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The Dramatic 1973 Continental MK IV

The legend in its own time…

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The Continental MK IV is perhaps the most beautifully designed automobile of the 20th century. It is the most dramatic personal luxury coupe in the world. It was built form 1972 until 1976. These automobiles ROCK when it comes to luxury, performance, and prestige. The MK IV was an “Image-car” for the 1970s.

The 1973 Continental MK IV is America’s favorite edition from this eminent series. Style code #65D Continental MK IV coupe had a base price of $8,984 and was introduced September 22, 1972 as a 1973 model. Its production totals 69,437 units. Lincoln had finally put Cadillac in second place in the personal luxury car arena. The Eldorado is luxurious…but the Continental MK IV is the most charismatic…the 1973 edition is proof – 

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The Lincoln Mark Series is an ultra-exclusive line of personal luxury automobiles from the 20th century. These automobiles were built at a time when splendor in luxury automobiles prevailed. Elegantly proportioned, limited editions, and superb aesthetic qualities made the illustrious Continental Mark Series the personal luxury car by which all others were judged.

The notable models in this series begins with the original Continental built from 1939 until 1948, ending with the Continental MK V built from 1977 until 1979. Marks in this series after the 1979 model year were lackluster not only in performance… but styling, fit & finish suffered as well. After the Continental MK V, the Mark Series became austere and nondescript losing the esteem it once held. 

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The original Continental wasn’t marketed as a “Lincoln”

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The MK II is built by the Continental Division of Ford Motor Co

MK III

After a 12 year hiatus, the Continental MK III was introduced

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Continental MK IV is the most beautiful automobile in the world

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The ersatz spare tire design is a signature feature

MK V

Continental MK V precluded the notable Continental Mark Series

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The Continental MK IV started a styling trend in the 1970s. The distinguished opera windows were such a stunning attribute, after market kits were available to install the oval windows on any automobile with a sail panel large enough to accommodate it. The Continental MK IV’s ersatz spare tire design on the rear deck lid was copied in fiberglass and was available for many automobiles at the time.

The MK IV’s distinctive Rolls Royce inspired radiator grille was also copied and offered as an aftermarket item. This trend-setting personal luxury coupe is described in the sales brochure as “The 1973 Continental MK IV quite simply, is the most beautiful automobile in America.” It is indeed…

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This is another fine classic from Daniel Schmitt & Co

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The 1973 Continentals were sublime. In fact, a survey was conducted by Nationwide Consumer Testing Institute for smoothness, stability, and quietness. The result was astonishing – 60 out of the 100 owners of “the other luxury car” – agreed the Continentals for 1973 had a more comfortable ride. The 1973 Continentals were designed to be even quieter than the 1972 models. These cars were luxurious near the point of perfection – 

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The 1973 Continental MK IV successfully combines classic and contemporary styling. Its silhouette is long, low, and wide. The dramatic front end ensemble is augmented by hidden quad headlamps and a unique radiator grille. The federally mandated 5-mph impact bumper is artfully integrated into the architecture.

The traditional Lincoln knife-blade fenders are trimmed to disappear into the body lines. The rear end styling is highlighted by the traditional mock spare tire design. From its bold grille to the elegant sweep of the low-slung roofline, to the rear ersatz spare tire design…there is no mistaking the Continental MK IV. It is the quintessential personal luxury car – 

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Standard exterior signature features for the 1973 Continental MK IV includes a Cavalry Twill vinyl roof, opera windows with a hand-ground Continental star, cornering lamps, front bumper guards with rubber impact strips, remote control driver’s outside rear view mirror, and an elegant stand-up Continental star hood ornament. The Continental MK IV for 1973 was available in 15 standard colors and 9 optional Moondust metallic finishes.

MK III 2

MK III 4

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The “Triple White” color theme was popular in the Spirited Seventies

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The interior of the 1973 Continental MK IV is as exclusively elegant as its exterior. Twin Comfort lounge seats in a 50/50 configuration came standard with 6-way power adjustment for driver and passenger. Soft-textured Westminster cloth was standard; optional glove-soft leather added classic Lincoln luxury. The instrument panel features Kashmir walnut wood grain matina and baby burl walnut appliques.

