FR78 x 14 SBR WSW
Original brand: Michelin X
Whitewall: 1.3 inches
Power assisted front and rear disc brakes
Front: 11.03"; Rear: 10.66"
Front Tread: 59.0
Rear Tread: 57.7
Trunk: 14.1 Cu. Ft. Front Measurements
Head Room: 38.2
Shoulder Room: 55.8
Hip Room: 53.4
Leg Room: 40.7 Rear Measurements
Head Room: 37.6
Shoulder Room: 55.8
Hip Room: 51.2
Leg Room: 35.6
The Versailles was Lincoln's first compact car. It was introduced late
in the 1977 model year, and was offered for just four years.
Typical fuel economy was 17.2 mpg.
- Introduced the Clearcoat paint process, with a base color coat applied
first, with clear gloss coats applied on top of the base coat.
- Introduced the integral electronic garage door opener option, built into
the driver's side visor vanity mirror,
- Vehicle Electrical Test System (VETS) checked 50 items for reliability
at the factory.
- Burke-Porter Road Simulator test guaranteed interior quietness levels
were to specification.
1977 VERSAILLES IDENTIFICATION
The 11-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is stamped into a metal
tab that is riveted to the instrument panel near where it meets the windshield
on the driver's side of the car. It is visible from outside. A typical
1977 Versailles VIN would look like: 7W84H8#####.
Those digits decode as:
Digit #1 = Year (7 - 1977)
Digit #2 = Assembly Plant (W - Wayne, Michigan)
Digits #3-4 = Body Code (84 - 4-Door Sedan; Versailles)
Digit #5 = Engine (H - 351 CID 2V V-8)
Digits #6-11 = Unit Production Number (starts at 800001)
VEHICLE CERTIFICATION LABEL
The Vehicle Certification Label is affixed to the left front door lock
face panel or door pillar. It identifies the vehicle as manufactured by
Ford Motor Company, and provides the month and year of manufacture. The
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is provided, as well as front and rear
Gross Axle Weight Ratio (GAWR). A statement certifies the vehicle conforms
to all standards in effect on the date of manufacture. The VIN appears
and the type of vehicle is also included on the same line.
Near the bottom, codes for paint and vinyl roof color and type, district
sales office, body code, interior trim code, scheduled build date, axle
type, transmission, and an air conditioning code appear. More about these
codes follow the example, below. (This label describes the car depicted
VEH. IDENT. NO. = Vehicle Identification Number
TYPE = Passenger (Rated for passenger use)
COLOR = (5K - Cinnamon Gold paint; VU - Cinnamon Gold Valino Grain Full
DSO = District Sales Office (84 - Home Office Reserve)
BODY = Body Code (54M - 4-Door Sedan; Versailles)
TRIM = Interior Trim Code (UT - Chamois Leather Bucket Seats)
SCH. DATE = Scheduled Build Date (01A - January 1, 1977)
AXLE = Rear Axle Code (1 - 2.50:1 ratio; conventional type)
TRANS. = Transmission Code (U - XPL Automatic; C6)
A/C = Air Conditioning Type Code (A - Automatic Climate Control)
The Debut of the 1977 Versailles:
Lincoln Welcomes A New Baby To the Line
Above: 1977 Lincoln Versailles in Wedgewood Blue. Deep Dish Aluminum Wheels,
Michelin X Steel-Belted Radial Whitewall Tires, Bumper Guards and Rub Strips,
and Padded Valino Grain Vinyl Roof were all standard.
On January 20, 1977, the Lincoln Mercury Division advised its dealers that
a new addition to the line would be arriving soon. And on March 28, 1977,
Lincoln's new baby, the Versailles, was introduced to the world. According
to the press release, the Versailles was designed to "appeal to a
growing segment of automobile buyers interested in smaller luxury sedans.
This group traditionally has had to choose from a few relatively high-priced
European nameplates." Well, now that group had a new Lincoln to choose
from as well. Nothing was mentioned about the Cadillac Seville, which was
Lincoln's main target.
By the time the first Versailles appeared in showrooms, the Seville had
been on the market for almost two years. And it was a big seller for Cadillac,
too. There was no way Lincoln could have ignored this. And Lincoln had
to respond quickly, which meant it would have to base the Versailles on
a model already in production. And the best fit for that was the Ford Granada/Mercury
Monarch platform. Just introduced at the time, it was new so it truly was
a good candidate to become the new Lincoln. The problem was, Lincoln didn't
have the time or the budget to come up with all new sheet metal. And this
was the decision that had more impact on the success of the Versailles
than anything else.
