New Car/Review

1997 LINCOLN MARK VIII

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Lincoln

SEE ALSO: Lincoln Rover Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 36,280
Price As Tested                                    $ 38,020
Engine Type                             4.6 Liter V8 w/SFI*
Engine Size                                 281 cid/4605 cc
Horsepower                                   280 @ 5750 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               285 @ 4500 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                    113"/74.8"/207.3"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3795 Pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    18 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P225/60R16
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                        Five-passenger/two-door
Domestic Content                                 80 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.33

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            18/26/22
0-60 MPH                                        7.5 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16 seconds @ 93.5 mph
Top-speed                                           125 mph
     * Sequential fuel injection

(Although the company has made a few small cars during its nearly 70-year history, Lincolns have always been thought of as "big." Its Mark VIII coupe lives up to this image, which Matt Hagin likes. His dad Bob wishes it was just a bit smaller, however.)

MATT - This new Lincoln Mark VIII is really a cruiser. I like the comfort of those big, plush front seats, and even the rear seats are comfortable - although Lincoln's claim that it has room for three across in back is stretching things a bit - the middle position is pretty cramped. The only thing I'd find fault with is that it's tough for someone really big to crawl into the back. Other than that, I think that the car has everything that a luxury coupe needs. It even has a swing-up steering wheel that jumps out of the way when the driver's door is opened, then resets itself by means of a preset coded system.

BOB - The Mark VIII is a bit big for my tastes, Matt, and that back seat space may be part of the reason that coupes are losing their popularity. Buyers seem to be saying that it's logical for a car with four seats to have four doors, and that two doors don't necessarily make a car more "sporty." Personally, I like the idea of a coupe, albeit a small one, since I don't have to haul all you kids around like I did when you were little. And I like the fact that this Lincoln is traditional in that it has as muscular V8 driving the rear wheels. It gives off that typical V8 rumble through a true dual exhaust system, which I also like. The engine is Ford's new 4.6 liter modular aluminum V8 fitted with twin overhead cams to produce 280 horsepower. Even at that, it's pretty economical and it can average around 22 miles to the gallon. Anti-skid brakes and traction control are both standard, but it gets a little "busy" over 110 MPH.

MATT - I hope you got that information second-hand, Dad, but just to be safe, I won't mention it to Mom. Our Mark VIII isn't even the hottest version at that. The LSC version has a lower axle ratio for better off-line jump, tighter suspension components for firmer handling and an extra 10 horsepower. Oh well, maybe we can get one of those to try out next year. Driving the Mark VIII at night is amazing because of the new high-intensity, low-beam headlamps. The lenses look like they're each a yard wide and they throw a much brighter and wider light spread. Lincoln has also built turning lamps into the headlights, which really light up a corner as you're driving. The rearview mirrors have what are known in the trade as "puddle lamps" that shine on the roadway below the doors as you climb from the car.

BOB - Those same side mirrors have another built-in feature that's pretty slick. When you put the car in reverse to park, they tilt down so the driver won't scrape those fancy aluminum wheels on the curb. But I think Lincoln almost went too far with the lighting, Matt. It will take me a long time to get used to that wide, single-tube neon tail lamp when I come up behind a Mark VIII at a stop sign. When the driver puts on the brakes, they light up as bright as a Christmas tree.

MATT - This new body style appeared in 1995, and traces its ancestry back to the first "Mark" model, the Continental Mark II of 1956, which I remember well. On this year's car, however, Lincoln has "uncluttered" its nose, which seems like an improvement since much of the chrome trim is gone. With those types of changes, it seems like the company is trying to shake its "old man's car" image. If that's the case, I'd like to see them get rid of that weird hump in the trunk lid.

BOB - You must be kidding, Matt, that's a throwback to the original Lincoln Continental made just before and just after World War II. They had a spare tire mounted on the rear bumper, which made them easy targets for thieves during wartime tire rationing. Lots of them were stolen, so owners took them off and hid them in the trunk. Another good idea was Lincoln's "hiding" of the radio antenna in the back window. That way, it won't get broken off in the drive-through car wash.

MATT - Dad, you're probably the only guy I know who would run a fancy car like this through an automatic car wash.

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