Above: Both of Sherman Lovegren’s Lipstick Mark IVs in front of his home in Fresno, California.
My Two Lipstick 1976 Continental Mark IVs
by Sherman Lovegren, Fresno, California
Originally published in the September-October 2002 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 248).
To this day I do not know how many Lipsticks were built. They were only built in 1976. I believe there were more white ones built than red ones. What identified the Lipstick was the white leather seats with the red striping. The white with red striping was carried over to the door panels. The instrument panel was red and carpeting was red and the seat belts were red. No other Mark IVs had an interior like this. The exterior was either white with red molding on the sides or red with white molding on the sides. The shade of red, Lipstick, was used only on the Lipsticks, but the shade of white was common to all Mark IVs. And the Lipsticks did not have padding on the hump on the trunk. The Lipsticks had two choices for the top. One was called Cayman; it looked like alligator skin. The other looked just like a normal padded top. These padded tops covered only the rear portion of the roof. You could get the padded top in either a red or a white. You could get a red Lipstick with either a red or white top, or a white Lipstick with a white or red top. The most luxurious carpet is not in the Lipstick. The most luxurious carpet was found in the Silver Series.
I bought the first Lipstick Mark IV in June, 1999, and it won a Ford Trophy at the Western National Meet in Irvine, California, that same year. That car was driven right to my door. The owner knew I was in the Lincoln club, and he brought the car right to my house and asked me what he should do with the automobile. He said his father, who was the original owner, had passed away. He knew it was an unusual car with only 17,000 miles. He wanted to know what the car was worth and how and where to sell it. As it turned out, I bought the car from this gentleman.
After I bought the car, I did some research through the Lincoln Archives. I never did find out how many Lipstick models were built, I think somewhere between 50 and 500. But I found out that only two were built like this one, that is without the moldings on the side. That is, the moldings that run the entire length of the car including up and over the wheel wells and across the doors. Through my research from Lincoln Archives, I learned that these two cars were not ordered this way. They didn’t have enough moldings in production to do a complete buildout, so instead of stopping production, these two cars went off the assembly line without the moldings. I do not know what happened to the other car.
The original owner of this car was from Michigan. He was a hockey player. He even had his logo on the license plate. It had MTK 10. MTK was his initial and 10 was his hockey team number on his back. I found out from the son that his father and mother loved that car. But they did not buy the car in Michigan. When the son was young the family moved to Stockton, California. The car was delivered new to Showroom Lincoln-Mercury in Modesto. I have been in that dealership many times. This car was in that dealership for quite a long period of time. It didn’t sell. Of course, red wasn’t a popular color. Finally, the dealer got a little nervous about it and decided he would have to do something to sell the car. He went down and had these Alliance spoke wheels put on it. That was quite a glamorous looking wheel.
After these wheels were put on the car, it brought enough attention that this fellow bought the car. Both he and his wife were school teachers in Stockton. The only time that Mark IV was driven was on weekends when it wasn’t raining. They would drive it to San Francisco for lunch or dinner or whatever. They lived in a condo right across from the school; they also had a second car, so basically the Lipstick Mark IV didn’t have to go anywhere. I bought the car from the son and the other. When I bought the car it was impeccable. I didn’t have to do anything except detail it. We had it in some local concours shows here in the valley. Wherever that car went, it drew a lot of attention. I did not leave the Alliance wire wheels on the car. I had Geoff Weiner get me a set of factory dish wheels. I kept the original tires on these wheels.
Not long after I returned from the LCOC meet in Irvine, Geoff Weiner called me and said, “Sherman, I had my Hemmings Motor News out, and there is a red Mark IV, it must be a Lipstick.” I said it must be a Lipstick unless it has been repainted. Geoff said it couldn’t be repainted, it only had 10,000 miles on it. Geoff was interested in buying the car himself, but he told me to call the seller. The car was in Kansas City, Kansas. I called there the day after Thanksgiving, 1999. The owner told me that the car at noon and I was at his house on a had been in the family since new. He said that the car was like brand new. I asked if he would send me some pictures of the car, and he did. I got the pictures the next day. I called Geoff and said I was looking at my Lipstick and looking at the pictures of the Lipstick in Kansas, and I told Geoff that it looked like the same car. I knew then it was definitely a Lipstick, however the one in Kansas had a moonroof, as well as the side moldings.
The weather was kind of nasty that day. I called this gentleman in Kansas back and said I had received his pictures. I told him I was willing to pay what he was asking for the car. I wanted to secure the car by making a deposit. The seller said the weather in Kansas was terrible, and when the weather was better in the spring to come back and get the car. That made me very nervous. I told him I had just purchased a big diesel motor home, and I had a trailer, and I said when there is a break in the weather I would be back to see him, but I would call before I came.
As it turned out, I left here on a Sunday at noon and I was at his house on a Tuesday morning. I looked at the automobile and I couldn’t believe it. The front seat still had the plastic covers on it, which the dealer put on the day the car was delivered. The purchaser of the car said he didn’t want anything to touch those white leather seats. The back seat had never been sat in. The wrappers for the seat belts in back had never been removed. The car was even more than I had anticipated. So I brought the car home and did a lot of detailing to it, especially under the car.
I took the car to several local shows. It won Best of Show at the concours and at Fresno State College. The only LCOC meet I took the car to was the 2001 Mid-America National Meet in Houston where it won a Lincoln Trophy. Geoff Weiner and I talked about that car many times and Geoff said, “I sure wish I had bought that car.” I think a lot of Geoff, and I told him that when the time comes I would sell him the car for what I had in it, and I would donate the time that I put into it. At Houston, there were some people who were very serous in wanting to buy the car, but in Houston I received a call from Geoff in Perris, California, who said be sure and bring the car by his shop on the way home. So I told these people: “I’m sorry, but the car is sold.” On the way home, I left the car with Geoff and Laura and it now has a good home.
What happened to the first Lipstick was that I had it on display at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. It was there just a very few days and one of the investors at the Imperial Palace bought the car. His daughter had a Christmas party or something going on in Peoria, Illinois. She asked her parents if they could ship it back so they could use it in the Christmas parade. The last I head the car is still back there.
We have had both of these Lipstick cars in local shows together. When you have one Lipstick in a show you get attention, but when you have two sitting side by side it creates even more attention. Another amazing thing is how close the serial numbers of these two cars are. They were built only a few days apart.