Home » Tanks For The Memories: 1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV vs 1973 Oldsmobile 98 Regency

Tanks For The Memories: 1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV vs 1973 Oldsmobile 98 Regency

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Good morning, and welcome back to Shitbox Showdown! Today we’re looking at a couple of old land yachts, both more or less ready to set sail. You’ll notice that both of these cars are over the old $2500 price cap; I kinda like Thomas’s interpretation of “shitbox” as being of any price, but terrible, so we’ll stick with that for a while and see where it leads us.

Before we get into that, I do have one other piece of old news to tell you about. I had an email conversation with a reader named Eric Hesse while I was out, regarding a car we featured way back in October: a Mazda GLC wagon. As it turns out, Eric and his wife were already on their way to California to buy the little Mazda when it appeared in the Showdown. They bought it, and–get this–drove it home from the Bay Area all the way to Wisconsin, by way of Sedona, Arizona.

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Eric and his wife dropped the Mazda off at a mechanic before they hit the road just to make sure it was ready to rock. Even so, Eric says it developed carb problems along the way, and the heater went out before they even left California. They did the last leg, from Liberal, Kansas to Wausau, Wisconsin in one day, a distance of over 1000 miles. (“0/10, do not recommend,” says Eric.) He says there’s “something spiritual” about the little Mazda, and that the trip helped him figure out some things in his life. I understand completely; there’s something about a long road trip that sorts out all the psychic junk in your mind. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what you drive, where you drive, or how you drive–what matters, if you love cars, is that you drive. If you want to see more of this epic road trip, check out your_coach_katya on Instagram.

Yesterday wasn’t even a contest, and I knew that going in. Nobody in their right mind would tackle that Gremlin, but I felt like writing about a Gremlin, so there you go.

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Easy win for the Saab, as expected. I’ll be watching that auction to see how it turns out, and I hope that little red Saab goes to a good home, because it’s a cool car.

Now then: Let’s take a look at a couple of Queens of the Brougham Age. Long, wide, cushy, and V8-powered is the order of the day. Let’s see what you make of them.

1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV – $3,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 460 cubic inch V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Portland, OR

Odometer reading: 55,000 miles

Runs/drives? Yes, but has been sitting for a couple of years

Presence. That’s the best word I can think of for these old Lincoln coupes; they take up a lot of space, and thus demand a lot of attention. But that was the point of them; you drove a Lincoln Continental because you wanted everyone to know you could afford a Lincoln Continental. And the likely single-digit fuel economy from the giant 7.5 liter V8 didn’t concern you, because again, you could afford it.

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That massive engine doesn’t translate into much speed, especially by 1976, but the nearly bottomless well of torque available gives it a relentless, inexorable feel. You know it’s not fast, but you also know it’s not ever going to struggle. In the days before overdrive automatics, a common trick was to give a car a tall rear axle ratio to keep the revs down, which slows down acceleration even more, but makes highway cruising serene. If you’ve never experienced an older full-sized American car at 75 MPH on the Interstate, you’re missing out.

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This old Continental needs a good cleaning, but it has only 55,000 miles on the clock, and the seller says the transmission was rebuilt shortly before it was parked two years ago. It will likely need some care to revive, but two years isn’t too long of a slumber. It’s hard to say how the paint will clean up, but the inside looks nice, and appears to have stayed dry while it was out of commission.

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The vinyl landau top is shot, and there is some rust starting on the roof underneath it. But hey, none of us are as young as we once were. If it does indeed run and drive, and can heave itself out of that rut it’s sunk into, this might be a good car to fix up. Or just clean it up as well as you can, and float down the road as-is.

1973 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency – $4,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 455 cubic inch V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Burien, WA

Odometer reading: 161,000 miles

Runs/drives? Sure does

And in this corner, weighing in at a lot we have Oldsmobile’s flagship sedan, the Ninety-Eight Regency. This is a late example of a very cool bodystyle that no one makes any more, a four-door hardtop. There are no B-pillars above the doors; roll down all four windows, and there’s a massive expanse of open air along both sides of the car. I can tell you from experience that this makes for a very nice summertime cruiser with a bunch of friends.

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Powering this al-fresco living room on wheels is Oldsmobile’s legendary Rocket V8, here displacing 455 cubic inches, and not yet choked down by a catalytic converter. It’s not a fire-breather in this humongous car, but it’ll move the road ahead into the rearview mirror at a good clip, and suck down a whole oil field’s worth of regular every time you hit the passing gear. Again, it’s all about presence.

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Inside, the comfy confines of this Oldsmobile could use a little help. The deeply-tufted upholstery has been patched with what looks like a whole roll of red duct tape, and a hole in the carpet appears to have been covered up as well. I can’t imagine that this was the best solution to whatever problems the seats had, but it’s there now, so the new owner will have to deal with it. The “handyman’s secret weapon” doesn’t affect the smoothness or quietness of the ride itself, luckily.

