1973 Continental Mark IV
Newly minted luxury for the few
1973 Continental Mark IV with Silver Luxury Group option
SILVER LUXURY GROUP AT A GLANCE:
Years Available: 1973-1975
Body Color Code: 1D - Silver Moondust Metallic
Paint Stripe Code: D - Cranberry
P - Silver Metallic
Vinyl Roof Code: (researching code) - Silver Levant Grain Vinyl Roof
Interior Trim Code: AH - Cranberry Victoria Velour Cloth
(researching code) - Silver Leather with Vinyl
Show cars were always intended to attract new potential buyers to dealer showrooms. Although most weren't available for sale to the public, they did have the effect of improving sales for models that were for sale. Over the years, American automobile manufacturers went to great lengths and expense to create custom automobiles that would amaze and delight the public, with the hope it would encourage those folks to visit their local dealers to see what was available, and perhaps fall in love and purchase a new car. This idea worked well—so well in fact that General Motors' Motorama (also known as Autorama from 1949-1952) became a huge success. So successful, in fact, that it actually took to the road in 1953 and became a touring car show, which resulted in the name change to Motorama. From 1953 until 1961, GM's Motorama was a phenomenon that drew huge crowds of people where ever it stopped. Concept cars, prototypes, and one-off custom designs were exhibited to the public for their approval (or disapproval).
Apparently the public desired something different—and was willing to pay for it—which meant that car makers needed to find a way to make that happen. Ford Motor Company was among the first to get special models into dealer showrooms. In 1954, Ford introduced the Ford Crestline Skyliner and the Mercury Monterrey Sun Valley, both two door hardtop models with a transparent, tinted plastic roof over the front seat. The Mercury was built for only two years, being renamed the Mercury Montclair Sun Valley for 1955 before being discontinued. Ford's transparent roof car was also renamed for 1955, and carried the name Ford Crown Victoria Skyliner through 1956, after which the transparent roof feature disappeared and the Skyliner moniker was used for Ford's new retractable hardtop. A total of 27,294 of these transparent roof cars were made during the production run, and its demise is generally credited as being due to the uncomfortably hot interior temperatures, a problem in all but the coolest weather. A snap-in sun shade was an available option, as was air conditioning, but these were new concepts at the time that most people simply did not choose to order.
The problem with these unique models is that they were expensive to design, tool, and build. But if a way to adorn a current model could be found, that would be inexpensive to produce, it would be more fiscally attractive to the car makers. Lee Iacocca is generally credited with this idea, as he was able to increase sales of the 1962 Ford Thunderbird by creating two new models from the two models offered in 1961. The Hardtop model became the Landau model with the addition of a leather-grained vinyl roof cover and simulated S-bars on the roof sides, and the Convertible became the Sports Roadster with the addition of three unique emblems, an instrument panel-mounted assist bar, a fiberglass tonneau cover, and sporty Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels. Overnight, the number of available Thunderbird models doubled to four.
This concept was carried even further the following year, with the mid-year announcement of the 1963 Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau. Available only in a Wimbledon White finish with Rose Beige Vinyl Roof and White Leather upholstery, this model featured simulated Rosewood paneling on the inside, and had carpeting on the bottom of the door panels. A numbered, engraved dash plaque announced this was something special. Other than that, there was nothing unique about the car to set it apart from a standard Landau model. It was basically a typical Thunderbird Landau, with special colors and a few pieces of unique trim. A splashy party was held in Monaco, which just happened to coincide with the annual Monaco Road Rally. Price Rainier and Princess Grace were in attendance, and the first car of the limited production of 2,000 was given to Prince Rainier as a gift from Ford Motor Company. Even Vogue Magazine was in on the deal, snapping pictures of high fashion models posed with new Thunderbirds to appear in the pages of its magazine. To cap off the event, a television special, Tour of Monaco was aired on February 17, 1963. Ford also prepared special brochures for the car, and mailed them from Monaco to prospective customers in the U.S.
Of course, every Limited Edition Landau was sold, and this served as proof that more interest in a car line and additional sales could be obtained just by adding a little bit of special trim, or by using unique color combinations and declaring this use a special, limited edition model.
A 1965 Thunderbird Special Landau followed in 1965, with production set at just 4,500 cars. It too differed from standard Landaus only by the use of a few pieces of unique trim and a color combination not otherwise available. Iacocca had definitely found a way to increase dealer showroom traffic and sales, create an air of exclusivity, and did so at minimal cost and maximum profit! Ford would continue to market special edition Thunderbirds during the seventies and beyond, beginning with the 1974 Thunderbird Burgundy Luxury Group and White and Gold Luxury Group.
Lincoln's first entry into this concept was the 1971 Lincoln Continental Golden Anniversary Town Car. Built to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Lincoln, the four door cars were painted in Anniversary Gold Moondust Metallic, a special gold color available only on this model, with "Town Car" block lettering on the front fenders and rear deck lid. Unique interior trim was done in Black with a specific sew style on the seats, and was highlighted by Brazilian Rosewood appliques with polished chromium. 22 carat gold ignition and door keys and a Limited Edition plaque on the instrument panel set it apart from all other Lincolns in 1971.
In 1973, Lincoln followed this with the introduction of the Silver Luxury Group for the Continental Mark IV. Painted in a special Silver Moondust Metallic (paint code 1D) finish, it featured a Silver Levant Grain Vinyl Roof and Cranberry Victoria Velour Cloth (code AH) trim or Dark Red Leather (trim code DD) for the seating surfaces. A high luster Silver Leather interior (shown at right - researching code) was also available. Color-keyed body side paint stripes in Silver Metallic (code P) or Cranberry (code D) graced the exterior, and Cranberry or Silver luggage compartment trim and spare tire cover completed the package. Viola! An instant limited edition model, which cost next to nothing to produce, and garnered a $400 premium when ordered.
A new power glass Moonroof (shown at left) with Silver tint was available. Lincoln said when it was open, you saw the Moon and it saw you, but when it was closed, only you had the view.
The snob appeal was intense. High brow advertising made certain everyone knew that the silver Mark IV pulling up in their neighbor's driveway was something special, and was such a popular option that additional Luxury Group option packages would become available the very next year, and expand greatly in the years to come.
Some 1973 Continental Mark IV Silver Luxury Group cars have been documented as having paint stripes that do not coordinate with the interior trim. Normally, a Cranberry stripe was provided with Silver interiors, and a Silver paint stripe accompanied the Cranberry interiors, but Black body side paint stripes have also been noted with both interior colors. We've also noted Cranberry stripes with Cranberry interiors and Silver stripes with Silver interiors, which makes the most sense to us. We aren't certain if they were ordered in this manner, or if they were due to a factory error, but there is no doubt they left the factory in this manner.
At any rate, the Luxury Group option was a brilliant idea that allowed Lincoln's customers to have a bit more distinction in their transportation, and would allow Lincoln to produce and market unique cars at minimal cost to expand their market reach. For 1974, two Luxury Groups would be offered. This would increase to five for 1975, and expand to nine for 1976—thirteen if you include the Designer Edition cars.
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