Automotive Mileposts  

1980 Lincoln Versailles
Production Numbers/Specifications

PRODUCTION NUMBERS
INTRODUCTION DATE:
October 12, 1979
TOTAL PRODUCTION:
4,784
TOP LINE: BODY CODE/MODEL NAME/BASE PRICE
BOTTOM LINE: WEIGHT/PRODUCTION
84 54M Versailles 4-Door Sedan $14,674
Weight: 3828 Built: 4,784
SPECIFICATIONS
ENGINE CODE
ENGINE DETAILS
F - 302 (5.0 liters) 302 CID 2V V8
Bore and Stroke: 4.00 x 3.00
Compression Ratio: 8.4:1
Brake Horsepower: 132 @ 3600 rpm
Torque: 232 lb.-ft. @ 1400 rpm
Carburetor: Motorcraft 2150 variable venturi 2-barrel
Electronic Engine Control System
TRANSMISSION CODE
TRANSMISSION DESCRIPTION
U SelectShift 3-Speed Automatic
REAR AXLE CODE
REAR AXLE RATIO
B
Optional:
C
6
D
2.47:1

2.47:1 (Traction-Lok)
3.00:1(Std. with High-Altitude Option)
3.00:1 (Traction-Lok)
TIRE SIZE
BRAKES
FR78 x 14 SBR WSW
Original brand: Michelin X
Power assisted front and rear disc brakes
Disc Diameter—Front: 11.03"; Rear: 10.66"
Brake Swept Area: 433.7 sq. in.
WHEELBASE
DIMENSIONS
109.9 inches
Front Tread: 59.0
Rear Tread: 57.7
Length: 201.0
Width: 74.5
Height: 54.1
Trunk: 14.6 Cu. Ft.
Front Measurements
Head Room: 38.0
Shoulder Room: 55.6
Hip Room: 53.4
Leg Room: 40.6
Rear Measurements
Head Room: 37.3
Shoulder Room: 55.6
Hip Room: 51.2
Leg Room: 35.6
STEERING
CAPACITIES
Overall Steering Ratio: 21.3:1 Fuel Tank: 19.2 gallons
Cooling System: 13.9 quarts
SPECIAL NOTES
1980 was the final year for the Lincoln Versailles.

Sales for the year were the lowest of the production run.

A new Continental model would join the line in 1982 to compete in the mid-size premium luxury field.
New on the 1980 Versailles:

- Standard Twin Comfort Lounge Seats
- Standard 6-Way Power Driver's Seat (Not available with bucket seats)
- Standard Electronic AM/FM Stereo Search Radio
- New starter
- Improved jack design
- New "Luxury Cloth" upholstery
- Electronic Day/Date/Elapsed Time Clock
- Electronic chime for warnings
- Midnight Blue interior trim color

1980 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 1980 Versailles VIN would look like: 0W84F6#####.

Those digits decode as:
Digit #1 = Year (0 - 1980)
Digit #2 = Assembly Plant (W - Wayne, Michigan)
Digits #3-4 = Body Code (84 - 4-Door Sedan; Versailles)
Digit #5 = Engine (F - 302 CID 2V V-8)
Digits #6-11 = Unit Production Number (starts at 600001)

Image: 1980 Lincoln Versailles

VEHICLE CERTIFICATION LABEL

The Vehicle Certification Label was revised in 1979, and is is the same for 1980. It 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 in both pounds and kilograms, 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 appears on the line below.

Near the bottom, codes for lower paint color, upper paint or vinyl roof color and type, and district sales office appear above a series of numbers identifying the body code, vinyl roof code, exterior moulding code, interior trim code, air conditioning code, radio equipment code, sunroof code, rear axle code, and transmission code. More about these codes follow the example below. (This label describes the Black and Silver Metallic Dual-Shade paint option Versailles pictured above.)

