1985 Continental Mark VII: What a yellow luxury car should be

Klockau-Continental-Yellow-Top
Craigslist

It’s fairly well known that I am a big fan of yellow luxury cars. Especially when said yellow luxury car has a matching yellow interior. As a kid I’d always gawk at a Colonial Yellow or Cameo Ivory Cadillac as it went by. In my win-the-lottery garage there would at least be a triple Colonial Yellow 1978 Eldorado Biarritz, Naples Yellow ’77 Seville, and Cream ’77–79 Continental Mark V. With color-keyed interiors, naturally!

Isn’t it gorgeous? Thomas Klockau

Actually, I’m still a big kid, as Auto World recently released a 1979 Continental Mark V in 1/64 scale, in Cream with matching top and interior. I immediately had to have one, and when my preferred regional diecast shop didn’t get them in fast enough, I ordered directly from the manufacturer.

A 1983 Continental Mark VI at the 2014 LCOC meet in Rockford, Illinois. Thomas Klockau

But wait. Then the local Walmart started getting them in, and like a starving man at a buffet, I bought four more. Though in my defense, two were earmarked for my friend (and frequent column photo contributor) Jayson Coombes. But I see I’m digressing again.

Continental Mark VI Pucci Designer Edition at the 1983 Chicago Auto Show. Jim Smith

The Mark V, with its unapologetic length, style, and decadent luxury features, ended its three-year run in 1979 and was replaced with the 1980 Continental Mark VI, which looked very much like a 3/4-scale Mark V. But it added a four-door version! The Mark VI lasted through the 1983 model year, and then things changed. A lot.

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Based on the all-new 1983 Thunderbird and Cougar and further refined, the 1984 Mark VII was super modern in the 1980s Ford “aero” style that would define its entire lineup just a few years in the future. Sure, it had the Parthenon-style grill, spare tire hump in the trunk lid, tons of luxury features and plenty of chrome (at least in the non-LSC models), but it was dramatically different from the Mark of 1969–83.

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The new Mark VII was once again coupe only, though the Fox-body Continental, which first appeared in 1982, was for all intents and purposes a four-door Mark, if a bit more formal with its bustle back styling. The new coupe came in standard, Bill Blass and Versace, and LSC “Luxury Sport Coupe” editions.

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Perhaps the two biggest talking points, other than its extra modern styling, was the use of new flush headlamps, which eliminated the tried and true individual headlights one could purchase at Kmart, Sears, or the local NAPA auto supply. I’ve heard the reason the Mark VII didn’t appear in ’83 with its T-Bird and Cougar siblings is that the Lincoln designers really wanted it to have the flush headlamps from the get go but had to wait for federal approval, which bumped its debut to the ’84 model year.

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Headlamps aside, the big deal was the all-new LSC model, or Lincoln Sport Coupe. For the first time ever, a Mark VII came from the factory with blacked-out trim and—I hope your fainting couch is nearby—blackwall tires! The buff magazines were by and large fairly impressed, which was a tricky thing for the domestic car manufacturers to do in the ’80s. Though the initial ’84 model had the same engine as the Designer editions and standard Mark VII.

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That changed when the ’85 Mark VIIs started appearing in showrooms, with the ’85 LSC—MSRP $24,332 (almost $70K today)—gaining the 165-hp High Output 302 V-8 as seen in Mustang GTs. Meanwhile, the Bill Blass and Versace Designer Series models continued at $26,659 ($76,258) and $26,578 ($76,026), respectively. Standard Mark VIIs like our featured car started at $22,399 ($64,072).

Craigslist

The Mark VII had a 108.5-inch wheelbase, overall length of 202.8 inches, and 54.2-inch height. Curb weight was 3615 pounds. For the 1985 model year, 18,355 Mark VIIs of all trim levels were produced. That was also the first year that the Anti-Lock Braking System was added to the car’s power four-wheel disc brakes.

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ABS was standard on the Designer Series and LSC, optional on the base Mark VII. The non-LSC 302 V-8 produced 140 horsepower. In 1984–85 only, a BMW-sourced 115-hp, inline six-cylinder turbodiesel was also available optionally, but seldom seen. It was also available on the four-door Continental. And even less frequently seen. I have seen a couple online, but never in person.

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As you may guess, I was smitten with this car’s color combination. Until I saw this online, I wasn’t aware that Cream had been an available color on Mark VIIs. I remember seeing it on the later Mark IVs (usually with the Cream and Gold Luxury Group) and Mark Vs, but never on the aero Mark.

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It had to have been uncommon, especially since most Mark VIIs were either the Designer Series or LSC. The “standard” Mark VII was kind of a rare bird. So much so that it disappeared after the 1987 model year. At that point all Mark VIIs were either the Bill Blass or the LSC, right up until 1992, when the Mark VII was replaced with the even more futuristic Mark VIII. It’s a credit to the styling of the Mark VII that even after nine model years it still looked clean and modern. In my opinion, it still does today. Especially the 1990–92 models with their BBS-style alloy wheels.

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Our featured car has only a few options: leather-wrapped steering wheel, the compass/thermometer group (which included the nifty mini-overhead console), and power driver and passenger seat recliners. Of course, as a Mark it already had myriad standard comfort and convenience features.

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During this time Lincoln’s tagline was “Lincoln: What a Luxury Car Should Be.” I always loved that slogan, and it would still work today except for the fact that Lincoln no longer builds cars. Perhaps: “What A Luxury Truck Should Be”?

