﹒Dry stored with light usage since its import in 1988
﹒Very original condition inside and out
The automotive segment named ‘personal luxury car’ isn’t one that’s terribly familiar to a European audience and yet, although now largely defunct, it was very much a volume market in North America between the 1940’s and the turn of the century. Characterised by large coupes with big-capacity engines and a focus on opulence rather than sporting prowess, they were a very American concept. Ford’s luxury division, Lincoln, effectively established the blueprint with the original Continental and it evolved through subsequent iterations to meet the prevailing tastes of the time until its eventual demise in 1998.
The Lincoln Continental Mark V is a product of the era of the ‘Land Yacht’, when bigger was better and car companies were competing to produce the most luxurious offerings possible. They aspired to be a Rolls Royce for the masses, a fact which is partly acknowledged by the style of the grille on the front. Even with the growth in size of contemporary vehicles, the footprint of a Mark V remains considerable; at over 5.8 metres in length, that makes it comfortably longer than any SUV currently on sale in the UK and almost as long as a new Rolls Royce Phantom.
Both engine options, 6.6 or 7.5 litre V8s, were tuned for torque rather than power and drive the rear wheels through a three-speed automatic gearbox. The headlights are concealed behind vacuum-operated covers and the concept and styling are unlike anything else that you will find on the road today.
It’s an often-stated truism that race car drivers want comfort from their road cars for commuting to the circuit and that’s borne out by the UK ownership history of this car. While the US history of the car is unknown, it was imported in 1988 by a prominent amateur racing driver who kept it in a heated garage for over 25 years and covered a few hundred miles each year. It then passed to a race car preparation specialist who continued the light usage pattern and owned it until it caught the eye of another amateur racer, the current owner, who acquired the car around 12 months ago. Having scratched the itch, he is now looking to free up the space to try something else and is offering the car for auction with no reserve.
Looking at its condition, the car has obviously been pampered during its time in the UK but sadly there isn’t a stack of invoices to testify to that. However, although the car is MOT-exempt, it has been tested every year since 2014 and has passed with no advisories on each occasion. The V5 is present and correct and there are two sets of keys.
The burgundy interior represents the peak of late 70’s US automotive luxury and, as such, has hugely comfortable leather seats with chunky armrests and deep shag pile carpet. The leather is lightly patinated though barely worn and the switchgear all functions as it should including the remote mirror adjustment, electrically-adjusted front seats, air conditioning and sliding sunroof. The original quadrophonic stereo is in place in the dashboard but a modern, remote controlled, Sony head unit has been installed together with new speakers to enable a more contemporary approach to entertainment, though it could be easily removed to take everything back to standard.
A Cartier clock on the dashboard imbues some European panache but the general feel is all-American with a column-mounted gearchange and generous front seat accommodation. The distinctive ‘opera’ windows at the rear provide a cosy environment though in truth the rear seats look hardly to have been used. In the boot is both the original space saver spare and a full-size steel wheel, together with a picnic hamper - of spare parts! The original jack is present as is an ever-helpful Haynes manual.
Finished in “Dark Cordovan” metallic, the paintwork appears somewhere between brown and the burgundy that the DVLA records describe it as, depending on the lighting conditions. In the sunlight it has a deep lustre, and in general it’s in good condition with only some stone chips at the front and small slight bubbling on the driver’s side under the rear window. The chrome all presents well and the wheels, protected as they are by the generous tyre sidewalls, have no kerbing, the tyres themselves having plenty of tread remaining.
The padded vinyl roof has no rips or tears and the vacuum-powered headlight covers close securely with the engine running and open when the lights are turned on. Underneath appears very solid and although there are some traces of oil, there have never been any drips on the ground where the car has been parked. Overall, it’s in very original condition and, while it could be titivated a little, there is an honesty in its presentation which, in our view, adds to the charm.
Starting the engine with the bonnet open is remarkable. For such a large-capacity V8, it fires with barely a murmur and ticks over almost silently. On the move, it’s a similar story with calm and quiet progress the order of the day, though when asked to press on there is a slight V8 woofle and it pulls well. The ride is softly sprung but it is very well damped and the handling is keener than you might expect although clearly, given its size, major direction changes require a little forward planning. That said, the brakes are strong and the appearance is a little deceptive as it’s only about as wide as a Sprinter van which means that it can be threaded down the lanes quite successfully.
The gear-change is hardly noticeable and, given the level of torque on offer, three gears are all that is needed. The overall experience is silky-smooth and it’s easy to see how you could effortlessly cover big mileages. In many ways, the driving experience reflects the MOT history in that there are no obvious faults and it feels ready to go.
One of the great joys of classic ownership is the opportunity to enjoy different facets of motoring and, in many ways, the Mark V feels like the product of a completely alien culture. In the age of Nurburgring lap times, contemporary automotive luxury tends inevitably to involve some notion of ‘sportiness’ as part of the brief. Back in 1970’s USA, priorities were somewhat different and here the luxury proposition was primarily intended to be relaxing, so that the driver could cover great distances with the minimum of stress. This makes the Continental a pretty unique experience in the UK today and a way to escape some of the pressure of modern life.
This particular example has led its own low-stress life since emigrating from its home nation and with low mileage, careful storage and, aside from the reversible addition of a modern stereo, no modifications, it’s still in very original condition. And, given the continent-crossing part of the design brief, there’s plenty of miles left to be enjoyed. Surely the definitive embodiment of the phrase ‘a lot of car for the money’, if you want to turn heads at car shows, embark on huge road trips or just continue its role as a comfortable commuter to the race circuit, then get your bid in now. With no reserve, lb for £, it’s likely to be the most metal you can get for your money this side of a cruise liner scrappage scheme, and a lot more likely to get you round the UK and Europe in the near future.
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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.
As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.
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