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History of the Mark VIII

 

        This is an in-depth overview of the history of Lincoln’s Mark VIII luxury/sport coupe. If you see anything that you know to be missing, please contact us so that it can be added.

 

 

PRERELEASE

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1984 - 1988-    Lincoln begins basic studies into a replacement for the Mark VII. Initial designs and project goals reflect an evolutionary redesign of the Mark VII, to be released around 1990. Many of the styling cues and drivetrain are expected to remain the same as the Mark VII.

 

1986-   Motor Trend speculates that the replacement for the Mark VII was going to be built off of the then-new Taurus front drive platform.

 

1987-    1/4 scale models of early versions of the Mark VIII are shown in research clinics in Dallas and San Francisco.On a plane ride over the Atlantic following a visit to the 1987 Frankfurt Auto Show, the interior designers of the Mark VIII realized that other manufacturers were placing more emphasis on interior designs and that Lincoln had not done enough on the Mark's interior, so they sketched out the overall shape of the Mark VIII's production interior on a cocktail napkin. Dave Rees was Ford's director of interior design at the time.

 

Fall 1988 - 1992    The Mark VIII project it pushed back and revised. This was done to allow for the use of the DOHC 'Modular' engine, and to allow time for a more distinct product to be developed, using the then-new Thunderbird/Cougar platform. Ford had seen several designs of upcoming Japanese and domestic products that were to challenge the Mark VIII, and requested new, more radical design that was a big departure from than anything Lincoln had done, before, but still maintained cues of the Mark lineage. As a response, designers came up with a design named 'Stretch I'. Stretch I had to overall shape of the production car, featuring scalloped sides, full length, taillights, the spare-tire hump, and waterfall grille, but was devoid of chrome, had small c-pillars, a full length headlight setup, two air-inlets on the front bumper, and taillights that flowed upward on the sides rather than downward on the production car. A clay markup of Stretch I was finalized in only four weeks. Stretch I was shown to Lincoln execs (some of which were actually apalled by the design), who made some changes, adding chrome here and there and revising the front and rear end treatments a little, and 'Stretch II', was created. Stretch II represented about 70 percent of the finished product, as small details continually were revised. The main designer of the Mark VIII, Stretch I and Stretch II was Kyu Kim

 

February 1991- Ford pushes back the release date of the Mark VIII six months, to December of 1993.

 

August 1991-    A spy photo of a Mark VIII development mule graces the front cover of AutoWeek.

 

Late 1991-    Lincoln starts running 8 page advertisements for its entire 1992 lineup. The final page of the ad features a blurry teaser photograph of a Mark VIII.

 

1992-    Lincoln spends $73.4 Million on advertising.

 

Mar. 1992-      Motor Trend tests the new-for-1992 Cadillac ETC versus the 1992 Lincoln Mark VII LSC. As a side note to the test, a small half-page article was included describing the Mark VIII. Thinly disguised spy photos were included, along with several accurate assumptions about power output, suspension setup and optional equipment. Ford announces it has the capability to make 130,000 DOHC 4.6L Mark VIII engines a year. The new engine represents an investment of around $300 million.

 

April 1992-    Production of the Mark VII at the Wixom assembly plant is stopped so the plant can retool in time for the December introduction of the Mark VIII. Lincoln has spent $650 million upgrading the plant to handle production of the Mark VIII, including a new, state-of-the-art painting facility. Robert H. Transou, general manager of powertrain operations at Ford, releases some interesting snippets about the 32v DOHC engine, including that the V8 is the shortest V8 ford has, and could easily be mounted transversely.  Mr Transou also mentions that  a split-port throttle induction system will be used initially, and that a variable valve timing setup will follow soon after introduction.

 

July 1992-      Motor Trend takes a first look at the modular 4.6L DOHC motor.

 

Late Oct, 1992-    L-M announces the Mark VIII will have a base price of $36,640. Rumors leak that Lincoln is developing a convertible version of the Mark VIII for introduction around the 1996 model year.

