BMW Diesel-Powered: 1984 Lincoln Continental Givenchy

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Here’s a car I didn’t know existed, and certainly didn’t expect one in this sort of condition would still be on the roads today: it’s a 1984 Lincoln Continental Givenchy edition with the BMW-supplied six cylinder turbodiesel under the hood. You will be the only one on the block with one of these! Plus, the car itself is in stunning condition, with 85,000 original miles and clearly cherished by almost certainly an elderly owner. The seller notes it has one repaint and lots of ongoing, proactive maintenance in its history file, and is believed to be one of only about 2,000 Lincolns across all models fitted with the optional diesel. Find it here on craigslist for $6,500 or best offer.

The bussle back look was a design feature Lincoln seemingly felt warranted continued preservation well into the 1980s, and while I can’t say I love it, it hasn’t aged as poorly as one might expect. The next generation Continental was always my favorite, especially on those slick BBS-style wheels, but this generation tried to bridge the gap between what the buyers of yesteryear saw as a Lincoln and the more streamlined shape that was to come. The bodywork on this example looks fantastic, and the seller does confirm it has had just one prior owner, an elderly female who apparently loved the car enough to go forward with a respray, and the seller notes the paint is about 10 years old.

The interior was way more forward-looking than I expected, with a digital gauge cluster, smooth wood trim, automatic climate control, and a Citroen-esque steering wheel. I realize this is still one hundred percent your grandmother’s Lincoln, but it’s still better than I expected. If you were in your late 60s and checking one of these Continentals out in the showroom, you’d likely think it was light years ahead of whatever model you were trading in. The seller doesn’t highlight any issues inside the car in terms of power features not working or the A/C not blowing cold, but what is presented in the photos all looks to be in good order. The wood inserts in the door panels are my favorite feature.

BMW’s turbodiesel is an unusual sight under the hood, as so few Lincoln shoppers wanted their American luxury car to have a German-built six cylinder diesel under the hood. Of course, you can’t blame Lincoln for looking at the take-rate for the W126 Mercedes-Benzes equipped with a diesel engine and wondering if it was missing out on a potentially lucrative market. Unfortunately, the BMW-built engine didn’t do much to steal buyers away from the Germans, so the engine simply remains an interesting footnote in Lincoln’s history. Still, it’d be a hoot to show up to a FoMoCo show with a diesel engine clattering away under the hood of a stately Lincoln.

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  1. Gottasupportbarnfindsifucan

    My parents had what looks like the exact same one. My friends were all marveled by “trip computer” Hammer the gas and all you see in the rear view mirror is black smoke. Rough winters here in Michigan took its toll on starters. Had to plug it in every night it got below freezing. Through all of that I’d still love to own this car. I still remember the comb lock. 03294

    Like 15
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    When these were new, I had zero interest in them. Today, I can’t say that I like them. But I’m with Jeff, maybe they are not so bad. I suppose the real reason is my tastes have changed. It’s kind of an 80’s representation of overdone 70’s luxury cars, in a smaller package. I do like the two-tone blue paint and the classy blue upholstery. It would be something different at Cars & Coffee. The right owner could have fun with it for not much money.

    Like 12
    • PatrickM

      Good for shows, cruise-ins and date night. That’s it. No on I know wants a diesel n a car, including me. Don’t get me wrong…good looking car. If it had a 5.0L, or a 5.4L, then I might consider it. Thanks. Have a nice day. GLWTS.

      Like 0
  3. Richard

    In 1986 we test drove a new Lincoln Mark VII with the turbo diesel. And it was horrible, zero acceleration. When we got back to the dealership the salesman asked how we liked it, we told him about the lack of performance. He looked at us, and said with a straight face, you need to let the car warm up for about thirty minutes and then it will be fine! We got back into our 1985 Thunderbird Elan 5.0 and left. Does not surprise me this power train was short lived in Lincoln’s.

    Like 8
    • Big_FunMember

      Reading the comments below, I wondered if the sales consultant mixed up his facts about a 30 minute warmup for better performance vs. 3000 miles for better performance. I’ve seen it happen before, with facts bring misconstrued.

