1976 Continental Mark IV Desert Sand Luxury Group

1976 was, in my opinion, Peak Brougham. It was the last year for the truly large premium sedans, the Cadillac Fleetwood, De Ville, Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight and Buick Electra. Over at Chrysler you had Royal Monacos, Gran Furys, New Yorker Broughams and even the wood-paneled Town & Country station wagon. And over at Ford, there were myriad examples of big luxury cars to fill your requirements: LTD, Marquis, Country Squire, Colony Park, and Continental sedans and coupes. At at the very top, the finest, the Continental Mark IV.

Mark IV

1972 Mark IV owned by fellow LCOC member Humberto Garcia.

1976 was the final year for the Mark IV, which first appeared in Autumn 1971 as a ’72 model. My grandfather ordered one in triple dark green, to replace his triple dark green 1969 Mark III.

Mark IV

In my opinion, the 1972 was the prettiest with its small, integrated front and rear bumpers. In 1973, the Mark IV, along with most other Detroit rolling stock, got the new 5-mph front bumpers due to new federal regulations. In 1974, a larger rear bumper was added to match the front.

But I love all the Mark IVs. And the later ones got plusher and plusher. New wheel options, more colors, more interior options, a moonroof, and perhaps coolest of all, the Luxury Groups. The first Luxury Group was introduced on the 1973 Mark IV. Dubbed the Silver Luxury Group, it came in (you guessed it) Silver metallic, with a matching top and cranberry interior in luxury cloth or leather. If cranberry was not your preferred interior trim, silver leather could also be specified. It was a nice package, and generated a lot of interest. And so it was that the Luxury Groups would return-and then some!

In 1974 the Silver Luxury Group returned, along with a new Gold Luxury Group. But Lincoln was just getting started!

In 1975 even more Luxury Groups were available. Newly added were the Saddle and White Luxury Group, Blue Diamond Luxury Group, and, your author’s favorite, the Lipstick and White Luxury Group.

Is that not a spectacular interior or what? How could you be in a bad mood, driving something as awesome as this? If you didn’t want quite that much red, the exterior was available in white as well, and a Landau roof was optional in place of the full vinyl top.

This beautiful example is owned by members of the LCOC Lake Shore Region. I caught it at our trip to Racine, Wisconsin last summer. More on that event at a future date! Naturally, this red Mark IV is not the main focus of today’s article. But I just had to include it, it’s so amazing! There was such choice for color and appearance options back then.

Mark IV

But 1976 had the widest variety of color, trim and appearance options for the Continental Mark IV. On top of all the previous Luxury Groups, the Designer Editions made their debut-Cartier, Givenchy, Pucci and Bill Blass. On a premium personal luxury coupe like the Mark IV, it was the perfect idea. Various  Designer Lincolns would appear for the next twenty-seven years, finally ending with the 2003 Town Car Cartier. But those are not the focus of today’s article.

Mark IV

Back to the ‘standard’ Luxury Group Marks of 1976, which were anything but plain! They may not have had designer nameplates on their opera windows, but they were just as nice, and in some cases nicer-and with a lower option group price to boot.

Mark IV

1976 Light Jade/Dark Jade Mark IV owned by my friend April Chadwick.

Probably my favorite is the Jade Luxury Group, simply because the 1970s Ford jade metallic paint is just about my favorite color ever. Other Luxury Groups available in 1976 included Blue Diamond, Saddle/White, Lipstick/White, Gold/Cream, Red/Rosé, Jade/White, and Dark Jade/Light Jade. Such choice! But perhaps the least common Mark IV luxury group is the subject of today’s post, owned by fellow LCOC Lake Shore region member, Bill Fletcher.

Mark IV

I first saw the car at a club meet at the famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed S.C. Johnson Tower in Racine, Wisconsin last summer. I’d never seen this Luxury Group Mark in person before, so I took plenty of pictures. More recently, I asked Bill to tell the car’s story for this article. Here is the car’s history, in Bill’s own words:

Mark IV

“I blame Ann Zarzycki, the Lake Shore News Letter Editor for the acquisition 🙂  One night in the spring of 2016 I had to take a friend to the emergency room (all turned out well) and returned home about 4:00 in the morning. Not able to fall asleep I sat down at the computer and started reading my email. She had just sent it out that evening. In this issue was an ad for the car.”

Mark IV

“The picture in the ad was from the internet and not the actual car and it showed a color combination that I had never seen before. I didn’t think that was possible being as the MK IV has been my favorite Lincoln since High School and I have been associated with the LCOC for more than 30 years now.”

Mark IV

“I began researching the “Desert Sand Luxury Group” and was not able to find much. All the pictures I could find where of the same two or three cars but I was able to confirm that it was an actual package offered by the factory.”

