Monday, July 27, 2015

Lincoln's Last Mark

At first, there were the original Lincoln Continentals, produced for the 1940-42 and 1946-48 model years (with time out for World War 2).  Then came the ultra-expensive Lincoln Continental Mark II for 1956-57.  After that, Lincoln confusingly branded some of its models as Lincoln Continental Mark this and that, or simply Lincoln Continental or even Lincoln Mark whatever -- the Wikipedia entry on Marks is here, and the entry for Continentals is here, some cars being cited in both.

By the 1990s, someone at Lincoln who also was keeping score had the Mark count up to VII, and so the next Lincoln coupe design became the Mark VIII (1993-1998 model years), and to date, the last of the series. Wikipedia deals with the VIII here.

The Mark VIII looked low, long, and a bit wide, though some curving of the sides kept the sense of visual bulk somewhat under control.  It also was a clean, aerodynamic design without much ornamentation.  I can offer little in the way of criticism.  The first few model year sales were comparable to late Mark VII levels, but then fell off considerably.

Below are images grabbed from here and there on the Internet.


Front end of a 1996 Mark VIII.  Its rounded body shape is offset by the sharp grille and headlight treatment.

1995 model seen from the side.  This shows the folds along the sides that help lighten the bulk of the car.  The rub-rail towards the bottom also helps to counteract the general roundness.  The various wheel treatments seen in the images here all strike me as being much too complicated and out of character with the rest of the car.  At the rear is a hint of the original Continental's spare tire housing.

The spare tire echo on the trunk lid shows up clearly on this photo of a 1996 Mark VIII.  Its rear face's transition to the top surface of the trunk is crisp, a useful contrast to the roundness, and the same can be said for the outline of the backlight.  Functionalist purists would probably object to having a purely decorative, stylized echo of a rear spare tire mount.  They have a point, but it does add interest as well as serving as a brand identifier.

This photo of a 1998 Mark VIII shows the front facelift that appeared on 1997 models.  The crispness of the original detailing is lost, but the new headlights, grille and hood sculpting are pleasantly done.

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