InTech meant this Lincoln was packing Ford’s 4-Valve Modular V8 under the hood.
One of the few perks of working as a car porter at a Lincoln Mercury dealership in the late 2000s was getting to drive dozens of Lincoln Mark VIIIs as they came in for service. With a strong, local clientele, built on a supporting “the good people of Central Valley” these Mark VIIIs were owned by an older demo that babied these quasi-hot rod Lincolns and never really “opened up the taps.” I loved driving these sleepers with Mustang engines.
So, color me surprised to find one with plates from our local Lincoln dealership, pop-up on Facebook marketplace for $2,500. Knowing how fun these cars are, how quickly in trouble you can get if you disable the traction control, and, with such smooth lines, I was even more surprised this is a fair price and is even on the more expensive end of what you’ll find across the country.
Why these are special coupes
Mark VIIIs were not your average Lincoln and was a step up technologically from the Mark VII and the Ford Thunderbird on which its chassis is based. Mark VIII benefited from aluminum in a few key places in the chassis, including the lower control arms, had a gas tank mounted slightly differently, and had a unique exhaust routing. Apparently, this was enough to give the Mark VIII its own chassis designation.
Under the hood was Lincoln’s latest modular engine, the 4.6L 4-Valve V8 that, in its most powerful form, produced 290 HP and 295 lb-ft. Power is routed through a four-speed auto that, according to a story by Hemmings, was good enough to launch the Mark VIII to 187 MPH when they stuck the automatic in third and used a 2.47 rear axle gear ratio.
Lincoln also equipped Mark VIIIs with air suspension on all four corners that allowed the car to lower 2cm if you held it at 55 MPH for more than 45 seconds for better aero.
Rife with annoying little problems
The other side of the coin of being a Lincoln car porter was hearing all the stories from mechanics about these Mark VIIIs, mainly that “they were junk.” Then again, this mechanic called a lot of Lincolns junk. I’m sure he’d get a kick out of me considering spending 2g’s on a car he probably worked on.
But there’s a bit of truth behind his words. Lincoln Mark VIIIs don’t share a lot of exterior and interior componentry with other FoMoCo products. For example, the HIDs are expensive one-piece units, headlights Ford does not make anymore. Get a 97+ model and, if the rear neon (yes…neon gas) taillight goes out, you’ll have to buy an expensive used one or retrofit an LED conversion. A bespoke dash means, if the HVAC controls don’t work properly, repairs will be a P.I.T.A.
Most infamously, as the Mark VIIIs get older, the air suspension will go out, it’s only a matter of time. Thankfully, aftermarket bags and compressor units from the likes of Arnott, are available. Alternatively, you can swap in springs and struts.
And, filled with sensors, electrical issues are common.
More often than not, you’ll have a pleasant experience owning a second hand Mark VIII but you might come across a nightmare like this Youtuber (who might be hamming it up for Youtube’s sake.)
How about this $2,500 one
The one listed looks like an honest Mark VIII. These bags are already blown, swapped for shocks, so that’s one repair not to worry about. Inside, the steering wheel and driver’s seat are a little worse for wear, but it’s nothing the price tag won’t smooth over. A good detail with a shop vac, a cheapo extractor, some drill brushes, and some all-purpose cleaner will make the interior right as rain.
These 4.6L engines and four-speed autos are supposedly stout but you might come across some tiny, annoying repairs with vacuum issues, aforementioned sensors, and EVAP/Emissions related issues, but nothing way out of left field.
If you find a decent one like this, everything looks copacetic under the hood, the test drive goes well, and you know what you’re getting into, these sub-$3,000 Mark VIII can be a lot of fun.