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The History of the Lincoln Versailles

A new breed of Lincoln arrived in the spring of 1977. This new "international sized" Lincoln was Ford's response to increasing competition from European luxury makes and the successful Cadillac Seville. In addition, it was a response to consumers' demands for more fuel efficient cars during a decade of oil embargoes, rising gasoline prices and federally mandated CAFE standards.

Using the compact Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch platform (which dates back to the original Ford Falcon), Ford engineers and stylists designed a compact loaded with Lincoln luxury touches and first-rate quality control. The new Versailles was easily identified as a Lincoln from its radiator grille to its rear deck tire bulge. Unfortunately, from the side profile, it was also easily identified as its modest kin. The Lincoln Versailles had a short 3-1/2 year model run. See the section entitled Sold for a model year, sales breakdown.

Sales of the Lincoln Versailles paled in comparison to its main rival, the Cadillac Seville. This chart below shows the percentage of Versailles sales for Lincoln and Seville sales for Cadillac.

 

1977

1978

1979

1980

Versailles

8.1%

5.3%

11.1%

6.4%

Seville

12.6%

16.3%

14.0%

17.3%

Despite its meager origins, the Lincoln Versailles offered superb comfort and convenience in the luxury compact class. Following Cadillac's lead with the Seville, Lincoln priced the Versailles higher than the rest of the line. The high content of luxury touches left few options available. Standard equipment included automatic transmission, power steering, power four wheel disc brakes, power windows, power seat, automatic temperature control air conditioning, tinted glass, automatic parking brake release, intermittent wipers, illuminated entry system, clear coat paint, remote control mirrors, aluminum wheels, cornering lamps, dual lighted visor vanity mirrors, warning chimes, AM/FM search radio, leather wrapped steering wheel, dash pad and door armrests, carpeted trunk, light group and more. The few available options included leather seating surfaces, rear defroster, power door locks, tilt steering wheel, speed control, power sunroof and two-tone paint. See the section on Features for a year by year comparison.

Finding few Versailles buyers during the late 1970's, today it is being viewed as a future classic. Low mileage and restored Versailles are, now, being advertised with list prices from $5,500 to $10,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Rare Lincoln Versailles

In February 1980, Lincoln made available a rare paint group option called Fashion Accent.

It was described as follows and an example of one such car is shown below.

Considering the late production of the vehicle and the low 1980 volume run, this is truly an unique Versailles.

What's in a Name?

In September 1966, Ford conducted a small study of name suitability and attraction for the upcoming Eldorado fighter. Consumers rated the name Versailles third, after Mark VI and LeMarque. Although the names of Mark III, IV and V had been used from 1958-1960, Ford chose the Mark III name for its new luxury coupe. "Versailles" rated above other names, such as Turino, Apollo, Lancelot, Zephyr, Allegro, Exeter, Locarno, Valkyrie and Zermatt. The name, Versailles, waited ten years before being applied to a Lincoln.

Information provided by Lincoln & Continental 1946-1980 The Classic Postwar Years, Pal R. Woudenberg, copyright 1993, Paul R. Woudenberg

Did you know...

There have been other Ford products around the world named Versailles.

In 1955 Ford sold a Versailles in France as a mid-line model. 

Also, In Brazil you could buy a Ford Versailles, from 1991 through 1997. These Versailles were assembled at a joint-venture plant with Volkswagen. 

 

Las Vegas
Crank
CHiPS
Mr. Mom
Casino
Alpha Dog
Everybody Hates Chris

Spotting the Versailles On TV & In the Movies

Red Dragon: The Baltimore Sun did an article on filming which took place in the city recently on the Hannibal Lecter prequel, most of which were scenes involving Philip Seymour Hoffman's sleazy tabloid reporter character. The first scene shot had Hoffman in his Lincoln Versailles car pulling into the parking lot of the National Tattler, the paper he works for which in actual fact is this paper's building with an Illinois flag posted in front (the movie is set in Chicago circa late 70's). A quote from the book states: "Freddy Lound's Lincoln Versailles smelled of hair tonic and aftershave, socks and cigars, and the police sergeant was glad to get out of it when they reached the station house."

"Witch", Russian Movie (click on image to play)

Knight Rider

 

Red Dragon
 
Defending Your Life
 
Body Heat
Dexter
Poetic Justice

Afterlife

The Lincoln Versailles survives in another form. Mustang enthusiasts are well known for searching junkyards for Versailles rear ends. It is popular for these enthusiasts to convert their early Mustangs with the Versailles' rear disc brake set-up.

Daring Feats Attempted in a Lincoln Versailles

In a case heard by the Supreme Court of Indiana, a burgundy,1977 Lincoln Versailles was allegedly used as a getaway vehicle in the 1992 robbery of a drug store.

Due to the distinctiveness of the Lincoln Versailles, a witness identified the vehicle make, model and year accurately.