Mark IV
“It was advertised with 20,000 actual miles and in like new condition with a firm asking price that was reasonable for a MK IV in this condition. I spent the rest of the night dreaming and wondering how soon I could call this guy in the morning, he was only two hours away in Bloomington, IL. Finally it turned 7:00 AM and I called. I was told that I was the first caller and after a few minutes of conversation I told him I would be at his door two hours after my bank opened and if the car was correctly described in the add the car was sold.”
“I arrived at his home at ten minutes to Eleven with cash in hand. The car was in storage so we hopped in my car and took about a ten minute drive to the car. The owner filled me in on the history of the car and mentioned that he had been getting few calls from all over the country that morning. I learned that he bought the car new in 1976. He had a Sedan that was in the bodyshop at the dealer for repairs and while checking on it he saw this car on the transport truck out back headed to another dealer. He said he went in side and talked to his salesman and bought it off the truck.”
Mark IV
“The storage was a single car garage, the car was on a battery tender and with a few pumps of the pedal it started right up. It had a newer battery and the only repairs ever had beed a new gas tank, sending unit and new fuel lines within the previous year. It still had the factory original tires. Out in the sun the car showed as showroom new and I just thought, “Who pays $14,000.00 in 1976 for a car and never drives it?” He must have heard me thinking because he said ‘We call it the ice cream car, that’s about all we ever did with it was go out for ice cream.'”
Mark IV
“I had to ask if the price was negotiable, it wasn’t, I handed him the cash and he signed over the title. We drove both cars back too his home so we could take off his plates and when we arrived his wife said he had a few more calls about the car.  As it turns out the newest issue of Comments had just hit everyones mail box that day and his ad was in it. Ann had sent out the news letter overnight and I got a heads up and was able to be the early bird. I got permission to leave my 03 Towncar on the street overnight and drove my new to me MK IV home. On the way home I stopped for pictures and sent an email to Ann blaming her timely newsletter for my new purchase.”
“Perry Thomas Lincoln Mercury in Bloomington was the dealership the car was bought new at. The original owner was a State Farm executive.”
Mark IV
56,110 Mark IVs were built in 1976, and with such variety, such choice, there’s a good chance no two were exactly alike! The Desert Sand Luxury Group cost $1,525 with leather interior, and $1,725 with velour. Yes, the velour trim was more! This particular Luxury Group was introduced pretty late in the model year, so they are rarely seen. In 1977 the Mark IV would morph into the Mark V, but all the Luxury Groups-and Designer editions-would return!

11 Replies to “1976 Continental Mark IV Desert Sand Luxury Group”

  1. Avatar-Nate

    What a sweetie ! .

    The grilles on the front corner lamps remind me of my decades gone 1965 Lincoln .

    This color combination is really, really nice .

    Forget your Mercedes, this is luxury .

    -Nate

    Reply
  2. AvatarJohn C.

    Interesting seeing the Silver Shadow with it’s own interesting two tone treatment in the background. Rolls Royce of course was famous for doing unique paint schemes for it’s clients. That Lincoln was able to offer so many unique combinations on their cheaper mass produced offerings is a testament to how much care was being showed the customer.

    In their last years of independence before bankruptcy and Chinese exile in 2005, the Rover 75 was offered with 17 different combinations of two tone paints. It is thought that some combos were never ordered and it didn’t save them. Some thought it a cheap gambit toward nostalgic patriotism. I think not all brilliant ideas succeed.

    Reply
  3. AvatarGlenn Kramer

    Tom,
    Now you know where Cadillac got the inspiration for their “last big one” ’78 Eldorado Custom Biarritz Classic paint scheme! The choice of options and décor in these cars was just amazing. Colors, upholstery, sew patterns, vinyl roof types, wheels, all were available at the beck and call of the customer. Happy days!

    Reply
  4. AvatarMichael Craven

    While I favour the 72 Mark IVs with the more elegant and restrained bumper treatment, this Desert Sand 76 is a gorgeous automobile indeed. Undoubtedly Mr. Fletcher will derive many years of motoring pleasure from it. Many thanks for the pics and write-up, Tom.

    Reply
  5. AvatarCompaq Deskpro

    I like how the 76 looks a lot better. The 72 doesn’t doesn’t look right with the elegant restrained bumpers.

    Reply
    • AvatarWilliam Fletcher

      Lincoln did the federally mandated bumpers better than most. I don’t believe they detract from the design at all on the Mk IV but you are the first person I have ever heard say they like them better. Even as someone that has had a couple with the big bumpers I prefer the 72. I can never decide if I prefer them more with or without the grill guard though.

      Reply
  6. AvatarKevin

    Just bought a 25,000 mile Desert Sand 1976 Lincoln almost new
    Wow runs and drives perfect but the wife does not want me to keep it
    May have to sell soon, I will enjoy while I can

    Reply
  7. Avatar-Nate

    My ex wife used to tell me to sell whatever vehicles I truly enjoyed too .

    I don’t miss her, neither does our son nor her endless parade of boy friends and husbands .

    -Nate

    Reply

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