 

November 1992-    Ford Automotive Group president Alex Trotman announces plans to develop a 4-door version of the yet-unreleased Mark VIII for the 1997 model year. The magazine Automotive News goofs up a report on the Mark VIII engine, stating that it will exceed 280mph. Glenn Ray of Ford wrote to the magazine "It would appear that our new engine exceeds all our expectations. We're still working on a new speed rating with our tire suppliers."

 

1992-       Lincoln displays the MARQUE X concept car at auto shows. The car is a re-skinned and highly stylized convertible representation of the production Mark VIII, and has more than just a passing resemblance to the Stretch I design concept. Time has shown that the car previews many gen1 and gen2 features and styling cues.

 

December 1992-     Popular Science awards the Mark VIII one of its 'Best of What's New' awards

 

Dec. 1992-    Rumors spread through the media concerning a convertible version of the Mark VIII. One magazine reports that two versions of the convertible are planned - a standard model outsourced to ASC (same company that made the Marque X concept) and a high-performance version built by SVT.

 

Dec 26th, 1992-    The 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII is offered for sale at Lincoln-Mercury dealers nationwide. A later release is planned for Japan, but not Europe.

 

 

GENERATION ONE

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THE 1993 CALENDAR YEAR

 

    New Features/Changes (1993 model year): Totally new car. Changes compared to the 1992 Mark VII can be seen in the specs area. Built on the FN10 platform, which is a heavily modified MN12 (Thunderbird/Cougar) platform. The new car features streamlined styling, ABS, a 4.6L DOHC V8 and 4-speed automatic transmission. The suspension is 4-wheel independent, with computer-controlled air-ride. Leather seating surfaces are standard, along with a computer message center, dual airbags, power everything, and alloy wheels.

 

January, 1993-    The Mark VIII is one of the products Ford decides to market during the Super Bowl.

 

Early 1993-    The Mark VIII competes in Japan's Import Car of the Year award. The Mark VIII is disqualified because Ford will not allow it to be driven on the road.

 

First Half 1993-    Lincoln spends $52.1 million in advertising, enough to rank 54th among all brands in spending. Ford finishes 2nd ($251.9 million), Mercury 29th ($73.1 million).

 

Early 1993-     L-M recalls 2,890 Mark VIIIs to replace seatbelt retractors that could have been damaged during installation, allowing the seatbelt to come undone during a collision. (Reported in Mar. 22, 1993 issue of Autoweek)

 

April 1993-    Ford delays plans for a convertible Mark VIII. Both in-house and aftermarket prototypes are still being looked into.

 

Early June, 1993-     Again, Ford raises prices on all 1993 models. This time the increases amount to about 1.1 percent.  Ford starts working with Spartan Aluminum Products developing steering wheel armatures made from magnesium for the 1996 model Mark VIII. The Mark VIII is expected to be the third line of autos from Ford  to use this material.

 

July. 5, 1993-   The Lincoln Mark VIII finishes in 7th Place on Autoweek’s ’10 Best’ American cars list.

 

August 1993-    L-M drops development of the Mark VIII Convertible. The aftermarket steps into fill the gap.

 

Sep. 1993-      The advanced technology of the 4.6L DOHC V8 in the Mark VIII is featured in a Motor Trend article written by Ron Grable.

 

Oct. 11, 1993-  AutoWeek starts its Long-Term Mark VIII file, Initial observations include ample power, hood vibration at speed, and lots of door dings.

 

November 1993-     Lincoln sales are down 17% compared to November of last year.

 

Year End 1993-    Total sales volume for the year is up 15%. Lincoln-Mercury's overall market share rises to 6.9 percent. (For comparison, L-M market share in 2003 is about 2 percent.)

 

 THE 1994 CALENDAR YEAR

 

    New Features/Changes (1994 model year): Early in 1994 production, real wood veneer was added to the center console, starting with the EATC surround and flowing all the way to the center console lid. The Lincoln Star was stitched into the four main seatbacks, which now feature Nudo brand leather (labeled internally as 'Noble' leather), which is softer and richer looking that in the 93 model. The remote keyless entry system now activates memory functions for the driver's seat and rearview mirrors. 'Mark VIII' plaque removed from door sill covers. Additional secondary sunvisors are installed behind the existing equipment.

