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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

We return with more Continental Mark V Designer Series goodness today, in our second of three consecutive installments on said topic. Last time we took a look at the resplendent luxury of the 1977 Designer Series trims in their respective Bill Blass, Cartier, Givenchy, and Pucci colorways. An immediate hit with consumers who were in desperate need of luxury gingerbread, the Designer Series trims were reworked in 1978 in the name of visual differentiation. There was also a very special and expensive Mark V commemorative edition in honor of Ford’s 75th anniversary.

The Bill Blass edition of 1978 was a bit of a one-off, in that it stepped away from the blue and white nautical theming for which the brand was known. Instead, the Blass donned Midnight Cordovan paint - a striking color perhaps more commonly called “dark purple.” The hue was repeated on the interior, which sported a revised look. 

Now finished in two-tone, Bill Blass was newly available with a choice of leather or Ultravelour. In both cases, there were Light Champagne straps and buttons to contrast all the Cordovan. A new vinyl texture for the roof of the Bill Blass arrived in ‘78, “Valino” grain. Customers selected from a Landau or full roof covering, which matched the Light Champagne accents in the interior.

Cartier continued with monochromatic exterior theming in 1978, but in a new color: Light Champagne. As with the prior year, Cartier’s paint finish was not metallic. Inside, there was Champagne upholstery in leather or new “Media” velour. Like the Bill Blass, a two-tone interior was achieved via strap and button detailing on the seats, in this case, completed in Dark Red. The Cartier roof options were the same color and styling as on the Bill Blass, a first.

Givenchy stepped away from the other three designers in 1978 with its new take on personal luxury detailing. The paint on the Givenchy was updated slightly to a darker shade of green called Midnight Jade (previously Dark Jade). Its finish was no longer metallic, as that year sparkling paint was reserved solely for the Pucci. As before, Givenchy was the only edition to offer a front half vinyl roof design, which continued in Chamois color and Lugano vinyl grain. 

Inside, leather upholstery was the only choice for Givenchy in ‘78. But the leather featured a unique seat pattern to the other Designer Series cars: Instead of the straps and buttons, Givenchy had the vertically segmented seat pattern from the Luxury Group cars. It also had an embroidered horizontal strap on the seatback. The design was finished in broad lace material, and embroidered with a repeating Givenchy logo.

As mentioned, the Pucci was the only Designer Series car in 1978 finished in a metallic paint. Now available in Light Silver “Moondust” Metallic, Pucci implemented the Dove Grey leather interior color from the 1977 Cartier. Available only with leather upholstery, the Pucci achieved two-tone via the Dark Red contrast accents of the 1978 Cartier. The Pucci’s roof utilized a Cayman grain vinyl as it had the prior year, finished in basic Black.

Lincoln increased the price of the Designer Series cars for 1978 but also reworked the hierarchy. Bill Blass asked $1,800 ($8,574 adj.) with leather, but velour was now cheaper at $1,533 ($7,302 adj.). Cartier, Givenchy, and Pucci were each $1,800 regardless of interior finish.

But none of the Designer Series cars could hold a candle to the most luxurious special edition of the Mark V, available for a single model year: Diamond Jubilee. It was the 75th anniversary of Ford, and the company that tried so hard two decades prior to differentiate itself as separate from its parent was all-in on celebrating the occasion. Accompanied by a Diamond Jubilee edition of the downsized Ford Thunderbird, the Continental Mark V took monochromatic color theming to its maximum extent. 

Available in Diamond Blue Moondust Metallic or Jubilee Gold Moondust Metallic, all Diamond Jubilee examples wore paint that matched the vinyl roof and the vinyl-covered Continental tire hump. The body trim was finished in the same color, and so was the trim around the standard integrated opera lamps. The slats of the prominent Lincoln grille were color-keyed, too. The bumper guards and all rub strips, the turbine aluminum wheels, and the hood ornament matched the color theme selected.

Inside, the Diamond Jubilee claimed to have the most luxurious interior of any production Lincoln ever made. Matching the exterior paint were bucket seats and a padded center console with a storage bin and an integrated umbrella holder. There was a unique seat pattern reserved for the Diamond Jubilee, with tasteful broad lace inserts. Appropriately, the Diamond Jubilee was only available in velour. 

Elsewhere the interior differentiated itself with grab bars on the back of the front seats, map pockets as standard, and real ebony wood inserts on the dash, doors, console, and back of the front seats. There was wood on the key, too. Even the carpet was different from a standard Mark V with a “Tiffany cut-pile” material. The instrument panel plastic was beveled to look like glass, which matched the beveled edge on the opera windows. Said windows had a special Diamond Jubilee script engraving, and a diamond etched within the glass. 

Nearly everything was included as standard on the Diamond Jubilee Edition of the Mark V, which was appropriate given its price. Ford limited production of the special edition to 5,159 examples, each of which asked $20,529 ($97,787 adj.). That made the Diamond Jubilee the most expensive car Lincoln ever sold. For reference, that was more than two times the cost of the Diamond Jubilee Thunderbird at $10,106 ($48,138 adj.). Technically an “option,” Diamond Jubilee added $8,000 ($38,107 adj.) to the price of a standard Mark V. 

Of the Diamond Jubilee’s total run, 2,602 examples were Diamond Blue, and 1,511 of those buyers sprang for a moonroof. 2,557 were painted Jubilee Gold, making it the rarer of the two color themes. To your author’s eye, the blue version is the much more desirable one.

Even given its immense cost, the Diamond Jubilee had four separate options. They were the larger 460 V8, dual exhaust, the aforementioned power moonroof package, and a CB radio. Upon request, Ford would provide a special cookbook it created to mark its anniversary, the Ford Diamond Jubilee Recipe Collection

The following year Ford would send the Mark V into the sunset with its final Designer Series versions and offered a special limited edition that commemorated the end of its full-size halo personal luxury coupe. Big-time downsizing was on the horizon! Until next time.

[Images: Ford, Amazon, dealer]

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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.

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3 of 29 comments
  • Howard Hurd Howard Hurd on Jan 11, 2023

    Hi Corey, My brother just scored a gold diamond jubilee with a 460 and a moonroof no CB. I Was wondering if you know how many of these were built it seems like it’s a rare car. It still has the original paint and umbrella. He is currently going through it changing all fluids etc. Getting ready for the show season. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Something to put on the windshield so people know what they are looking at it’s a beautiful car. Thanks 

  • William William on Jan 12, 2023

    By the late 70s, My entire family was driving Lincolns in all models. My parents owned a 76 Town Car new, then a 1990 Town Car (that one won Moror Cars Car of the year award. After a few years U came home with a 95 black Signature Series 4 door sedan. For many reasons, I really loved that one the most. I would just stare at it. We never sold any of them, our drive way looked like a Lincoln Mercury dealer, we also had a 75 Mercury Colony Park wagon. It had a 460 with a Motorcraft series 4300 4 barrel carburetor. It had every option available in 75. We all loved that wagon. 1n 1990 I brought home a new Mark Vll LSC, black over black leather. I loved everything about that car except it only had 2 doors that were huge and hard in parking lots and hard getting in and out for larger people. I spent every weekend home in the garage fussing with one of those Lincolns. And I was right were I wanted to be. Oh yeah there was also a 96 Tuxedo Black metallic Sable station wagon it was the 3.8 V6, that powered Sable around great.it had gray leather interior. It was nice, also a 97 black Eddie Bauer Explorer with a 5.0 injected engine and Ford OEM chrome wheels and Michelin raised white letter tires.loved everyone of them and wish I still had them all.

  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.
  • ToolGuy New Hampshire