Friday, August 19, 2011

Operation Gingermobile: Homing In

I know you guys haven't heard about it in a while, but the search for the eponymous Gingermobile continues.
The original Gingermobile - my 1985 Firebird Trans Am

To get you guys back up to speed, here's the situation. A couple of years ago, I sold my much-loved classic Pontiac Trans Am and have since then been looking for a suitable steed to replace it. My requirements were pretty stiff:

Essential:
  • Two door, hard top coupe
  • British, French, Swedish or American built
  • Built before 1990
  • Four full seats
  • Large boot/trunk
Preferable:
Then comes the tricky bit – the aesthetics. I'm halfway between a cowboy and an English gentleman, and those are two distinctive styles that aren't easy to combine. You see, I wanted a car with the rough-and-ready muscle and grunt of the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard, but also wanted a car with the effortless class, style and refinement of James Bond's Bentley or Simon Templar's Hirondel.

I want a car that does this...
...but can also pull off this.

Finally, I wanted a car that was practical enough to be an everyday-driver, and one I could realistically afford within the next couple of years.

And, finally, I think I have a winner.

Although I'd originally written it off as a gas-guzzling monstrosity, my eyes kept returning to the 1970s-era Lincoln Mark cars.

The Lincoln Mark V - to this day, still the least fuel-efficient vehicle ever tested by Car & Driver

These enormous grand tourers had the distinction of being some of the biggest and most opulent production cars ever produced; and originally weighed in with a price-tag similar to a Rolls Royce or Bentley.

Each model was finished by a famous contemporary designer – Givenchy and Cartier were two of the better known – and came with every luxury feature under the sun; from ice-cold AC to a moon-roof and powered, lumber-support velour or leather seats.

In that respect, a 1970s-era Lincoln perfectly meets the objectives of being a car worthy of James Bond or Simon Templar. In fact, James Bond drove a fictional "Mark IV" Bentley in some books, and a "Continental" in others, so the parallel between that and a Lincoln Continental Mark IV is rather satisfying.

The beautiful 1979 Lincoln Mark IV Cartier edition
Available with all these sexy options

But for the good ol' boy inside of me, the mid-70s Lincolns also didn't disappoint. Long, low and sleek, they came equipped with some of Ford's biggest V8 engines; easily pushing out 300 horses and being a good match for The General Lee.

Likewise, they had long, low doors with frameless windows; which were perfectly for jumping in and out of. As classically American as they come, the old Lincolns were car-chase worthy; as well as being ideal for purring down the boulevards in.

Red paint and pop-up headlights. A 1976 Lincoln Mark IV

Obviously, they don't tick all the boxes. Although a Lincoln Mark IV comes with pop-up headlights and that purring V8, they're available only as automatics (but with all that torque, it's acceptable) and fastbacks were as rare then as they are now.

A '76 Mark IV with that classic grand touring profile

That being said, it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility to install a manual transmission (Fords of that era are like Lego – you can swap and switch parts with relative impunity.) Likewise, the sleek swoop of the Mark IV and Mark V almost gives the car a fastback profile even without a hatchback rear.

It's not a fastback, but it's still sleek and sporty

Considering decent models are trading for about $5,000 at the moment, I anticipate it will be a while before I manage to get my hands on a Gingermobile – but when I do, a Lincoln Mark IV is looking like the likeliest contender.

2 comments:

paul mitchell said...

Elvis really made those Mark IV's sexy, but I always preferred the older Tornado. Of course, it doesn't match your criteria, either.

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner said...

Lemme spell it out for ya in layman's terms, Pops. The filthy rich, who knew gas was cheaper than a five-fingered-hand-job in 1972, built them with all the ameneties (wide everything) in expectation we would buy MORE fuel, thus, recycling the lie autos were fuel efficient. And we bought into that falsehood hook, line, and sinker. We're now going under. I don't have a #@!! car, ya more-on.