1976 Continental Mark IV Cartier: Delightfully Impractical Yet Satisfying!

Please welcome Tom Klockau to Riverside Green. You’ve read him on various other automotive sites, including “Curbside Classics”. He’s graciously agreed to toss a couple of articles in for the old-car fanatics among us, self included! — jb

I like old cars. I like new cars too, but whenever I’m on the way to work or the store or wherever, I always keep an eye out for anything interesting. Modern cell phones mean most people are carrying a camera anyway, but I still keep an honest-to-God digital camera in the car. You can’t even make calls on it, honest! And sometimes, I see some pretty cool stuff.

I live in the Midwest. So most people may think the cool cars hide out for half of the year. But not always! For instance, just this month I saw 1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville at a McDonald’s out by the airport. That one nearly caused me to drive off the road, I was so surprised. But today let’s check out this personal-lux cruiser from the ’70s: The Continental Mark IV.

The Mark IV debuted in Autumn ’71 as a replacement for the 1969-71 Continental Mark III. Like its predecessor it was strictly first cabin, based upon the Ford Thunderbird but with more elaborate trim and the trademark Rolls-Royce grille and hidden headlamps.

The Mark III had appeared more distinct than the ’72 Mark IV vis a vis the T-Bird, but it still sold rapidly. Only the ’72 had the classy thin bumpers front and rear. The 5-m.p.h. front bumper was added for 1973, as on all 1973 U.S. cars. By the time the final IVs appeared in showrooms, large battering-ram bumpers had appeared on either end. But then, so had they on everything else!

But oh, how Lincoln made hay while the sun shone. Cadillac usually ate Lincoln’s lunch in the sales charts, but from the debut of the new Mark, it rather consistently outsold the Cadillac Eldorado, though Caddy’s total volume was always much higher. From the initial Mark IVs, as the model years progressed, more and more special editions, colors and trims were added. It started with the Silver Luxury Group in 1973 and was followed by the Gold Luxury Group in 1974. Further Luxury Groups in 1975-76 included Blue Diamond, Gold/Cream, Lipstick/Red, Light Jade/Dark Jade, and several others-all for ‘just a bit more distinction’ as most salesman probably put it.

But the top of the line–and a genius idea for an upper-crust coupe like the Mark–was the Designer Series of 1976. Name brand high-fashion designers chose special color combinations and interiors, resulting in Givenchy, Pucci, Bill Blass and Cartier editions.

And of course the Designer Series had a healthy premium over a ‘plain’ Continental Mark IV. I am sure Lincoln made a healthy profit on each one.

And so it was that I was on my way to the barber a couple of years ago when I saw what looked like a Cartier Mark IV sitting on a side street. Further investigation proved it was so, and fairly presentable, albeit slightly worn.

Some rust, but it was all there, right down to the polished alloy wheels, whitewalls and landau top. The interior photos didn’t come out great due to heavily tinted windows, but the dove gray leather seats were in nice shape as well.

These cars were all about style, and to be seen in one. whether driver or passenger, was more important than parking ease or rear passenger legroom. After all, it was a PERSONAL luxury car. YOU and your spouse/significant other got the cushy seats, and if the Josephs or Williamsons were a little too uncomfortable sitting in the back, well, they could always drive separate and meet you at the supper club.

Yep, they were a nightmare to parallel park, they sucked gas, the trunk was relatively puny for such a long car. But! But it was so brash, so clearly American. Style in spades. No one was going to mistake this for a Monterey or LTD. You had arrived! It’s really only relatively recently that Lincoln has started to get just a little of that swagger back with the new Continental. But in ’76, this was the one. You had arrived, so enjoy it! And flaunt it.

24 Replies to “1976 Continental Mark IV Cartier: Delightfully Impractical Yet Satisfying!”

  1. Joe

    Because America! In no other country would such a car be manufactured, mostly because you couldn’t drive down the roads in most other country’s. These cars epitomized large and luxury with their long hoods and huge engines, I believe that quantity was put ahead of quality, but still love these old cars!

  2. VoGo

    Nice contribution, Tom! Thank you.

    I am guessing that publishing an article that is all about ‘Mark’ today is unintentional irony.

  3. PM Summer

    My dad had a dark green Mk III, which I thought was great.

    He traded it in for a Pale Jade Lincoln Coupe, with heavy duty suspension and cooling package (West Texas version) which had the nicest seats I’ve sat in.

    He traded it in for a Mk IV, which best goes undiscussed.

  4. MrFixit1599

    I really need to figure out when there should be whatever the #SARCASM tag needs to be, and/or how to present it. I seemed to have missed it on this article.

  5. Josh M

    My grandfather came to be a Lincoln man after a dalliance with Jaguar and a ’65 Rivera that regularly ate motor mounts. He had:

    White on White ’72 IV (on a set of Dayton wires)

    Navy on Butterscotch IV ’79

    Silver on Red Velour ’86 Fox Conti 302

    Gray on Gray Town Car ’91

    White on Gray Town Car ’95

      • Josh M.

        He was a Navy man. Korea. Was the Fire Chief for North American Aviation Columbus for a time, had a bunch of kids and went into real estate. A real storyteller. I miss him.

  6. Paul

    Beautiful cars. Some nights I look at these on eBay. Then I wonder about lack of fuel injection. A conversion to a Coyote 5.0 and six speed automatic may help. Bigger problem, I think they may not fit normal garages, where does one fit a car like this?

