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How Much Would You Spend Restoring This 1974 Continental Mk IV That Sat for 15 Years?

Built as the ultimate expression of the luxury automobile, Ford’s 1956 Continental Mk II spurred a war that lasted over forty years, with General Motors’ Cadillac division on the other side of the V8 trenches. In response to the first post-war Continental, the Eldorado landed on America’s roads, putting the two posh marques in a rivalry that exuded excess and opulence. Not even the oil crises of the seventies and eighties could put a halt to this mutual hatred. However, neglect and oblivion don’t look at price tags, exclusivity, or history; metal corrosion is indifferent to the badge it eats from.
1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years 53 photos
Photo: YouTube/WD Detailing
1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years
After the ‘personal luxury car’ became a thing in 1957, with the launch of the not-a-sports-car Ford Thunderbird as a response to GM’s Chevrolet Corvette, Detroit’s Big Three went all-out against each other. Lincoln, Cadillac, and Imperial were the names of the day in the rarified heights of the rich-buyers realm, although only two really mattered. The Ford Motor Company division Lincoln waged an attrition war against the big-money Cadillac from General Motors. Chrysler was on the market, but not at the same level.

By the mid-seventies, things became pretty clear for motoring America that, as far as status-symbol cars were concerned, Lincoln and Cadillac were in a class of their own. 1974 must have been a tremendous and miserable year at the same time for the automotive universe after the shockwave of the first oil crisis rippled through the fabric of the gas-burning paradigm. The oil embargo hit right after the carmakers began production for the 1974 model year, making it impossible for them to find a safe haven anywhere.

But, like in any other period of human history, the rich didn’t really feel the stingy geopolitical wars over the petrodollars. Lincoln was among the brands whose reputation prevailed over its gas-guzzling habits, making it immune to federal attempts to change America’s mind about personal luxury cars.

1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years
Photo: YouTube/WD Detailing
Its Continental Mk IV land yacht registered its second-best year in sales for the third generation while passing a marketing milestone: it was the first Continental to surpass the $10,000 base price mark since the obscenely costly predecessor of 1956. Even so, the model moved over 57,000 units that year, vastly outselling its bitter rival, the Cadillac Eldorado, by nearly 17,000 cars or 42% of GM’s division model production.

Unlike General Motors, Ford opted for a more refined front-end look, with a narrow “Greek Temple” grille that slightly resembled Rolls-Royce’s unmistakable radiator cover. The car kept the ‘personal luxury’ philosophy, sticking to the long hood, short deck styling, and retaining the fake spare wheel cover mold in the trunk lid.

Lincoln bragged about its Continental Mk IV becoming a legend in its own time despite some hindrances from the government. No, the feds weren’t going after Henry Ford II’s luxury cars in particular, but here’s what they did: a seatbelt interlock requirement.

1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years
Photo: YouTube/WD Detailing
Picture the following scene: it’s 1974, and you buy a new car. You get in, stick the key in the ignition, and turn it. You expect the engine to rev into life. Instead, you’re greeted with an eerie silence. Then you remember you must fasten your seatbelt. You go from step one, this time in the correct order: sit-seatbelt-key. Again, nothing. Because the front passenger has to do the same. It's not the sexiest of safety features – perhaps that’s why it disappeared the following year.

Another safety-concerned trait was the 5-mph (8 kph) rear bumper (the front one had become mandatory in 1973). To disguise the shock-absorbing mechanisms that allowed the bumpers to resist said impacts, urethane panels covered the gaps between the body and the collision protections. Ultimately, the cars’ roofs had to withstand a weight equal to 150% of the vehicle's mass without collapsing.

Naturally, all these requirements added weight to cars. In Lincoln’s case, the Continental MK IV grew to 2.4 tons – and this was still a two-door personal automobile, not a full-size pickup truck. The extra load didn’t help with fuel economy, either, not that the 460-cubic-inch V8 was a money saver. At 7.5 liters, the enormous V8 was an unsatiable ogre that evaporated one quart of gas every three miles. At 11 mpg (roughly 20 l/100 km), the Lincoln was not on the list of EPA award winners.

1974 Lincoln Continental Mk IV Gets First Wash in Too Many Years
Photo: YouTube/WD Detailing
However, even legends have it rough sometimes, and one example of a Lincoln Continental Mk IV from 1974 found itself abandoned in a yard around 2008. Born half a century ago, in October 1973, the luxury car slowly dwindled in importance for its owners until it ended up in the condition we see in the video.

Rust has sunk its teeth in it, with the help of a lousy paint job on the hood and front panels, and the vinyl top lost the battle with the elements. However, the interior is in a much better state than the shell – a solid proof of what $10,000 would buy in 1974. The boys from WD Detailing who performed the cosmetic refreshment on this Lincoln didn’t check the engine to see if it runs or turns. Still, the engine bay looks nice enough to keep the hopes high.

After the government decided to prick carmakers in the speed, fun, and emissions sectors, inaugurating the Malaise Era, cars lost their luster, horsepower-wise. The 460-cube big-block V8 delivered 220 net hp and 355 lb-ft (223 PS / 482 Nm) with the compression capped at 8.5:1 (down quite a bit from the 10.5:1 figure of the previous generation model). The transmission was a single-offer three-speed Ford C6 automatic. The shifter was placed on the steering column, giving the Continental Mk IV a six-passenger carrying capacity.

This example featured In the video is a project worthy of restoration, provided that the next owner is willing to pour some cubic dollars over the Lincoln. The YouTubers didn’t reveal the mileage or other details about the car’s history, so it’s anyone’s guess whether this car will return to the road.

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About the author: Razvan Calin
Razvan Calin profile photo

After nearly two decades in news television, Răzvan turned to a different medium. He’s been a field journalist, a TV producer, and a seafarer but found that he feels right at home among petrolheads.
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