      Like 6
      • CCFisher

        It’s possible. I once had a salesperson make note of “anti-lock” gauges, when he meant “analog” gauges. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue – he did it several times.

        Like 2
    • randebell

      I’ve only seen one BMW Diesel-powered Lincoln, and it was an early Mark VII being prepped inside the Chuck Colvin Ford service dept in McMinnville, OR. That’s the only one up until now and this post.

      Like 3
  4. Big_FunMember

    I love what this car represents – the 80’s definition of American luxury.
    1. Chrome
    2. Two tone paint scheme (bonus for the blue hues).
    3. Velour type cloth
    4. “Cutting edge” powerttrain
    5. Digital dash
    6. Bustle back styling
    7. ‘Designer series’ trim
    Many responses to the Cadillac Seville in this particular model.
    Meeting Gordon Gekko at Teterboro with your white collar and cuffs comes to mind
    Or Your Honor heading over to Bushwood to play a round with the Bishop and Dr. Beeper…

    Like 10
  5. SubGothius

    This generation of Continental is a Fox-body under the skin, yet we almost never see anyone hot-rodding them with Mustang go-fast bits. Seems like this snoozer of a diesel mill would be ripe for a modern V8 swap and chassis upgrades to go with it.

    Then either keep the looks stock for a real sleeper, or update with tasteful wheel-tire improvements and maybe tone down the chrome trim a bit a la the LTD LX or Mark VII LSC style — e.g., perhaps blackout the inside of the headlight buckets and the smallest slats in the grille, and lightly smoke the taillights. More radically (maybe not with this particular example), imagine fully dechromed/blackout trim, shave all badging, paint it metallic red, grey, or white.

    Like 4
    • Big_FunMember

      I think it is because Lincoln deliberately made sure (from the outside, anyway), that it didn’t look like a fox body. Inside, the tells are the headlight switch cluster, power seat controls, and that center stack. Had and 86 Cougar with those same details. It even had the separate graphic equalizer above the radio – surprised this car does not have it. I’ll bet the equalizer is built in with the upgrade speakers/sound system only available in a Lincoln.

      Like 2
    • CCFisher

      I think it would be easier to modify the diesel for more performance than to do a swap. Gotta be a BMW fanboy out there who’s done it. Swapping in a gas V8 would be a major undertaking. Engine, transmission, fuel system, chassis components, and various electronics would need to be changed. The instrument cluster could even be unique to the diesel. I’ve seen a few customs based on this generation of Continental, and they’re, uh, interesting, but I would start with a V8 car.

      Like 4
  6. normadesmond

    Surely a better engine than GM’s diesel, right?

    Like 11
  7. Tom m

    I had the 84 Mark VII with the turbo diesel as a Company car during my career with Ford Mo Co. this diesel was only produced for the 84-85 Lincoln Mark & Continental, and production stopped half way through 85. We had only around 600 sold in the US with over 1,500 in company service. BMW only made this particular engine for Lincoln, and there are very few parts still available. Good luck at finding any special service tools which were required to fix them. They had a large fuel tank with great fuel mileage. I drove from Chicago to Boise ID filling up only once.

    Like 13
    • Jim

      It’s not the same as the 524td engine??

      Like 3
      • michael kelly

        It is.

        Like 1
    • Treebeardzz

      Actually, although even rarer, the same M21 engine(sadly both have donated their rare engine for each other – but mostly Lincolns were sacrificed for the even rarer Vixens) was used in the Vixen 21 with a Renault 5-speed overdrive for the fastest stock diesel motorcoach(100mph) while still delivering 30mpg. Looks like it already sold as the phone# link seems to be inactivated.

      Like 2
      • shawn

        it is actually still for sale,i am the owner,the phone number is 518-883-8330

        Like 8
  8. Tom m

    It had a 2.4L slant six BMW Turbo Diesel engine.

    Like 5
    • Jim

      That’s what I thought. BMW rep I knew said it was just a 524TD engine..

      Like 5
  9. Turbo

    Don’t be fooled. I know the owner and this is a Fiero based kit car.