  7. MLCraven

    An uncle owned a 73 Mark IV; some years later it was painted and my then-teenage self was was tasked with post-paint compounding and polishing under the supervision of the old gentleman who did the painting. At the time it seemed I would be rubbing acres of sheet metal for the rest of my life. The final result dazzled…and ever since has left me with a soft spot for these big old boats.

  8. Don Curton

    Quick question – did you go up and knock on the door to ask permission before taking pictures of the car?

    I like the concept of antiques that are actually used as real cars, not museum show pieces. Until a few years ago I had a an old 60’s musclecar that I drove on a regular basis. If I looked out my window and saw someone snapping close-up pics of the interior I would probably go outside for a little chat about reasonable expectations of privacy.

    I like the concept of curbside classics, just a little iffy on where someone might draw the line on privacy. Still enjoyed the article, though.

    • silentsod

      What expectation of privacy can you possibly have for a car parked on a public street? He doesn’t, at least in this post, have any photos of cars on private property where there might be such an expectation.

      You’re aware that if you’re in a public space people can take photos of you without your permission and it’s perfectly legal in most cases?

    • Tom Klockau

      Well, it’s a public street, so I don’t worry about it. On the rare occasion someone comes out I just give them a thumbs-up and a “Cool car!” That usually does the trick. Now if it was parked in a driveway or something, I’d pass.

      • Don Curton

        Tom – Thanks for the reply. A wave and a smile can cover a lot of ground.

        Silentsod – there’s some recent legal wrangling on the nature of personal cars and expectation of privacy. For example, most employers ban firearms at the workplace, including the company owned parking lot. However, the state of Texas recently decided that a person’s car is an extension of their mumble mumble legal jargon and therefore the employer could not ban employees from having a firearm in the car while parked on company property. To me that indicates the interior of the car is private, regardless of where’s it’s parked. Taking close up pics of the inside is then analogous to taking pics through the window of my house. Or something like that.

        As for taking pics of my person – well, that may be legal, but then posting those pics online? Maybe not. Especially if you do it for money (writer’s fee, advertising, etc.). If you make $50 by posting an article with pictures of my car, then I’m entitled to part of that, right? It’s not as straight-forward as it sounds.

        The concept that anything in public is fair game is wrong, IMO.

        But again, I do enjoy articles about old cars, just don’t want anyone to get in trouble over it.

        • Ronnie Schreiber

          You really don’t understand the concept of reasonable expectation of privacy, of which you have exactly none in public. If you, or anything you own, is out in public, I can take photographs or video and commercially exploit them without your permission. Even actors and celebrities who have established commercial and IP rights to their own images can’t prevent paparazzis from taking their photos in public.

          If I want to take a photo of a minor child out in public, as a courtesy I’ll ask their parents or guardian, but that’s only a courtesy.

          The notion of having any expectation of privacy while in public, at least from private actors, is absurd.

          • Jack Baruth

            Okay — but if that’s the case, why do they have waivers passed around like candy when TV shows are filming on location?

          • Don Curton

            ” If you, or anything you own, is out in public, I can take photographs or video and commercially exploit them without your permission. ”

            Uh, no.

            There are limitations to what you can do, even if you refuse to acknowledge them. For example, you can’t take a picture of Jack Nicholson at McDonald’s and then use it in a national advertising campaign implying that Jack recommends the Big Mac. You’d find yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit pretty darn quick.

            I think Jack (Baruth this time) also put forward a good point. Waivers and blurred faces are common practice.

            At the end of the day, there is what is legal, and then there is what is polite. The two are not the same. You seem to understand this with your comment about children, but maybe that’s just because you’d rather not get punched in the face by an upset parent.

            I accept that the limits are closer to your ideal than mine, but there are limits. Having a open conversation about those limits is an adult thing. Condescendingly stating that there are ZERO limits is rather juvenile. IMO.

          • silentsod

            The car may be private property but it is not a person and cars themselves don’t have any particular rights so if it’s parked on a public street I would be genuinely shocked to learn that there is a real case for that being illegal. I also wouldn’t consider it unethical to take photos of a car in such a situation and have certainly done so myself. There’s no money being made off it, though, so I suspect that if there are any legal ramifications that’s where they’d come into play (then again, the dudes doing photos on the Tail of the Dragon don’t ask for permission, do they? That is a real question not being a smartass).

  9. 1A

    1) Stumbled across this site looking for Mark’s new whereabouts–cool! (Emailed him, too).
    2) Tom is here, too? How cool is that? Enjoyed your Brougham articles on CC!
    3) Since I’m new here, are all pics linked to Pinterest or whatnot? I enjoy opening them up sans a Pinterest account, to look at background architecture and so on. Not a complaint, just a thought.
    4) No account needed to comment here–cool!
    5) My parents had a Mark VII (sorry, I know this isn’t a VII pictured, but I’m not a huge Lincoln connoisseur–Cadillac’s style [no pun intended] was more my thing). Black on black, OMG it was GORGEOUS. As a very small child, I proudly stood next to that beauty for a picture.

  10. ArBee

    Tom, it’s so good to have you over here! As a closet broughamista, I’ve always enjoyed your contributions at various sites, especially when the subject is a Lincoln. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  11. DirtRoads

    I’d love to have an old “land yacht” like that, in perfect working order, to cruise the bowels of America. That would be sort of like driving the Shark to Las Vegas.

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