Contemporary review originally published in Corridor Today March 15, 1988
I believe that automobiles are something like nouns in romance languages: they have gender. Oh, I know objectively that cars are innate objects made of rubber and plastic and steel but I also know that we talk to our cars. We beg them to start on frosty mornings and curse them when they don’t. When, by the way, was the last time you said something nice to your car? We accept them into our families, name them, and mourn them when they leave.
So why, if we accept that much anthropomorphism, not add gender to the stew?
Of course, some will call me crazy in others will call me a male chauvinist pig because I am about to suggest that the Lincoln Mark VI I LSC is one of the most relentlessly masculine cars I have yet to encounter.
What a relief it is from the great tide of androgynous automotive worker ants. This latest Mark, available in Bill Blass Designer Series or in the LSC, as tested, is still in all American classic, with a front-mounted V-8 engine and rear drive. All the clues for a luxury car are there in abundance. There is a traditional grill up front, the vestigial “spare tire hump” on the rear deck, and lots of bright work from stem to stern. Inside, of course, is a full leather interior and automatic everything: headlights which turned themselves on when it’s dark, which dim for oncoming traffic, and which stay on long enough for you to get into wherever you have to get into; a rear view mirror the switches from day to night when bright lights shine on it; and automatic climate control that requires you only to set the temperature desired.
None of this in itself makes the car masculine, however. The Mark VII is after all built on the same basic floorplan as the Ford Fairmont, and that car, while adequate for handling hauling around middle America, is not particularly, well, male. What does it for the Mark is the brawny styling, the big tires on big wheels that fill up big wheel arches.
This is a driver’s car. There’s no wimpy the bench seats here, just a pair of power buckets (controlled by neat “seat shapes” on the door) with adjustable lumbar firmness and side bolsters that go from wide to “gotcha.” There are just two doors with an aggressive cut into the roof that goes all the way into the A-pillar. The backseat is reasonably comfy but the getting in and out is less than graceful. The center front armrest covers double bins, one set up as a cassette tape holder and the other a pull-out drink holder that had an annoyingly flimsy feel to it. Let’s hope it holds up under use.
Conventional dials are used on the dash, with a tachometer and speedometer on either side of an engine temperature and fuel gauge. Above the rear view mirror are an outside temperature and an electronic compass, neither of which are necessities (until you need them of course). The standard trip computer is easy to use after only a glance at the instructions but the optional Ford JBL audio system – which sounds great by the way – is so low and recessed so far into the dash that the top row of buttons can’t be seen without bending way down, not what you want to do while driving! Oddly, in light of all the other automatic features, antenna is manual only. Go figure.
Ford calls this the performance car, and I certainly won’t argue. The 5.0 liter high-output V-8 engine in the LSC generates 225 hp (25 more than the 1987 LSC) and has specifications that hot rodders dreams are made of. It has (you normal folks bear with me while I thrill the performance buffs) tubular headers, dual exhaust, a “performance” camshaft, roller tappets, tunnel cast-aluminum intake manifold, and sequential multiport electronic fuel injection. Standard equipment, with no options, is a four-speed overdrive automatic transmission with a lockup torque converter and a special performance axle ratio (3.27 versus 3.08 for Bill Blass). Our LSC also had a “Traction-Loc” limited slip rear axle, shades of traditional performance cars.
Not at all traditional, however, is the air spring system. Intended to improve ride are rubber air bags acting on McPherson struts up front and a solid rear axle (read non-independent) with a piston design that varies the spring rate for rough roads or “severe maneuvers.” Maybe so, but I couldn’t feel it – which either proves the system is working very well or doesn’t make any difference. Despite the addition on the LSC of heavier front and rear anti-rollbars, I found that the Mark VII leaned a lot in cornering. It nevertheless held its line like a bowling ball in the gutter, thanks to careful tuning and P225/60R16 tires on 16×7.0” cast aluminum wheels.
More disconcerting is the nosedive the Lincoln takes under hard braking. The Mark VII has automatic computer -controlled load leveling, but that’s only to maintain front-to-rear and side-to-side ride height (and to hiss at you like a four wheeled whoopie cushion – bleeding off excess air – after you get out of the car). The nose down breaking doesn’t throw the car out of control, however, thanks to the anti-locking braking system that stops slidding by controlling braking power front-to-rear and side-to-side among the four-wheel disc brakes. A 40 percent reduction in stopping distance under slippery conditions is claimed. Every car should have it and probably, in the not-too-distant future, will. Just be prepared for a pulsing of the brake pedal which let you know the system is in operation.
Details: The trunk is average-ish 14.2 cu. ft., fuel capacity 22.1 gal. The LSC requires only unleaded regular fuel. I recorded acceptable 17 to 18 mpg in mixed driving (with an admitted possible overindulgence in V-8 torque), and an Interstate road trip netted 23+ mpg, very good for an almost 3800 lb. automobile.
Base price for the LSC is $25,068. Add $101 for the Traction-Loc axle, $89 for the automatic day-night mirror, $506 for the audio system, and $524 for delivery, and our test Mark VII LSC carried a suggested retail price of $26,288. That’s not cheap, but the Lincoln Mark VII LSC is the all-American hot rod in a three-piece suit. If you like mixing pinstripes with the throb of a V-8, the LSC could be the guy for you.