Susan and I took a deviation from our regular mode of travel this month. We flew American Airlines to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and purchased a used car, sight unseen, which we have previously done only with new vehicles. Fortunately, there were no disappointments and the 700-mile road trip was uneventful.
Why the fascination with this car? Well, the explanation begins in March 1975. As a young private investigator, I was assigned a case in search of two missing children. My client lived in Maryland and recently divorced. The court granted him custody of his children, but the ex-wife took the children and fled to Oklahoma. After several days of surveillance, I located my client’s children in Duncan, where they were attending school. They were living in nearby Marlow with their mother and her acquaintance.
Upon confirming the identity of the children and their mother, I accompanied my client’s attorney back to Duncan to gain the district court’s issue of a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which would allow my client to regain custody of his children. The attorney owned a “1975 Lincoln Continental Mark IV,” and the trip to Duncan was my first experience in riding in such a beautiful vehicle.
I never was before, nor am I now, a “Ford man,” as I have always favored General Motors products. But the Mark IV engraved itself in my mind and heart as the most luxurious and strikingly beautiful automobile ever made, foreign or domestic.
My client was reunited with his children, and I’m happy to say that he and I stay in touch today. In fact, Susan and I visited him and his lovely wife on our way home from an RV trip to Washington, D.C. in 2012.
As for my newly acquired interest in the Mark IV, I bought a new “Cartier Designer Series” in March 1976 (similar to the car pictured below) . . . .
My new Lincoln was purchased from Marion Davidson Lincoln-Mercury in Weatherford, Oklahoma, at a cost of $12,888 (roughly $65,000 today). It was triple Dove Grey (body, seats, and landau top). I drove the car for about three years, and have missed it ever since. I later purchased a new 1981 Lincoln Mark VI, which was also a “Cartier Designer Series,” but it simply didn’t compare to the 1976 model. The ‘81 Mark VI was shorter in length, lighter in weight, and underpowered (302 cubic inch V8). Whereas, the ‘76 Mark IV is 19’1” in length, weighs over 5200 lbs, and is powered by a 7.5L 460 cubic inch V8.
RVing keeps me occupied during the warm seasons, but retirement doesn’t bode well for me during the winter. As a result, I easily get bored and find myself looking for new projects. I’ve looked for a project car for several years. Susan and I have owned a T-Bird and Corvette, and although we liked them both very much, neither fulfilled my interests. I knew I wanted a classic luxury car to tinker with, and I’ve always been a fan of the early 1960’s Cadillacs. But when comparing the architecture of the Cadillac to the Lincoln, I was always drawn back to the Mark IV.
While doing my weekly Internet search I came across this “1976 Pucci Designer Series” with 36,001 actual miles. The vehicle was originally sold by Antietam Motors, Inc. in Hagerstown, MD in July 1976. The car was built at the Ford Wixom Plant on May 7, 1976. The following are actual photos of my car:
In the 1976 model year, Lincoln commissioned four internationally known designers to choose color combinations and accents for specially labeled models of the Mark IV. They included the “Cartier,” “Bill Blass,” “Givenchy,” and “Emilio Pucci.” All carried the designer’s signature in the opera windows in 22 Karat gold . . . .
The “Designer Series” added a $2,000 premium to the window sticker, but was worth every dollar in increased elegance to an already luxurious car.
As you can see in the photos, this car has a white landau half-top with white body side-moldings. The original issue “Pucci” came with a silver “Normande Grain” top and matching body side-moldings. In my opinion, the original silver top and moldings appeared dull and lackluster. Apparently, the previous owner agreed and dyed the top and moldings white. I plan to replace the dyed vinyl top with new fabric, but I will retain the white color scheme as I think it better accents the Moondust Metallic paint.
Seating options for the 1976 “Pucci” were leather or dark red Majestic cloth. This car came with cloth, which was a $2000 upgrade. Note the factory plastic still intact on the rear seatbelts in the following picture . . . .
The car was previously owned by a collector who sold it at auction with over 150 other vehicles, none of which had been started or driven in over twenty years. The ash trays and cigar lighters show no sign of use. The seating areas, carpet, headliner and dash are in original condition. And, the original Michelin spare tire is in the trunk and has never been on the ground.
The engine and chassis are as clean as the body and interior . . . .
There is no sign of body damage or repaint, but the original paint does show a light patina . . . .
The present tires are not original, but have excellent tread and appear new. However, I can’t get them to balance properly and I believe they may have flat spots from sitting in one position for an extended period of time. The only option may be to replace them.
The engine has a slight miss, but after replacing the base carburetor gasket, installing new spark plugs, and using a can of Chem-tool gasoline additive, it’s improving. Below, I’m changing out the electric seat controls on the passenger door.
Like I said, I’ve been looking for a project to keep me busy during my idol months. What could be better?