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The Lincoln Mark VIII Was a Special, Weird Car

The Lincoln Mark VIII was a coupe sold by Lincoln from 1993 to 1998. On its face, that doesn’t sound very remarkable, but the Mark VIII was indeed very remarkable. I got up behind one in traffic the other day, and I was reminded by just how bizarre and unusual this vehicle is.

The biggest reason this car was so weird — and so special — is the styling: it’s just like nothing else in the world. Interestingly, I remember seeing these in the 1990s and not thinking they were very weird, but these days, the car business has gone a very different direction in terms of design, and the Mark VIII now looks like an alien car compared to other vehicles currently on sale.

The interior was unusual, too, with a giant dashboard that made an unbroken U shape across the entire interior, and with the center control stack tilted very obviously towards the driver. Then there was the fact that, in spite of the Mark VIII’s absolutely massive 207-in length, it was only a 2-door vehicle with a relatively cramped back seat. A lot of its length seemed to exist on the overhangs, which were truly huge for a car from the 1990s.

By modern standards, the Mark VIII’s layout was also unusual: a rear-wheel drive, V8-powered luxury coupe that isn’t sporty, that doesn’t use a turbo engine, that isn’t anything but cushy or huge. It didn’t emphasize performance, it didn’t emphasize a thrilling driving experience, it didn’t emphasize sportiness. It was just a massive luxury coupe, reaching the (then dwindling, now nonexistent) massive luxury coupe demographic.

Cadillac canceled the Eldorado luxury coupe for the 2002 model year, which brought an end to the non-sporty luxury coupe — but to me, the Mark VIII was really the end of the line. By the end of the Eldorado, it was much smaller than it had been, and styling was more reasonable and rational — but the Mark VIII brought 1970s sizing and 1970s excessive styling to modern cars. When it went away in 1998, it really was the end of an era.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Doug, did you write this piece after I emailed you about checking out the Mark VIII I had just bought in Oceanside, CA (or was this a happy coincidence)? My 1995 LSC drove from California to Illinois with nary a problem (and there is now only 75,550 miles on the odometer). With all of the maintenance done by the previous owner (the 100k maintenance checklist including Michelin Defenders), it drives & looks like new. I have a picture of it right in front of the south rim of the Grand Canyon (it looks like a magazine shot). The only improvement I have made so far (the only one needed) is that I took out the cheap JVC stereo the previous owner installed (weirdly, it was his only compromise on the car) and I installed an Xvision 1 din NAV/Bluetooth unit (that tied in just fine with the onboard JBL amp). With the backup camera, it is now as capable as a newer Lincoln with Sync3 (and it looks great within that center stack). Don’t forget, if you are ever in Illinois…. you have an open invitation to test drive my car.

  2. The Eldorado was every bit as big as this Lincoln.  This Lincoln actually didn’t do well in accidents, but was a good car.  I remember the TV adds showed the faster the car was going, it sat lower for aerodynamics.  A bit ahead of it’s time

  3. It was the Lincoln MN12 stablemate (same chassis as the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar).  It was a logical progression of the Mark VII, which was also built on the Foxbody Chassis that was shared with the previous generation Thunderbird and Cougar.  The Mark VIII had an important job: to showcase to the world the 32 valve Ford Modular V8, which was exclusive to this car, until it was cancelled (and then became available in the Mustang Cobra).  This engine should have gone to the Mustang much sooner, in my opinion.  This was the first unstrangled modular V8.

    • It’s actually on a different chassis than the mn12 third/cougar. However, the two chassis are very similar. Interestingly enough, about the engine, is that it was the only engine Ford had at the time that was competitive with the LS/LT1 Chevy 5.7 engines. However, it never made it into the mainstream Mustang GT which was competing with the car that had the aforementioned motors. 

  4. There’s one of these parked in front of a house I drive by everyday. Did it have some kind of air suspension or something because the one I see the suspension is obviously collapsed on all sides and I feel like a lot of the ones I see usually have at least one collapsed.

    • Yes, and it’s s very expensive fix.  I knew a guy with one, and he told me he had a Thunderbird suspension installed on his.  This was the major problem with the mark VII and the 84 to 94 Continental, 20 years ago, it cost about $2400 per side

  5. I wish you’d mention it’s quirkiest features – later models were one of the first cars with factory HIDs and it had a neon taillight bar!

    • It was the 1995 Mark 8 LSC that first used HID headlights from the factory

      This car is always been on my dream car list
      Or on the cars I want to own when I get my driver’s license

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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