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Automotive Mileposts
APRIL 2002 1976 Continental Silhouette Mark IV

1976 Silhouette Mark IV
1 9 7 6  S I L H O U E T T E  M A R K  I V
in Black with matching vinyl half roof and Dark Red body side striping.

For many years, Spring season sales were dismal for car dealers. The "new" models weren't so new anymore, and next year's models were just around the corner, so there was little to spark interest in buying a car. Car makers, always looking for ways to sell cars, began introducing new models, colors, and options in the Spring to entice potential car buyers into the showrooms. None were better at doing this than Ford, which launched its successful new Falcon (1960), Mustang (1964), and Continental Mark III (1968) during the month of April.

1976 was no exception, as the Lincoln-Mercury Division rolled out several premium upgrade options for the Mark IV in its final year. This practice first began in the Mark line in 1973 with the Silver Luxury Group. Each year, new Luxury Groups were offered, including 1974's Gold Luxury Group, and 1975's Saddle and White, Lipstick and White, and Blue Diamond Luxury Groups. In 1976, Lincoln offered the new Red/Rose, Jade/White, Dark Jade/Light Jade, and Gold/Creme Luxury Groups in addition to the earlier ones. Mid-year, two additional offerings, Black Diamond and Desert Sand, were added. 1976 also saw the introduction of the Mark IV Designer Series Marks from Bill Blass, Cartier, Givenchy, and Pucci, all of which were available at the beginning of the model year.

And as if that wasn't enough of a selection, yet another trim package was offered in 1976: the Silhouette Mark IV. Reportedly built to commemorate the 1976 Bicentennial Presidential elections, only 200 were built. Customers wanting to "make their own Mark" could choose from a limited assortment of exterior and interior colors, and equip the Silhouette with just about any option offered on a 1976 Mark IV. Basically a stock Mark IV mechanically, the Silhouette was a trim package that featured a unique vinyl-padded half roof without the normally standard Opera Windows. A metal plate was inserted into the opening reserved for the Opera Windows, then covered by the vinyl half roof. Padded vinyl panels were used in the same area inside the car. Forward of the vinyl half roof was a Stainless Steel cap with a color break between the Stainless Steel section and the roof moldings. The top band and wider side moldings found on the Landau Roof option were included, along with custom two tone color-keyed body striping which ran from the tips of the front fenders to the base of the vinyl roof moldings, following the contour of the upper body lines. "Silhouette" identification appeared in script on the roof rear quarters.

A similar trim package was offered for the 1976 Thunderbird, with just 32 "Commemorative" models built. Offered only in a special Silver Metallic finish with black vinyl half roof and black leather interior, the Thunderbirds all featured a dark gray tinted glass Power Moonroof and a fake spare tire mounted on the deck lid, similar to the Flite-Sweep Deck Lid offered by Chrysler in the late fifties and early sixties. The Commemorative Thunderbirds were all marketed through the West Virginia and Ohio Ford sales districts.

Very little is known about the Silhouettes, but a few common traits have appeared. Most seem to have the Versailles Option, which featured an ultra-plush pillowed velour upholstery. Most were also equipped with Forged Aluminum Wheels. Available in limited colors, including Black and Brite Dark Blue Diamond Fire Metallic, the Silhouette's all came equipped with a matching vinyl roof. Black exteriors were teamed with Dark Red interiors, and Brite Dark Blue exteriors had Medium Blue interiors. The exterior striping matched the interior colors. The majority of Silhouette's seem to have been built in the black color scheme, but at least one is documented as being built in dark blue.

The Silhouette Mark IV was one more way you could make a Mark for yourself in 1976!

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