 

1994-    The Lincoln car line scores a 144 on the 1994 customer satisfaction survey, to tie with Volvo for 8th place. (Cadillac finished 10th). For sales satisfaction during the same year, Lincoln finished 5th. In the J.D. Power initial quality survey, Lincoln finished 4th, behind Lexus, Toyota and Infiniti (Cadillac did not make the top 10). Also, Lincoln is one of only 6 manufacturers to have its entire product line average less than one problem per car sold. The others were Lexus, Infiniti, Mercedes, Toyota and Saturn. The Mark VIII averaged 89 problems per 100 cars, the Town Car, 68. For comparison, the lowly Geo Prizim averaged 56 problems per 100 cars, the BMW 5-Series, 81.

 

Jan. 3, 1994-   AutoWeek updates it’s Long-Term Mark VIII file, citing complaints about the power seats, lack of interior wood, and sub-par dealer service. Positives included engine performance and fuel economy. Also, in an article titled 'Bright Ideas' in the same issue, The 'Autoglide' feature of the Mark VIII is mentioned as a NOT-SO-BRIGHT idea since they move so slowly.

 

April 1994-    Ford announces that the 1997 Mark VIII will feature the U.S. auto industry's first use of an extruded aluminum steering column and aluminum matrix composite brake rotors.

 

Apr. 4, 1994-   AutoWeek updates it’s Long-Term Mark VIII file, citing continued issues with the message center, seats, and small quality glitches. They still cite power/performance and fuel economy, and the effective traction control system as positives.

 

 June 1994-    Lincoln officially changes the factory installed tires from Goodyear to Michelin MXV4s.

 

July. 4, 1994-   The 1994 Mark VIII ties with Saturn for 9th place on AutoWeek’s annual ’10 Best’ American cars. This is a drop of 2 spots from the previous year.

 

July. 11, 1994-  AutoWeek finishes it’s Long-Term Mark VIII file, noting that the styling has held up, whereas the suspension has become harsh over bumps and soft in the corners.

 

Aug. 1994-      Motor Trend updates it’s Long-Term 1993 Mark VIII file. Problems included a faulty entry keypad, slow automatic seat return, and auto locking doors with a mind of their own.

 

Aug 14, 1994-     K.W. Watler, plant manager of the Livonia Transmission Plant writes to AutoWeek, informing them that the Mark VIII uses a 4R70W tranny, rather than the AXOD, which was listed in a long-term wrap-up article printed in July.

 

Oct. 1994-      L-M’s General Manager Keith Magee drops the price of Mark VIIIs sold in California to $34,950, a drop of $4,475.  Free options are thrown in accounting for a savings of $1,645. When asked why the cut, Magee was quoted as saying “There aren’t enough people around anymore who want to buy two-door luxury coupes at $40,000-plus.” This only applies to cars sold in California.

 

Oct. 1994-    L-M offers $,1500 rebates on 1994 model Mark VIIIs.

 

Nov. 1994-      Mark VIII sales in California Jump 78% over Nov. 1993. L-M considers dropping the sticker on Mark VIIIs in the rest of the country.

 

Nov. 1994-      Super Ford magazine runs and article featuring a Mark VIII equipped with a Paxton Supercharger and Impala SS rims, built by Supercharger Specialties.

 

Dec. 1994-      Motor Trend wraps up its Long-Term test of the 1993 Mark VIII.  The article includes stats taken from owner surveys. Also, MT reports on the planned return of the LSC package to the Mark option lineup mid-year 1995. Assumed features  include a 10hp gain due to a revised exhaust, 3.31:1 axle ratio, firmer suspension and more-aggressive tires.

 

Late 1994-    Ford touts the GT-90, a modern show car interpretation of the GT-40. The quad-turbo V12 is based off the Mark VIII engine block. The car is generally ill received, but the engine is not.

