TTAC Throwback: 1990 Lincoln Continental MKVII LSC. Move Quick!
The MKVII is such a counterpoint to its predecessor, the MKVI. That car was a shrunken-down disco barge that clung to baroque styling and superfluous opera windows like a Titanic passenger might cling to an empty champagne crate bobbing in the freezing North Atlantic. Survival by dint of false luxury. The MKVII, on the other hand, was a personal luxury SPORTS coupe. A svelte, aerodynamic machine that could carve a few corners on the way to the county club.
Buy this car here. Hurry, the sale ends tonight!
If ever a car were the embodiment of a 1980s powerbroker’s tailored, grey pinstripe suit, it would be the Continental MKVII Luxury Sport Coupe, aka the–LSC. Lincoln, anxious to shed its stodgy image and attract younger customers, built an understated gentleman’s express on Ford’s corporate Fox-body underpinnings. Chrome was notably restrained, the cockpit was a focused, leather-lined place of business, while 5.0-liters (ok, 4.9-liters) of smooth, torquey V8 power were like brass knuckles in the back pocket.
1987 and later LSCs benefited from the high-tech upgrade the five-point-oh underwent, blessing the engine with multi-point fuel injection, roller-rockers, and other tweaks, that brought horsepower up to 225, along with a meaty 300 lb-ft of torque. While this doesn't sound like all that much today, it was plenty in the late 1980s. Consider that a 1988 Mercedes 560SEC (in U.S. trim) was rated at 238 horsepower and 287 lb-ft of torque. The LSC had a 0-60 time of around 8 seconds. The only available transmission was a four-speed automatic with overdrive.
The MacPherson-strut front suspension and live rear axle had air springs at each corner that, according to Lincoln’s grandiloquent brochure, “Achieves that elusive combination of taut handling and a plush ride.” Automatic load-leveling maintained proper ride height both front to rear and side to side. LSCs had quicker steering than luxury-focused Marks –, 2.46 turns lock-to-lock as opposed to 3.05; tires and wheels were larger too. Despite Ford’s ministrations, there’s no getting around a little live-axle two-step on a bumpy corner; still, the ride/ handling balance is quite good. A sophisticated anti-lock braking system kept the LSC’s velocity in check.
Bill Blass and Givenchy MKVIIs were festooned with ersatz wood trim and wire wheel covers to appease the traditional Lincoln buyer, though the LSC’s overall look was understated. The classic Lincoln grille has been given an aerodynamic makeover but remains stately while the body lines are muscular; classic long hood and short deck proportions dominate here. The beefy C-pillar gives added visual mass, while a fast roofline and oblique rear end add to the big Mark’s faintly sporting mien. Lincoln’s signature continental tire bulge enlivens the rear aspect of the coupe.
Inside, the driver has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, analog gauges, and very well-bolstered seats. The center stack and instrument panel are large and square, they have an almost architectural character – like a brutalist office block, and it all wraps around the driver. The passenger doesn’t get much to look at besides an AC vent, but at least their seat is comfortable. A handy trip computer was standard; it provided information about the distance to empty, average fuel consumption, and such. Of course, the Mark has all the usual refinements like air conditioning, cruise control, power seats, and windows.
Why This Car?
I well remember the days when Continental MKVIIs were merely used cars and hadn’t yet caught the collector’s eye; they’d be listing on failed air suspension like a slowly sinking oil tanker. Next stop: Wrecking yard. Because of that, their attrition rate was not inconsiderable. Bearing that in mind, a well-preserved survivor like this example becomes quite a tasty proposition.
This 1990 LSC is a very low mileage survivor, having covered just over 22,000 miles since new, according to the seller. Underbody pics bear up the claims about mileage and condition.
The MKVII LSC has rewarding road manners too. It was the first Lincoln to prioritize handling and performance since the mid-1950s when Lincoln Cosmopolitans were earning laurels in Carrera Panamericana.
Plus the big Mark’s aerodynamic body, ample comfort, and efficient drivetrain make it a superb long-distance touring car. Real-world fuel consumption will range from 24-26 mpg on the open road at cruise.
While we might prefer a sinister black LSC, this car is turned out very smartly in silver over grey leather, all the better to strike a contrast to your navy blue shoulder-pad-enhanced suit and bright red power tie.
From a practicality standpoint the LSC’s Fox- platform heritage brings a strong keep-it-on-the-road factor thanks to good mechanical parts availability.
So there you have it, handsome styling, good performance, a comfortable cabin, and mechanical parts aplenty. There’s no reason NOT to buy this MKVII LSC.
Things to Watch Out For When Buying a MKVII LSC
Engines are robust, the Ford Windsor V8 had a long production life for a reason. It’s still prudent to listen for any noise from the bottom end on a cold start, the engine should be smooth, quiet, and tractable with no flat spots on acceleration.
The four-speed AOD (automatic overdrive) can be a weak spot, pay attention to shift quality. Although, a transmission that seems to be shifting “oddly” isn’t necessarily going to fail (our own 1989 Town Car’s AOD has a propensity to slip when cold, but we’ve put thousands of trouble-free miles on it). Fortunately, the AOD’s ubiquity means rebuilt units are available on an exchange basis, or, if you’re feeling parsimonious, pull one out of your local wrecking yard and hope for the best.
The MKVII (and other Lincolns) had air suspension which can be problematic. However, aftermarket MKVII air suspension components are readily available and not too expensive. However, coil spring retrofit kits are available, if you want to abolish the airbags for good.
As with any car, corrosion is the watchword, check under the vehicle, paying special attention to suspension mounting points.
Like so many other 70s, 80s, and 90s cars, there’s not much in the way of reproductions of body panels or trim for the MKVII. It makes sense to buy the best, most complete car you can to avoid having to seek out hard-to-find bits — unless you get off on that sort of thing.
On introduction, the motoring press likened the MKVII LSC to a “Mustang in a Tuxedo” or drew parallels with the BMW 635csi. Today, however, I think it’s fairer to say that the Continental MKVII LSC represents a uniquely American take on the grand touring car concept; there’s no need to draw comparisons, the athletic Mark has an appeal all its own–if that’s not reason enough to buy it, I don’t know what is.
TTAC Throwback is a new series devoted to cars we think deserve to be owned by someone who really loves them. Just imagine Sarah McLachlan crooning In the Arms of an Angel as the camera pans past a deserving car up for adoption, hoping desperately that it doesn't get recycled into a Nissan Versa (I’ve, I’ve got something in my eye). Now go ahead, put in your bid; there now, don’t you feel better? You’re doing the right thing!
[Images: eBay seller]
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There's an old quote which goes something like: "One drives a Bentley, one is driven in a Rolls, and one presents a Delage to one's mistress." As for me, I'll stick to my Lincoln. You'll find my byline at Autoguide.com, Crankshaft, Old Cars Weekly, and sundry other publications.
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