Having been mean about the MkIV Lincoln Continental before, describing how its ugliness influenced the tormenting design of the Volvo 262 C, here I am singling one out for a spotted. And not just any MkIV Continental, either: a God damn Lipstick Edition.
What’s gone wrong? Well, it’s the Las Vegas of cars. It’s so tacky, gaudy, vulgar – pick your adjective, or employ all three if you like because they all ring true – that it takes on a certain compulsive allure. Sure, you can fight it, but the harder you do the more the ‘I know I shouldn’t but I would’ feeling kicks in, like the demon tweak of narcotics. I thought I’d hate Las Vegas, but when I was there I loved it, in the same way that I wanted to hate this MkIV Lincoln Continental Lipstick Edition. So that’s my last shred of credibility shredded, then. Ho hum. I’d book myself into rehab, but I have a feeling that a proclivity this warped is too much for anyone to address.
Is it just me that’s gone wrong, though? Are there other kindred sufferers out there? If so, let’s find a church hall with a few plastic chairs, sit on them and say our names out loud followed by “…and I also like the MkIV Lincoln Continental”. My problem is I’m a sucker for ‘70s tat, and is there anything beyond brown flares and a flower-print shirt that’s more of the ‘70s than this?
It all started in 1965, when Ford vice-president Lee Iacocca ordered designer Gene Bordinat to shove a Rolls-Royce Shadow grille on the Thunderbird. The Thunderbird and the Continental were inextricably linked, and even more so by ’76 when the MkIV Continental and sixth-gen Thunderbird were basically twins. The same platform and similar panel pressings, and the same factory built them, but the once-beautiful Thunderbird was an even greater eyesore. It didn’t quite carry it off, with its round headlights and fire-guard grille. But dare I suggest that the Continental’s novelty covered headlights and rip-off Crewe grille give it a touch more, er, class? It wasn’t just the grille that was fake, though. That spare tyre pressing in the boot was faux, too, because the spare tyre was actually sat behind the rear seat.
If all that in-your-face fakery wasn’t enough for prospective buyers, there were the numerous Designer Series special editions. These were produced in collaboration with fashion houses and fashion designers like Blass, Cartier, Givenchy and Pucci – all with unique paintwork and interior colour combinations, designer badges and even 22-carat gold plaques. You cannot buy class, they say, but here was Lincoln disputing that claim…maybe. But some of the special editions were inhouse jobs, including the old Lipstick Edition. This gave owners a choice of white paint with a half-vinyl red roof, or red with a white roof. Inside the red and white colour scheme was also applied.
Engine wise you got something just as outlandish. A 460cu in V8, and to save you converting that into British English, we're talking 7.5-litres of muscle. Well, I say muscle. The result of that huge vat of cubic capacity was a rather limp 205hp, which, coupled with a three-speed auto and the kerb weight of Jupiter – if Jupiter weighed 2,388kg – meant lacklustre performance. As in 13 seconds to 60mph and a top speed of just 120mph kind of lacklustre.
But who cares about performance? That’s not what this is all about. It’s about making a statement and travelling in style, even if there’s a very subjective quality to that style. If, like me, you find yourself on the wrong side of the taste line, then you will struggle to find a better example than this. It’s advertised as having driven just 12,800 miles, and is claimed to be the only one of its kind left in the UK, and one of only 50 of the original 1,254 examples produced remaining in the world. It appears to be box fresh and comes with a tub of trophies that tell you there are other people out there who think it’s a winner. That would seem to justify the rather serious price tag, but this isn’t a serious car, despite the silverware. It’s a car for those with a sense of humour, who appreciate something not just a little different, but as far removed from the norm as it’s possible to be. And as such, I am expecting the comments to be as polarised and as the two ends of a battery.
Specification | Lincoln Continental MkIV
Engine: 7,538cc, V8, naturally aspirated
Transmission: three-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 205
Torque (lb ft): 353
Recorded mileage: 12,800
Year registered: 1976
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £34,950
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