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Obviously, this car isn’t a showpiece, but it is now rare enough that it’s a pretty good conversation piece. You might take up two spots at Cars & Coffee, but you’ll draw a crowd. Does that make up for its cosmetic shortcomings? You tell me.

So that’s what I have for you today: two large and in-charge barges from the Seventies. Which one of them is still relevant after all these years?


(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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57 Responses

  1. The wear on the seats in that continental tell me that you can add 100,000 to that odo reading. No way Jose or Hose B would they have that wear with only 55k miles.

  2. Not a fan of 70’s land yachts, but the Olds looks like it’s more ready to go than the Lincoln. I’m not convinced that it still runs, some interior trim is missing, and the brakes are likely rusted solid.

    I’ve never experienced a hardtop coupe. Sounds interesting.

    1. I have a hardtop coupe, which would be really cool if the rear window motors weren’t burned out. Only the driver’s window works and despite being a power window, it requires manual assistance to get back up.

  3. I don’t know if I really prefer either, I like my big American boats to be from the 60s, but if picking between the two the Olds looks like the better buy, though the duct tape interior is an epic fail.

  4. I would like to see what the Lincoln looks like after a car wash. Other than a bit of rust and the faded vinyl roof, it looks like it might be in substantially better condition than the photos suggest. I think the opposite is likely true for the Oldsmobile. The photos of the Olds appear to be taken in the late evening (or maybe on a very cloudy day), and the reduced light could be hiding a lot of flaws. I’m not convinced the exterior of the Olds is much nicer than the exterior of the Lincoln. As the interior of the Lincoln looks clean and in relatively good condition, it would be my choice, even if it needs a bit of effort to get it back on the road.

  5. I really like those Continentals, but the Olds is so much cleaner for the money. Added bonus is that my first car was a ’62 Sedan DeVille, so there’d be some nostalgia value in a big four-door tank of a car. Gotta go with the 98 and a trip to Mexico for some upholstery work.

  6. if the Lincoln sat long enough to bury a tire in the ground, the underside is very likely rotted out pretty bad. 4 door hardtops are pretty awesome as well. I would go Olds all the way. Also bonus, already has a champion aluminum radiator, so either it had an overheating issue and they upgraded, or they just wanted to replace rather than repair a plugged one. Either way, that is a bonus to me.

  7. Olds all the way. I sold an absolutely beautiful 1973 Cadillac Coupe DeVille (same platform I think) for $4000 back in 2018. I couldn’t give the damn thing away despite its nice condition. I miss it to a degree but parking, fueling and storing a car that huge is a pain in the ass.

  8. If there was a button for the GLC I’d have clicked it. Based on the interior and a little nostalgia I voted Mk IV. Both have vinyl roofs, so there’s rust. I have PTSD related to vinyl roof rust & glue removal. Either way, I end up in the interior, so that’s a no for the Rocket.

  9. Tough decision, but I went Oldsmovile. Despite the fact that it’s missing parts between the body and the taillight and the Possum Van seats, at least the photos prove it can move places under its own power. Besides, you made an excellent Red Green reference.

    I’m sure 60% of the time, it starts every time.

  10. Lincoln all the way. I think It’ll clean up well. Much lower mileage.

    As much as I love me a 98, and especially a hardtop, that interior is just too far gone.

    As an aside, this is the second shitbox Continental that I’ve see here with a CB. Was that a Lincoln Continental thing that I never caught on to?

    1. In 1975 C.W. McCall had a number-one hit, “Convoy” which is probably help feed the mid-seventies CB craze. The film “Convoy” came out in 1978.

      And CB units were everywhere, I carpooled into Brooklyn from Staten Island in 1977-1978, and my friend had a hippified Dodge A-100 van with the CB handset at the ready to monitor traffic on the VZ bridge and BQE.

      We also had the mid-seventies TV show “Movin’ On” with Merle Haggard’s song as its theme, and more movies like “White Line Fever” to fuel the whole craze. It was a lot of fun.

  11. This one is a tough call for me. Grandpa was an Oldsmobile man long before I came along and he stayed one into his 90’s when Mom took his keys away. As far as I can remember they were all that pale Champagne color Olds had. Dad was a Ford – Mercury – Lincoln man. The Lincolns started with the Mark III and hit most of the Mark series cars until he switched to Town Cars. The Mark III was a beautiful shade of blue with white leather interior. I’d take that one.

  12. I’m mostly here to comment about Eric’s recent Mazda GLC wagon acquisition. Many moons ago, I lived in Wausau, WI (small world), so that grabbed my attention right away. But man, that is a long, long drive to get that wagon. It looks a little worn or unremarkable for all that effort (but who am I to judge?). Which makes me wonder if there’s more to the story. Is it a sentimentality thing? Is it a boyhood dream, realized? Either way, take care of that sweet little rig and undercoat the hell out of it. Wisconsin doesn’t screw around with the salt.

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