On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! Lovely Little Lincolns
By James Price, image by Doug Breithaupt

The Lincoln "Mark" Series of cars began in 1939, with Edsel Ford, who had commissioned Ford designers to construct a custom Lincoln in the "Continental" style for use as his personal car. So popular was this new design with Ford's Florida neighbors that the car entered limited production. Two 1:64 scale examples of the first Continentals exist. The first is a lovely model of the 1941 pre-war production car from Racing Champions' Mint Edition series. With opening hood and great detail, this is an excellent miniature. The second Mark I model is a post-war 1946 Continental from LJN Toys of Hong Kong. It was produced in 1978 as part of a Spiderman series, hence the color scheme. The casting is basic but solid and the grill clearly represents the post-war Continentals that were built in small numbers.

1941 Mark I - Racing Champions

1946 Mark I - L.J.N.

In 1956, Lincoln introduced the Mark II, a modern interpretation of the classic Continental. The Mark II was one of the most modern American car designs of the 1950's, forsaking tailfins and chrome for an elegant, timeless design. The Continental Marks III through V were marked progressively from 1958 through 1960, but these cars were nearly identical to the more humble Lincoln Premiere models. In 1961, the Continental name returned on an elegant four-door sedan.

By the late sixties, Lincoln was down to two models: a Continental sedan in two door or four door body styles (the four-door Convertible was discontinued in 1966). Cadillac expanded its model range in 1967 by introducing the Eldorado, a stylish, new personal luxury car that influence coupe design for over 15 years. With the Eldorado in it sights, Lincoln resurrected the Mark name in 1968 on a new coupe with a goal of higher sales. The new car had design similarities to the Mark II, including the spare tire "hump" pressed into the trunk lid. The front end featured headlights concealed behind retractable doors, and a "Parthenon" grille mimicking Rolls-Royce. Whereas no 1:64 scale models exist of the Mark II, three companies produced the Mark III.

The German company Siku produced a Mark III model. Though Siku was not widely available in the United States, American cars had some popularity in Germany at the time. Both Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning produced Custom Continentals based on the Mark III. The Hot Wheels model was closer to the showroom stock model, except for the addition of side exhausts. The Johnny Lightning model featured a modified front end, with a lowered bumper and custom headlights.

1968 Mark III -Siku (courtesy Remco Natrop)

1968 Custom Mark III - Hot Wheels

1968 Custom Mark III - Johnny Lightning

The Mark III remained in production through the 1971 model year, and was replaced by a new Mark IV. The Mark IV featured more rounded "fuselage" styling than the III. When Tomica made a major attempt to enter the US model car market, one of the many American cars it produced was a 1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV. The baseplate identifies the car as a Ford, rather than a Lincoln, probably because the Lincoln brandname is relatively unknown outside the North America. This car is one of the most faithful reproductions of any of the 1:64 scale Marks. Zylmex also offered a Mark IV, which was essentially a copy of the Tomica design, with identical proportions and opening doors. Of less expensive construction than the Tomica, the Zylmex model was still a charming addition to a toy collection nevertheless. Yat Ming also copied the Tomica although the Yat Ming and Zlymex casting may be essentially the same with different base-plates, It is likely that Yat Ming actually produced this same casting for Zylmex, with just minor differences, including some odd tampos.

1972 Mark IV - Tomica

1972 Mark IV - Zylmex

1972 Mark IV - Yat Ming

For 1977, Lincoln introduced a new Mark V, which continued the long hood, short deck, and spare tire hump style of the previous two models. Though this new model had squarer lines that made it appear larger, the Mark V was approximately 500-pounds lighter. Matchbox introduced a Mark V as part of its 1979 range. The car had a red body and white plastic roof simulating a full vinyl top. The Matchbox Mark V featured the letters "C-O-N-T-I-N-E-N-T-A-L" spelled out like a clock dial on the spare tire hump. The model was produced for only two years, then discontinued. Possible reasons for its lack of success were its relatively bland design, lack of opening parts, garish color combination, or that large personal cars were going out of vogue by the end of the decade. A few years later, the model Mark V resurfaced in Bulgaria where Matchbox produced some models in the middle 1980's.

1977 Mark V - Matchbox

1977 Mark V - Matchbox (Bulgaria)

The Mark VI continued the look of the Mark V, but with scaled down proportions. In 1984, Lincoln introduced a new Mark VII, which was based on the new aerodynamic Ford Thunderbird/Mercury Cougar introduced the previous year. Beginning with the Mark VII, the Continental name was no longer used for the 'Mark' models. The new Mark VII was recognized for its air-suspension, and the availability of a turbo diesel, with this engine option courtesy of BMW. Maisto produced a model of the Mark VII, with metallic gray-green paint and blacked out trim. The model may be a little narrow, but it is definitely a welcome addition to the collection.

1992 Mark VII - Maisto

A Mark VIII was introduced for 1992, but by this time sport utility vehicles were the most popular market segment. The car soldiered on through 1998, and the line was discontinued entirely. With the demise of the Mark series, Lincoln began to focus on the SUV and sports sedan "niche" markets with the Navigator sport-ute and the small LS.