Since its inception in 1939, the Lincoln Continental has been an opulent, comfortable and powerful car, crafted for discerning buyers wanting something exclusive.
Initially a styling exercise for Edsel Ford, the car caught on with his wealthy friends and it became a model of its own.
After 1948, the car went away until it resurfaced as the hand-built Continental Mk II offering for 1956 and ’57. Used on the ’58 to ’60 models as the Mk III, IV and V on the full-size Lincoln, it was discontinued.
It would resurface again in 1969 as the Mk III, a new two-door luxury coupe, and the Mark series would continue to the Mk VIII, produced from 1993 to 1998.
Among the more interesting to performance enthusiasts were the Mk VI and Mk VII models. Power came from the Mustang 225-horsepower, 5.0L HO V-8 producing 300 lb.-ft. of torque. Utilizing the basic Fox-body platform, riding on a 108.5-inch wheelbase and weighing in at 3,631 pounds, it was a capable performer. For those wanting more power, there was a White Lightning model as a one-year offering in 1986, but few were ordered. For the serious buyer, there was the 5.8L V-8 available through the Ford Special Vehicle Operations, which got the buyer 400-plus horsepower engine from Roush Racing.
It’s easy to see why it was often referred to a "brute in a suit."
For Russ Gowan of Headingley, his 1990 Continental Mk VII LSC coupe was all he ever wanted in a car. While Gowan was having medical tests done, his car and four others were involved in a parking-lot collision in October 2016. "I really liked the car, but it received the most damage and with parts being scarce, Manitoba Public Insurance wrote it off, Gowan says. That led Gowan on a search for another car and he found a 1991 Mk VII LSC listed on the internet in Montreal. After solidifying the deal, he arranged storage for the winter, flew to Montreal in May 2017 and drove the car back to Winnipeg.
Not your average Mk VII, Gowan’s car is highly modified. Since it was built, the previous owner had driven the car very little and only taken it to car shows. Finished in a brilliant Garnet Red Clearcoat Metallic with a grey cloth upholstery and loaded with power options, it’s a comfortable cruiser in the true Lincoln tradition. The usual power seats, windows, mirrors, locks, trunk and tinted glass blend easily with the new Compustar alarm and RCI wireless tracking theft-control system.
Where the posh Lincoln crosses the road and becomes the proverbial "hot-rod Lincoln" starts under the hood. The original engine was rebuilt with a Probe Industries stroker kit, taking the engine out to 347 cubic inches. Follow that up with a performance camshaft, fully ported Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads, 1.72 Motorsport roller rockers and a Trick Flow intake manifold and 75-mm throttle body and you’ve got a performance car. Add to that a full MSD ignition, Mac headers leading to a 2.5-inch Bassani X-pipe and full Flowmaster dual exhaust system. Backing the 435-horsepower engine is a Lakewood scattershield, billet-steel flywheel and Centerforce Stage I clutch, coupled to the T5 World Class five-speed transmission with Hurst shifter. It’s a true car-lover’s dream, being able to shift your own gears in a luxury Lincoln. In back, the 8.8-inch Auburn rear axle is fitted with a 4.10:1 ratio posi-traction unit.
The Lincoln retains its full independent suspension with air assist and electronic stabilization and height adjustment. Four-wheel disc brakes ensure stopping ability and Weld polished aluminum wheels turn 15-inch Supreme T/A radial tires.
Since acquiring the Lincoln, Gowan has replaced the windshield, clutch and radiator, as well as some other maintenance items, but other than that, he has enjoyed it as his lively summer driver.
"Sadly it’s now parked for the winter, but spring is around the corner," Gowan says.
There were 8,880 Mk VII LSC coupes built in 1991 and if you look closely, you’ll find these vehicles have a lot to offer.
Most have led a sheltered and well-maintained existence, leading to many pristine examples out there as prospective classic cars.