  

THE 1995 CALENDAR YEAR

 

    New Features/Changes (1995 model year): Delayed accessory power: Allows extra time after car is turned off to close/open windows and moonroof (if equipped). Mid-year release of special LSC model features monochromatic exterior, perforated leather seat sections, true dual exhaust, 10 extra horsepower, 10 extra ft/lbs of torque, 3.27 rear axle ratio, re-tuned air suspension, and restyled alloy rims. LSC production is limited to 5000 vehicles. Later LSCs are equipped with Luminarc HID headlights. Interior center stack has been revised, featuring a larger radio head, and a gold Lincoln emblem on top of the interior temperature sensor. The wood added to the center stack has been extended to surround the new larger radio. The rear bumper has been redesigned to allow for the exhaust tips to stick straight out rather than turn down. Homelink garage door opener built in to the drivers sun visor. Cruise control buttons are now backlit when dash lights are on. Most interior switchgear is now color-matched with the interior color. Child restraint tethers for rear seats. Compass control module was moved from the trunk to behind the rearview mirror. New options include the LSC package, and 10-spoke directional wheels.

 

January 1995-    Lincoln unveils the all-new 1995 Continental, a front-drive 4-door sedan using a modified version of the Mark VIII's 4.6L DOHC V8 making 260hp. Several of the styling cues seen on the Mark VIII are used on the Continental.

 

February 1995-    Lincoln shows the 1995 1/2 LSC special model in almost production form at the 1995 Chicago Auto Show. The car on display sports Luminarc HID headlights and  monochromatic appearance. Chrome 10-spoke wheels, which are scheduled to be available in 1996, are also displayed. Kieth Magee, L-M General Manager states the LSC should go into production in March.

 

Mid-year 1995-    Lincoln adds the LSC option to the Mark VIII. Features include revised exhaust and suspension, and unique exterior moldings. 'Luminarc' high intensity discharge headlights (HID) are also part of the package. This is the first fitment of HID headlights to a domestic automobile.

 

June 19, 1995-    Due to an industry-wide sales slowdown, Lincoln offers $1,000 rebates on the 1995 Mark VIII (except California), and offers $1,500 rebates on 1994 models nationwide.

 

July 1, 1995-    Sales of the Mark VIII during the first six months of 1995 are down 36 percent from 1994. Sales total for January to July: 8,747 cars.

 

July 3, 1995-    No longer a member of AutoWeek's Top-10 All-American ratings chart, The Mark VIII falls from 9th place to 13th place.

 

August 21, 1995-   About 200 autoworkers lose their jobs when the Mark assembly line at Wixom switches from two shifts each day to one.  Throughout 1995 Ford has temporarily stopped output on the line, but this is the first case of a shift getting cancelled.

 

October, 1995-    Lincoln offers another rebate on the slow-selling Mark VIII. This time rebates of $1,000 are available until January 4, 1996 on Mark VIIIs sold outside California. Jac Nasser announces that the current Mark VIII will be restyled in 1997.  Scheduled for 2001, the Mark VIII will be replaced with a new 2-door rear-drive platform called the FN157, which will be a variation of the upcoming DEW98 platform.

 

Nov. 6, 1995-   AutoWeek features the 1996 Mark VIII LSC in its AutumnFile feature. Of note are the performance figures, with the higher-power LSC edging the Base model off the line, but posting exactly the same 0-60 and ¼ mile times. 

 

Dec. 4, 1995-    AutoWeek reports that in 1997 the Mark will receive its first restyle since the 1993 introduction. The article includes a computer-enhanced photo showing a taller hood line and a new rounder grille. Also noted is the possible inclusion of side airbags for 1997.

 

December 1995-    Lincoln offers a $1,000 cash incentive on existing 1995 model-year Town Cars, Continentals and Mark VIIIs (except in California).

 

THE 1996 CALENDAR YEAR

 

    New Features/Changes (1996 model year): Revised EATC features a much nicer faceplate style with rounded buttons. Rear armrest added.  All models now incorporate InTech technology. Up-rated 130 amp alternator installed. Rear tailgate now features "32 valve InTech V8' badge. New option package is the 'Diamond Anniversary' edition. EEC-V replaces EEC-IV. LSC package returns, all are equipped with Luminarc headlights. New option is the 'Touring Package', which groups several options into a discounted package.

 

All Year 1996-     Lincoln Celebrates it's Diamond Anniversary (75th) by offering 'Diamond Anniversary' packages on all models, including the Mark VIII.

 

Early 1996-    Lincoln has a 72 day supply of Mark VIIIs available on dealer lots. The industry average is 30 days.

