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

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

We continue our Rare Rides coverage of the unfortunate Lincoln Continental Mark VI today, and take a deep dive into its cobbled-together and frequently shuffled trims, the Designer Series in particular. In a last-of moment, the Mark VI quickly lost the exclusivity it once carried as Lincoln’s purveyor of fine designer styling.

As mentioned at the conclusion of our last entry, the Mark VI pivoted from the Luxury Group options that allowed every Mark buyer a feeling of broad color and trim customization. In place of those groups were three more basic trim levels that were much more constrained: base, Designer Series (now a mid-level trim), and Signature Series.

The Signature Series was a new invention at Lincoln and would stick around as a trim for a long time (though its top-tier placement wouldn’t last). Intended as a segue from the Collector’s Series package from 1979, Signature Series cars had almost every optional extra as standard. Available with burgundy or exterior paint, every Signature Series Mark VI had a red interior finished in leather or velour.

Reserved only for Signature Series cars were a different seat pattern, ebony wood treatments with gold trimming, a glove box flashlight that was rechargeable, and a leather-covered tool kit stored in the trunk. Shockingly, the downsized Mark VI Signature Series asked about $24,000 ($96,784 adj.) at introduction in the fall of 1979.

Signature Series remained mostly unchanged for 1981, though black and white paint options were added late in the year. For its final two years in ‘82 and ‘83, the Signature Series was available in any exterior and interior color combination from the Mark VI catalog. In exchange, the glove box flashlight and leather tool kit were no longer available. $96,000 just didn’t go as far as it used to.

Positioned between the no-name base model and the Signature Series were the Designer Series cars. Once more, Bill Blass, Cartier, Pucci, and Givenchy applied special trim themes that were (initially) offered only on two-door Mark VIs. There were two distinct runs of the Designer Series trims: In 1980 and 1981 the Designer Series trims were exclusive to the Mark VI coupe, while 1982 and 1983 saw shuffling as some of the designers moved away from the Mark and onto other Lincoln models. 

Bill Blass returned in 1980 with a Dark Blue and white nautical theme as on the Mark V and continued with its exclusive full-length carriage roof sans opera window. Interiors were finished in leather, in white with Midnight Blue accents, or in full Midnight Blue. 

Pucci’s take on the Mark VI was finished in Medium Fawn Metallic (gold) for the paintwork, and Light Fawn Metallic (light gold) on the vinyl roof. The interior was upholstered in Medium Champagne, another shade of gold, with lighter-colored bolsters. Pucci’s roof style was the rear quarter Landau. 

Similar to Pucci was Givenchy, which went for a Light Fawn Metallic paint on the upper and lower exterior, but with a Bittersweet red-brown midsection. Pucci customers had only one interior option, a monotone Bittersweet leather finish. Givenchy cars used a full-length vinyl roof; the exclusive front half roof covering used in Mark IV and V was no more.

Cartier returned to its greyscale roots with Light Pewter Metallic paint on the middle and lower sections of the Mark VI, and a Medium Pewter Metallic vinyl roof treatment. Cartier’s vinyl treatment matched with the Pucci and was a Landau.

In 1981 the Designer Series trims were in a very beige mood. Cartier went full monochrome, a Medium Pewter metallic for paint and vinyl, which carried over into an interior of the same color that was finished in leather or cloth. Givenchy used Dark Pewter on its sides, with its upper section finished in black and a matching black Landau roof. Givenchy interiors were also Pewter, finished in leather or cloth.

Equally beige-ish was the Pucci, fully bathed in Medium Fawn Metallic paint. Its interior matched in monochrome Light Fawn, which was the same color as the vinyl treatment. Vinyl expanded on the Pucci this year and covered the whole roof.

Even Bill Blass went beige in ‘81, as the typical Blue Metallic on the coupe’s flanks was matched to Light Fawn Metallic below. An equal mix of Dark Blue and Fawn was found on the interior, where the latter color was added to the seat bolsters. Leather was the only interior finish available on Bill Blass that year. The carriage roof design continued unchanged, presented in Midnight Blue. 