    Like 10
    • shawn

      it is not a kit car,i am the owner.this car is completely bone stock and mother was the third owner

      Like 7
  10. Larry S

    Like Tom M, I too worked for Ford in the early ‘80’s as a Parts and Service Rep. We were very excited to be 22 year olds driving a $27,000 turbo diesel Mark 7.
    The car, when new, needed full throttle just to get out of a parking space but after about 3000 miles, the engine really loosened up, and the car’s performance really improved.
    I recall getting 38 mpg on the highway.
    The downsized styling did not sit well with the previous generation. My Dad would condescendingly refer to my company issued Mark 7 as “ your Thunderbird”

    Like 9
  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car. I’ve always loved this year for the Lincoln Continental. Gas or Diesel, I find this more attractive than other Continentals and Town Cars of the 1980s.

    Like 4
  12. Pat Gill

    That engine will last for a million miles with oil changes but it is not fast, one good thing is that it will run on veg oil, old engine oil, in fact almost anything oily, hardly any special tools required, main weak point is the one injector with a sensor, very hard to find these days, that engine was also used in a Vauxhall / Opel and a range Rover, none of them were fast! designed for the BMW E34 and E30 diesels,

    Like 3
  13. Pat Gill

    looking again I am confused, that engine looks to have a timing belt, the BMW had a chain or am I getting old…….

    Like 1
  14. Maestro1

    I would put a gas engine in it and alter whatever was necessary in the drive train and elsewhere to make the car function properly. OR: simply leave it alone and add some time to wherever I’m going. I’m close to a Lincoln dealer, and I’ll let them worry about it or send it to the BMW franchise and let them look at it.

    Like 1
  15. Dr Ken

    As a 35 year owner of diesel vehicles, cars and trucks, I can state that these are rare and the condition is even rarer. Had an old timer friend 25 years ago who had one and wanted me to buy it. I didn’t, but this one has me thinking! I had many GM diesels and still have my best running motor stored in the barn!

    Like 4
  16. Comet

    OK, I’m gonna say it. If this land yacht has fox body bones, could there be any diesel Mustangs slowly clattering around there?

    Like 2
  17. Mark

    I have in my garage 1984 Lincoln with 2.4 diesel and BMW 1985 diesel.
    Perfect cars and perfect mpg.
    Lincoln average mpg – on Hwy trip around
    32-35 mpg. Never any issues . In present time 155.000 miles
    Bmw 88.000 miles – average 28/32 mpg.
    I tested Diesel engine 2.4 bmw at Ford New Holland and I got 2 brand new engine in my garage with 50 hrs testing .
    Perfect engines – easy to work and maintains.
    Very good price – only question about the paint job. My cars are original.

    Like 4
    • Shawn

      The only reason for the repaint was due to scratches on the roof.a previous owner appeared to drag groceries or something across the roof

      Like 2
  18. Jim

    I had an 83 324td BMW when I was stationed in Germany. 375,000 km and it still ran like a beast. Engine was non intercooled, not quick or even torquey, but couldn’t kill it.

    Like 3
  19. David Sanborn

    I’m surprised that we’re this many comments in without anyone mentioning that this very same BMW diesel engine powered a pusher motorhome: the very intriguing Vixen RV.

    Like 4
    • Treebeardzz

      Scroll up in comments – 1 hr 17 minutes before you.(July 15, 2020 at 1:37pm).

      Like 2
      • David Sanborn

        Odd, must’ve been a glitch or a west coast vs east coast time issue as I did a keyword search for “Vixen” before commenting and came up with nada.
        Proves the axiom that great minds think alike.

        Like 2
  20. Shawn

    The only reason for the repaint was due to scratches on the roof.a previous owner appeared to drag groceries or something across the roof

    Like 3
  21. connbackroads

    The engine came from this car, and they did use a timing belt.

    Like 0
  22. Pat Gill

    some distant memory of 2.4 had a belt, 2.5 had a chain, we never had the 2.4 diesel in BMWs in the UK, and not many 2.5 models either,

    Like 0
  23. Kenn

    Shawn, the remark about it being a kit car was a joke! Lighten up.

    Like 1
    • shawn bornt

      lol,i realized that after i sent the reply,i couldn’t find a way to delete my reply

      Like 1
  24. Andrey Anderson

    i have four 84 mark 7 diesels. One is like new, 81000 miles

    Like 0

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