Fact #2: I love convertibles.
Fact #3: I have loved the Lincoln Mark VII LSC since Car and Driver named it to their 1986 10Best list and tested the Mark VII GTC, a hot-rod collaboration between Lincoln-Mercury, Cars & Concepts, and Jack Roush Performance Engineering.
You can see where this is going.
I like to think we’re pretty savvy around the Totally That Stupid clubhouse. Even the most esoteric cars generally garner an, “Oh, yeah, I kind of remember those” or more frequently a, “That rings a bell but it’s been years” from at least one of us. Through much discussion and some consternation, we have agreed that we’ve not ever come across a Lincoln Mark VII convertible, as found here on Craigslist and on this dealer’s website (apologies for the lousy images with the clown-shoes header and footer).
And since neither of those ads tells you bupkis about the car itself, I’ll just move forward and editorialize.
Without irony, the Lincoln Mark VII was billed as the rich-man’s Mustang. Launched in 1984 as a the Continental Mark VII, that appellation was dropped for 1986 and through the end of production in 1992. Five-liter V8 engine availability mostly mirrored the Mustang GT, not surprising considering the cars are platform mates, and culminated in the 225-horsepower H.O. Air suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and fuel injection were all standard. Fact #4: The 1985 Continental Mark VII was the first American car to include four-channel anti-lock brakes, beating to market even the Chevrolet Corvette.
Today the Mark VII still sports some handsome lines, a mix of 1980s aerodynamics – including the first use of composite headlamps with replaceable bulbs on an American car – punctuated with classically thin taillights and a vestigial spare tire bump. Despite what sounds like a disconnect between both ends of the design, it has actually held up pretty well.
Inside we find electrically adjustable super-poofy sport seats – with door-mounted adjustment pods blatantly copied from Mercedes-Benz – not to mention a trip computer and automatic climate control, all with a plethora of buttons. Pretty sure it was The Notorious B.I.G. that sang, “Mo Money, Mo Buttons.” Everything was power operated, including the trunk lid pull-down. That’s a lot of kit for a Fox-body in 1984, even a fancy one.
There is almost nothing I dislike about a stock Mark VII LSC, and very little I don’t like about this convertible. I think the lines of the Mark VII lend themselves pretty well to having no roof. The height of the top stack is reasonable; too often, the folded top lays in a giant pile aft of the rear seats. Indeed, that back seat and the area around it look well-finished, lacking the hackery many conversions exhibit. You can just make out the power window switches for the rear side glass.
Some internet sleuthing has determined this car was build by Coach Builders Limited of High Springs, Florida. Today known as Drop Top Customs, they’ve apparently been around since 1976 and have converted all manner of cars, most recently the Dodge Charger and Challenger, and the Cadillac ATS. Concurrent to the Mark VII’s production run, Coach Builders chopped less than 150 examples at a cost of around $13,000 over the bill for the Lincoln itself.
Here are some examples of their Mark VII convertibles from around the web, including a shot of the Coach Builders Limited badge, which hides on the bodywork just behind the rear side glass.
Okay, to pick the nits: The exhaust tips look a bit cheesy, and I’m not partial to white. While all LSCs were equipped with 4-speed AOD transmissions (minus some of the aforementioned GTC cars), it doesn’t excuse the lack of clutch pedal. Exhaust mods are pretty easy, a manual-transmission exchange only slightly less so thanks to Fox-body parts-bin engineering. As the car looks fairly original – or as original as a decapitated 30+-year-old Lincoln can look – I wouldn’t color-change it. Shame about the modern Alpine CD player and the Tupperware floor mats.
The condition looks great, and the 57,000 miles is believable. The seats show minimal patina in the form of wear and creases, and the exterior looks straight and complete down to the covers for the Marchal driving lights and original spoke wheels. We know nothing about mechanical or electrical functionality, including the power top. Given the car is sitting level, should we just assume the air suspension works? I’ll go with “Sure!”
Mark VII LSC coupes are still cool cars, and I think these Coach Builders convertibles are equally great. It’s like a Fox-body Mustang, but different. Would you look “rich” driving it? Nobody can say, but at a double-latte less than $13,000 – the original cost of the conversion, don’t forget – it would be fun to find out.