Rough but Rare: 1979 Lincoln Mark V Convertible

The ’70s were a tough time for lovers of big, American luxury convertibles. Neither Imperial nor Lincoln convertibles even made it into the decade, and the ’76 Cadillac Eldorado was the much-ballyhooed “last American convertible ever.” All of this was good news for enterprising coachbuilders, however, who discovered that they could charge a pretty penny for custom convertible conversions. This 1979 Lincoln Mark V, shared with us by reader Fred H., was the beneficiary of one such conversion, performed by the American Custom Coach company of Beverly Hills. Find this droptop Lincoln here on craigslist in Valley Center, California for the “unbelievable” price of $8,500, which does sound reasonable until you learn that this much nicer ’78 sold last year for the same amount (archived ad).

This “St. Tropez,” as the ACC conversion was called, is said to run and drive and mostly only need cosmetics. The interior isn’t even too bad—in fact, I suspect it’s much better than the exterior, which we only really see in the image at the top of this post. The bad news is that that image leads me to believe that this car probably needs a new top, which is not exactly an off-the-shelf part.

The white leather, on the other hand, looks pretty well-preserved and remarkably clean for, y’know, white leather. Our seller, Bob, claims that this St. Tropez cost $76,000 in 1979, which seems awfully high to me considering that MSRP for a standard Mark V was just $13,771 (and a ’79 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II cost $77,600); other sources suggest that the St. Tropez went for closer to $40,000. Either way, production numbers were almost certainly low, probably in the neighborhood of a dozen or so per year.

Making the value comparison with that ’78 we featured last year worse, for 1979 the Mark V lost its optional 460-CID V8, making do instead with only the standard 400, good for 166 emissions-strangled horsepower. Bearing that, plus the car’s obvious cosmetic needs, in mind—weighed against its rarity and potential appeal when fully restored—what do you think of its $8,500 asking price?


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  1. jw454

    When the seller said “Unbelievable price of $8500.00” he couldn’t have been more correct.
    Anyway, back when these were nearly new, a friend found a wrecked one and grafted the top onto a 1978 Thunderbird. He did a very nice job with it. I still see that car around the area from time to time.

    Like 1
  2. Steve R

    Like you said the car is rough. The asking price is a joke, the seller is a clown.

    Steve R

    Like 1
    • Fred

      You are so right! I have a 1978 Factory authorized dealer tagged Mark V Convertible which sold at Hilltop Lincoln Mercury in St. Louis, Mo. As it set on the showroom floor, it sported a rare 330hp x 420tq Holley carbed 460 with a price of $26,200.
      It is white with tan leather interior which I have enjoyed for over 26 years and is 1 of 50 as verified by the dealer. Lincoln sent 1 car to the 50 top producing dealers as promo cars to draw people into see the Beautiful Mark Vs. Hope this helps clear up the BS and confusion. Fred

  3. Mark Roberge

    The custom Town Coupe used an older Mercury Cougar convertible top. Do not know what the V used.

  4. jdjonesdr

    Rode hard, put away wet.

  5. KSwheatfarmer

    Funny how time changes what we think is cool. Mid eighties found me lusting for a Lincoln Town Coupe. We needed more room for kids, and I wanted a big two door Ford product. Lots of shopping,even at the Denver dealers auction with a friend with a buyer license who helped us that day. Thank goodness, we passed on some sad units. We ended up with one right in the back yard. As I get older, this hobby, addiction (?), or whatever, seems more about the people you meet,memories that go along with these cars than the cars themselves. Big thanks to everyone who hit the like button on our Cyclone story & picture. A sure sign of Old Fart Syndrome is telling the same story over and over again. If I post my story again next week, please let me know.

  6. Fred w.

    Whoever considers buying this needs to get a price on new top and labor first- and be sitting down when they get the estimate.

    • Art M.

      I think I would want an estimate on the body work too.

  7. CanuckCarGuy

    It would look sharp top down, but the asking price would be more realistic for a ‘ready to enjoy’ version. That someone paid too much for it originally, has no bearing on today’s price.

  8. Joseph Wayne Haddock

    Looks like the top may have been from a Riviera.

  9. Rex Kahrs Member

    Hey if you like this car, check out Tampa Craigslist for a really nice looking example for just $3000. I’m very tempted. Will be happy to do a PPI if someone is interested.

