1984 Lincoln Mark VII Diesel

In the mid-1980s, one of the hottest luxury sport coupes around was Lincoln’s Mark VII coupe.

While GM was peddling flimsy front-wheel-drive Eldorados and pretty but problem-plagued Allantes, Lincoln actually hit one out of the park. The rear-drive Mark VII was a great-looking car that did credit to the capability of American stylists. It was hulky and fast-looking, with features and equipment that rivaled the world’s finest cars. Even better, it could be fitted out in true “Hot Rod Lincoln” style by specifying the Luxury Sport Coupe (LSC) package. This centered around the same “High Output” 5-liter V-8 used in the Mustang GT during those years. With as much as 220 horsepower on tap, tube headers, dual exhausts, and an aggressive sport-tuned suspension system, the Mark VII LSC was one of the most desirable luxo-sport coupes of the Reagan years and compared quite favorably to high-end imports like the Mercedes 450SL.

But there was a version of the Mark VII that didn’t do as well as the rest. In 1984—the first year for the Mark VII—a 115-horsepower BMW/Steyr-sourced 2.4-liter straight-six diesel engine could be ordered in place of the gas-burning, 5-liter V-8. The diesel option was supposed to further enhance the “Euro” appeal of the then-new Mark. All it really did was remind people how wonderful it is that the U.S. government, unlike those of most European nations, doesn’t place extortionate taxes on gasoline and thereby force Americans to drive smoke-spewing, death-rattling garbage scows—which is what the diesel-equipped Mark VII felt and sounded like. It could go farther on a full tank, but most people who experienced a ride wanted it to be over sooner rather than later.

The diesel Mark was bought by very few and did not last long; it was dropped with little notice or remorse from the product literature and options sheet, never to return. Today, a diesel Mark VII is the only Mark eschewed by collectors and enthusiasts of this otherwise trend-setting and historic automobile.