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Or even better, bring back the Continental. Please, Ford? I loved the 2017–20 version; it was worthy of the name. Especially when equipped with the heated, cooled, and massaging seats! Maybe someday. In the meantime, a tidy Mark VII like this would be a great Sunday and cruise-night driver! I spotted it online over Memorial Day weekend. It was on Phoenix Craigslist and I just loved it! But when I sat down to write about it, the listing was gone, so someone snapped it up. I’m glad I saved the pics to “The Vault” so I can continue to admire it for years to come!

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Comments

    My dad had a 1978 Mark V – Burgundy with Black Vinyl top – All I can remember was it was a boat! Glad I never had to parallel park it! But what a comfortable ride!

    The most important engineering aspect of the Mark VII was the first modern air suspension system. It worked s well that no one even noticed it was there. It led to the active air suspension system on the Mark VIII, and eventually to the air suspension on lots of modern luxury cars. It was a rare example of Ford’s leadership in engineering.

    My uncle had one of these with the diesel engine. Another fine car ruined by a diesel.

    I know a guy who has the turbodiesel version. It’s one of those cars where you think someone is pulling your leg until you actually see it

    I had a black 1995 Lincoln continental mark eight with the airbag suspension and it was truly an amazing car. Unfortunately it’s out in my driveway for years and I finally sold it for $250. It was fully restorable, but indeed, it was the airbag suspension, which always seem to be a problem with these cars. However, one of the most comfortable and fastest cars with the four overhead cam port feel injection 3.8 L V8. The horsepower was way under rated.

    Today I am driving a 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve model what’s the twin turbo charged 2.7 L V6 which boosts 335 hp. It is probably one of the most comfortable vehicles and is fully loaded with options including rear seat, entertainment, armrest, and climate controls. Unfortunately, Ford/Lincoln abandoned the sedan for the SUVs. The SUVs are not very individual. They are leg bums everyone has one. In my estimation this is a huge mistake for all the auto manufacturers walked away from the big luxury sedans

    Finally, Someone gets Me, all of My life I have DREAMED of a Cameo Ivory Cadillac or Lincoln! My father traded Lincolns almost yearly and in 81′ He gave My mother a Cameo Ivory Colony Park wagon with green leather!

    The down sizing of American Luxury did not go well in the 80’s. Ford and GM just never got it right.

    Then the Luxury Sports sedans came and only Cadillac kind of got that one figured out.

    The Ford mistake was going boxy and they finally got it right with the more rounded Panther based town car. It lived on Livery sales for years. It was cheap to maintain and durable.

    The one major weak spot was the air suspension. These would fail and once they did they were expensive to repair. Much like the attempt by GM on air suspensions it was not a good idea.

    How often we would see the Lincolns going down the road or sitting on the bump stops with an air leak. People could not afford to repair them and often bounced down the road.

    A good set of springs and shocks would have been much more reliable, cheaper and easier to repair.

    Carmine, yes 132 degrees, but a dry 132 degrees, makes all the difference, as George Carlin would say. 😎😎😎

    “That changed when the ’85 Mark VIIs started appearing in showrooms, with the ’85 LSC—MSRP $24,332 (almost $70K today)—gaining the 165-hp High Output 302 V-8 as seen in Mustang GTs.”

    The ‘85 Mustang GT had 210 horse 302’s; and I thought the LSC had the same. If they would have done the LSC with a manual transmission; I would have had one!

    If I recall correctly, the GT you are talking about had a 5-speed manual with that power output and a 4BBL carb. If it was a GT Automatic, it’d have the same 165 fuel injected horsies.

    I believe you are correct about the HP differences. We ordered a 1985 5-speed GT convertible, but gave up after waiting 6 months. And, it was not even the pandemic then!

    My parents traded in their problematic ‘82 Coupe deVille (with its Buick sourced, 4.1 liter four barrel v6!) for an ‘86 Continental. Desert Mauve paint, JBL sound system, fuelie 302, four wheel discs, ABS, four corner air suspension, power VENT windows, trip computer…man what a car. It really was a four door Mark. Air suspension failed twice, ABS was troublesome for several years and the dealer finally said ‘we need to replace it all-out of warranty’. The dealer backed Dad when he went to arbitration with Ford. Ford paid the labor(?) and Dad bought the parts-some $2k in about 1990. (Eventually they traded it in on a Fleetwood, then later a deVille.) That Lincoln though was something else! It was a great car to blast ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘Powerslave’ in on the way to pick up a prom date!!

    I always liked the Mark VII. Sure didn’t know the Mark series ever came as four-doors, but they were no more real Marks than the 4-door Cougars were real Cougars.

    I remember when these cars debuted….the VII was such a shocking departure from the past…to my 20 year old eyes, it was the most beautiful Lincoln ever. I also remember the bustleback Continental sedan with the mid-cycle refresh….the gorgeous, almost art-deco waterfall grille was so stately. What imptessed me most, however, was the astounding quality of assembly and materials. The cars were so SOLID. The shutlines were razor-thin. The paint was deep and rich and absolutely flawless. The materials were of a quality on par or better than any Euro pean car of the time. The Continental, especially, had a gorgeous interior with glove-soft leather, rich velvets and deep wool carpets. The dashboards were typical 80s digital, but were well laid out with real wood accents and an assembly quality that was unsurpassed.

    i have 2 of the diesel ones, an 84 and a 85. loved the car!! in 1996 i needed main bearings and you could not get them back then. now with internet you can but the car has been in dry storage since waiting to be restored by the next owner. it is still as clean and rust as could be

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