1975 Continental Mark IV
INTRODUCTION DATE: September 27, 1974
TOTAL PRODUCTION: 47,145
Body Style Code: 65D
VIN/Body Serial Code: 89
A 460 CID 4V V-8
Bore & stroke: 4.36 x 3.85 in.
Comp. ratio: 8.00:1
Horsepower: 220 at 4000 RPM
Carburetor: Motorcraft 4350
U XPL Automatic (C6)
Z XPL Special Automatic (C6)
K 2.75:1 Traction-Lok
O 3.00:1 Traction-Lok
6 3.00:1 (Includes Dual Exhausts and is included with Class III Trailer Towing Package)
|Wheelbase: 120.4" Overall Length: 228.1" Width: 79.8" Height: 53.5"
Weight: 5,353 lbs.
Lincoln was pleased with the strong sales it was experiencing in the seventies, so it was cautious about making too many changes. Cadillac was still outselling Lincoln overall, but Cadillac's Eldorado continued to trail the Mark. Not by much, but Lincoln had put Cadillac on the defensive. The Eldorado for 1975 received a major face-lift, losing its rear fender skirts and receiving an overall sleeker look. Rectangular headlamps appeared for the first time, and the car seemed to take on a sportier appearance, reminiscent of the 1967-1970 Eldorado.
This would not be enough, as the Mark IV continued to be one of the most distinctive cars on the American road. Subtle differences gave the 1975 models a new appearance, without tampering too much with the look of the car. The standard vinyl roof sported a new detail: the body paint color appeared between the vinyl roof moldings and the top of the windshield and roof edge trim. The vinyl roof moldings were color-keyed to match the vinyl roof, and had a thin chrome edge. This allowed the body color to contrast with the vinyl roof color, and provided definition to the lines of the roof if the body and roof colors were the same. Inside, the steering wheel spokes were revised and turned down at each end. The list of standard equipment for 1975 was expanded to include the Power Lock Convenience Group, Speed Control, and Tilt Steering Wheel, along with new-for-1975 Four Wheel Disc Brakes with Hydro-Boost Braking System. This eliminated the need for engine vacuum power assist, and improved overall braking performance and pedal pressure.
This would be the first year for the catalytic converter. Platinum was the catalytic agent and was said to offer a service life of 50,000 miles. About fifty to sixty percent of all Mark IV's sold used the converter, including all cars destined for California delivery. A higher rear axle ratio of 3.00 to 1, a dual exhaust system, and a slightly larger tire size of 235 x 15 was also provided on California cars.
Sales were down by just over ten thousand units for 1975, due in part to the fuel shortage, but California may have played a part in this as well. California had long set the stage for U.S. buyer preferences, and the imports (namely Mercedes Benz) were beginning to gain acceptance on the East coast as well as the West. It was only a matter of time before the Midwest caught on.
The Mercedes was everything that American luxury cars were not; somewhat plain when compared to the flashy American cars, the Mercedes focused on a no-nonsense approach to luxury. The seats and ride were firm in comparison, the controls were straight forward and somewhat utilitarian, and the appearance was distinctive but certainly not trend setting. But Mercedes became a trend setter. Where the American manufacturers provided a soft smooth ride, silent interior, and the ease of totally automatic controls, Mercedes built their cars to be a drivers car, and required more effort from the driver. The fit and finish of the Mercedes was excellent. The car exhibited characteristics that were certainly not in the same vein as the American cars, and Mercedes charged a higher price for the privilege of ownership!
Within a few years, Lincoln would address this issue, but for now only Cadillac would be on target with a smaller car to compete with the Mercedes. Named Seville, the "international sized" four door was introduced in April 1975 as a 1976 model. Production of 16,355 Sevilles during 1975 was promising, and another 43,772 were built during 1976, for a total of 60,127 during the fifteen month production run. Obviously, Lincoln would need to react to this. And indeed it would, with a platform that - believe it or not - would date back to 1960! (That's another story, but we'll cover it!)
Lincoln offered a dizzying assortment of color and trim options during the late sixties and early seventies, which was confusing to buyers. In 1973, Lincoln introduced the Silver Luxury Group, an attempt to create specific color and trim options at a premium price, that would offer additional distinction. Lincoln's customers loved it. A Gold Luxury Group was added for 1974, and also received acceptance. So, in an attempt to expand on this, three more were offered for 1975: the Blue Diamond, Lipstick and White, and Saddle and White Luxury Groups. 1976 would see big time fashion designers involved, but the in house luxury groups would continue to see expansion as well.
The luxury groups offered a specific combination of colors and trims that weren't available otherwise. The Silver Luxury Group featured Silver Diamond Fire metallic paint, a Silver Normande grain vinyl roof, and a choice of Silver Leather or Dark Red Media Velour interior trim. The Gold Luxury Group offered Bronze Gold Diamond Fire paint with a Gold Flare vinyl roof. The interior was Tan Leather with Saddle-colored cross straps and a unique sew style. The Blue Diamond had Aqua Blue Diamond Fire paint, a matching Aqua vinyl roof, and a choice of Aqua Blue Leather or Aqua Media Velour. The Lipstick and White Luxury Group consisted of White paint and vinyl roof, and White Leather interior with unique sew style and Lipstick Red Leather cross straps on the seats, as well as Lipstick Red components. The Saddle and White Luxury Group sported White paint with a Saddle vinyl roof, White Leather interior with unique sew style and Saddle-colored leather cross straps on the seats, and Saddle components.
The availability of luxury groups provided Lincoln's customers with the ability to design their own car by choosing appropriate options. The buyer could add the equipment they desired, knowing that the car would stand out as something special at the Country Club.
Adding additional equipment to the Mark IV in 1975 was an easy task. The car came equipped with virtually everything most buyers desired. Just pick your favorite color or Luxury Group, and drive it away. Certainly the base model could never be described as a "stripped" model, and would be the best-equipped Mark of the decade, until the Diamond Jubilee Edition came along in 1978.
The options were few but important. New Forged Aluminum Wheels had a deep dish design, and served a legitimate purpose as well. They were approximately 10% lighter than standard wheels, which reduced the unsprung weight of the vehicle. A new Premium Bodyside Molding mimicked the moldings used on Thunderbirds since 1973. The vinyl insert was bordered with chrome, and featured a distinctive filigreed design. The molding was color-keyed to the vinyl roof. A Power Lumbar Seat provided additional comfort during long trips by applying pressure to the driver's lower back area.
Lincoln asked that people judge any luxury car by their car in 1975. What they hadn't counted on was the fact that luxury car tastes and expectations were beginning to change. Due to its smaller production numbers, the Lincoln came across as being a bit more exclusive than the Cadillac, which certainly helped Lincoln's sales in this climate of change. But the luxury car market had begun to change, a fact that would eventually put an end to the typical large luxury car of 1975. In fact, Cadillac was just two years away from downsizing its popular DeVille and Fleetwood series cars, a move that was necessary, but somewhat uncertain as to the public response. In the end, the new smaller cars proved very popular, and Lincoln would follow the lead for 1980.
So, the game plan was subtle evolution of a modern classic. The change in the market makes these cars all the more desirable today. The 1975 Mark IV was perhaps the most distinctive car on the American road in its day, an honor which time and changing tastes cannot erase.