Image: Ford Vehicle Certification Label

VEH. IDENT. NO. = Vehicle Identification Number (detailed above)
TYPE = Passenger (Rated for passenger use)
EXTERIOR PAINT COLORS = (1C - Black (primary body color with Dual-Shade paint option; 1Y - Silver Metallic (secondary body color)
DSO = District Sales Office (84 - Home Office Reserve)
BODY = Body Code (54M - 4-Door Sedan; Versailles)
VR = Vinyl Roof Code (TA - Black Valino Grain Coach Roof)
MLDG = Exterior Molding Code (60A - Black Premium Bodyside Moldings)
INT. TRIM = Interior Trim Code (TS - Black Leather Twin Comfort Lounge Seats)
A/C = Air Conditioning Type Code (A - Automatic Climate Control)
R = Radio Equipment Code (7 - Electronic AM/FM Stereo Radio with Cassette Tape Player)
S = Sunroof Code (Blank if no Sunroof or Moonroof)
AXLE = Rear Axle Code (B - 2.47:1 ratio; conventional)
TR = Transmission Code (U - XPL Automatic; C6—followed by additional identifying code of two letters and two numbers)

Assignment Completed:
Lincoln Versailles Retires In 1980

Image: 1980 Lincoln Versailles

Above: 1980 Lincoln Versailles in Dark Cordovan Metallic (paint code 5R) with Silver Accent Stripe (code P), and a Dark Cordovan Cavalry Twill Half-Vinyl Roof (roof code JF). The Premium Bodyside Moldings shown are optional.

By 1980—like it or not—smaller luxury cars were now the new standard. Cadillac had down sized all of its "regular" models in 1977, only the Seville and Eldorado remained largely the same as before. The Seville, having been introduced in the spring of 1975 as a 1976 model, was Cadillac's first smaller luxury car, and didn't need down sizing. The Eldorado would have to wait a couple more years, as its new smaller design hit the market in 1979 and was very popular. The Versailles came on board in the spring of 1977, and ushered in Lincoln's era of smaller cars. By 1980, the Versailles was in its fourth year, all of Lincoln's other models were newly down sized and making their debut, and Cadillac's Seville had undergone its first major restyle, losing much of its original appeal in the process.

The automotive world of 1980 was much changed from a few years earlier. Technology was rapidly influencing what was being built, as well as how it was being built, tested, and serviced. Lincoln introduced an Electronic Instrument Panel with Electronic Trip Log and Message Center in 1980, a $707 option, that included digital readouts for speed in miles-per-hour or kilometers-per-hour, a bar graph for fuel level, an electronic digital clock, and the ability to monitor 11 vehicle functions. None of these items were available on the Versailles, due to the cost of updating the car to accommodate them.

Sales of the Versailles over its four year life span were mixed. Two years showed promise, and two years were huge disappointments:

1977: 15,434 (late year introduction)
1978: 8,931
1979: 21,007 (recovery after roof restyling)
1980: 4,784
Total: 50,156

For comparison, in 1980, the Cadillac Seville sold 39,344 cars, better than any single year of Versailles' sales, and almost twice that of Versailles' best sales year. Keep in mind, this is with controversial new "bustleback" styling that put off some of Cadillac's customers.

And truly, with new Lincoln models such as the 4-door Continental Mark VI, perhaps there wasn't much room in the Lincoln line for a specialty, personal car like the Versailles. A new "contemporary size" Continental 4-door sedan was introduced in 1982, as the replacement for the Versailles—and had the Versailles been more popular—likely could have been named the Versailles. It sold for $21,302 and 23,908 copies rolled out of the assembly plants. While it sold better than the Versailles, it also had its "ups and downs" with one year showing sales declines followed by another with increases. Still, overall it was a better sales performer than the Versailles had been.

Image: 1980 Lincoln Versailles features

1980 Lincoln Versailles notable standard features and optional equipment shown above (L to R):
1. Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel (standard 1977-1980)
2. Rear Seat Reading Lights (standard 1979-1980)
3. Reclining Bucket Seat Group (optional 1977-1980)
4. Illuminated Entry System (standard 1977-1980)

So...you have to have one, and want to know what to look for...

Before you get too attached, realize that as with many classic cars, it's always best to find an original, unrestored car in good condition whenever possible. It almost always costs more to restore a classic than it's worth, so be certain you love the car for other than investment reasons if you choose to bring one back from the grave. In the case of the 1977-1980 Versailles, some will prefer the first year 1977 cars, since they were the beginning of the model and had the larger 351 V-8 engines (in 49 states, California-bound cars always had the 302).

