Car Corral find: 1973 Continental Mark IV
Lincoln called its 1973 Continental Mark IV, “…the most beautiful automobile in America. Perhaps because it is the only one that successfully blends both classic and contemporary styling.” Was it an accurate statement?
Although beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, it was hard to argue against the luxury division’s bold claim, as demonstrated by this Mark IV we spotted for sale at the Ford Nationals at Carlisle in June. Lincoln found a sweet spot in design with these cars, accentuating the long hood/short deck profile with a minimal-yet-tasteful application of side trim, vinyl roof treatment, and wide C-pillars that sported elegant, oval “opera windows.” Despite its outwardly boxy shape, the body had rounded lines and crisp contours that spoke of smooth comfort at speed: wraparound front running lamps, convex quad-head-lamp covers, and a squared-off formal grille that boasted refined taste rather than obnoxious excess. Its carefully sculpted hood carried the grille profile to the trailing edge, gracefully disrupting the otherwise flat metal.
Although it cost a staggering $8,984 without options, the Mark IV attracted 69,473 buyers. Its competition was Cadillac’s Fleetwood Eldorado and the Imperial LeBaron. Both featured a similar boxy body so prevalent at the time, but wide, rectangular grilles—or in the case of LeBaron, a full width-grille due to matching hidden headlamp motif— coupled with flat expanses of horizontal and vertical sheetmetal heightened the squared coachwork. Despite being cheaper, the $7,360 two-door Eldorado found 42,136 buyers; Imperial’s $7,313 two-door hardtop attained a scant 2,536 customers