Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fun with the Continental Mark IV:

Yes, statistically the odds are that many of you are visiting for the first time because of a quote in Automobile Magazine about the Continental Mark IV. I'm not going to post it here, because you've probably already seen it. Instead how about a photo essay of the stunning Continental Mark IV? It's really hard to find a car that more beautifully captures the essence of the 70s than the Continental Mark Series. Successor to the wildly successful Mark II of 1968-71, the Mark IV made its debut for the 1972 model years. In addition to the tall grille, Mark IV also added a stand up hood ornament and opera lamps to the mix.

Rendering of the 1972 Mark IV by renowned Ford stylist Dick Nesbitt

This photo captures the essence of the Mark IV beautifully: 

Bumper regulations kicked in for 1973 and required a front bumper that would withstand a 5 mph impact. Many feel that the massive bumper negatively impacts the styling but sales volumes did not suffer.

The 1974 Mark IV now wears 5-mph safety bumpers front and rear. Also here we see the beginning of special editions- this Silver Luxury Group option began in 1973. A Gold Luxury Group was also offered.
Below is the Gold Luxury Group specification page from the sales brochure:

The new premium body side moldings and polished aluminum wheels really made the 1975 Mark IV into a knockout.  Many Luxury Groups were offered for 1975 including Silver, Lipstick/ White, Saddle/ White, and Blue Diamond. Below is the Lipstick/ White:

And here is the 1975 Mark IV display at the Chicago Auto Show:

1976 was the final year for the Mark IV, but instead of resting on its laurels, it reached new heights with expanded Luxury Groups and the new Designers Series. Four top fashion designers of the day created their own special Mark IV editions:

Clockwise from left, we have the Pucci Mark IV in vintage burgundy and silver. The Givenchy in turquoise and white, the elegant Bill Blass in Navy and cream, and the Cartier in monochromatic dove gray. The Designer Series was a huge success for Lincoln both artistically and econonically- they commanded a premium of about a thousand dollars over a comparable but unlabeled Mark IV. Descriptions are below:

 There were a plethora of Luxury Groups for 1976- Blue Diamond, Saddle/ White, Lipstick/ White, Red/ Rose', Jade/ White, the midyear Black Diamond and Desert Sand, and the Gold/ Cream shown above. Below is the Gold/Cream interior and coordinating exterior choices:

 Above is the elegant Cartier Edition. It came standard with the swanky Versailles interior in dove gray velour, but a Luxury Group gray leather interior could be selected for credit. The Versailles interior option was exceedingly plush:

And as exciting as the 1976 models were, for 1977 we had an all new Mark V to look forward to. Would it disappoint? That'll be a story for another day. But the 1976 Mark IV was a pretty tough act to follow.