Designers were able to have a new rear deck lid, complete with the traditional
Continental spare tire hump, but everything else was pretty much straight
from the Monarch parts bins. Lincoln's stylists did an admirable job of
"covering up" the Monarch as well as they could, but ultimately
the public saw through the cosmetics and rejected the Versailles.
The realization that there was a problem wasn't immediately evident. In
1977, the Continental Mark V was selling in record numbers, as customers
really loved its crisp new styling, and that meant lots of Lincoln's customers
were afforded the opportunity to see the new car. Sales of 15,434 cars
during its short first year were pretty good, and Lincoln was anxious to
see how it would perform in year two.
And it didn't take long to realize there was a serious problem. In its
second year, sales of the Versailles plummeted to just 8,931 cars. This
was the Versailles first full model year, and it was obvious there was
a big problem. Cadillac dealers were not the least bit reluctant to talk
to customers making comparisons about the connection between the Versailles
and the Monarch, failing to mention, of course, that their very own Seville
also had a modest foundation with its Chevrolet Nova platform. The Seville
had production of 46, 212 cars in 1977, so the public either didn't know
or didn't care. And since the Seville had no similarity with the Nova other
than size, it likely wouldn't have mattered either way. You could park
a Nova and a Seville next to each other, and the only similarity would
have been in overall size. But, park a Versailles and a Monarch next to
each other, and the similarities are immediately evident. It was difficult
to convince people to spend twice as much when their expensive new car
could easily be mistaken for a much less expensive model.
At the time, there were ad campaigns for the Granada that featured customers
who said their new Fords had been mistaken for more expensive luxury cars,
including Cadillac and Mercedes Benz. Naturally, those folks were delighted
that their cars were confused with expensive luxury models. However, if
it's the other way around, it's not so funny.
The success of the Versailles was important, as Lincoln was working on
new smaller models for the 1980 model year. Cadillac had down sized all
of its standard models for 1977, and they were selling in record numbers.
Lincoln couldn't just stand by and allow its first smaller entry into the
luxury market to become a flop.
Disregarding everything negative said about the Versailles at the time,
a couple of points must be emphasized about the car. Those are quality
control, quality of materials used, fit and finish, and factory testing
and inspections before approved for shipment. A Vehicle Electrical Test
System (VETS) checked the electrical system, looking for bad connections,
weak grounds, defective motors, or anything else that would cause a new
Versailles owner concern. Anything suspicious required that the car be
pulled off the line, the questionable components checked and repaired if
necessary, and rechecked again. Only at that point did the car pass the
Another important test was the Burke-Porter road simulator, which shook
and vibrated each Versailles, looking for squeaks and rattles so they could
be tended to before the owner notices them. This special simulator was
able to duplicate almost any road condition a vehicle might encounter during
its service life. Any objectionable noises were pinpointed, fixed, and
then the car was tested again to make sure the repair was done properly.
All of the components on the Versailles were balanced and matched, to eliminate
vibration and harshness before they could ever occur. The testing process
was very thorough, and as a result initial owner complaints in these areas
Current values on the Lincoln Versailles probably aren't what they should
be, they seem to be a reflection of minor collector interest in the model.
This makes them affordable, which is good if you're looking to buy, not
so great if you'd like to sell. As always, buy the best one you can afford.
These are expensive to restore, and unique trim parts can be difficult
to find due to the limited production. Quality control was very good, so
with proper care, it's not too hard to locate a nice one that isn't in
need of major work.
Since the engines and other mechanical components were used on various
Ford and Mercury vehicles of the era, replacement parts are pretty easy
to find, and we even hear there are performance modifications that can
improve both fuel economy as well as give you a bit more horsepower.
These are great cars that ride and drive beautifully. Automotive Mileposts
feels they had a bad hand dealt to them when they were new, and it's too
bad Lincoln wasn't able or didn't do more to the exterior sheet metal to
better disguise the car. People loved their Granada/Monarch cars, and most
Versailles owners were very happy with their cars too. The Versailles represents
the era quite nicely, and can hold its own in today's traffic as well.
It's a nice car, don't let a good one get away because of dated reputation
problems. Issues with these cars are minor in nature, and we think their
values will go up in the future, although if your primary reason for buying
one is a return on your investment, we'd recommend you find something in
a less specialized market.