On your Mark VII
Classic American|August 2021
In our sixth instalment of the Continental story, we’re looking at the seventh iteration of the Continental Mark series: the evergreen Mark VII, a powerful, aerodynamic coupe that looks as fresh today as when the covers were first pulled off 37 years ago…
Huw Evans

While we still may find it hard to appreciate the greed decade, the eighties introduced us to many things which have since become a staple part of our daily lives – mobile phones, compact discs and cable TV. In terms of automotive technological development (particularly in North America) it was also a time of immense progress and change. Right at the forefront was the Ford Motor Company, which, after having languished in the Seventies, came roaring back with a whole new line of products, many of which were spun off the extremely versatile ‘Fox’ platform, begun with the Ford Fairmont/Mercury Zephyr in 1978. The new-for-1984 Lincoln Mk VII was no exception.

Replacing the slow-selling MkVI duo, this new car signalled a change of direction for Dearborn’s upscale division and at the time, more than a few critics wondered if it would work. Whereas the Mark VI was essentially a tarted-up full-size town car/coupe, the new Mark VII had its own distinct identity and was aimed at buyers of imported luxury coupes like the Mercedes 380 SEC and BMW 6-series, something which Lincoln-Mercury hadn’t even considered before. Built on the same 108.3-inch wheelbase stretched Fox chassis as the new-for-1982 Continental ‘bustle back sedan, it was clearly derived from the then current T-bird/Cougar. The new Mark sported distinctly smooth aero styling, with flush ‘euro-style’ headlamps (the first domestic car ever to use them) and soft contours, resulting in the lowest drag coefficient (0.38cd) seen on any US luxury automobile, something which Lincoln was keen to mention in contemporary sales literature.

However, not wanting to alienate traditional Lincoln buyers, the division made sure to dress its slippery new coupe with plenty of gingerbread, including extensive use of chrome trim on the window surrounds, mirrors, bumpers and door handles, along with a traditional (albeit smaller) Mark grille, vertical tail-lights and humped trunk lid with faux spare tyre. Underneath, the basic Fox architecture was clearly evident (read front engine, rear-drive and solid axle), though in Mark VII iteration there were a few differences, particularly regarding the suspension. Here, FoMoCo engineers went down a different path. In place of the conventional front MacPherson struts and coil-sprung rear with trailing arms as found on other Fox cars, the Mk VII employed air suspension front and rear.

Jointly developed by Ford and Goodyear, the system employed a cylindrical rubber bag in place of a coil spring at each location. Pressure inside the bags was monitored by an electronically controlled onboard compressor, via sealed plastic tubes, which adjusted the settings according to changes in road conditions (between 75 and 100psi). The result was a traditional style pillow-soft ride (something most buyers of Lincoln products at the time expected), but tauter handling on the twisties – standard front and rear sway bars also helped. Inside the Mk VII’s interior smacked of the latest T-bird/Mercury Cougar and in the typical Lincoln idiom, was loaded to the gills, featuring, among other things, six-way power front seats (with optional heating), full-length centre console, premium AM/FM sound system, tilt steering, cruise control, power windows and full instrumentation, albeit in digital form.

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