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by Jay Traugott
As awful as it may look to some, Lincoln's seventies-era personal luxury coupe was fashionable to own and drive. Seriously.
It may be in trouble today but there was a time when the American luxury brand was actually cool. In fact, the brand supplied cars for a number of US presidents and, going even further back, was one of the finest examples of American automotive luxury. Yes, I'm talking about Lincoln here, the brand that typically appeals to Florida retirees and people too large to fit inside any other car. Harsh as it sounds, Lincoln's future is far from certain and Ford is scrambling to come up with a long term game plan to get it back on track.
But during its heyday, Lincolns were quite something and those who drove them were considered to be trendy. How things have changed. But let's focus on one particular Lincoln that was relatively popular back in the days of bell-bottoms, mutton chops and other unattractive fashion statements: the Mark V Coupe. Originally launched in 1977, the Mark V was basically a restyled Mark IV. The changes done were mainly stylistic, featuring newly squared-off styling. Those who recall Ford Motor Co.'s other seventies atrocity, the Thunderbird, won't be surprised to discover both the Mark IV and V shared its rear-wheel-drive platform. So it goes.
Powered by a standard 400 cu in 6.6-liter V8 with just 179 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque, the Mark V was hardly a performance machine, but the engine got the job done well enough. In fact, the optional engine was a 460 cu in 7.5-liter V8 with 208 hp which helped to reduce the big coupe's overall curb weight by some 222 pounds. The only available transmission was a three-speed slushbox. So what we've gathered so far is that the Mark V was anything but performance-oriented, it was huge and only had two doors. Doesn't sound good, right? So how did Lincoln manage to sell an average of 77,000 units for each of the three years it was in production?
Beginning in the mid-seventies, American automakers started using the marketing phrase "personal luxury coupe" in their attempts to appeal to Baby Boomers who were looking to be more attractive to the opposite (and same) sex while driving. It worked extremely well and the era of enormous coupes was underway. The Mark V weighed a total of 5,042 pounds and even included a few interesting features for its time. One of those was the "Miles-to-Empty" LED indicator which, as you can likely guess, warned the driver of when the car was running low on gas, something that would come in handy during the 1979 energy crisis.
The system told drivers roughly how many miles they had left until fuel ran out based on driving habits and other factors. It was quite revolutionary and was the first time an American automaker utilized LED dashboard display technology. But the Mark V also came in a number of special designer editions, with unique exterior and interior option packages. These were all popular and buyers somehow loved the idea of having full vinyl roofs, turbine-style cast aluminum wheels, additional body side moldings and many other tacky add-ons. Odd paint colors were also fashionable such as this 1978 Lincoln Mark V painted in Apricot Metallic.
Having only two previous owners, this Mark V is in nearly perfect condition. It's powered by the optional 460 cu in V8 and there's only 52,000 original miles on the clock. Not only is the paint original but also all of the chrome, door panels, AM/FM 8 track stereo and vinyl top. Other features include power steering and brakes and cruise control. It's up for sale on eBay with a starting bid of $6,500. Certainly not appealing for many, it may be just the car for someone who couldn't afford that yacht and still loves their bell-bottoms.