Ford’s Mid Size Luxury Car / 1979 Lincoln Versailles

The Lincoln Versailles was advertised as the automobile with elegance, great engineering and comfort. Two of it's engineering achievements included a computer run Electronic Engine Control System as well as a Variable Venturi carburetor.

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The 1979 Lincoln Versailles featured in this article is a big car but it was offered as Lincoln's  mid sized entry. The Versailles was categorized as a compact luxury car. Ford Motor Company engineers built a compact car with all the bells and whistles you'd find in the luxurious Continental. The Versailles was only available as a four door sedan and the 1977 Versaiiles was Lincoln's first mid size model. The Versailles came out with several firsts for American auto manufacturers including Halogen headlights and a clear coat finish.

The Versaille Sedan

The Versaille Sedan

The Lincoln Versailles Design

The Lincoln Versailles was in many ways a product of it's times. The fuel shortage crises of the early 1970's left Lincoln without a mid size vehicle to sell. Car buyers suddenly became quite fuel efficiency conscious. Two of it's competitors, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz did have a mid size offering and the Versailles was designed and built to fill that gap.

This was the era in the 1970's when Ford Motor Company's president was Lee Iacocca who rose through the ranks of Ford to become their president in 1970. Iacocca's involvement with the design of the Ford Mustang was among his significant achievements while at Ford.

Lincoln Versailles trunk design

Lincoln Versailles trunk design

Ford Motor Company not having a great deal of money in the mid 1970's to design a new car from scratch took some body designs of the Lincoln Continental and the Mercury Monarch to come up with the first Versailles in 1978. The car's overall platform was inspired by the the Mercury Monarch and Ford Granada which was preceded by the Ford Falcon. So many of Ford's 1960's and 1970's designs and concepts began with the Falcon.

One very apparent part taken from the Continental was the grille. The tire bulge in the rear trunk area was an idea taken from the Continental Mark.

Lincoln Versailles front end light arrangement

Lincoln Versailles front end light arrangement

Power everything including seats, windows, steering and brakes were all standard equipment with the Lincoln Versailles as well as an automatic transmission. Entry lighting, remote mirrors, lighted visors and intermittent windshield wipers and more were also standard. So many of these features came as standard equipment that there really were not too many add-on options for the buyer to consider.

The Versailles interior included twin lounge or bucket seats in the front and a bench seat in the rear. Head room was a good 38 inches.

Lincoln Versailles tail light

Lincoln Versailles tail light

The Lincoln Versailles had only a 3 1/2 year production run and only some 51,000 were built. Out of this total around 21,000 1979 models were sold. The Versailles model proved not up to competing against it's primary American competitor the Cadillac Seville. The Versailles was discontinued after 1980.

1979 Lincoln Versailles Specifications

Engines on the 1979 Lincoln Versailles were 301 cubic inch V-8's providing 130 horsepower.

Transmission was an automatic three speed and brakes were power disc front and rear.

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The 1979 Versailles wheelbase was 109.0 inches. Compare this to the Lincoln Mark V with a wheelbase of 120.3 inches. Overall length was 201.0 inches and the car's width came in at 74.5 inches.

Curb weight on the Versailles was about 3,850 lbs compared to the Mark V weighing in at about 4,800 lbs.

New car base price for the 1979 Lincoln Versailles averaged around $12,500.

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The 1979 Lincoln Versailles Collector Car

The 1979 Versailles has not been considered a sought after collector car. By the same token, such a limited number were built over 3 1/2 years that you'll not find them too common. The Versailles, as mentioned above, came with a lot of bells and whistles. A fully restored original would have plenty of gadgets and electronics. Probably the biggest challenge for a Lincoln Versailles restorer would be to make sure all of the car's electronics are in working order.

1979 Lincoln Versailles grille and dual headlights

1979 Lincoln Versailles grille and dual headlights

As a side note, classic car restorers find the rear end assembly from the Lincoln Versailles is near a perfect match for the Ford Mustang. The 1965 and 1966 Mustang rear is just about the same size, perhaps only a quarter inch shorter. Some however say that the width of the Versailles is a bit more than the 65/66 Ford Mustang and may require custom wheels. As such, many old Versailles have been taken apart by Mustang enthusiasts.

In a way the Lincoln Versailles is a classic car nevertheless and came about in a large part because of the oil embargo of the early 70's. The model gave Lincoln a chance to compete against Cadillac's mid size Seville. Moving forward the automobile may attract more collectors.