 

Mid 1996-     In Japan, Ford tries to triple sales of its largest L-M models to around 1,000 cars for the year, Lincoln-Mercury reduces prices by an average of 15.7 percent on the Mark VIII, the Mercury Grand Marquis and two versions of the Town Car.

 

Sept 1996-    Alcan Aluminum Ltd. wins the bid to supply hoods for the 1997 Mark VIII.  Aluminum was chosen over SMC and high-strength steel, which were both under consideration. Weight was the primary reason for this choice.

 

Late 1996-    The newly revised for 1997 Mark VIII start rolling out of the Wixom plant. Advertisements for the car start to appear in print magazines.

 

 

 GENERATION TWO

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THE 1997 CALENDAR YEAR

 

    New Features/Changes (1997 model year): Heavily revamped exterior, interior and suspension. HID headlights are standard, New full-width neon tail lamp standard. Puddle lamps are a new standard feature. New telescoping/tilting steering wheel helps to ease entry and exit. Revised center console, armrest and computer. Redesigned door panels with wood trim.  New intake manifold helps reduce interior noise (and acceleration). New coil-on-plug ignition system extends service intervals and cleans up the engine bay. Smaller engine beauty cover. Base price is significantly reduced in an effort to spark sales.

 

1997- The newly redesigned Mark VIII wins the Michigan Carwash Association's 'Most Washable Car' award.

 

Feb 1997-    Lincoln offers $1,500 in rebates or 1.9% financing on 1997 Mark VIIIs until April 2nd.  Two weeks later Lincoln adds an additional $750 rebate on the Mark VIII.

 

June 1997-     Lincoln offers $1,500 rebates on the 1997 Mark VIII until July 17. Lincoln introduces it's first ever truck, the Navigator, as a 1998 model. They sell as fast as Lincoln can produce them.

 

THE 1998 CALENDAR YEAR

 

    New Features/Changes (1998 model year): Transmission receives much needed upgrades to accumulator pistons. Spring Feature option added to the lineup, very low production. Final cars to roll off of the assembly line are the Collector's Editions, which feature interior upgrades, limited color choices and exterior markings. The engine beauty cover is deleted entirely. Changes to the HID headlights allow for changing out the bulbs without splicing wires. Another change is the use of thicker carpet than 1997 models. This is the final year of the Mark VIII. Two Special Edition Marks were produced in 1998, the Spring Feature car, and the Collector's Edition car.

 

January 26, 1998-  Lincoln announces plans to stop production of the Mark VIII in June.

 

Feb 5, 1998-    Ford announces the Collector's Edition of the Mark VIII. Dealers are to start taking orders in April, with production scheduled to start in May.

 

May 1, 1998-    Lincoln offers $10,000 rebates on the remaining Mark VIIIs.

 

June 1998-    Lincoln moves 14,649 vehicles this month.  1,518 are Mark VIIIs.  7,362 Mark VIIIs have been sold so far this calendar year.

 

June. 26, 1998-     The last Mark VIII rolls off the assembly line at Wixom. The Lincoln LS, a four-door 'sports' sedan is scheduled to replace the Mark VIII in the Lincoln lineup

 

July 1998-    Lincoln moves 13,963 vehicles this month.  1,077 are Mark VIIIs.  8,439 Mark VIIIs have been sold so far this calendar year.

 

August 1998-    Lincoln moves 15,754 vehicles this month.  803 are Mark VIIIs. 9,242 Mark VIIIs have been sold so far this calendar year.

 

September 1998-    Lincoln moves 16,458 vehicles this month.  512 are Mark VIIIs.  9,754 Mark VIIIs have been sold so far this calendar year.

 

October 1998-    Lincoln moves 15,989 vehicles this month.  311 are Mark VIIIs.  10,065 Mark VIIIs have been sold so far this calendar year.

 

November 1998-    Lincoln moves 13,955 vehicles this month.  440 are Mark VIIIs.  10,505 Mark VIIIs have been sold so far this calendar year.

 

December 1998-    Lincoln moves 16,856 vehicles this month. No Mark VIIIs are listed as being sold. It is unknown if this is because they are sold out.

 

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