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A Sign of the Times: 1984 Lincoln MKVII Diesel

If there was ever a contest of oddball cars from the 80s, the BMW-diesel equipped Lincoln MKVII is a clear contendor for first prize. Produced at a time when not having a fuel-efficient vehicle in your lineup was akin to insulting someone’s mother, the diesel-powered Lincoln coupe was short on driving thrills and life expectancy, appearing in showrooms for just a few years before being pulled. Find this rough example here on craigslist for $2,500.

The description of this ad is a bit suspect, calling the Lincoln a “prototype,” which I don’t believe is entirely accurate (unless, of course, the frame number confirms this was the car used in testing.) If the seller is referring to prototype in the metaphorical sense, well, that isn’t as hard to understand. This was a first for a company like Lincoln, to take their bread-and-butter luxury coupe and throw in a diesel powerplant sourced from another manufacturer entirely. Unfortunately, the engine didn’t deliver on its economy promises and was slow to boot.

See, when you put a 114 b.h.p. mill into a vehicle that weighs damn near 4,000 lbs., the results aren’t going to be pretty. 0-60 was a joke, and real-world MPGs barely cracked the 30 miles per tank that the manufacturer rated it for. While the diesel was an attractive option in the lithe and fairly basic 5-Series BMW, it seemed out of place in a big luxury coupe known for healthy power outputs thanks to regular rotation of V8 engines. Though the seller gets his word choice confused, I think he is saying the Lincoln hasn’t been started in 20 years.

Image courtesy of Hooniverse.com

While our feature car may look tired, MKVII’s can clean up pretty nicely with some subtle lowering and larger wheels. Though a diesel Lincoln may not strike you as an obvious vehicle to preserve and enjoy, finding one with the unusual BMW-sourced powerplant is a treat for brand fanatics and for the MKVII collector who has everything. The seller is asking $2,500 for the car in the top three photos – do you think it’s worth that much?


  1. Spence

    I take back my comment on yesterday’s Chevette diesel. THIS is the one to put the hose on, and it’s already in the garage! Down a fifth of Jäger in homage to Deutschland sourced Bimmer, and go to the Big Sleep in style and peace! #walkmedownsweetjesus

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    • Chebby

      Even darker, and funnier.

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      • Spence

        I guess it’s a 50/50 split that it may have went too far eh Chebby?
        Can’t stop, won’t stop. ;-)

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  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    I wish they’d taken more photos, or at least cleared up the shots they already have. It looks like that engine’s been taken apart somewhat. I’d need to know where the pieces are. If it’s been sitting for 20 years that injection system is likely fouled with varnish and should be brought back to life. Injectors could be stuck shut and the pumping plunger could also be immobilized. You do NOT want to seize either of them. A new hydraulic head for the injection pump alone will be a $1500.00 expense. Best ensure that those components are mobile. The car, otherwise, looks good.

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  3. irocrob

    I was 25 when they came out but did not know they stuffed a diesel in them ! I would not want it but looks pretty decent for not much dough.

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  4. Dovi65

    The diesel Lincoln has to be the grand prize trophy winner of Oddest of Oddballs. I’d love to own this piece of ‘WTH were they thinking”
    I looked at one of these gems on a used car lot in the 90s [when they couldn’t GIVE them away].A few years later I would pick up an 87 Continental [gas]. Great car, ride was smooth as silk

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  5. nessy

    The seller/flipper calls this car a prototype and listed it as a compact. It is very clear that he does not know anything about this car. You can also see the car is down to the ground so the air bags are done. Costly job. 2500 as it is? Although it’s a special car and the diesel is pretty rare to find in this model. That price will not happen.

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  6. Adam T45 Staff

    Maybe the seller has listed it as a compact because they think that the best place for it is in a garbage compactor! Diesel engines in luxury cars never really work, because the engines are almost always too loud and too coarse. Having said that, this appears to be in fairly reasonable condition, and some of the strangest cars from the past have become much sought after collectibles. So who knows?

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    • audifan

      Interesting statement about diesel engines in luxury cars being too loud and too coarse. I wonder why Audi Q7 and Q5 TDIs, A6 and A8 TDIs, BMW TDs, MBZ Bluetecs and other luxury cars with Diesel engines are bringing so much money in the used car market. Maybe all the owners are deaf. P. S.I work in the car biz as a luxury car buyer.

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      • Adam T45 Staff

        I’ll defer to your experience on the current generation of diesels audifan. I am wrong on occasions. I have, however, experienced a late model Merc (less than two years old) with a diesel, and can’t say that I was impressed. You would have to admit that diesel engines from the era of the featured car were extraordinarily coarse.

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  7. wuzjeepnowsaab

    IIRC these BMW diesels were pretty wretched engines. They were probably laughing in the back rooms of Munich when the FoMoCo rep asked “would you be able to supply us with diesels?”

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  8. tasker

    when I started at the dealership I work at now, we had two brand new transmissions to fit this car in crates in our storage facility. Not one but two. They made what….four of these cars and we had two transmissions….go figure!

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  9. CJ

    Worth sticking a big block 427 in the car?

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    • RichS

      If you want to do that – you can certainly find a lot nicer MarkVII to start with, especially for $2500.

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