The clock is a Cartier timepiece and is signed by the famous Fifth Avenue jeweler. Automatic temperature control holds the temperature within a selected comfort range while it reduces pollen and humidity in the air. Power windows, power steering, power brakes, color-keyed 100% nylon long shear cut pile carpet, front & rear folding center arm rests, and a 3-spoke Rim-Blow steering wheel are just a few of the myriad standard features and accessories of the 1973 Continental MK IV.

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Cartier Clock

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Popular options for the 1973 model year includes; Appearance Protection Group (front & rear carpeted floor mats, door edge guards, horizontal rear bumper impact strip, spare tire cover, and license plate frames), automatic headlamp dimmer, interval windscreen wipers, rear window defroster, power sunroof or Moonroof, power vent windows, Lock Convenience Group (electric door locks, remote control trunk lid release), AM/FM Multiplex radio with stereo tape deck, automatic speed control, tilt steering wheel, and luxury wheel covers.

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MK III 3

MK III 5

MK III 7

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The 1973 Continental MK IV Is more than just a pretty car…it is a performance car as well. It is powered by the 7.5 litre Ford 385-Series 460 CID 16-valve V8 engine equipped with a 4-bbl carburetor and overhead valves. The engine is designed to operate on regular grade gasoline with an octane rating of at least 91 when the engine is calibrated to factory specifications. It is constructed with a cast iron block and cylinder heads. 

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The 460 CID V8 is a work-horse in every respect. The engine produces 208 hp @ 4,400 rpm with 458 Nm of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 11.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 36.4 seconds, and 0-110 mph in 70.3 seconds. It has an ungoverned top speed of 116 mph and can do the ¼ mile @ 78 mph in 18.7 seconds.

The longitudinal acceleration looks slow compared to today’s cars but remember, this is an extremely heavy automobile, all-steel construction with NO aerodynamics. The engine is mated to Ford’s C6 Select-Shift automatic transmission with 12” hydraulic torque converter and 3-speed planetary gears for smooth response at all speed. Muscle cars from the 1970s produced a different type of power. It was a brute “torque-thrust” as compared to today’s wind-cheating “power-to-weight ratio.”

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The 1973 Continental MK IV is a large front-engine rear-wheel drive vehicle. It rides upon a long 120.4” wheelbase, has the luxury length of 223.3” and is 79.8” in width. The front uses an independent dual ball joint suspension with spring-loaded upper joints, helical coil springs, and double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers. The rear suspension is equipped with a four-link design, deep coil springs, double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers, and rear stabilizer bar.

For the 1973 model year, the MK IV comes standard with the “Sure-Track” brake system. It is a computer controlled system which improves braking stability by preventing rear-wheel lock up on ice, snow, or wet pavement. This is a primitive form of today’s ABS. This sophisticated system senses the driver braking hard, electronic monitors take over automatically pumping/releasing the brakes at 4-cycles per second. It ceases operation when the car slows to 4 mph or when the driver releases the brakes.

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MK III 12

MK III 15

MK III 14

MK III 10

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Silver Louxury Group 1

For the ultimate in prestige, the 1973 Continental MK IV was available with the Silver Luxury Group. This posh luxury edition was finished in Silver Moondust metallic with a matching Levant grain vinyl roof. If the optional Moonroof was requested it was a silver one-way tinted glass with an interior shade to close out light.

 It’s the inside story that made this option popular. The choice of glove-soft leather or opulent Victoria Velour all-cloth for the upholstery made a definite statement in elegance. Matching 100% nylon long shear cut pile carpet was luxuriously under foot. The interior was available in silver or cranberry. This is the first year for Lincoln’s Luxury Group option. New color choices and Designer Series were added for each subsequent model year. The Continental MK IV with the Luxury Group option was the epitome of Lincoln luxury, elegance, and prestige…they were another luxuriously elegant obstacle for Cadillac to overcome –

Silver Louxury Group 3

Silver Louxury Group 4

Silver Louxury Group 5

Silver Louxury Group 2

MK III 13

MK III 11

MK III 20

MK III 18

MK III 19

MK III 21

MK III end 3

MK III 16

 MK III end 2

MK III end

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After setting a banner sales year for 1972, the 1973 Continental MK IV continued at an unprecedented pace racking up another sales record at 69,437 vehicles built. This is the best-selling model year from 1972 until the last MK IV rolled off the assembly line in 1976. It is the classy Continental MK IV that placed the Cadillac Eldorado in second place in the personal luxury niche. The MK IV beat the Eldorado in almost every category in the testing conducted by Nationwide Consumer Testing Institute.

