Pages 4-7 of the 1978 Lincoln Versailles brochure. Notice the plastic digital clockface is endowed with a Cartier signature, not exactly the classicly roman-numeraled timepiece of the original '68 Mark III!
M Y CO L L E C T I O N — Lincoln was caught off guard in 1975 with the introduction of the Cadillac Seville. Cadillac created that new small top-of-the-line luxury car by carefully re-crafting GM's Nova platform, which by that time had been used for Chevy's N-ova, Oldsmobile's O-mega, Pontiac's V-entura and Buick's A-pollo. Cadillac "badge engineered" the Seville the correct way, without sharing a single exterior body panel, nor any interior pieces. The only shared pieces were parts of the undercarriage, suspension, and inner upper body structure. Lincoln, in a very rushed program to counter the Seville by 1977, had no choice but to utilize Ford's Granada platform, and with such a short time to the planned production date, many of the same body panels as the much lower cost Granada.
As a result, the Versailles always looked exactly like what it was: an over-trimmed, overwrought, overblown Ford. Introduced for the 1977 model year, it wasn't for another two years that it was granted a unique roofline, and even then it was an oddly proportioned vinyl covering that was placed on top of the original roofline. The Versailles was offered in the 1980 model year, but was withdrawn before the year was over, not to be replaced for close to two years. It wouldn't be until 1982 that Lincoln fielded a new Continental to take the place of the Versailles, again using a shared platform, but with its own dedicated, and fairly elegant body.
The Versailles introduced Halogen headlights to the industry, as well as clearcoat paint finishes. Both became ubiquitous to the industry in the 1980s and '90s, but they was just about the only "firsts" that Versailles can claim.
• For the Wiki on the Versailles, click here.
The 1978 Versailles brochure was a fairly large format 10 1/4 x 12 inch, 12 page booklet, with onion skin end papers and a very nice thick and textured cover/back cover for a total of 16 pages. The type appears to be embossed, but is not. The word "Versailles" however is a very nice metallic gold ink.
Pages 6-7. From the front, the Granada's origins were fairly well masked.
Page 8-9. Optional leather seats were very impressive looking, and the option list was as long as the arms necessary for the deep pockets required for the list price.
Pages 10-11, discussing the "uncommon integrity"of the body structure on the left, and the "stunning clarity" of the "wet-on-wet electrostatic" paint finish on the right.
The next year, 1979, saw the introduction of a unique rear roofline to the Versailles, but the brochure was cheapened quite a bit. The cover stock is the same glossy paper as the interior, and the typography is much less elegant, though not poorly kerned or sloppy in any way. The booklet was now 12 pages including covers and missing the onion skin end papers.
Pages 2-3, showing the new roofline, and the newly padded Continental 'hump' on the trunklid. The '77-'78 Versailles' hump was painted metal, but by '79 Lincoln garishly padded it and edged in thick chrome.
Pages 4-5. Apparently the rear seat was fit for a Roman goddess, lol. The standard cloth front seat was a solid bench seat with a fold down armrest. For individual front seats, or leather, the buyer had to consult the options page.
Pages 6-7. The clearcoat paint finishes were really beautiful, especially in darker hues like this Cordovan.
Pages 8-9. This Diamond Blue Versailles sports the extra-cost padded rear coach roof with a Frenched in rear window.
B T W :
C H O P — I can't believe how crude my chops were back in 2006, I had already been working in Photoshop for close to 14 years. I only used the program to color correct images and add shadows for layouts though, not the intensive work needed to create cars, but still... This Versailles II was always meant to be over-the-top and garish, as was the original. I parked it in front of the actual palace at Versailles and made the grille texture as busy as the overdone windows in the background. I used the original MKS concept of 2006 for the base of my reborn monstrosity, lol.
An interesting detail I just noticed is the front wheel flare that I made a bit higher than the hoodline, breaking the straight beltline. That's not a Lincoln trait at all, but I wanted to add a detail that seemed overdone. The recently introduced facelifted MKX crossover uses the same large front wheelwell flare that also breaks the beltline. They're watching me!