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1979 Continental Mark V Collector's Series in White
1979 Continental Mark V Collector's Series in White
Collector's Series 1979 Continental Mark V
1979 Continental Mark V


1979 Mark V Auctions


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The Collector's Series 1979 Continental Mark V - The last Continental on such a grand scale

Lincoln noted that the 1979 Continental Mark V was perhaps the last Continental on this grand scale. It was a polite way of warning customers that they'd best get the lead out if they wanted a new full-size Lincoln. At this time, there was a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirement that Ford Motor Company was dangerously close to exceeding. Sales of large cars did not help the situation, so new, smaller, more efficient cars had to be made. This was the end of an era where the large American luxury car represented the finest, most comfortable, most prestigious car one could buy.

Once word got out that there would be no more full size Lincolns, buyers rushed to get their hands on one of the last ones. Cadillac bid farewell to its last full size Eldorado in 1978. The 1979 version of the Eldorado was 20 inches shorter than the 1978 model it replaced. It also rode on a wheelbase that was over 1 foot shorter, with a body that was 8 inches narrower. Overall, the car lost 1,150 lbs., and despite its smaller dimensions outside, it actually gained room in the passenger compartment! Cadillac built 67,436 Eldorados during the 1979 model year, which was an improvement over 1978 production, but still fell short of the 75,939 Mark Vs built for 1979.

Despite a hefty price increase of almost a thousand dollars, (the Mark V now had a base price of $13,067!), production also increased by 3,337 cars which was pretty amazing since the price of gas was on the rise, and the Mark V was in its third and final year of this body style. While most seemed to like the new smaller Eldorado, there may have been some fear among Lincoln's repeat customers that a smaller Lincoln would not be to their liking. At any rate, the Mark V went out on top, once again being the top seller in the personal luxury market, and outselling Cadillac's new Eldorado by a modest margin.

Few changes were made for 1979, and after the success of the 1977 and 1978 models, Lincoln had little motivation to change anything. Standard equipment was almost identical to 1978, but a couple of new options made their way into the showrooms. A new AM/FM Stereo Search radio with Quad-8 Tape Player was a $407 option, and featured a digital station frequency readout. The other new radio option was the AM/FM Stereo radio with Cassette Tape Player. Priced at $203, it might have been the best choice since the 8-track tape was only a couple of years away from extinction. Cassette tapes would be around for another decade or so before they too would be replaced by something called a "CD."

Several new Luxury Group option colors were introduced for 1979, including White, Crystal Blue, and Turquoise.

Paint colors were also variations of the 1978 colors, as were interior materials and colors for the most part.

Even Lincoln's final tribute to the full size personal luxury car, the Collector's Series Mark V, was a variation of the Diamond Jubilee Edition from 1978. The Collector's Series was finished in a deep Midnight Blue Moondust Metallic that was exclusive to the Collector's Series. A matching Valino Grain Landau vinyl roof and interior upholstered in decadent Kasmann II Luxury Cloth created a sophisticated, elegant-looking package.

White was also initially offered as a color option for the Collector's Series, and late in the year a Silver and Diamond Blue were also made available. Cars finished in one of the two late colors were built in very limited numbers, and are extremely rare today. Leather interiors were also available in white or dark blue, although they were in the Luxury Group sew style and lacked the bucket seats, center console, and a few of the other distinct items that were part of the Collector's Series cars built with the Kasmann II Cloth. Full details of this option are available on our 1979 Collector's Series 1979 Continental Mark V page [link opens in new window].

As the name suggests, a few collectors bought these cars and stored them away as investments. As a result, there are still a good supply of Collector's Series cars available in like new condition with very low miles. A word of caution, however, if you are considering purchasing one. If the car has spent a great deal of time in storage, especially for long periods without being operated, seals in the engine and transmission (as well as in other components) can still go bad due to age. Rubber dries out, metal parts exposed to moist air can still rust, and electrical gremlins can abound, all due to time and lack of use.

You're almost better off buying a car with more miles on it because it has likely received more regular maintainance along the way, and will be less likely to hold surprises since it has been driven more frequently. These cars were meant to be driven, and long term storage can have many ill effects on them, unless they were prepared very carefully for storage and stored in a climate controlled environment, with steps taken to ensure seals in engine and transmission wouldn't dry out. It is expensive and time consuming to do this, so most have not received this treatment.

We're not advising anyone to pass up a Collector's Series or other 1979 Mark V that has low mileage on the odometer, but we do want to make sure you understand that even under close to perfect conditions, cars that have been stored for long periods of time can hold some unexpected surprises down the road, even though they are literally almost brand new. Do not ever consider undertaking a cross country trip in one without extensive servicing first.

A former supervisor at the Wixom Assembly Plant where Lincolns were made for many decades told us of a certain sadness as the last full sized Lincolns came down the line. While there was generally excitement when a new model or restyle was about to be introduced, many long time employees knew that things would never be the same again. He spoke of a vibrant Wixom in its heyday, with offices full of people, a cafeteria that served meals to thousands of employees every day, and of a feeling of pride and satisfaction of knowing that the cars built there were among the best that could be purchased, anywhere in the world.

Then, with a voice that cracked of emotion, he spoke of the days when offices, one by one, were darkened, when the cafeteria no longer served meals, and of the long dark silent hallways, once so busy and vibrant. He recalled the goodbyes as friends and co-workers left the building for the last time. He said he knew that the best vehicles that plant would ever build had already passed through at this point, and that while quality remained a top priority, the cars themselves just weren't that exciting any longer.

At its peak in 1988, the Wixom plant produced 280,659 vehicles a year. But at 12:55 p.m. on May 31, 2007, the last car came off the line. A White Chocolate Lincoln Town Car, its frame was marked with the words "LAST CAR FROM WIXOM" in white marker. The car was destined for a customer in Gaithersburg, Maryland. During its 50 years in operation, Wixom built 6.6 million vehicles.

Perhaps out there - somewhere - survives the last 1979 Continental Mark V that was created in this same facility. It's likely that little attention was paid to it, since it was just the end of a model year, and busy days were ahead in getting ready for 1980 production. But according to our source, there were a few present who understood that there was more to it than just the end of model year production. They knew that the grand cars they had built in the past would never come down the line again. He told us he went home that night and told his wife that he'd just seen the final page of a chapter in the book, and he wasn't sure that the rest of it was worth reading.

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