The result was startling – 60 out of 100 owners of “the other luxury car” chose the MK IV as being quieter, more comfortable, and more aesthetically pleasing. Powered by the 460 CID V8 made the MK IV a luxury performance car. There was nothing else on the road at the time such as this highly spirited personal luxury coupe. The 1973 Continental MK IV quite simply…is the most beautiful automobile in the world –

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MK IV

The 1973 Continental MK IV

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The Continental MK IV is NotoriousLuxury at its finest

10 thoughts on “The Dramatic 1973 Continental MK IV Leave a comment

  1. I just purchased a 1973 Lincoln mark lv, with little and no issues the car is in excellent condition now and I enjoying driving it as often as I can ,too often I should but you can stop, it fantastic to drive. a true classic

    • Still have my Mark lv, and look forward every week to drive her, had many comments and many offers, but I will not not part with the car, its out of this world ,drives like a dream very happy owning this car, the car you show is just as nice as mine less dual exhaust and cruise control, but I will like it just as much, love driving a LINCOLN

      • Hello James! Be vigilant for corrosion. Look under the lip of the trunk lid and inspect all seams for rust. Then, make sure to keep an eye open for the rear window area. This always rots under all of the padding. I’ve removed vinyl roofs and gasped at the shock of how rust has taken over rendering the car useless because the corrosion is so far into the metal.

        I have cut up 2 of them and sold parts. The cars were drop-dead gorgeous but corrosion had gotten into strategic areas of the frame attacking major suspension components AND the roof was toast.

        The roof of your car is the major structure keeping the two sides of the car together in one piece. This is another reason I tell potential owners of custom rag tops to make sure the car’s chassis has been reinforced to lower the center of gravity as well as providing structural integrity. You cannot just snip the top off of a hardtop or sedan calling it a convertible. As soon as the car is hit, the body will twist because there’s nothing to prevent it from losing its shape because the roof was removed.

        Why do you think stretch limos are so inexpensive to buy in ‘used’ condition? When a car is cut in half to add to the length – it compromises the structural integrity of the car. It’s not guaranteed that car won’t revert to ‘pieces’ in a collision and they are prone to sagging.

        Corrosion can get into the many welds causing grief. MK IV’s are notorious for rust relentlessly eating away at it from the inside out. If you see ‘bumps’ in the padding on the top – remove it immediately and have the corrosion repaired before it spreads further…that is, if it isn’t already. I tell all who love the MARK Series to proceed with caution and to have the car inspected for corrosion. Look underneath too! You do not want a nasty shock one day –

  2. thank you for all your advice, I have a few bumps on the right side under the rear window of the padded tops am now scared to death that is will get worse, I don’t know where to take it for repair for I don’t trust anyone to repair it correctly, I live in Florida and the car is in the garage, if you you know anyone in the palm beaches (Boca Raton) I will consider taking it there I keep it dry after washing and blow out the water in that area. thank you JAMES

    • Hello James and O-M-G! The entire roof has to be removed. This is when it gets dicey. I have restored many of them, one I remember one in particular. It was a gorgeous 1976 MK IV triple white and clean as a pin. BUT, those little bumps kept appearing under the rear window. I removed the vinyl roof covering and the ENTIRE ROOF WAS TOAST! I almost cried!

      The body shop said it was beyond repair. The car’s roof is its major structure which holds the entire car together. If its integrity is compromised, bad things can happen. My car rotted out in key contact points of the top running into the rear fenders. Continental MK IVs were cars that should have been driven only in Summer months on dry days! Those thick padded tops held water like a sponge. In the rust belt, the salt was mingling underneath as well which accelerates corrosion.

      Those home-made convertibles where people simply snip off the roof calling it a convertible are dangerous train-wrecks in progress! That’s a deathtrap! The car gets T-boned and the frame twists. Vibration can destroy the entire car even if it isn’t hit. The roof holds the two side planes together with the front and rear sections to reinforce the integrity.

