Factory Custom: 1980 Lincoln Mark VI

By Nathan Avots-Smith

There’s always been a fascinating feedback loop between customizers and automakers’ in-house styling departments. The unusual but factory original “touring lamps” on the front of this grimy Lincoln Mark VI coupe are a case in point. Follow along with me: Brooks Stevens’ Excalibur SSK, a 1964 Studebaker skunkworks project never officially sanctioned or claimed by that company and put into limited production with Chevrolet power, kicked off a vogue for “neoclassical” automotive styling that went mainstream in the late ’60s and early ’70s as big-displacement engines necessitated long hoods, creating real estate for sweeping, pontoon fenders and other baroque flourishes. This factory styling then became a jumping-off point for even more flamboyant and exaggerated styling on customized “flash cars” such as those famously built by Les Dunham for films such as Superfly and Live and Let Die. One of Dunham’s most recognizable signatures was the “Fly Light,” a facia mounted over the factory headlights to give the appearance of massive round headlights in the style of a 1930s Rolls-Royce. Though considerably scaled down, the Lincoln touring lamps, mounted on the doors of the hideaway headlights and optional from 1980 to 1983, were the closest a buyer could get to factory-installed Fly Lights, an interesting nod by Lincoln to the appeal that the “flash car” scene held for some luxury car buyers of the era. This Mark may be looking less than fly these days, but it’s the first example I’ve ever seen with the touring lamps—so it’s not just a barn find, it’s a barn find with history! Check it out here on craigslist out of the Maryland suburbs in the DC metro area, with an asking price of $2,000 (archived ad).

Yes, the ad refers to this car (repeatedly) as a “mark 5” [sic], but an ’80 is a Mark VI, and so indeed is this—as is visible on the trunklid badge in two separate photos. It would probably be even more visible if the seller had made the barest attempt to wash the car; this is the easiest way to add value to a car when you’re advertising it for sale, and “barn find” or no, I don’t understand not doing so, even at this price. Let’s be real: if it was clean, I might consider this 75% of the way to being a $2,000 car. As it is, I’m not sure it’s even 50% of the way there.

Mileage is claimed as 79,000, but the wear on the driver’s seat—and just in general—gives me serious reason to doubt it. The back seat looks much cleaner, though, and the white-with-burgundy-accents color scheme is fun, but the real showstopper is that little black box jutting out of the dashboard: an honest-to-god 8-track to cassette adapter!

That’s some serious crud buildup at the base of the windshield, but the good news is that the 351 Windsor V8 is said to run and drive. How well is open to question, and in a barge like this it won’t likely be all that fast, but like any good “flash car,” this is a cruiser anyway, not a stoplight drag racer. The Mark VI gave way to the aero-smooth Mark VII in 1984, so this coupe represents the end of its neoclassical era. It blends together an interesting array of stylistic influences, topped with a healthy layer of grime kitsch, which the 8-track with cassette adapter only heightens—just clean it up and throw on wider whitewalls, and you’ll be the belle of the next cruise night!

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    Runs and drives? Not without a radiator.

    The asking price would be a stretch even if the ad was accurate. It’s a parts car worth a couple of hundred dollars, at best.

    Steve R

    8+
  2. Sam

    Maybe it was Marion Berry’s DC staff car….maybe some leftover nose candy?

    I like the full blown pimp mobiles from Live and Let Die as well as Dirty Harry.

    3+
  3. Steve

    Why did someone put a thunderbird hood ornament on a Mark VI? Really thou, that is the least of this cars problems. Sad sight to what was once a very nice car.

    3+
  4. Bob_S

    I think the Mark IV is sooooo much better looking than a Mark V. The prices for a good Mark IV are not very high. There is no reason to take a second look at this one.

    Bob_S

    2+
    • JRATT 1956

      The Mark III is the best looking. I even like the 80 to 89 Town Car. I have owned 1971 and 1981 Lincolns. The Mark III was a true hot rod Lincoln.

      0
  5. CCFisher

    Always felt those “touring lights” made it appear as if the car had a bad case of insomnia.

    6+
  6. nessy

    Another dumb lazy flipper/seller who is just “too busy” to wash the thing.. I feel sorry for the poor car. I like Lincolns from this era. Those lights were very popular on this model.

    10+
    • Chebby

      Agreed, some polishing compound or even Bon Ami would do wonders on that white paint.

      5+
  7. jw454

    It even still has the cassette adapter jammed into the ‘ole factory eight track. What a deal!
    It’s not the car… I just have a problem with people who just can’t be bothered to wash a car they’re trying to sell. They want top dollar and are too lazy to present the car at it’s best.

    8+
  8. That Guy

    It’s been ages since I saw one of these Superfly-edition Lincolns. I gotta say, time hasn’t made those fake headlamps any more attractive, but they do have an amusing retro-funky vibe now. This car has to be worth saving just for laughs if nothing else.

    3+
  9. Mark S

    Those head lights would be the first thing to go they look cheesy. If memory serves me correctly these came with veriableVenturi carberator which were usually replaced with a standard two bbl carb. The v.v. Carbs were Utter garbage. I’m no Ford guy but I do like this body style.

    3+
  10. Steve

    White on white with white top, and lacy spoke wheels. Pure class when new.

    6+
  11. Jubjub

    Love the tape deck adapter.

    My middle school home economics teacher had one of these with the touring lamps but it was a copper four door.

    A few years ago I picked one of these up, but a four door in a WAY over the top, factory bright red with the alloy wire wheels. I tidied it up and sold it for a nominal profit. Hope it made it into good hand and not a demo derby.

    1+
  12. mike D

    I agree that the crap at the base of the windshield should have been cleared out, it would take A LOT of ” scrubbing” to get it down to the paint, it has been sitting under a tree for who only knows how long .. and when all is said and done, would probably need a repaint , super if you want something that will stand out

    1+
  13. Miguel

    First of all isn’t the purpose of having concealed headlamps is that you do not see them?

    The exposed fake lights kind of defeat the purpose of that.

    Second of all, isn’t factory custom an oxymoron?

    If it is from the factory, it is not custom.

    4+
    • BillO BillO Member

      I agree, I never liked the look of the light on the light covers. Would be much cleaner looking without them.

      0
  14. W9BAG

    I actually HAVE one of those Realistic 8 track to cassette adapters, brand new in the box. You never know when you might need one. Then, you stick your cassette adapter into it, and you can play your I pod, phone, or mp3 player into it, and VIOLA !! Modern, digital tunes through your 8 track player.

    6+
  15. Alexander

    This car is such a yawn for me today as it was when new. I’m confused by the fascination of the Lincoln Towncar crowd — and obviously ignorant — since I thought all of this model came with the flip headlamps (???)

    0
  16. L.M.K.

    I love this car…It should be saved.

    0

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