Micro Machine: 1979 Lincoln Tomaso Versailles

1979 Lincoln Tomaso Versailles

No, this image is not altered. Honest. I promise! I hadn’t seen one of these before, and there’s not a lot of them around. Why, exactly, someone thought it was a good idea to take 20 inches out of a 1979 Lincoln Versailles, a car that many traditional brand customers thought was too small already is beyond me. Nevertheless, there’s one for sale right now located in Lady’s Island, South Carolina. It’s advertised on RacingJunk.com for the grand sum of $500.

1979 Lincoln Versailles Ad

Having been redesigned for 1979, Lincoln had recognized some of the shortcomings of the original Versailles and lengthened the roof to further separate the car from its Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch origins. The Versailles was a rushed response to the “small” Cadillac Seville, and despite having a lot of features the Granada/Monarch did not, a roughly 50% price premium kept demand tepid. Originally powered by a 302 or 351 cubic inch V-8, the Versailles only lasted from 1977 to 1980 and is typically only known as an axle donor to upgrade other Fords to rear disc brakes. Even the Granada/Monarch/Versailles Registry website doesn’t mention the Tomaso cut down version, although there was a picture of one in their known vehicles listing.

Tomaso of America Ad
Tomaso Publicity Picture currently offered here on eBay

I wasn’t able to find any ties from Tomaso of America to DeTomaso of Italy, so I can only assume that the name was chosen to lend an air of exclusivity. I also couldn’t find any record of the company still existing, but there is a Russell Swift Forklift Service by the name in Little Rock. I wonder if it’s the same person? This particular car was originally going to become a 24 Hours of LeMons contender, and is being offered without a drivetrain, although it shouldn’t be hard to source a suitable 302 or 351 automatic combo.

Lincoln Tomaso Ad

I love the writer’s comment in the short article above about eliminating two of the doors but none of the weight. The blind spots from the massive B-pillar must make changing lanes an exercise in faith! These must have been for those that felt the luxury equipment and looks of the standard Versailles just wasn’t good enough.

Cadillac Tomaso Seville
Image Courtesy of Flickr

I was also surprised to find that Tomaso also cut down Cadillac Sevilles! Pictured above is a Tomaso Seville of approximately the same vintage as the Lincoln. Given how odd these cars are, I know we’d love to follow the resurrection of one. So if one of you is interested in a cut down Versailles and you happen to buy this example, let us know. $500 isn’t a lot of money, and Ford drivetrains are not hard to come by…and it would certainly be a unique automobile! What do you think? Would you save it?

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Comments

  1. cameron k

    The first hint that the company has no ties to Italy is that it was based in Little Rock, AR. What a POS!

  2. cory

    that’s an awful lot of work to ruin a car. interesting modification to the body lines. the notch in the door became a notch in the new quarter panel. I will say however that the Cadillac version is actually pretty cool

  3. Mark E

    I’ve seen Ford Granadas & Mercury Monarchs like this once in a rare while but this is the first time I’ve seen a Versailles! I kind of like it… ^_^

    • Mark E

      Doop! Just read the ad. It’s not as great a deal as it appears since it’s missing the drivetrain. One can only hope it still has the shortened driveshaft at least…

  4. Tony

    Wow…terrible lines on this car… I actually am strangely attracted to the Cadillac. Probably because it doesn’t look like something that my Grandfather would have created in his back yard…. (He was famous for buying cheap station wagons, and cutting the roofs off, to create Ute./fishing cars… and then painting them with house paint…)

  5. Rick

    Looks like a clown car. Be right at home in a Shriner’s parade. Also takes me back to 1977 and makes me think of my long-since-departed-from-this-world-buddy Darrel’s ’57 Chev shorty wagon, had a 427, man was that thing squirrely to drive, surprised it never got crashed.

    • Tirefriar

      That’s right Rick, the circus has left but the clowns stayed…

  6. tom999p

    There’s a gray full size Versailles at my local repair shop now, I just drove buy it this morning. It’s in excellent condition. I’ll bet it’s a one owner car, owned by a little old lady…

  7. Dan Farrell

    We had a Granada with a variable venturi carburator which was a piece of junk. the car caught fire at a local convenience store, when I got it home my wife said I should have let it burn.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Dan, I have done the same thing once. After I was drenched with sweat after putting the fire out (the car type shall remain nameless, but it was a domestic, not one of my Triumphs), I sat there and wondered why? I HATED the car…and yet there it was, still laughing at me. :-)

  8. Dolphin Member

    Maybe that’s where they got the 20 inch sections to make those stretch limos.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @Dolphin — that got a true belly laugh!!

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Too Funny!

      I wonder if that company was in the business of making long versions as well? Great comment!

  9. JW454

    I think what throws off the lines is the rear wheel opening. If it was moved back a few inches it wouldn’t be too bad. I’ve seen one of these at a car show many years ago. Not my cup of tea but I applaud the effort.

  10. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Did anyone else remember playing with MicroMachines as a kid when they saw the title? I still have mine somewhere…

  11. z1rider

    Should have used the longer doors from the 2 door Granada/Monarch so as not to have had to shorten quite as much. That might have kept the proportions more reasonable. Those fronts from the 4 -door just make it too stubby looking. Yes it is very Clown Car looking. The only saving grace might be the 9 inch rear end which on the Versailles had disc brakes. Buy it and swap that axle and the front discs into your first generation Mustang.

