The Mecum auction in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has over 1,000 vehicles up for grabs. Yet ESM’s editor is enthralled by one of the least fashionable cars in the catalogue.
It looks like a basking shark with those gills behind the front wheels, and is a similar size to the average ocean-going Cetorhinidae. Smattered with motoring chintz from the 1970s, with concealed headlights, vinyl roof and opera windows, this is far removed from what we consider cool or luxurious today.
Yet I love it. I truly love this Lincoln Mark V, for the sheer excess and ridiculousness of it all. The ‘personal luxury car’ sector was an American affliction, emphasising the importance of driver comfort and convenience at the expense of everything else. Derived from bespoke creations by the likes of Delahaye and Dusenburg in the pre-war years, it was Ford who brought personal luxury to the mass market with the 1955 Thunderbird.
Chevrolet would introduce the original C1 Corvette as a competitor to the Thunderbird, but the ‘Vette would evolve to take a different route. As such, it was Ford who would dominate the personal luxury car segment, until the 1970s saw the competition increase overnight. Yet the Lincoln Continental Mark series was still the benchmark to judge others by.
The criteria for judging a successful personal luxury car differed to many automotive norms. Handling and performance were tertiary ideas, far behind driver comfort and the perceived image of wealth. (more…)