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Continental Mark V

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About the Continental Mark V

Rarely does a manufacturer turn out one brilliant design after another after yet another, but that is exactly what happened with the Continental Mark III, Mark IV, and Mark V series. Spanning a period of more than 10 years, these cars set new standards year after year for design excellence, glamour, and prestige. Occupants received admiring glances from strangers by merely having the good fortune of riding in such fine automobiles. A smooth, solid ride and quiet cabin are areas where these cars excelled above the rest, calming passengers and isolating them from the turmoil of the world outside. Everything looked different through the tinted windows of a Lincoln Continental.

The 1977 Continental Mark V was an evolution of the Mark IV. A bit more squared off, it retained all of the Mark's trademark features, including the handsome chrome grille, concealed headlamps, and front turn signal assemblies mounted at the forward edge of the front fenders. In back, the deck lid hump returned, and the tail lamps were once again placed vertically, as they were on the Mark IIIs, in the ends of the rear quarter panels. The Opera Windows returned, as did the luxurious interiors, which were very similar to the Mark IV interiors, especially the instrument panels, which utilized the same basic layout and shape, but had some controls rearranged slightly.

The Designer Edition Marks designed by Cartier, Bill Blass, Givenchy, and Pucci made their second appearance in 1977, with new colors and trims selected to awe Lincoln buyers. The Luxury Group options were expanded again to include additional color schemes, allowing Lincoln's customers to design their own car. Front fender vents echoed vintage cars of days gone by, and looked particularly good on the Mark V. Sales skyrocketed as customers rushed to their Lincoln Dealers to buy the new Mark V.

It was more of the same for 1978, but a very special Diamond Jubilee Edition Continental Mark V [links in this article will open in a new window] was available to celebrate Ford Motor Company's 75th Anniversary. Available in Diamond Blue or Jubilee Gold, these special Marks came loaded with almost every optional feature as part of the standard equipment list. Buyers shopping around for the best new car deal weren't likely to buy one, as the Diamond Jubilee Edition package added a whopping $8,000 premium to the price of the car! A leather-bound tool kit was provided in the luggage compartment, and a matching umbrella was stowed away in a console storage compartment. A simulated diamond chip was laminated into the beveled glass Opera Windows, and real and simulated Ebony woodgrain inserts graced the interior panels. 5,159 Diamond Jubilee Editions were sold in 1978, and 16,537 Marks were equipped with one of the four Designer Series packages.

Image: 1979 Lincoln Continental Collector's Series dash plaque

What do Lincoln, the color blue, and Tom Selleck all have in common? The 1979 Collector's Series Continental Mark V! Lincoln's ad agency signed up Tom Selleck himself to appear in the printed advertising for the 1979 Collector's Series Mark V. This would be the final year for the traditional-sized personal luxury car, and the Collector's Series was Lincoln's way of commemorating the occasion, while giving buyers who wanted "the last of the big ones" something special to purchase. The Collector's Series was very similar in packaging to the Diamond Jubilee Edition of 1978, but was offered in Midnight Blue or White paint. A lighter shade of blue and a silver were also made available later in the year for the Collector's Series. The 460 V-8 that had propelled all Marks since 1969 was gone, leaving the 400 V-8, which was introduced in 1977, as the sole power plant.

The Mark VI that would follow for 1980 was a much-changed car; it would lose close to 700 pounds in weight, six inches in its wheelbase, and 14 inches in overall length. Still a great looking car, down sized to fit the demands of the time. But it didn't have that boulevard cruiser look, or the commanding presence of the Marks that preceded it. Somehow, it was missing something that it had once had. Sales dropped off sharply from 1979 as Lincoln's customers weren't totally accepting the new, smaller car. The 1979 Continental Mark V's were firmly ensconced in an era where bigger was better, and fuel economy didn't matter as long as the passengers inside were pampered. 1979 truly marked the end of an era at Lincoln. Eras may not be the end of time, but automobiles like the Mark V will never be built again. As the last traditional-sized production personal luxury car, the Continental Mark V was without question the best one to bid farewell to a form of motoring that will be missed by many for years to come.

Image: 1979 Continental Mark V Collector's Series leather interior