As of this writing, asking prices for 1979 Lincoln Versailles automobiles depend entirely on the car's condition. A Versailles in like new condition may have a price tag in the mid to high teens. Non restored Versailles will be under $10,000 and more likely around $5,000. Some non restored yet in very good condition Versailles have been offered in the $5,000 price range.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)

Babe Ruth’s 1948 Lincoln Continental

When traveling to classic auto show's you may just be lucky enough to come across an exhibit of a 1948 Lincoln Continental two door hardtop coupe once owned by baseball super star Babe Ruth.

Babe Ruth's 1948 Lincoln Continental

Babe Ruth's 1948 Lincoln Continental

The Lincoln Car Company

The Lincoln Car Company, named in honer of President Abraham Lincoln, was established in 1917. After going through some rough economic times, the Lincoln Car Company was purchased by Henry Ford in 1922. After the purchase Edsel Ford was active in redesigning the Lincoln beginning in 1923. It's chief competitor was Cadillac. Edsel Ford's design changes included a two and three window four door sedans and a four passenger phaeton model.

Coach builders would also offer a sedan, limousine, cabriolet and town car.

Up until 1949 the Lincoln Motor Company, while fully owned by Ford Motor, would operate as a somewhat separate company. Beginning in 1940 the company operated as the Lincoln Division of the Ford Motor Company. In 1956 Ford Motor would start a new Continental Division.

1948 Lincoln Continental

1948 Lincoln Continental

Babe Ruth's Lincoln Continental

The Lincoln Continental was built by the Ford Motor Company from 1939 to 1948 and again from 1956 to 2002. The Continental had it's roots in the prior development of the Lincoln-Zephyr.This was a lower priced luxury automobile within the Lincoln line and was the idea of Edsel Ford. The car was produced from 1936 to 1942. The last Lincoln-Zephyr was built in February of 1942 when all civilian car production was halted due to World War Two.

The Continentals built immediately after World War Two, 1946 and 1947, were similar to the pre-war designs with the exception of some grille and trim changes. The Lincoln Continental has always been known as a stylish luxury car.European styling  The 1948 Lincoln Continental was thought to have European designed elegant styling. It ushered in a new standard for Ford's luxury brand.  It was said that the first Lincoln Continental built was Edsel Ford's personal car.

Babe Ruth, George Herman Ruth, owned this car shortly before his death on August 16, 1948. The regal blue Lincoln Continental was used by Ruth as he traveled across the U.S. making speeches and signing autographs and offering tips to Little League teams.

Babe Ruth's Lincoln

Babe Ruth's Lincoln

Papers show that the car was a gift to Ruth by the Ford Motor Company.The car was give to the Babe as Ford's recognition of his achievements on the field. George Herman Ruth, nicknamed "The Bambino", played twenty-two season for three major league teams. Ruth played the positions of outfielder and pitcher. This was the last automobile owned by Babe Ruth and it is also a fine example of Lincoln's historic past.

The car today is in it's original shape with original colors and interior. An interesting fact is that the car has a vacuum tube radio requiring about fifteen minutes for the tubes to warm up.

Prior to the Pampa Texas car collector's purchase of the vehicle, the 1948 Lincoln Continental had been in the Museum of Automotive History in Dallas Texas. The current owner was considering selling the vehicle and the Pampa Texas collector seized the opportunity. He said that the car was bought because of his love for baseball.

The Lincoln Continental and Celebrities

For various reasons several celebrities enjoyed Lincoln Continentals. In addition to Babe Ruth, Continentals were owned by Jack Benny, Mickey Rooney, Rita Hayworth and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Babe Ruth, 1918

Babe Ruth, 1918

1948 Lincoln Continental Specifications

The 1948 Lincoln Continental came out of the factory with a twelve cylinder 292 cubic inch L-head engine with hydraulic valve lifters. History shows that the 1948 Lincoln Continental had the last V-12 engine built by an American automaker. The car is recognized today as a Full Classic.

Brakes are Bendix hydraulic drums.

This Lincoln Continental's wheelbase comes in at 125.0 inches, it's overall length is 218.7 inches, it's width is 77.35 inches and it's height 67.125 inches.

The car's weight ranged from about 3,900  to 4,200 lbs with a 19.5 gallon fuel tank.

Total Lincoln car production for the 1948 model year was 43,900 vehicles.

Two additional AutoMuseumOnline articles you may enjoy are on the links below...

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Today's 1948 Lincoln Continental Collector's Cars

The 1948 Lincoln Continental given to Babe Ruth sold new in that year for about $5,000. To put this in perspective, a 1948 Plymouth Deluxe Two Door sold new for about $1,400 and a 1948 Ford V-8 Super Deluxe Sportsman may have sold for around $2,000.

As of this writing, auction prices for a finely restored mint condition 1948 Lincoln Continental might be in the range of $50,000 to $70,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline. Babe Ruth 1918 photo from the public domain)