Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Big Bill Blass with loads of S.W.A.S.S.

First of all S.W.A.S.S. is the 1988 debut album of the legendary Sir Mix-a-Lot. If ya don't know now ya know. Unfortunately I wasn't listening to Sir Mix-a-Lot on the day I took these pics but rather some aggressively experimental machine sounds on free form listener supported radio. We were tooling around Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn when the windshield filled up with this schooner:
Egads Cap't! Damn the torpedoes!
This white whale with the thousand yard stare happens to be a 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V Bill Blass edition in White over Midnight Blue Metallic. This thing is unabashedly colossal in size, but get this: IT IS A MIDSIZE CAR! Aaa ha ha ha yes in 1979 you could call the *largest 2 door car ever made midsize as there were larger 4 door behemoths still roaming the earth.
*To be fair the 2 door Continental non-Mark was 2" longer, but we're talking twins from the same company in the same model year.
This was last call for size queens as the successor to this beast would be massively downsized. Don't go thinking the American public demanded a smaller car; the Mark V was enormously popular and the best selling Lincoln up to that point. For only 3 model years from '77-'79, and always as a 2 door personal luxury car, the Mark V was exactly what much of America wanted.
I am no exception. This has been one of my favorite cars to draw since I was a kid due to its excess, angles, jutting fenders, and shark gills along the sides.
The entire Malaise-era checklist has been fulfilled on this ride. Here is the stand up hood ornament that is a stylized evolution of the charming starburst of the '50s, now looking like the eyesight for a howitzer.
This sits proudly on a Rolls-Royce style tombstone grill in heavy chrome. Power! Success!
A Continental Kit consists of the spare tire being mounted between the trunk and the bumper on the outside of the car (I loathe them along with fuzzy dice and stuffed animals on classics at car shows). Perhaps to hold onto its own name the Mark V has a simulated Continental Kit on the trunk. To me this is the equivalent of getting really thick glasses because you want to look smart even though you have perfect vision, but hey.
People throw terms around like Land Yacht too often but this absolutely qualifies. The Nautical theme just highlights its ocean liner tendencies. If I owned this I would consider adding small lifeboats and tires to the side, maybe an anchor up front. Would you be surprised if you saw this car soaking wet dragging huge knots of seaweed while driving down the street?
This is the hallmark of the lauded designer Bill Blass! While AMC started the designer craze with Gucci Hornets and the like, Lincoln offered 4 special edition Mark Vs in each of its 3 year run. In addition to this we have Cartier, Givenchy, and Pucci. Each had its own brand of gaudiness. The Bill Blass came standard with this "Carriage Roof" treatment, meaning that the vinyl was textured to look like canvas. You had to specify that you wanted these opera windows if you went with the BB Mark V as it normally came with just an expanse of roof over covered up rear windows.
Look how daring Bill got with the interior! White seats with blue piping are sure to wow your valet. At least they were civilized enough to keep up with copious amounts of faux wood.
There are those 3 massive gills I was mentioning earlier. From what I can reckon they do diddly-squat as functional vents but they add architectural importance to this Titanic.
That little triangular vent window is power operated! I actually found a video of it operating for those curious enough. You were expected to smoke in every 1979 Lincoln, and what if your ashtrays were all full? Vent window!
Look at all that hood.
The engine for '77 and '78 was the gargantuan 460 V8. For this year that engine was dropped and replaced by the smaller 400 to help with the CAFE standards from 1975 (that stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy and was set up by the federal government after the oil crisis of the early '70s). Being the Malaise era of emissions equipment strangling these large engines it was rated at only 166 horsepower. With 319 ft lbs of torque it could still pull stumps out of the ground but spritely it wasn't.
Well that's where we'll slowly back away from this wide-eyed drunk. The headlight doors are vacuum operated so many times there's a leak or another issue and the safest way to deal with it is leave them in the open position.
We spoke to a neighbor of the owner of this ride who said it was for sale. The asking price is $6,500! I know it's a special edition and all but that's pretty steep money for a tarted-up Ford from the depths of the Malaise era. Still, if you really wanted one and had that sort of money laying around you could find a truly rust free example on the West Coast. Good luck finding a new home Bill!

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