Automotive Mileposts  

1977 Lincoln Versailles
Production Numbers/Specifications

March 28, 1977
84 54M Versailles 4-Door Sedan $11,500
Weight: 3922* Built: 15,434
*With 351 CID 2V V-8 engine; 3,880 pounds with 302 2V V-8
Standard in 49 States:
H - 351 (5.8 liters)

Standard in California and High Altitude Areas:
F - 302 (5.2 liters)
49 States:
351 CID 2V V-8
Bore and Stroke: 4.00 x 3.50
Compression Ratio: 8.1:1
Brake Horsepower: 135 @ 3200 rpm
Torque: 275 lb.-ft. @ 1600 rpm
Carburetor: Motorcraft 2150 2-barrel

California/High Altitude:
302 CID 2V V8
Bore and Stroke: 4.00 x 3.00
Compression Ratio: 8.4:1
Brake Horsepower: 133 @ 3600 rpm
Torque: 243 lb.-ft. @ 1600 rpm
Carburetor: Motorcraft 2150 2-barrel
U SelectShift 3-Speed Automatic

2.50:1 (Traction-Lok)
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"
109.9 inches
Front Tread: 59.0
Rear Tread: 57.7
Length: 200.9
Width: 74.5
Height: 54.1
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
Fuel Tank: 19.2 gallons
Cooling System: 13.9 quarts
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.
Versailles firsts:

- 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.


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)

Image: 1977 Lincoln Versailles


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 above.)

Image: Ford Vehicle Certification Label

VEH. IDENT. NO. = Vehicle Identification Number
TYPE = Passenger (Rated for passenger use)
COLOR = (5K - Cinnamon Gold paint; VU - Cinnamon Gold Valino Grain Full Vinyl Roof)
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

Image: 1977 Lincoln Versailles

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.

Image: 1977 Lincoln Versailles testing processesDisregarding 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 test.

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 were minimal.

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.