Production Numbers
Automotive Mileposts
Mark IV

September 20, 1973
Body Style Code: 65D
VIN/Body Serial Code: 89

1974 Continental Mark IV front grille
460 CID 4V V-8 (220 Net
Bore x stroke:  4.36 x 3.85
Compression ratio:  8.0:1
Solid State Ignition System

Select-Shift Automatic

WHEELBASE: 120.4 inches
Overall length: 228.3 inches
Hood length: 67.4 inches
Overall width: 79.8 inches
Overall height: 53.3 inches
Curb weight: 5,246 pounds
The Cadillac, The Government, and The Gas

In researching the Continental Mark IV's world for 1974, three things summed it up: The Cadillac, The Government, and The Gas. The Cadillac once again took the back seat to Lincoln in the top prestige department. In spite of Cadillac offering the Eldorado in two body styles (coupe and convertible), the Mark IV was by far the more popular choice. Lincoln suggested that the Mark IV had become a legend in its own time. Few would argue. And Cadillac meanwhile was busy at the drawing board reworking its 1971 body to give it a more sporting appearance. If the luxury car buyers wanted a sportier look, with open wheel wells, and less detailing, then they would have it. But not until 1975. For 1974, the Eldorado looked somewhat heavy when compared to the Mark. The rear fender skirts didn't help, and neither did the massive front and rear Cadillac bumper systems.

The Government. 1974 was the year of the Seat Belt Interlock fiasco. If you wanted to start a 1974 model, this would be the government-mandated way you would have to do it: Sit down in the car. Then fasten your seat belt. Then turn the key. Do not do these steps in a different order. Do not leave the seat belt fastened all the time, as a logic circuit checks to make sure you are fastening the belt each time you get into the car. Make sure front seat passengers do the same steps, in the same order, or the car won't start. The Seat Belt Interlock systems were disconnected by the thousands. Our fearless leaders in government circles heard loud and clear the message being sent to them: NO! For 1975, new cars would return to the reminder buzzer and warning lights they had used in 1973.

The gas prices were moving up the scale in 1974, and an oil shortage would hasten their ascent. The luxury import Mercedes-Benz was making headway in the American market, cars delivered to California had to meet stricter emissions requirements, and more safety features were required. The rear bumper now had to meet the 5 mph standard that the front bumpers met in 1973. Both bumpers now had to endure a swinging pendulum test in addition to the flat vertical fixed barrier test. The roof structure had to meet a federal standard that required the roof to resist a flat block pressed against its forward edge with a force one and a half times the curb weight of the vehicle. In order to meet this requirement, thicker sheet metal, reinforced roof pillars and structural members were added. This meant additional weight, which increased fuel costs, and robbed performance. The cars destined for California delivery would also need a belt-driven air pump installed that would inject air into the engine exhaust. There were numerous valves and hoses, among other things, placed under the hood to make this system work. They all contributed to a very congested engine bay, and some lackluster performance and gas mileage figures.

Ultimately, all of these requirements led to higher base prices for new cars, and coupled with the oil crisis and changing tastes, 1974 wasn't a great year to buy a car. In spite of everything, the Continental Mark IV had become one of the most desirable cars on the road, although perhaps not quite as striking in appearance as its pre-bumper standards 1972 siblings. The ease of driving, the comfortable ride, the penchant for total quiet inside the cabin. Hard to beat. In 1974, the Continental Mark IV was among the great cars of the world. The car that had become a legend in its own time.

1974 Continental Mark IV with Gold Luxury Group
1974 Continental Mark IV with optional Gold Luxury Group
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