      A rusted out roof can be dangerous! The rust had started into the fenders and everywhere the roof came in contact with the body on my MK IV. If your car has been in Florida close to the sea – that salt is as detrimental as the salt they apply to roads in the Winter thru the rust belt. My rust had formed around each of the opera windows. I cut the car up with a welding torch and sold parts to regain my money. The roof was beyond repair. It was so bad, the tech said an entire roof would have to be grafted on – which breaches the car’s integrity. Certain portions of a car MUST remain rust-free otherwise – they are simply parts in a scrap yard.

      The process is obscenely expensive. Remember too, you have to have a brand new vinyl roof covering to replace the one you remove. Most of the time, the backglass MUST be popped out because rust is all around the window seal-kit! Once you pull that out – big chunks of metal also comes out with it! That’s another expensive avenue. Some techs will not touch the glass on older cars because it will shatter if it isn’t removed properly. Finding new glass can be dicey not to mention expensive.

      If the car is worth it, go for it. But unfortunately, you can’t see the evil that lurks under the vinyl covering until it is removed. They also rot at the top of the windshield. The weld studs and plastic clip retainers cause these heartaches. Those clips around the bottom of the roof molding is usually rusted thru when you get the top off. The roofs were nice; however, they require constant maintenance which includes vinyl top wax. It MUST be cleaned and sealed when new and maintained that way. Those cars were produced in the 1970s with improperly refined sheet metal. This is why rust ate cars from the 1970s relentlessly!

      The Lincoln Continental MARK Series will appreciate because they will never be made again. Look at how a Continental MK II has appreciated into six-figures. The Mark III, IV, and V will be collector’s items because there won’t be that many left due to corrosion and of course, irresponsible use. Good luck with your project dude, it’s going to be expensive. I don’t know any body shops in Florida. If a reader knows, please let James know…

      • thanks I am in search of a body shop that will have knowable know how to see my car

  3. Hello again James. Before you let any bodyshop work on your car…take your time and look at the other cars being repaired. This will give you an idea how they work and see their actual results.

    The first thing to ask is “Do you repair rust and corrosion” and if they reply yes, ask to see an example. Then, pay attention to cars they have re-painted! Look for drips, sags, and runs! Look for color clarity, color-blending and ask what type of process do they use to correct corrosion.

    With the area you are trying to correct is a crap-shoot in the dark. They won’t know how bad it is until the top comes off. They might have to pop out the backglass and cut the surrounding sheet metal out then adding new sheet metal to the affected area(s).

    YOU DO NOT WANT TO SAND FEATHEREDGING BODY FILLER PUTTY INTO THE AFFECTED AREA(S) because – that rust will come back with a vengeance and the rusted area will be twice as large as it was before. Rust sometimes can be removed via sandblasting, but, that too is a crap-shoot. The only way to eliminate the rusted area(s) is to cut that portion of the sheet metal out replacing it with new metal.

    If you are going to keep the car forever, ONLY seek a qualified technician to do the rust repair/removal. This way, you will not have to do the same repairs over and over to the point you’ve got a big build-up of body putty filled areas. That never lasts – never! It makes it uglier than you can imagine. Also, NEVER rush a bodyshop when they are expediting corrosion repair!

    You also do NOT want Maaco or Earl Scheib type services…remember: “you ONLY get what you pay for!” Meaning, if you want a make-believe paint job, seek out a dime-store type auto painting establishment, get your Rosary Beads and say a few Hail Marys while hoping for the best!

    • can I send you a picture of the area that has some bubbles, ? if so where. thanks James. ……. you are scaring me to death I hope they don’t have take the top off I don’t think they have the clips to put back, I could try the internet for some

  4. Don’t look at it in fear! Remember, a classic car cannot be held to the same standards as contemporary vehicles. Tis the nature of the beast! Classic car collectors must take the bitter with the sweet. The roof will have to come off there’s no way around it. When the rust is visible you’ll see.

    American car designers back then didn’t take into consideration the rear window has to drain. Water collected at the bottom of the window and just sat there for years wet. There’s a lot more to rust repair than you think. I am giving you all case scenarios. But don’t take my word for it, ask other collector/enthusiasts and they’ll tell you the same thing. Rust-repair is a crap shoot.

