1983 Continental Mark VI Pucci Designer Edition: Blue Heaven
For someone who grew up loving big luxury cars like Cadillacs and Lincolns, the existence of the 1983 Mark VI came to me relatively late in life. You see, I was under the assumption that the new aero-style Mark VII came out at the same time as the all-new 1983 Thunderbird. The Mark and the T-Bird had roots going back to the 1969 Mark III; indeed, the Mark was essentially a super-deluxe Thunderbird between 1969 and 1976.
But starting in 1977, the two FoMoCo personal-lux coupes’ tracks diverged, with the Mark V becoming essentially a more razor-edged, rebodied Mark IV, while the Thunderbird moved to the midsize Torino/LTD II chassis, becoming much smaller but still retaining its swank lines and pool table-sized hood.
That remained the case in 1980, when the big Lincolns shrunk and moved to the new-for-1979 Panther full-size chassis, with the Thunderbird again moving to a new smaller chassis, this time the Fairmont/Zephyr platform. Confusing? You bet!
But the two coupes became very similar once again with the early ’80s Ford “aero” styling direction. And I naturally, naively thought the new Mark and T-Bird both came out the same model year, 1983—bringing me to my original point (I was going to get there eventually).
But, no! The 1983 Thunderbird was its own entity in its first year, while the Continental Mark VI remained for just one more model year. The ’84 Mark VII would change almost everything about the Mark coupes, becoming so much more smooth and modern, with really only the Parthenon-style grille and spare tire hump in the trunk lid linking them to earlier Mark coupes.
Oh, and the Mark VI came in a sedan too, the one and only time after the ’50s you could get a Mark four-door. It was actually a very similar lineup to the 1958–60 Lincolns. Both Lincoln and Continentals, same basic body, but with the Marks (Mark III, IV and V in 1958–60) having fancier exterior trim, plusher interiors, and naturally higher prices.
And yes, there were two different sets of Mark IIIs, IVs, and Vs; 1958–60 and 1969–79. With the introduction of the 1969 Continental Mark III, Lee Iacocca essentially attempted to cancel out the earlier Marks, linking the new III with the super luxury, 1956–57 Continental Mark II.
Now that you’re thoroughly confused, let’s move on to today’s subject. I recently attended the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club Mid America Meet in Springfield, Illinois. I was very happy that it was only a couple hours away from Casa de Klockau, and I got on the road pretty early that Saturday.
I have been in the LCOC since 2015 and am also a member of the regional LCOC Lake Shore Region. So when I arrived about mid-morning I immediately saw a couple of friends in the club, John McCarthy and Humberto Garcia. You may remember Humberto’s gorgeous Ivy Moondust Mark III from an earlier column. Terry Burns was also there with his gorgeous 1988 Town Car Signature Series.
I had a great time and will most certainly be writing about several other cars from this meet, including an amazing 1964 Continental sedan with less than 3000 original miles, but later that afternoon I was smitten with this 1983 Emilio Pucci Designer Edition coupe.
In 1983, there were five Designer Editions: the Cartier, available on the Town Car; the Pucci and Bill Blass versions on the Mark VI; and the Givenchy and Valentino editions on the bustle-back Continental.
While the Bill Blass was only available as a coupe, you could get the Pucci Designer Series in both coupe and sedan versions. I always loved the blues on the Pucci. Per my brochure, the paint was Blue Flannel Mist with Academy blue interior (in your choice of cloth or leather) with a Dark Blue Cambria cloth carriage roof and Silver sparkle pinstripes on the decklid and accent stripes on the sides.
Speaking of brochures, that’s how I found out the 1983 Mark was still a VI, not a VII. In the late ’90s, in the early days of eBay, I went a little nuts and bought a LOT of 1960s–80s car brochures. One of them was the most excellent 52-page deluxe 1983 Lincoln brochure, and seeing the Mark VIs in there, I was surprised. It was like a bonus Mark VI, at least, so I thought at the time.
The 1983 Pucci coupe retailed for $24,345 ($74,478 today); the sedan, $24,407 ($74, 667). That was a healthy bump over the regular Mark VI, which based at $20,229 ($61,886) for the coupe and $20,717 ($63,379) for the sedan. And while I’m talking numbers, the Town Car started at $16,923 ($51,772) and the Continental at $20,985 ($64,199).
While I couldn’t find Designer Edition breakouts in my books, a total of 12,743 Mark VI coupes and 18,118 Mark VI sedans were built for the model’s final model year. All were powered by Ford’s robust small block 302 V-8. And naturally, even the “basic” Mark VI was a big, glitzy luxury car with power everything.
For years, the Mark VI was derided by some quarters as a shrunken Mark V. But I always liked them, and appreciated the sedans as an interesting anomaly in Mark history. As a friend opined recently when I posted a picture of this car, “I never thought I’d be excited to see a Mark VI coupe—they were common-and-garden in my childhood, and I always thought the Mark V’s extravagant styling sat awkwardly on a SWB Panther—but here I am!”
And starting in 1984, a very different Mark VII took over, leaving the ornate 1969–83 Marks—with their Rolls Royce grilles, hidden headlamps, and Cavalry-grain full vinyl roofs—in the Lincoln history books.