Recently, I was surfing the internet looking at Lincolns. Some of the most beautiful motorcars ever produced rolled off the Lincoln assembly line, and I like to look and admire. One of the cars I stumbled across was a 1979 Mark V. The turquoise paint caught my eye, so I opened the classified ad. In a word, the car looked stunning. It was triple turquoise, a color combination I hadn’t seen before and it looked to be extremely nice. The clincher was the fact that the odometer only showed 21,000 miles. It really captured my attention, so I left a message for the seller and he called me back the next evening. He had owned the car for 16 years and had bought it from the original owner’s estate. The story he related was the original owner had traded a smaller car for the extra-large Lincoln, and was not comfortable driving it because of its size. As a result, he didn’t put many miles on it before he passed away. His widow didn’t drive it, either, but did have the dealership come out once a year to ser- vice, wash and wax the car. Then back in the garage it went. When she passed away, the car landed in the hands of her daughter. Once again, it was seldom driven. After a year or so of attempting to buy it from the daughter without any luck, the second owner received a phone call from her informing him that if he wanted it, he had to come and pick it up that day, which he did.
The second owner painted a picture of the car that was almost too good to be true. He described a car so pristine that if I wanted it, I had to come and pick it up. It even had its original belts and hoses. He came across as very sincere in his glowing description of the car, not as one who was trying to oversell the car. Still, it was a story that was almost too good to be true.
I found out that he was only 2 1/2 hours away from me, just outside of St. Louis, so I made arrangements to go look at the car. When I arrived on the next Saturday, he took me out to the garage to look at the car. He had recently retired, had downsized his home, and the massive Mark barely fit in the confines of his new garage. The car was stunning in its sea of turquoise. I had never seen one that color, and it reminded me of Fiestaware from the ‘50s. It was every bit as nice as he said it was. He pointed out a few things that needed attention, such as the inoperative fuel gauge. He asked if I wanted to drive it, but as nice as the car was, and as I was unfamiliar driving the car and the area, I asked him to take me for a ride instead. He did, and the car drove out like a brand new car. Even the eight-track tape player works! I could tell the rotors needed to be resurfaced, and the a/c didn’t work, but otherwise it was hard to fault the car. It was like a time warp back to 1979. We returned to his house and struck a deal. I was by myself,so I made arrangements to return the following weekend for the car.
During the following week, I sent off for a Marti report. The report came back that my car was one of 75,939 Mark Vs built in 1979, one of 3,136 with the Turquoise Luxury Group, one of 2,732 with Medium Turquoise Moondust paint, and one of 684 with my particular paint and trim codes. It’s also very well-optioned. It’s definitely not a common car.
Debbie and I returned the following Saturday, and headed back home with the car. I stopped to fill up the fuel tank and
off we went. We had been on the road for just under an hour when all the traffic on I-44 came to a standstill. After idling for a few minutes, the Mark died and wouldn’t restart. Traffic was moving, but at a snail’s pace. Debbie had parked behind me in her Honda and there we sat, blocking one lane. After a while, some guys in a Ford pick- up helped me push the Mark off onto the shoulder. We sat for about an hour, and then I tried to start the car. It wouldn’t start. Plenty of battery, no fuel. Debbie had learned from the MODOT website that someone had left the highway and struck a huge tower holding high-voltage power lines. The impact had knocked the power lines from the tower, and they were lying across the highway and the service road. There was nowhere to go. After another hour or so, we decided to call a wrecker when the Mark still would not start. Over the course of the next three hours, we waited for the wrecker and were in contact with roadside assistance. The wrecker driver tried, but he simply could not get to us. Troopers had begun routing traffic off the next off-ramp and up north twenty miles and back around to the west and then south back to I-44. They were two- lane, curvy back roads and that was slow going for the truckers, so traffic was still moving very slowly. After waiting for four hours, I made the hard decision to lock up the Mark and leave it on the shoulder, keys hidden with the car, hoping the wrecker would get to it sometime. Needless to say,
I was very apprehensive. I had asked the wrecker service to tow it to a Ford dealer that was not too far away.
We arrived home, eleven hours after we left, on what should have been a 2 1/2 hour drive. At 8:00 that evening, the highway was still not clear and the Mark had not
been picked up. I think it was around 10:00 p.m. when it was finally retrieved and on its way. I was concerned about having to leave it on the side of the interstate and having it towed, so we drove to the Ford dealer the next day, Sunday, to inspect it. We couldn’t find it. We called the wrecker company and they assured us it had been towed there, but it was nowhere to be found. On a hunch, we drove a mile down the road to the Dodge dealership, owned by the same person and with the same name on the sign. There it sat. It appeared to be fine, but was in the wrong place. I called the wrecker company, maybe they had towed it to the wrong place and would move it down to the Ford
dealership on Monday morning. On Monday morning, I called the Ford dealership and they said it would be three weeks before they could diagnose it. This is a small Ford dealer in a small town, so I knew they weren’t that busy. They just didn’t want to work on it. I then called Carl, the man whose shop had built my Hemi Lincoln, and who was not that far away. He agreed to go pick it up and take a look at it.
Carl had the car for almost a month. He re-routed a fuel line to solve the vapor lock issue,which was why it had died on the highway and wouldn’t restart. While it was running to
make sure it didn’t die again, the a/c compressor clutch started smoking. It had to be replaced, along with a leaking radiator. I also asked him to repair the fuel gauge, change all the fluids and turn the front rotors. When he pulled a front wheel off, he found that the car still had the OEM brake pads! They were still good, but we replaced them anyway.
I finally got the car back home almost a month after I started the journey. I washed it, clayed it, waxed it, and treated the leather. I touched up a few rock chips and spot-cleaned the carpet. For a 37-year- old car, it didn’t need much cosmetically. We have a couple of minor mechanical issues to address yet and because of that, I haven’t driven it much. Unfortunately, by the time I get it back, there won’t be much driving season left before the snow starts flying here in the Ozarks. I’ll surely be looking forward to spring!