    The Continental MK IV and the Ford Thunderbird were called “Ford’s Luxury Lemons” because of all the issues these cars had. My dad bought a brand-new 1973 Continental MK IV with the Silver Luxury Group option. The silver-tinted moonroof was the first thing to go bad, the color turned bronze and had to be replaced. Rust was beginning in many places in just 2-short years. He got rid of it.

    I had a 1973 Continental MK IV in triple white. The rust had started at the bottom of the rear window and all along the body sides where the weld studs and clips are used. That rust ate straight thru in those places. I didn’t even bother trying to repair that corrosion, I sold it. I restored a few more which wasn’t cheap. The one I was telling you about the 1976 I had that when I peeled the roof away the entire roof was toast. It wasn’t the kind of rust that was easy to resolve. The entire roof was rotting, the worst parts were the bottom of the rear window and along the bottom of the sail panels where those weld studs and clips held the vinyl roof molding. It was rotten in key areas, this is why I took a welding torch and cut it up. I sold parts and made quite a bit.

    When those roofs are peeled back, they’re no longer any good because of the age of the materials. There’s no way to glue it back on inconspicuously because once the original integrity is breached – you would see a dramatic difference that everyone will notice before they even look at the rest of the car.

    Most MK IV’s have new roof coverings by now. There are some that are original survivors from California and areas that do not salt the roads in the Winter. They’re out there for sale but you will pay a premium price for them because of them being 100% corrosion-free.

    I am not trying to scare you, I just want you to know there are NO shortcuts to corrosion repair. They will always tell you that they will leave a certain percentage of the cost as a variable because they cannot give you a price until the roof is peeled and the entire roof assessed. Just because you see the bubbles in one area doesn’t mean corrosion isn’t hiding someplace else in the roof structure under the vinyl. Remember too, with the age of the vinyl, it will most likely crack when it is peeled back. You cannot re-use it. Even if it could be peeled back and repaired when it was re-glued you can tell this immediately because it won’t be as sung as the factory did it.

    The Continental MK IVs are gorgeous cars, BUT, one must pay the cost to be the boss! There’s nothing cheap regarding vehicle restoration. Oh you can get a shop to cut corners – you will not be happy with the results. The reason they tell you to have the entire roof covering removed, the rest of the rust has to be examined otherwise you will be doing the very same thing once again in the near future requiring a new roof covering. Many of those vinyl roof options in the 1970s had molded foam under the vinyl to make it deeply, luxuriously padded. That foam retained moisture everywhere especially when it wasn’t sealed properly when it was new.

    Some body shops will not guarantee rust repair, some body shops won’t even touch a rust repair at all, not because they are trying to be difficult – people don’t understand rust. This is a BIG job! Rust can be compared to poison ivy. You know how poison ivy grows in a chain all around the yard? Just because you killed it in one spot – it will pop up on the other side of the yard. Rust also branches out like this. With it rusting at the bottom of the window, it could very well be into the rear fenders at the bottom of the “C-Panels” some call sail panels. The opera windows may have corrosion starting around their edging as well. Ford didn’t design anything to drain back then

    And another area highly susceptible to corrosion is the ersatz spare-tire design on the rear decklid. It begins at the bottom seam INSIDE the lid where you cannot see. Continental MK IVs rusted from the inside out. The door seams INSIDE the door skin along the bottom where the door drains is another problem area.

    Ziebart Rust Proofing was actually a detriment to cars of the 1970s if it wasn’t applied properly. They had inexperienced guys who would drill little holes in the the door panels and shoot the product inside which clogged the door drains. So now, there was no place for the water to drain and every time you’re in the rain or washing the car you are adding more moisture. The Ziebart crap was short lived. If it wasn’t applied properly especially over an areas starting to rust – surprise, they’ve sealed the moisture under the rust-proofing material. This made the vehicles rust from the inside out. You didn’t know until you saw…THE BUBBLING! The manufacturers now do their own rust retarding processes while the car is in build in the assembly hall. All of that money spent on Ziebart was wasted!

    I’m not telling you this to frighten you, this is how it tis in the world of classic car collecting. It’s expensive, I kid you not – but remember…you get what you pay for! If you don’t want to have it done the correct way…leave it be. You could end up making the situation even worse trying to get an inexpensive repair. RUST AND CORROSION REPAIR ISN’T CHEAP!

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