This was American Personal Luxury at its finest……..
The Continental MK IV was without conjecture the most beautiful car in the world. It was made from 1972-1976. The Continental MK IV once again had given the Cadillac Eldorado stiff competition, and won…..again. The MK IV was longer, lower and wider then its predecessor the MK III. Its styling was unmistakably Continental with its long hood and short rear deck design. It was America’s favorite personal luxury coupe. The Continental MK IV offered V8 power, presence, and special luxury group options to create “a Mark of distinction.”
The MK IV was completely all new from the ground up. It still shared a platform with the Thunderbird but no sheet metal. The MK IV offered opera windows with a hand-ground Continental star embedded as an option in 1972, it was so popular that it was made standard for the 1973 model year. The MK IV sported the vacuum operated hide-away headlamps and distinctive “Mark” grille. Its sweeping knife-blade fenders were more rounded and anonymously swept to the rear augmenting the iconic spare-tire design in the deck lid. There was Moondust, Moon Roof; a showcase of opulence was this all new Mark. Lincoln introduced the chrome-glass sunroof known as the “Moon Roof.” The chrome tint made it a one way glass, the occupants could see out but it was opaque on the outside so no one could look in.
The first in the series of optional luxury editions was the “Silver Luxury Group” introduced for the 1973 model year. The metallic finish was called Silver Moondust; it had a matching vinyl roof. The interior was done in your choice of cranberry red or silver in either a luxurious velour or top grained leather. And of course, it was crowned with a silver Moon Roof.
1973 Continental MK IV with The Silver Luxury Group
The interior choices were offered in cranberry red or silver, in leather or velour
Through the next years there were a series of color combinations such as the Jade/White, Lipstick Red/White, triple white, Saddle/White, crème/gold, and the Gold Luxury Group to name a few of the more popular choices. In 1976 Bill Blass, Givenchy, Cartier, and Emilio Pucci lent their style to limited edition Continental MK IV’s. The Bill Blass Edition was in dark blue with a crème Normande Grain vinyl roof, The Cartier Edition was dove grey, the color of fresh water pearls with a matching Valino Grain vinyl roof, The Givenchy Edition was aqua blue Diamond Fire with a white Normande Grain vinyl roof and The Pucci Edition was finished in dark red Moondust with a silver Normande Grain vinyl roof. Full and landau roof treatments along with premium body side molding, moon roofs, forged aluminum wheels, and various power assists were available to make one’s own Mark.
The Givenchy Edition for 1976
Note the taller grille and more graceful front bumper the 1972 model year had
The 1972 Continental MK IV interior
1973 Continental MK IV
The MK IV had subtle styling changes during its tenure. The 1973 model year received a new front 5 mph impact bumper and a shorter grille. The 1974 model year got a refresh in the rear with the new Government mandated 5 mph impact bumper with new tail lamps. From 1974-1976 the Continental MK IV remained unchanged in appearance.
The Lipstick Red/White Luxury Group
The Continental MK IV was powered by the Ford 385 Series 460 CID 7.5 litre V8 engine. The MK IV was losing hp due to the EPA and the Oil Embargo. The 460 was tuned to produce 220 hp @ 4,000 rpm with 482 Nm of torque @ 2,600 rpm. By the 1976 model year hp had been reduced to 212 @ 3,800 rpm and torque 482 Nm @ 2,200. It could go from 0-60 mph in 12.1 seconds, 0-100 mph in 37.8 seconds, with a top speed of 119 mph. The MK IV could do the ¼ mile @ 77 mph in 18.9 seconds. But then, no one was drag-racing their Continental MK IV anyway. The engine was paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
1976 Continental with the Creme/Gold Luxury Group
The Continental MK IV rode on a traditional frame as front engine and rear drive. The front end used upper and lower control arms with those magnificent Fomoco bushings that produced the magic carpet ride. I had one, the car glided along effortlessly. The wheelbase was 120.4”, its width was 79.8”, and was 228.1 in length. It was a heavy car with a solid ride at 5,300+ pounds. Its luxury length combined with the solidity of its weight contributed to the effortless ride dynamics.
Production totals for the Continental MK IV are as follows: 1972 model year 48,591 units base priced at $8640, 1973 model year 69,437 units base priced $8984, 1974 model year 57,316 units base priced $10,194, 1975 model year 47,145 units base priced $11,082, and the 1976 model year 56,110 units base priced $11,060. The Continental MK IV gave the Cadillac Eldorado a run for its money.
Unfortunately, time wasn’t kind to the MK IV series and it was not as well made as the Continental MK III. Quality issues plagued both Thunderbird and the MK IV, and were known in the industry as “Ford’s luxury lemons.” Rust ate these cars relentlessly. The luxuriously appointed interiors had cracking leather and fading trim. Knobs fell off, electric motors and switches shorted out leaving all of that power equipment as expensive junk. I was horrified to see how fast these beautiful cars became scrap metal. It seems as though the lessons learned in economic success with the MK III were totally forgotten with the MK IV series. And the Mark series got progressively worse with each subsequent model until its demise. To watch all of that money, $10,000, rust away was too painful to see……..
1972, 1973, & 1976 Continental MK IV
Continental MK IV (1972-1976)
Continental MK III (1969-1971)
Continental MK II (1956-1957)
The Classic Continental MK II was a stand alone brand at Ford