Special Edition Mark VIIIs

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theterminator93

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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1996 Diamond Anniversary Mark VIII

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In 1996, Ford Motor Company marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of Lincoln Motor Company. In truth, the Lincoln Motor Company was actually founded three years earlier in 1918 by Henry Leland, formerly of GM, who also engineered the first Cadillac in 1902. Henry Leland named the company after his boyhood hero, Abraham Lincoln. Due to World War I, the first Lincoln Motor Cars were not produced until September 1920. In 1921, Henry Ford bought Lincoln Motor Company because he wanted a luxury car division. A year later Henry Leland and his son, Wilfred, were forced out of the company.

As shown in Lincoln's special four page brochure, limited edition Diamond Anniversary models were offered on each model Lincoln available in 1996 - the Continental, the Town Car and the Mark VIII. Each was available in either Silver Frost Metallic or Cordovan Metallic. Silver Frost was a standard color that was available on all Mark VIIIs form 1995 to 1998. Cordovan Metallic was only available on the Mark VII in 1996 on the Diamond Anniversary Edition and in 1998 on the Collector's Edition. Curiously, Cordovan Metallic was a standard color that was available on all Mark VIIIs in 1997. The interiors were trimmed in Light Graphite with Cordovan stitching and piping. The leather seating was done in two-tone Light Graphite & Cordovan. The cars has model specific floor mats with the Diamond Anniversary logo. The rear quarter windows were etched with the special diamond anniversary logo. The original buyer got a gift of Waterford Crystal diamond sculpture and a wood display stand with a customized plaque. The cars appeared for the Spring 1996 selling season, around May 1996. The Diamond Anniversary Mark VIII was offered on the base model, but may have also been available as an LSC model.

In Auto Revista, Connie Keane writes, "To celebrate 75 years of automotive technology, Lincoln is producing a luxurious Diamond Anniversary Edition of the Mark VIII. The Diamond Anniversary Edition is bestowed with the creme de la creme of standard equipment. This special Mark VIII model includes the Ford voice-activated cellular telephone, power moonroof, chrome directional wheels, embroidered floor mats and the JBL sound system. It is available in Silver Frost or Cordovan paint with Light Graphite leather seating surfaces. My tester was equipped with the Luxury Sport Coupe (LSC) package. The LSC is the icing on the cake for this 1996 Mark VIII. It includes a monochromatic exterior paint, covering front and rear bumpers and bodyside moldings. The LSC has a new dual exhaust system and high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps."

The cars may or may not have carried an individual serial number like the Collector's Editions of 1998. Production numbers were probably low, though we have not been able get documentation on how many were produced. Based on the frequency of sightings of these cars, fewer than 500 Diamond Anniversary Mark VIIIs were produced.

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Detail of etching on rear quarter windows
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Above two pictures show the Light Graphite/Cordovan interior unique to the Diamond Anniversary edition. Courtesy of Glen Yadon.
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1996 Diamond Anniversary edition in optional Silver Frost. The chrome Directional wheels are stock for an LSC model. Courtesy of Glen Yadon.
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The Waterford crystal given to original owners. Courtesy of Joel Walker.
 
1998 Spring Feature Mark VIII
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If there was a rare production Lincoln, this is it. Only 117 of these exclusive models were built were built in a two week period from February 9 to February 21, 1998 among 858 regular production cars. This model had a special option code 54K - the "Spring Feature Car," prepared for the 1998 Spring Selling Season. It was done in exterior color code BH - which was a "pull-ahead" color that would make its début on the 1999 Lincoln Continental, where it would be a Continental "Exclusive" paint, not shared with any other 1999 Lincoln vehicle. The color was called "Medium Gold Metallic". In addition, this Spring Feature Car wore the same gold grille badges that would show up on the Collector's Edition later the following spring. The "32 Valve In-Tech V8" rear tail lamp nomenclature was done in gold, as was the LINCOLN, nameplate on the right side of the tail lamp. This is different than the later 1998 Collector's Edition which were all LSC models, and had gold "LSC" lettering instead on the right side of the taillight.

Some of these cars, when equipped with the optional chromed OctaStar wheels had special gold Lincoln Star wheel centers, similar to that on the Collector's Editions where it is in black plastic. The Spring Feature Car was available with DW, ZY or ZQ Interiors. No numerical breakdown was performed, due to early termination of this package. Using the above percentages as a 'guide' -- it is probable that of the 117 made, some 39 had the Midnight Black Interior (DW), 49 probably were made with the Light Prairie Tan Interior (ZY), while 29 got the Ivory (ZQ).

Lincoln sent out a one page 8 x 11 flyer with no photo in December of 1997 to all the Lincoln dealers. The dealers never received a photo of it! The production run was very short, as they had to end it to make room for the Collector's Edition. They collected all the orders submitted from over 1,600 Lincoln dealers, which totaled only 117. They built them over a two week period, (Non-sequential VINs) - and that was it! IF a customer wandered onto a Lincoln dealer's lot, in say April, and saw one, and wanted to place an order (say for one with a different colored interior), it was tough luck!! NO retail buyer ever ordered one. Only dealers ordered them. They were never even released, so to speak, to the public, they just suddenly showed up at the dealer (who happened to have ordered it in December of 1997). Being a base model only, they came with directional wheels, but not chrome. However, OctaStars, which were all chromed, were an option! With the OctaStars, the center Lincoln Star was gold. Only Eight (8) were made. It can therefore be assumed that 109 had the other wheels. Incidentally, the 8 cars with the gold stars on the OctaStar wheels also had a really rare package, called Gold Ornamentation Group, code 54K. It was only available on the Spring Feature (with code BH-Medium Gold Metallic) when ordered in combo with the OctaStar wheels, then the 54K was included, no charge.

