the radar screen for the vast majority of luxury car buyers. As good a car as the MKS might be, I think it is too little, too late. Maybe if they dropped the MKZ, MKT, and the whole MK naming scheme, made the MKS the entry point car, and developed a true modern RWD sucessor to the JFK Conte, like the Continental concept car, they would have a good chance at success.

    • 0 avatar

      coatejo, you said everything I wanted to say from Thank You Paul to your observations of the current Lincoln line-up.

      Lincoln has lost their way from their luxury premium car roots to nothing more than tarted up Fords with decent engines, horrible styling, the goofiest names in the industry and, of course, wrong wheel drive.

      Since Ford has finally killed the Panther platform (Town Car), I’ve pretty much given up on Ford as a supplier for future vehicles. I’ll be able to find a nice used LSE or TC for my next ride but the car after that will be a RWD Lexus or Mercedes most likely.

      I didn’t want to see the Panther platform soldier on indefinitely but I am very disappointed with Ford for doing nothing to develop the next generation RWD IRS car platform. It’s not that a market doesn’t exist for them, it Ford’s marketing of said platform that is responsible for its poor customer perception and ultimate demise.

  • avatar

    I had a 86 MKVII LSC then a 89 Thunderbird SC and then a 94 MKVIII. The MK-VIII had some very nice features and updates–the hands free cellphone was very good and easy to use. The engine had more cams and 75 more HP (it sounded good too) than the 5 litre in the ’86. It was a big roomy coupe that was a joy to drive. Not so nice? Like The 86 MK-VII the air springs were problematic and I had a bad streak of electrical problems—notably the alarm system would go off in the middle of the night. The Lincoln people did a good job troubleshooting the problem–they took custody the car gave me a Town Car loaner and called me every day to update me on their progress or lack of progress to correct the electrical gremlins. When i got the car back it behaved itself. The service advisor said there was a glitch in the software. I recently saw a ’98 MKVIII LSC –that one was my favorite and it will eventually become a collectable.

  • avatar

    On the one hand, I really want one of these. On the other hand, the prospect of having to rebuild that 4 wheel air suspension really scares me off. You can replace the rear-only air bags on a Town Car with conventional suspension very cheaply (I did it on a ’92), and the resulting ride is just about indistinguishable from the air suspension. But the Mark VIII not only has air suspension all around, it’s also an active design that lowers the car at speed, reducing drag and lowering the center of gravity. Even if you can mount springs all around, it will change the performance and handling characteristics of the car.

  • avatar

    I was at Ford for part of the gestation of the Mark VIII, and also at a supplier for the seats for the Mark VIII. Eventually I owned one of these cars.

    The premise of the Mark VIII program was that we could take a T-bird and, with some simple modifications and the use of a lot of carryover parts, make a luxury car with double the sticker price.

    The reality was that by the time the Mark VIII rolled out, it had almost no carryover parts fromn the T-bird, the development costs had ballooned to the point of no return, and the market for coupes had disappeared. Add to that the rather cavalier attitude that Ford had towards build quality.

    The Mark’s engine was unique. That alone added a tremendous amount of cost, and took a lot of time to validate and test. While the suspension parts looked like T-bird parts, they weren’t. Most of them were cast of aluminum. While they can be replaced by T-bird parts, they were not the same on the production cars. The beautiful aluminum differnential housings were unique to the Mark. And so on.

    The seats, where I contributed, retreated from the aluminyum seat backs used in the T-birds to high strength stel. The switching and controls that made the seat move forward on its tracks when the seat back was folded forward, were one of my contributions. Or at least making that work, sort of. It was a high warranty item for the life of the car.

    The much-malined air suspension really gets a bad rap here. Most of these syustems lasted over 100,000 miles with no maintenance. With a little preventitive maintenance, they last forever. Most of the airbags diagnosed with leaks were either a failed pump or leaky O-rings at the solenoids on the bags. In fact, the airbags on my Mark VIII outlasted the steel springs on my wife’s Cougar (same as a T-bird) by a factor of 3.

