Rare Rides Icons: The Lincoln Mark Series Cars, Feeling Continental (Part XLIII)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides icons the lincoln mark series cars feeling continental part xliii

Ford spent a lot of money and a lot of time on the development of the MN12 platform. An intentional move on the company’s part, the plan was to catch a more elevated customer than those persuaded by the Fox body trio: Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Cougar, and Lincoln Mark VII. In particular, BMW was on the mind of all domestic manufacturers in the Eighties as yuppies pursued status and Ultimate Driving Machine pleasure. Ford attempted to deliver the same experience for less money with its MN12 coupes and derivative FN10; a lightly reworked MN12 chassis used exclusively on the new Mark VIII. 

Though it was technically a “separate” platform, the new Mark VIII shared its 113-inch wheelbase with the Thunderbird and Cougar. That was a notable increase over the 108.5-inch measurement of the Mark VII. Other dimensions of the Mark VIII were larger in all directions, a stark contrast to the extreme downsizing implemented on Mark VI, a measure pushed further by the tidy proportions of the Mark VII. 

Mark VIII spanned 206.9 inches in length, compared to 202.8” on the outgoing Mark VII. Overall width increased notably, from 70.9” in Mark VII to 74.6 inches on Mark VIII. The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant overall height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII. 

Although the Mark VIII was larger than its predecessor, through the use of lighter materials like aluminum it weighed about the same. The Mark VII was 3,748 pounds, and Mark VIII was 3,757 pounds. Worth a quick comparison, the equivalent Thunderbird weighed 3,536 pounds with a V6 engine or 3,725 with the V8. The Cougar was roughly the same depending upon trim level. 

One of the most important differences between the Thunderbird, Cougar, and Mark VIII was the latter’s exclusive V8 engine. For the first time ever, a Mark would debut with an engine not offered in other Ford or Lincoln products. Let’s take a quick dive into the world of the Four-Cam V8 that you’d know as InTech.

Part of Ford’s Modular engine family, the new mill shared its 4.6-liter displacement with the company’s standard V8, but was much more technologically advanced. The first four-valve development of the Modular family, the new engine employed dual overhead cams (DOHC). With an aluminum engine block, the V8 used a split port design with two intake ports per cylinder, as well as variable runner length intake manifolds. 

All examples of the engine made in 1999 or earlier had blocks cast in Italy, by Teksid S.p.A, a subsidiary of Fiat. Perhaps that bit of detail on the all-American iron was left out of the marketing materials. At the Mark VIII’s debut, the engine was named simply “Four-Cam V8,” but the branding changed to InTech in 1995. The engine was the only one used by the Mark VIII but was exclusive to that model for only 1993 and 1994. By 1995 when InTech naming arrived, the engine spread to the front-drive Lincoln Continental sedan.

The following year InTech made its way into the SVE trim of the Thunderbird and the Mustang SVT Cobra. In 2003 the InTech appeared in its only SUV usage, as the motivator of the new and doomed Lincoln Aviator. Mercury made use of InTech that year, as the engine saw its only Panther platform use in the short-lived Boomer bait Mercury Marauder. The Aviator would be Ford’s last official usage of the InTech engine line when it bowed out in 2005, but the V8 found a home in several other vehicles from smaller manufacturers. 

Tiny British firm Marcos used the InTech between 1997 and 1999 as it slowly assembled the Mantis and Mantis GT; the latter version added a supercharger for 506 horsepower. Panoz also used the engine in the AIV roadster between 1997 and 1999, and in the more popular (and ugly) Esperante from 2000 to 2009.

Even more exotic use arrived with the Qvale Mangusta in 2000, the coupe that was originally to herald the return of deTomaso. British maker MG used the engine for three years on the crazy X-Power SV, on sale from 2003 to 2005. Further British usage included the Invicta S1, a badly made sports luxury coupe offered between 2004 and 2012. The S1 was the last vehicle in production anywhere to use an InTech engine.

Perhaps the most exclusive (and powerful) implementation of an InTech was in Koenigsegg’s early vehicles. Proving what performance the engine was capable of, a supercharged version was used in the CC8S of 2003 with an output of 646 horsepower. The company followed up with the CCR of 2004-2006, where another supercharger was added and power jumped to 806 horses and 679 lb-ft of torque.

At its debut in Mark VIII, the Four-Cam engine produced 280 horsepower at 5,500 RPM, and an impressive 280 lb-ft of torque. The powerful engine was attached to the current four-speed version of the AOD automatic used across the Ford company portfolio. With such an advanced engine, premium fuel (91 octane or higher) was recommended for the best performance. 

Mark VIII was the first Mark available with dual front airbags, and had four-wheel disc brakes with ABS as standard (optional on Mark VII). The four-wheel independent suspension included a short-long arm design, as well as front and rear stabilizer bars. As in the Mark VII, an electronically controlled air suspension system was standard equipment.

A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics. A fairly complex system, it relied on many sensors and solenoids to control the airbags at each corner. For those of you who can read it, enjoy this circuit schematic of the suspension and steering control module.

Lighting was still an important bragging point in the automotive world, and the Mark VIII set some firsts just as the Mark VII had before it. With flush wrap-around headlamps and a rear-lighted heckblende, the Mark became the first domestic vehicle to implement HiD lamps in 1995. When it was facelifted in 1997, the new rear clip sported a much larger heckblende illuminated with neon. Other festive lighting added at that time included puddle lamps and LED signals in the side mirror glass. 

New lighting aside, there were many other changes to the Mark VIII’s exterior styling as it debuted in its final and most modern guise. Getting to that finalized styling point was a long, difficult road for Lincoln. Exterior appearances are up next time. 

[Images: seller, Ford]

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