Rare Rides: The Intensely Stylish 1988 Lincoln Mark VII Bill Blass Edition
It seems like we talk about personal luxury often here at Rare Rides, not that the topic could ever be discussed too much. Even though we discussed personal luxury just days ago via the Chrysler LeBaron, we’re back with more PLC today.
Let’s check out the 1988 Lincoln Continental Mark VII, in fashionable Bill Blass trim.
We’ve covered some Continental content before in this series, in the Taurus-based sedan from 2002, a Mark V Givenchy from 1977, and a Mark VI Bill Blass born in 1983. And 1983 is where our story picks up today. After the rather unsuccessful Mark VI series which was available only from ’80 to ’83, Ford was ready to move Mark away from the Panther platform, and onto the more daring Fox.
Introduced for model year 1984 alongside its companions the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar, the Mark VII sought to reestablish the Mark’s credibility in the luxury coupe segment. Ford targeted its European competition with the new Mark and made sure it wasn’t stodgy and living in the past like its predecessor.
To that end, in addition to the base and Designer Edition (Bill Blass and Versace varieties) trims was the sports-oriented LSC, or Luxury Sports Coupe. The new Mark’s first two years were the last where it had a Continental moniker in front of it. From 1986 onward the coupe was Mark VII and wore Lincoln badges.
Seeking to reassure the public the Mark VII was modern and contemporary, all coupes arrived with a long list of standard features. Digital dash with message center and trip computer, climate control, air suspension, disc brakes, power trunk release, keyless entry – all included even on the base model.
Power arrived via the Windsor 4.9-liter V8 which Ford called the 5.0. The early V8 customers enjoyed a not-impressive 140 horsepower. Optional (and seldom selected) was a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-six diesel borrowed from BMW, good for 114 horses. The only transmission available was a four-speed auto, either an AOD from Ford or a ZF (with the diesel).
The diesel engine and the Versace package were both unpopular options and were discontinued for 1986. At the same time, Lincoln worked to improve the LSC trim and set it further apart from standard Marks. The LSC’s digital gauges became analog in ’86, and LSCs enjoyed a power bump to 200 horses. Some LSCs in 1987 were also built with a high-output 225-horse version of the 5.0. In 1988 additional changes saw the deletion of the base trim, and meant all examples were LSC or Bill Blass Editions. Buyers could focus on luxury or sporty driving for the same price, and all versions received the 225-horse engine from ’88 onward.
Through the rest of its run, the Mark was fiddled with by Lincoln with trim and additional safety content like airbags. Mark VII remained in production through the 1992 model year, and by that time the LSC and Bill Blass had mostly merged. The largest difference between the two was a digital dash for the Blass. A sales peak in 1988 of over 32,000 Marks had dropped to 8,880 in 1991, and 5,732 in 1992. Personal luxury was fading away, and the Mark VII was getting pretty old. In 1993 the Mark returned for one glorious final personal luxury chapter: VIII. But that’s for another day.
Today’s Rare Ride is a Bill Blass Edition from 1988, with just 31,000 miles on the odometer. It appears in excellent condition, though the taste of the carriage roof is questionable and certainly not stylish. Yours for $7,500 in Kentucky, and the seller threw in an extra photo of an Eldorado interior.
Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.
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