    The Seville doesn’t really look too bad.

    • Rocco Member

      I agree about the two door doors, but then they should have just used a two door Monarch as a donor, and just upgraded (if that’s possible) to the Lincoln Versailles spec’s. No cutting-welding required, just cosmetics.

  12. Rancho Bella

    I just looks unsafe to drive………….what on earth were they thinking?

  13. jim s

    the seller races lemons cars and wants to sell this with just 1 photo!

  14. SoCal Car Guy

    The answer to a question no one would ever ask.

  15. St. Ramone de V8

    I really can’t understand why anyone would undertake such an immense amount of work to create this car, or the Cadillac. Couldn’t make the car handle, brake, stop, or steer better. If anyone thinks it looks better, ..well they are likely hard to find. Sorry, I just don’t get it….

  16. Charles

    What do you get when you cross a dressed up Granada and a Smart Car?

  17. BrentF

    During the French Revolution many of the occupants of the Palace of Versailles were sent to the guillotine to have their heads chopped off. Seems fitting that this Versailles suffered the same fate.

  18. Mike_B_SVT

    Hmm… Seems to me they should have cut the roof off and made it into a convertible. I think that would have helped with the odd looking proportions.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Your wish was heard by someone….

      http://greensboro.craigslist.org/cto/4788835380.html

      Indeed, the proportions of shortened cars are just “off”. Clown car is an apt reference.

      • Mike_B_SVT

        Huh. Well, looks like I was wrong about that. Still looks odd, even without a roof.

      • Desi

        That looks like a golf cart. lol

        PASS!

  19. Paul B

    I’d never heard of these things, and I kind of wish it were still that way. Bad, bad, bad, from an already awful beginning, the Versailles — which is nothing but a trim-encrusted Ford Fairmont, itself just a modernized Falcon or Maverick. No wonder the Detroit automakers wound up where they did.

  20. Woodie Man

    Should have just kept going with the chainsaw. It is in the South after all

  21. SoCal Car Guy

    And since it’s in the South, mount the body on a shortened and jack-up old Bronco chassis. Perfect for a redneck roundup and wouldn’t be in much worse taste than it is now.

  22. Rob Hilton

    Finally R&R Racing is famous, but not for our prowess on track nor are ability to build one off funky race cars. No it’s for selling our discarded junk. And yes we do have the shortened drive shaft and a few other miscellaneous parts and more pictures and the price is negotiable as long as it exceeds the “scrap yard value”.

    We thought this would make a wonderful “Donk”, ya know with 22″ rims and those low profile tires. Maybe a far out two tone paint job. How about a “King of New York” car with chandeliers on the front fenders, that would be cool and you wouldn’t notice it was a dwarf!!

  23. bruce R. Colbert

    calling all Shriners

  24. RickyM

    Mad ! I presume that if it had a drivetrain, it would not be a good drive anyway……

  25. Charles

    The drivetrain was probably used in some other car, and now they are trying to unload the body.

    I was the used car manager for a large Ford dealership in the mid 80’s. When one of those the downsized Lincoln’s shown up as a trade in, we cringed. I usually wholesaled the things. The cars were all fluff and no quality. The later Versailles had a digital dash and they were always broken. In fact if one could get the windows to roll up and down, we thought we had lucked out one more time. A real POS of a car. Of course the 302 engine was OK, however the Variable Venturi plastic carbs were a disaster and enough to make one hate the whole car. Funny thing though is that the Fairmont, Granada, and Monarch cars ran pretty well.

    Of course we got a couple of downsized Caddy’s traded in during those years, and they were a POS also. Me, I drove an 85 Grand Marquis with the one year only throttle body fuel injection, and it was a bullet proof car. I drove it 268K miles, and sold it to one of the mechanics in the shop. He put a few more miles on it, and the engine finally failed. He installed a short block in it, sold it to a local fellow and it is still running around town today. Not all of the 70’s and 80’s American Iron were junk, but it seemed like every time one of the big three attempted to build a smaller version of a luxury car it came out as junk.

  26. cliffyc

    Audi Quattro Sport ,VW microbus ,Mini (Issigonis) (seen a fair few of these,cute coupe),Mercedes chopped up a 190E (the Stadtwagen -townwagen) in the 80’s to make a Golf sized car hmmm. This is just plain odd…. . seen a few 4 door cars done at bodyshops for a promotional vehicle. In the UK we call these Cut and shuts….

  27. T Swift

    I can tell you all the details about Tomaso Of America and the cars we sold and produced my Dad and I were in business together selling these conversions and yes Russell Swift Forklift is the same person that did the conversions he is my DAD and is 86 years old and going stong!!

  28. Steve

    I’ve just purchased a shortened 77 Versailles. However I’m quite sure your dads company did not build if, as it is quite a bit different from yours. I was told a company in Las Vegas did it, but I have no info on who they were or how many they made. I am attaching a photo. Any chance you or you dad might be able to help me with any info on it?

  29. Jay Hicks

    Would have probably looked ok if they had kept the rear quarter glass.

  30. joe moore

    Here is an ad from Arkansas

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