Consider that there were performance improvements made for 1978, and some feel these are better running cars due to them. Also, remember the 1977-1978 models are the ones with the original roof line, which many people feel is sportier looking and more suited to the car's image.

The 1979 cars were the first with the roof restyle, and some somewhat rare colors were introduced that year as well. If you like Turquoise, you could get it in a dark or medium shade, and if you can't choose between one or the other, a Dual-Shade paint option paired both shades together! The Dual-Shade combination was a one year only offering, so seek out a 1979 if that's what you want. The Dark Turquoise was discontinued after 1979, but the medium shade was continued in a solid color for 1980.

Lots of the 1979 models were equipped with the standard electronic AM/FM stereo radio with Quad-8 tape player, so keep in mind to fully enjoy the sound from this system to its fullest, you'll need to locate some quadrasonic tapes, which are readily available, but remember the music in the late seventies was often disco. So, if disco is your thing, this would be very fun for you as many disco tapes were released in quadraphonic sound.

The 1980 models were the rarest of them all, and a lot of changes were made between 1979 and 1980. New colors like Bittersweet Metallic and Light and Dark Fawn Metallic were one year only colors, and since production was so small they are quite rare today. Also, the Twin Comfort Lounge Seats were only available in 1980, and that goes for the 6-way power seat as well.

Many prefer the more formal look of the 1979-1980 models, but people seem to be divided on the issue. Decide which you want, or just accept whichever one you wind up with, based on the condition, location, or price of the car. The later cars have rear seat reading lights, which is a traditional Lincoln feature that many feel is necessary in a Lincoln.

A rare option was released in early spring 1980 for the Versailles as well as other Lincoln models. Named the Fashion Accent Series, it consisted of two tone exterior paint in a Black with Medium Silver accent color or Dark Red with Light Fawn accent color. The Leather Twin Comfort Lounge Seat interior was either Dove Grey or Dark Red to coordinate with the exterior shades. Very few were built, and honestly, the factory Dual-Shade paint is much better looking and gave more choice of interior trim, so it's not difficult to see why so few were ordered. It's worth seeking out if you really want something rare, but not too many people like it once they see it.

Other than that, it's a matter of finding a color you like, and we also think the Reclining Bucket Seat Group was unique, as most 4-door sedans of this era didn't offer bucket seats. And the floor shift was even more rare, as it was priced separately from the bucket seats. (The floor shift wasn't offered in 1980, and there were restrictions with Tilt Steering Wheel installation as well when the floor shift was ordered.)

Look for signs of rust around the moldings and under the vinyl top and around the rear window. Bubbling or crunching noised when you press on the roof and bad. Rust on the lower doors, front fenders, and rear quarters can be a problem, so check common areas for corrosion carefully before you buy.

The Versailles was very well built and engineered. They are dependable, and can get respectable fuel mileage if driven carefully. Keep in mind, these are luxury cars, so they are heavy due to the accessories and additional insulation and trim, so "respectable" fuel economy is a matter of a person's expectations. Kept in proper tune, with good alignment, tire pressures, etc., we feel most collectors will be pleased with the fuel economy.

Avoid cars that need a great deal of work. Keep looking for the best one you can find. Good examples do still exist, although you must be patient, as the Versailles can be rare today. Low production does have its benefits, after all. Exclusivity when new, and rarity when older. A recent search found several nice examples for sale, although we didn't personally go look at any of them.

Versailles prices are inching upward, and there is growing collector interest in them today, but most people should probably buy one because they like it, rather than attempting to make money on it. The Versailles is a pleasant car to drive, not necessarily fast but not a slouch, either. Four people could not ask for a nicer environment to travel in, and maintenance is relatively easy to accomplish and mechanical parts fairly easy to find. Special Versailles trim pieces can be very hard to find, so make sure you're patient and keep looking if the one you find needs anything of this nature.

We think the Lincoln Versailles story is one of the more interesting ones of the late seventies, and we hope our section on the Versailles creates some interest among those who've never given them a second glance. Take a look, it will be worth your time.