Bill Blass returned in 1982 as the only two-door Designer Series for most of the year but was eventually joined by a Givenchy two-door. Pucci was offered on the four-door Mark VI for the first time in ‘82, the sedan’s first taste of the Designer Series.

To make up for the limited Designer Series options in 1982, the Bill Blass expanded into nontraditional color schemes and offered three different combinations. Red was the headliner of one color scheme, sandwiched by white upper and lower body sections and topped with a white carriage roof. There was also a full-white version with a white roof. Both white-themed Bill Blass combinations had Opal-colored leather interiors with white luggage straps and saw the return of button tufting.

Finally, there was a black and red Bill Blass, where red was in the middle and there was black everywhere else. The darkest Bill Blass theme ever even carried a black roof and a black interior. Red trim was used on this scheme to provide limited interior contrast. 

The latecomer Givenchy trim in 1982 had a Medium Dark Pewter midsection with a black upper portion. Interiors were cloth or leather but finished in Pewter in either specification. Givenchy used no contrasting trim on the interior and went full monochrome Pewter.

For Mark VI’s final outing in 1983, there was more Designer Series trim shuffling. Givenchy was removed from Mark VI, but Pucci was available on two- and four-door Marks. Bill Blass returned for the model’s final year.

1983 Pucci cars were painted in a Blue Flannel paint, matched to a carriage roof in Dark Blue Cambria. The carriage roof there was significant, as it was the first time a Designer Series outside Bill Blass wore such a roof. Pucci interiors were Academy Blue in leather or cloth, an overall color scheme similar to the extinct Collector’s Edition.

Bill Blass continued in two colors, neither of them very Bill Blass-y in 1982. Midnight Black upper and lower paint paired with French Vanilla in the middle like a certain sandwich cookie and the scheme was reversed to create the other Bill Blass scheme that year. If black was the main exterior color the Mark used a black cloth roof, but if French Vanilla was the dominant color then the roof was in French Vanilla vinyl.

In our next and final entry on the Mark VI, we’ll discuss optional equipment, the few year-to-year changes Lincoln made to its sinking PLC ship, pricing, and the generation’s dismal sales. The Mark VII simply could not arrive soon enough.

[Images: Ford]

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4 of 25 comments
  • Wolfwagen Wolfwagen on Mar 16, 2023

    I loved the PLC vehicles. The 79 Mark 5 or the 80-81 Chrysler Imperial would be my first choices for a classic PLC.

  • Keith Keith on Mar 16, 2023

    I had to look it up: a taxi spec 240d went for 23k. Cheaper than the Signature- but it's not for the Lincoln demographic. They'd hate it. A more appropriate snd appealing to the lux crowd, the 380SEL was in the low 40s. Geeze, only 10k more...

    • See 1 previous
    • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 16, 2023

      There are some benefits to globalization and homogeny albeit a little boring.

  • Kcflyer For anywhere over 60k I'm buying a C8 which will run rings around any mustang ever made. I'm a huge mustang fan but......sorry. Now show me a GT with the "good" manual discounted to 40 grand and we can talk.
  • Analoggrotto Somewhere out there a certain Obama couple is smiling.
  • EBFlex 80k is about $30k overpriced. But for some reason Ford thinks the garbage they produce is worth paying a premium for. And especially this thing. This reskinned Mustang is awful inside and out. There was a reason ford was hemorrhaging sales to the much older Challenger. The Mustang sucks. And this looks like it’s half Camaro. Yet another project done by the interns. But, at least it’s a real Mustang
  • EBFlex Ford historically gave their worst effort here in the states. Alan Mulally changed that, a bit, and gave us some world cars like the Kuga, Fiesta and Focus. But by the time they got here they were crap. Or we just would never get them at all.
  • JTiberius1701 Ford Motor's short sightedness in relation to sedans is deplorable thanks to the Hackett regime. This wonderful car is also known as Mondeo in the East Asian markets and it's platform mate is the Lincoln Zephyr in those same Asian markets...cars that Ford needs to reconsider for the NA market.