Lincoln Mark VIII
Yes, you read that right. We're telling you to build a Lincoln. Hear us out. The '93 to '98 Mark VIIIs were a technological tour-de-force. With a 285hp DOHC 4.6 engine, rear drive, and independent rear suspension, they were ahead of their time in the American personal luxury car market. Clearly, Lincoln was targeting Mercedes and BMW buyers rather than those considering a Cadillac, who had, by then, switched nearly their entire model lineup to front- wheel drive.
While cooking up the idea for this article, we did some shopping online. According to Kelley Blue Book, about the best a Mark VIII could hope to sell for today would be about $4,200. That represents a grim depreciation rate to an original owner, considering these models sold for upwards of $40,000 when new. But that is great for us crafty car builders today.
We also found a surprising amount of performance parts available for the Mark (check out SuperCoupe Performance.com). Bill Evanoff says his core buyers are Thunderbird and Cougar owners, but he's moved enough Mark VIII parts in the 12 years he's owned the company that it is still worth his while to stock them. He sells headers, performance ECM calibration chips, MAF sensors, and hard-to-find parts like suspension bushings and new upholstery. For all these models—the Mark, the Thunderbird, and the Cougar—Evanoff recommends 3.73:1 or 4.10:1 gears, a 3,000-stall converter, and cold-air intakes and exhaust upgrades.
If you're not on a Lincoln budget, buy a Thunderbird or Cougar, either the '83 to '88 Fox body–based cars or the '89 to '97 cars built on the MN12 chassis, the basis for the Mark VIII's FM10 chassis. The price of entry is lower, but the potential is nearly the same. Throw in a manual trans, lower it on wide tires, and channel Bill Elliot as you tear up freeway ramps.
The Lincoln you should build: $7,526
|'98 Mark VIII
|Exhaust stud kit
||16 (these always break)
|Polyurethane differential mount
|28-spline Traction-Lok differential
|3,000-stall torque converter
|80mm MAF and filter
|SCT performance chip
|Coil spring conversion, front and rear
|Killer wheels and tires
Prices quoted from SuperCoupePerformance.com
It would be tougher to build a Chrysler product for less than $10K. We're not biased, it's just a fact. For whatever reason, sellers ask more money for a Dodge or Plymouth, and the parts are more expensive. Still, creative types can still get their Mopar fix without going broke.
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