A short while ago, we ran a QOTD post about special branded editions, gauging our readers’ desire to see them return in 2019. Today’s Rare Ride is one of the special designer brand editions of yesteryear (the Eighties), which represented luxury, taste, and wealth.
Grab your wide-lapel blazer. It’s time for Bill Blass and the Lincoln Mark VI.
The Mark line began in 1956 as Ford’s pinnacle of luxury, positioned above Lincoln. In its debut year, Ford created a new, short-lived division to market the coupe: Continental. That first generation carried the Mark II name, and it was the most expensive car offered from an American brand.
Cut to the fifth generation model, the Continental Mark VI, which arrived at the height of North American malaise in 1980. No longer the most expensive American car offering, it was also considerably smaller than the prior Mark V. A full 14 inches of length was lost from the large
coupe two-door sedan.
Issues didn’t stop there; for the first time, Lincoln applied the Mark moniker to a sedan. It was easier for Ford to add a four-door to this generation, as the Mark was no longer based on the Thunderbird luxury coupe. This iteration shared roots with the Panther-platform Continental sedan (called Town Car from 1981 onwards).
Engines of 6.6 and 7.5 liters of displacement in 1979 were reduced by the Malaise Era to 4.9 and 5.8 liters for 1980. After that debut year, the 4.9-liter (“5.0”) Ford engine was the only power plant available. Said engine had fuel injection, as Ford got a leg up on domestic competitors. The four-speed AOD automatic motivated all Mark offerings of this generation, distributing all 130 horsepower to the rear wheels.
In an attempt to increase distinction between standard Continental and Continental Mark models, special trims were made available for the latter. Base model Signature Series cars were available in two- and four-door configurations, but played second fiddle to the real desirable models — the Designer Editions.
Initially offered only on coupes, Lincoln commissioned four designers to put their personal touches on the Mark VI. Givenchy, Pucci, Cartier, and Bill Blass were offered in 1980. In 1982, some reworking in the designer trim department occurred, as the Pucci edition became a four-door-only trim. Cartier left the Mark fold and moved to the new Town Car. 1983 saw further changes: Givenchy went away, Bill Blass remained as the only designer edition two-door, and Pucci was the last man standing for the four-door.
In contrast to older Bill Blass Lincolns, the nautical blue and white theme was swapped for a black and cream three-zone scheme. Blass editions were either two-thirds black, or two-thirds cream. A full carriage roof was retained for a more classic look.
The Mark VI would last just four model years before the model returned to a more traditional format. With the introduction of the Mark VII in 1984, a more stylish coupe roofline returned, and the door count stopped at two.
Today’s Bill Blass Continental Mark VI is located south of San Francisco, which is in California. With a high 126,000 miles on the odometer, it asks just $4,300.