The History Of Lincoln MARK VIII

Introduced for the 1993 model year, the completely new Lincoln Mark VIII was a large, rear-wheel drive grand touring luxury coupe that was the successor to the Mark VII. The Mark VIII was built at Ford's Wixom, Michigan assembly plant and was based on the FN10 platform, a relative of the MN12 platform which underpinned the 1989-1997 Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar. The Mark VIII was a larger car than its predecessor, the Mark VII, being about five inches longer at 207.3 inches and nearly four inches wider at 74.8 inches. The car also had a wheelbase of 113.0 inches, over four inches longer than the Mark VII's, which afforded greater interior space and ride quality. In spite of its larger overall size, the Mark VIII's base curb weight was slightly lighter than the Mark VII at a little over 3750lbs. The Mark VIII was also more shapely and aerodynamic than its predecessor having smoother contours and curves across the length of its body with subtle uses of chrome accents. Reflecting its exterior design, the Mark VIII's interior featured sweeping curves in its panels and dashboard surfaces. Instrumentation and controls were arranged around the driver for maximum convenience, emphasizing the Mark VIII's overall design as a personal luxury car.

The Mark VIII offered an impressive list of mechanical features, many of which were new or improved over the car's predecessor. Like the Mark VII, the Mark VIII featured a unibody construction for structural rigidity, providing optimum driving dynamics and occupant safety. Enhancing occupant safety in particular was a high-strength roof capable of withstanding 5000lbs of pressure, heavy-gauge steel door beams to protect against side impacts, and front and rear crumple zones. Supplementing the car's safety further were standard dual front-side airbags. Four wheel anti-lock disc brakes continued to be standard, as they were in later models of the Mark VII. Like the similar Thunderbird and Cougar, the Mark VIII featured a short-long arm (SLA) four-wheel independent suspension which offered a combination of great handling and ride quality. Enhancing the suspension further were front and rear stabilizer bars and a standard computer-controlled air suspension which used sensors to automatically adjust the ride height of the car to reduce its coefficient of drag at higher speeds. Powering the Mark VIII was an all-new, all-aluminum 4.6L DOHC 32-valve V8. The engine was the first of its kind in Ford's Modular engine family. The 4.6L V8 produced 280hp (209kW) @ 5500rpm and 285lb·ft (386N·m) of torque @ 4500rpm and required premium grade 91-octane fuel for optimum performance. Handling the V8's power was an all-new 4R70W 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The Mark VIII's rear axle ratio was 3.07:1. The Mark VIII also featured standard chrome dual exhaust tips and 16-inch cast aluminum wheels.

Accompanying the Mark VIII's impressive mechanical features was a host of luxury and convenience features. Standard were things such as a 140-mph speedometer, an electronic message center (which provided things such as the time, a compass, fuel efficiency, engine oil life, engine coolant temperature, and various other vehicle-related warnings and information), automatic climate control, cruise control, leather seating surfaces, six-way power driver and passenger seats with power lumbar supports, a three position memory for the power driver's seat, power door locks, heated power mirrors, power windows with a driver's side express-down feature, illuminated keyless entry with remote, automatic headlamps, an AM/ FM stereo-cassette radio, and an automatic power antenna. Some of the options the Mark VIII offered were a power moonroof, electrochromic automatic dimming mirrors (which filtered out headlight glare from other vehicles behind the Mark VIII), an AM/ FM stereo-CD player, a 10-disc CD changer, and a JBL speaker system.

For 1995 the Mark VIII received a slightly updated instrument panel along with a new radio design. Arriving midyear was a new LSC (Luxury Sport Coupe) model which built on the standard Mark VIII by offering unique performance enhancements and other features. Chief among these was a more aggressively tuned version of the standard 4.6L DOHC V8, now marketed under the name InTech regardless of model, which now made use of a true dual exhaust and produced 290hp (216kW) @ 5750rpm and 295lb·ft (400N·m) of torque @ 4500rpm. The Mark VIII LSC used the same 4R70W automatic transmission as the standard Mark VIII but featured a more aggressive rear axle ratio of 3.27:1. The brochure for the 1995 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC claims a zero to 60 MPH acceleration time of 7.6 seconds. Accompanying the LSC's performance enhancements were unique body colors, distinct LSC badging on the rear decklid, perforated leather seat inserts, and LSC scripted floormats. The bright chrome inserts normally found in the body-side moulding and bumper on the Mark VIII were replaced with monochrome body color inserts on the LSC. The 1995 Mark VIII LSC also marked the first domestic use of HID headlights.

In 1997, the Lincoln Mark VIII received a significant facelift featuring smoother, more rounded front and rear fascias and a larger grille made of aluminum. The car's hood was now made of aluminum (versus plastic before) with a more prominent power dome bulge while the trunk had a more subtle version of the "spare tire hump" associated with earlier Mark Series cars. HID headlamps became standard and were placed in larger housings compared to earlier models. An innovative neon brake light ran across the rear decklid. Side mirrors now came with puddle lamps which, upon the door being opened, illuminated the ground for the driver and passengers to see when entering or exiting the car. The side view mirror housings also incorporated flashing LED turn signal lamps to warn other drivers of an intended lane change or turn. The interior included theater lighting, which softly illuminated the driver's controls and handles. The 4.6L InTech V8 carried on as before, but now came with a distributorless coil-on-plug ignition system, eliminating the use of high voltage spark plug wires. Some of the internal components of the 4R70W automatic transmission were reinforced for greater durability and reliability in late 1997 models and all 1998 models. LSC models had firmer shocks and larger stabilizer bars for even better handling and control. All-speed traction control was now standard, and could be deactivated via the onboard systems status computer when desired.

Toward the end of Mark VIII production, Lincoln offered two personalized "specialty" models: the Spring Feature and the Collector's Edition. In spite of this, popularity of large American personal luxury cars was in decline by the mid-1990s and the Mark VIII was retired after the 1998 model year. The car's position in Lincoln's lineup was effectively filled with the Lincoln LS luxury sedan. Suggesting a return of the Mark Series at some point were the appearance of a pair of concepts, the Lincoln MK9 in 2001 and the Lincoln Mark X in 2004. The MK9 appeared as an evolution of the Mark VIII coupe while the Mark X was less related as a two-seat convertible based directly on the 2002-2005 Ford Thunderbird. Unfortunately, an effective business case has never been made for either car, causing them both to be permanently shelved. Yet another concept, the Lincoln MKR, emerged in 2007 hinting a continued desire to create a new, high performance luxury coupe like the Mark VIII. However, like the earlier concepts, no production version of the MKR is yet on the horizon, though variations of the styling and turbocharged V6 of the MKR concept appear in the production Lincoln MKS luxury sedan.

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A 1994 Lincoln Mark VIII (black) and a 1997 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC (Toreador Red). These represent the First and Second generations of the FN10 platform, respectively

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