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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

In our last Mark VIII installment we explored the continual styling setbacks Lincoln encountered during the development of the Mark VIII’s exterior. Initially slated for a 1990 model year release (one year after Thunderbird and Cougar), the Mark VIII required several rounds of styling revisions that meant its introduction was delayed to the ‘93 model year. Lincoln execs felt great concern when they saw previews of the new Nineties PLC competition, which led them to scrap the idea of a “newer Mark VII” look in favor of a totally different styling direction.

Similar to the stylistic leap forward that occurred when the baroque Mark VI became the blocky Mark VII, the Mark VIII eliminated almost all hard edges and went for a more organic, aerodynamic look. The formerly upright waterfall grille was leaned backward considerably, and shrunken from the almost Georgian facade of the Mark VII. Thin grille vanes were closer together and uniform in their distribution with a single thicker vane in the middle.

For the first time in the model’s long and illustrious history, there was no hood ornament above the grille. Nor was there any rectangular Mark badge to indicate its number. Both those features were replaced by a centrally-mounted Lincoln logo in the grille, with a red background. Atop the grille, a thick chrome strip ran the full width of the hood and formed the border of the headlamps and corner markers. The trim served to draw the front end into cohesion and added a sleek, Wide-Track look.

Wide rectangular headlamps flanked either side of the grille and transitioned into sharp corner markers. The following year, Chrysler would debut a fairly similar front end on the new full-size LHS. Underneath the striking lamps was a fully integrated bumper. Another first in the Mark’s design, there was no rectangular chrome shelf sticking out in front of the grille. The bumper was always finished in body color and contained a thin strip of chrome that wrapped around the front end and paused in the middle to accommodate the lower portion of the grille design.

The firsts continued as the extended wheelbase pushed wheels closer to the Mark VIII’s corners, and made for a more aggressive stance with much less overhang front and rear. Wheel wells went without chrome outlines for the first time on any Mark. In its efforts toward Ultra Smooth Styling, the Mark VIII lost its wheel arch bulges: The surface area around the arch was flush with the body. Underneath those smooth semicircles, tires wore a polished lace alloy design, and (in another first) there were no wheel covers on offer. 

The smooth hood lacked a defined power bulge and flowed to a fender devoid of a firm character line. The upper character line was only a suggestion - part of the organic shape that made up the side profile of the Mark VIII. The Mark VII’s thick band of lower chrome was thinned, refined, and moved almost to the middle of the door. It was set into a body-colored door rub strip that ran from the front of the door to the rear wheel. 

Above, heavy chrome dogleg door handles of the past were replaced by a body-colored design borrowed from the Taurus-based Continental that debuted in 1988. Similarly stripped of chrome was the door mirror, which hugged close to the A-pillar and was less square than on the Mark VII. The mirrors neatly matched the shape of the overall side glass, which was sportier than before. 

A faster A-pillar and smaller door glass were paired with a B-pillar about the same size as the Mark VII, but a curved rear side window was much less formal than on Mark VII. 

The C-pillar was also less formal, and much thinner on the Mark VIII. It went without any Lincoln badging and flowed down onto the rear fender and formed part of the surround for the very large rear window. Mark VIII’s organic shape meant there was no real place to put the expected vertical tail lamps, so lighting was horizontal instead. 

Mimicking the general shape of the front lighting cluster, a full-width lighted heckblende spanned the back of the Mark VIII. Its top edge wore a thin chrome strip and sprouted a Lincoln logo right in the middle. Lamps were notable in how they wrapped around the rear and took up a large portion of the fender’s real estate in addition to the trunk lid.

Reduced to its most minimal design ever was the traditionalist Continental tire hump. Molded into the smooth lines of the rear deck, it was sort of out of place and was nowhere near the shape of an actual car tire like it was on the Mark VII. Similarly minimal was the rear’s chrome trim, which picked up after the rear wheel and wrapped around to the other side. Mark VIII’s bumper stuck out notably at the rear, and its size made for a high liftover into the trunk.

In contrast to the Mark VII, Mark VIII moved the license plate back into the bumper area. Roughly the same position it last occupied on the Mark VI, Mark VIII’s rear end was more cohesive and less cluttered than the Mark VII. It’s easy to think how the Mark VII’s design would have benefitted from a lower rear license plate location.

As the Mark VIII brushed aside most traditions for a futuristic look, its interior also looked to the future. Swooping angles replaced an upright conservative dash design, and the Mark VIII sported a driver-focused cockpit well beyond the design used in the Mark VII. We’ll pick it up there next time. 

[Images: Dealer]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

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.

More by Corey Lewis

Join the conversation
3 of 20 comments
  • Johnny ringo In a word, no-the usual Chinese business model is to invite foreign companies into China as a joint venture, insist on a 49% share in the company-along with technology transfer and then push the foreign partner out and take control. And now with all the sabre rattling going on between the United States and China over Taiwan and the South China Sea and the possibility of a war, I'm not giving any of my money to the Chinese.
  • Canam23 My old boss had a Seville STS with the Northstar that he would lend me when I wanted to drive from LA to Vegas. I have to admit that I loved it. Compared to my father-in-laws FWD Deville with the 4.1, the Seville was smooth, fast, comfortable and nice handling. It also was stingy on gas. Fortunately he never had a problem with his Northstar motor and I still think fondly of that car today.
  • V16 I'm sure you could copy and paste most of the "NO" responses to 1960's Japanese sourced vehicles.
  • Canam23 I believe the Chinese are entirely capable of building good cars, BYD has shown that they are very forward thinking and their battery technology is very good, BUT, I won't buy one because I don't believe in close to slave labor conditions, their animosity to the west, the lack of safety conditions for their workers and also the tremendous amount of pollution their factories produce. It's not an equal playing field and when I buy a car I want it made with as little pollution as possible in decent working conditions and paying a livable wage. I find it curious that people are taking swipes at the UAW in this thread because you can clearly see what horrific labor conditions exist in China, no union to protect them. I also don't own an iphone, I prefer my phones made where there aren't nets around to catch possible suicide jumpers. I am currently living in France, Citroen makes their top model in China, but you see very few. BYD has yet to make an impression here and the French government has recently imposed huge tariffs on Chinese autos. Currently the ones I see the most are the new MG's, mostly electric cars that remind me of early Korean cars, but they are progressing. In fact, the French buy very little Chinese goods, they are very protective of their industries.
  • Jerry Haan I have these same lights, and the light output, color, and coverage is amazing!Be aware, these lights interfere with AM and FM radio reception with the stereoreceiver I have in my garage. When the lights are on, I all the AM stations havelots of static, and there are only a couple of FM stations that are clear. When Iturn the lights off, all the radio stations work fine. I have tried magnetic cores on the power cords of the lights, that did not makeany change. The next thing I am going to try is mounting an antenna in my atticto get them away from the lights. I contacted the company for support, they never responded.