  10. Gallagher Engineering

    That top is not designed correctly for this car, it looks very bad with the top up. A better choice would have been to use atop from a full size Ford Galaxy as this would have been almost a perfect fit, and they could have even kept the back quarter glass. This is a $2500. car.

    The base price for a 1979 Lincoln Mark five was doubled for that year to $20,000, and of this I am told that Mercury only offered the Mark V in the “Collector Series” editions, (for that year of 1979 only), of which they had four different models which came with a large array of options. Also, you could still get the larger 429/460 engine as an option in 1979.
    Most of the people who bought these cars did not need to be concerned about fuel mileage or the cost of fuel because they were “well to do”.
    A lot of these Mark V’s survived for two reasons:
    One, Most of the people who had them also had a temperature controlled garages to keep them in, and
    Two, they seldom drove them in and weather that had less than perfect atmospheric conditions.
    The Mark series was the best looking vehicle around in the seventies, and some still argue that this is still true today.
    I predict that these vehicles will sky rocket sometime in the next ten years.
    They are now quite reasonable priced, the parts are cheap, they are easy to work on and they are very elegant looking vehicles. What’s not to like?

  11. Keefer Zeller

    If the car was converted to a convertible when new, why is there an 8th of an inch of bondo on the passenger side quarter panel?

    • Gallagher Engineering

      There’s Bondo on the quarter panelbecause thats when they cut off the top and then modified the quarter panel to accept the mounting hardware and reinforcement brackets.

  12. Maestro1

    I want to thank Gallagher Engineering for their remarks regarding this car. I’ve purchased several convertibles which were conversions. I have a upholsterer who has an in house guy who is a master with these kind of problems. I’m not worried and generally the costs aren’t astronomical. And this is the Left Coast where everything is too much money. I would re do the top in military tan which is more complimentary to the body color and get some of the gauche contrast out of the car. One of the ways to increase gas mileage is to put a 4 or 5 speed Tremec Automatic in the thing and you will be pleased with the return on the investment as expressed in operating costs. I’d buy this if it weren’t for the fact that I’m working on a Chrysler Letter Series Convertible. Good luck to someone and enjoy.

  13. Fred

    The companies that made the conversions for Lincoln in ’77, ’78, ’79 had to put a logo on them and couldn’t be the same as factory authorized models. I have a 1 of 50 1978 Mark V Convertible with factory 330 hp.x 420 tq. Holley carb 460 dealer car from Hilltop Lincoln Mercury in St. Louis, Mo. and the tag is still on the trunk. They had it on their showroom floor and the sticker price was $26,212 in the fall of 1977. They kept it for 5 yrs. and sold it in 1983 for 13,500. So those Monster prices people are feeding u are pure bull. My (2) Diamond Jubilees with 460’s, were right at $22,xxx and the convertibles were only about 4k more. Hope having the Facts helps. Fred

    Like 1
    • Jeff davis

      how would I find out who made mine? the marti report shows nothing and there is no info anywhere on the car..a 78 Mark V convertible…great shape but top rotten…I don’t know where to begin to look!

  14. Gallagher Engineering

    Good facts Fred, thanks. However I have never know a 1977 through 1979 Lincoln to come from the factory with 330 HP or a Holley carburetor. The car suffers from low compression of somewhere around 8.5 to one. This is a simple cure as one could easily swap the 72 cc chamber heads vastly increasing to compression thereby improving the performance to the possible 330hp, and increasing the fuel economy to boot. However you would have to use premium fuel due to the high compression.
    Craigslist usually has several aluminum 460 heads for sale. Install a aluminum intake and dual exhaust and you will have a pretty peppy package.
    Of course all this would lighten up the front end somewhat. So to take maximum advantage of this weight savings you just finish the performance package by relocating the battery to the right rear of the trunk and cut a little bit off of the front springs to bring the ride height back down.
    Now you can beat most of the the kids while riding in style.

  15. Jeff davis

    I just purchased one for $2,500 that needs a top…runs,drives,no rust…the asking price for this is way too high, and the top price for these in 1978 according to ASC was 40-42 K….good luck selling,but t’s a high price to pay in that condition.

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