The Lincoln Continental Mark IV broke another psychological barrier for 1974, as its base price leaped $1,210 to $10,194. One reason was a newly required five-mph rear bumper that took overall length to 228.3 inches and base curb weight to a pudgy 5,362 pounds. (It also forced taillights back to the rear fenders.)
Happily, horsepower was up too, now at 220 thanks in part to solid-state ignition. Newly optional dual exhausts (originally planned for 1972) added a few ponies as well.
Other engineering changes included further structural reinforcements for crash protection and a starter interlock that required belting up before the engine would start. The latter was another Washington mandate, but was soon unmandated amid copious consumer complaints.
Options and trims expanded for 1974 with a "Quick Defrost" heated windshield and rear window, and a $438 Gold Luxury Group as a companion to the Silver package. The latter featured Gold Diamond Fire metallic paint, "Gold Flare" vinyl top, and a tan interior in nylon and vinyl or optional leather and vinyl.
Sales declined in the "gas crisis" panic of the OPEC oil embargo, but the Mark slipped only to 57,316 (versus 40,412 for Eldorado).
Sales slipped again for 1975, settling at 47,415 despite added standard features like four-wheel disc brakes, cruise control, tilt wheel, and remote electric trunk-lid release. Of course, all that inflated the base price, which went to $11,802, a likely reason for the sales drop, though the Mark again bested Eldorado (at 44,752).
Horsepower also dropped again, falling to 194, despite adoption of that new emissions clean-up device, the catalytic converter. At least the big V-8 ran with almost none of the stumble-and-stall problems that plagued earlier versions, and Lincoln somehow managed to trim a little more than 200 pounds from curb weight, even with all the add-ons.
New on the 1975 option sheet was a landau roof with vinyl on the front three-quarters, painted metal behind, and a stainless-steel tiara between. Also listed were three new luxury groups: Blue Diamond, Lipstick Red/White, and Saddle/White. A fourth arrived at mid-season in the Spring Edition Versailles Option, with "pillow-style" upholstery in "crushed Majestic cloth."
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