    The variable effort power steering gave these cars far better steering fel than a T-bird, and was unique, at Ford, to the Mark VIII.

    I loved my Mark.

    Until the Ford quality began shining through. The headlights, whuil enever really good, lost their internal reflective coating, and soon became useless. The tape-player failed several times. Steel springs broke in the tape player, the door handles, the transmission, and a few other places. The wiper switch had to be replaced 3 times. When it failed sometimes the brake lights wouldn’t work. The isolation mounts for the rear shocks failed twice (these were parts that T-birds didn’t even have!). Several oxygen sensors had to be replaced prematurely. Without annual fluid changes, the torque convertor clutch shuddered. Mercon V fluid was required, cost about 4 times what the original cheap stuff costs.

    In the last year I had the car, it went through 12 alternators, stranduing me in Chicago, Erie, PA, Albany NY, and halfway to Plymouth, MI.

    When I sold the car, three major repairs were looming. The rusted through oil pan was beginning to make its appearance. There was a slight exhaust leak developing between the right hand cylinder head and the exuast manifold. And the interior door trim was beginning to shrink and separate from its retainers.

    I never heard fromthe new owner, though I sold the car cheap enough so that he had no complaints.

    Oddly enough, the Lexus SC400 suffeered from the same conseptual problems: high development cost, few carryover parts, and the collapse of the large coupe market. Lexus’ quality made, and still makes, it a desirable car.

    The real winner in the large coupe market was the Eldorado. Despite being the poorest of the three, it used a great deal of carryover parts, had few development problems, and managed to sell much better than either the Lexus ofthe Lincoln.

    I’d buy another Lincoln if I thought that somewhre deep inside the Lincoln division of Ford there was a group of guys busy working on a Lioncoln to challenge the BMW 6 series. When that comes out, I’ll take a look. In the meantime, well, BMW has little to worry about.

    Incindentally, I bought my Mark VIII on Lincoln’s birthday, in 1998.


  • avatar

    Fascinating insight, thanks Bob. Now I know you are the man to help me fix my failing Autoglide seats in hot weather. :)

  • avatar

    Quote: And what was the median age of these buyers?

    Believe it or not lower than todays Camry buyer. Not a day goes by when I don’t see a little old lady driving her bland Camry to the grocery store. The 88-90’s Continental was a much more broadly appealing car back in the day because it offered an interesting blend of ride/handling/size and fuel mileage that the Town Car couldn’t and the price was reasonable. Laugh all you want at the introductory 140 HP 3.8 liter V6 but it managed to move this car around with more verve than Cadillacs POS 130 HP HT 4100 V8 of just a year before and it grew in power soon after to 155 and 160 HP which was enough to spin the front tires on take off and was competitive at the time. When the assault of the V8 Lexus and Infinity came about Lincoln responded with ditching the V8 and going for the 270 HP 4.6 DOHC V8 and in 1998 got the styling and interior right. But by this point the SUV and forign car craze was in full swing so cars like the featured coupe sadly went the way of the Edsel. I so miss the 2 door personal luxury coupes of this time era.

  • avatar

    I see a lot of misleading info and knowledge about the Mark VIII so if you want to know more visit and enter the Mark VIII forum to see what amazing world you guys and gals are missing out on…The Mark VIII is far better than factory now that we have supports for the air rides and such issues by great servicing vendors…The enthusiasts of the Mark VIII are great people too and I promise after you visit that mentioned message board you’ll never want to own another car than a Mark VIII…it’s a all around fun car to own and drive…makes you stand out from the crowd in traffic like Lincoln just secretly released a luxury coupe…

  • avatar

    Need info on 1986 LINCOLN Mark V11 computer-controlled suspension system. My dad’s car sits so high in the air. What could the cause be?

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