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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”