The above picture is a rare publicity picture of the model. The picture was found on the Internet in 1998, but its original location cannot be determined.

If you happen to own or spot one of these ultra rare beasts, we would love to get a picture. If you do own one of these cars, don't switch the wheels, as you will not find a more exclusive wheel. In fact, don't change anything, as you will not find a more unique car unless you build it yourself!

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This is the data plate on a Spring Feature Car. Note the paint code "BH," which is only found on the Spring Feature Cars. Note also the April 1998 build date. Some Spring Feature Cars were obviously made after February.

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A few Spring Feature Cars have turned up as LSC models, so there were some obviously built as such. If you have any pictures of these or other rare Mark VIII, send it to us, so we can post it.
 
1998 Collector's Edition Mark VIII
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On January 26, 1998, Ford Motor Company announced it would end production of the Lincoln Mark VIII in June 1998, leaving the Cadillac El Dorado as the only traditional American luxury coupe left on the market. Mark VIII sales were doing poorly. Only 16,805 of the newly revamped 1997 models were sold, and sales of the 1998 were even lower. On February 5, 1998, Lincoln announced that it would offer a Mark VIII Collector's Edition, a special commemorative version of the car. In Lincoln's published announcement, Jim O'Connor, Ford vice president and general manager of Lincoln Mercury states, "We're celebrating the major role the Mark series has played in Lincoln's history. These are the cars that ushered in the Mark traditions of the Lincoln grille, bold C-pillar, long hood and short trunk, including the famous Continental kit spare tire." Lincoln had offered special editions when it has discontinued a line of cars before. In 1979, a Collector's Series option was offered on the last of the Mark Vs and the last of the big Town Cars.

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The Collector's Edition was a $900 option on top of the base price of the LSC edition of the Mark VIII, on which they were all based. Only two colors were offered: the Cordovan Metallic color (which was exclusive to the Collector's Edition in 1998), and a $365 extra cost White Pearlescent Tri-coat Metallic. Two special interiors were offered: a two tone Graphite interior and a two tone Prairie tan interior. Of note is that though all other LSC's featured Euro-perforated interior, the Collector's editions' hides were solid, with no perforations in the seating area. Possibly, the seating materials were made up early in the decision making process when the Collector's Edition was planned to be a base model.

In addition to the above, the Collector's Edition buyer got the following:

  • Unique Badging. Collector's Edition was spelled out in gold on an inset in the unique body side molding and in delicate gold leaf on the wood door insets. The grill emblem was gold plated as was all the lettering on the taillight lens. Black plastic continental stars were inset onto the standard chrome LSC wheel center caps.
  • Wood Trim. The Collector's Edition got a special leather steering wheel with genuine walnut inserts. This steering wheel is reportedly the same one used in the new Jaguar of the time. Instead of a leather covered shift lever, the shift lever is polished wood. All the wood inserts in the Collector's Edition is of a higher gloss finish than on the standard LSC models.
  • Collector's Gift. After delivery, Collector's Edition owners were sent a black leather case containing an eight silver ingot set commemorating the Mark line from the original Mark I, the 1939 Lincoln Continental, to the final Mark VIII series. Each set was personalized with the VIN number of the owner's car. Each set was accompanied by a note from Lincoln-Mercury vice-president/general manager Mark W. Hutchinson. Interestingly, there is no acknowledgment of the Mark III, IV and V made in 1958, 1959 and 1960 respectively. Ford has consistently ignored these three years of Marks in all its announcements and literature about the Mark VIII. Apparently when the 1968 Mark III was planned, Ford wanted to wipe clean the history of the Mark after the memorable Mark II of 1956-57.
  • Unique Floor Mats. The floor mats were color keyed to the interior and have "Collector's Edition" script stitched into them, instead of the usual "LSC" or "Mark VIII." Floor mats were only available for the front.
  • Black Door Latches. This was never mentioned in any announcements or literature. Instead of chrome door latches as on all the other Mark VIII's the door latches were painted black. Possibly this was a cost cutting measure by Ford, as was the deletion of the plastic generator cover in 1998 that was standard in 1997.
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Orders for the Collector's Edition were taken starting in April of 1998. All the cars were built in the weeks from June 8 to June 27, 1998. Each car received a metallic gold sticker with a serial number on the driver's door jamb. These serial numbers are not consecutive with production, as they were randomly applied to the cars, after they were all assembled. Serial numbers are known to go up to 1280, with this last car going to the Dearborn museum. Ford's records indicate that 1386 Collector's Editions were built. The additional cars may have been made for Canada and other countries.

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Special brochures were printed for these cars. The initial brochure had a cover with a closeup of the taillight lens with gold letters "Mark VIII Collector's Edition." The production car did not have this detail, so a second brochure was made with a cover showing a small picture of a Collector's Edition in Cordovan Metallic. Both of these brochures are exceedingly rare. Reportedly, only one copy of the second version was given to each dealership.

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