Good morning! I seem to have inadvertently stumbled on a theme for this week, in the form of two cars from the same corporate family with something weird about the tops. I’ll show you what I mean in a minute. First, there is the small matter of yesterday’s GM convertibles to attend to:
The garage-find Oldsmobile takes the win. Not often that a running car gets beaten by a non-running one, but I agree with the majority – the rust on that Metro scares me. I’d rather wrench than Bondo, and I don’t know how to weld, so for me it’s an easy decision.
Speaking of questionable bodywork, how do we all feel about vinyl tops? Or worse, fake convertible “carriage tops”? Personally, I can’t stand them; I did once own a Cadillac Coupe DeVille with a fake convertible top that I thought I could live with. Once I decided it had to go, I researched how much work it would be to remove it – and elected to sell the car instead. It was too bad, because I really liked that car, but that roof just made me angry every time I looked at it. I’ve tried to remove vinyl landau tops in the past, and that hasn’t gone well either.
So the question is: If you found an otherwise nice, good-running car that was saddled with one of these automotive toupées, could you bring yourself to buy it? Would you try to remove it, or just embrace the cheesiness? We’ve got two examples to look at, both from the Ford Motor Company.
Engine/drivetrain: 5.0 liter overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Goshen, IN
Odometer reading: 120,000 miles
I didn’t think much of the Lincoln Mark VII when it was new. But then, I was a kid when this car came out, not exactly the target demographic. I couldn’t understand why anyone would choose it over a Mustang, or even a Thunderbird. I hated the big upright grille, the silly fake-spare-tire lump in the trunk lid, and all that chrome. But now, with a lot more miles on my own odometer, I look at that cushy interior, and I think about the pillowy-soft ride from that air suspension, and I get it.
The Mark VII underwent a lot of changes and improvements over its eight-year run. This 1988 model is towards the end of the run, with the full-on high-output 302 V8 from the Mustang GT. It’s also the LSC model, which offered a modicum of handling to go with the marshmallow ride. It goes without saying that it has power everything, and all the other luxury toys befitting a vehicle of its stature in the late ’80s. [Editor’s Note: It was also the first car in America with composite, shaped headlamps! – JT]
It also has a sunroof, which makes that horrible carriage top even worse. The little caps on the tops of the door sills are bad enough; the sunroof just adds insult to injury. Worse even that that, someone somewhere along the way tinted the windows with some awful reddish tint. No accounting for taste, I suppose. I’ve heard of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, but I think maroon-tinted windows would just give you a headache.
Mechanically, it sounds like this car is in fine shape. The ad consists almost entirely of a list of recently-replaced parts, and it’s everything you could hope for in a used car. It appears to be rust-free, and the paint is shiny, and a great color. But that top… ugh.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.8 liter overhead valve V6, three-speed automatic, RWD
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Odometer reading: 86,000 miles
Runs/drives? Great, the seller says
A lot has already been said about the Mustang II, and it’s almost a cliché to pick on the poor thing, or defend it, these days. The simple fact is that the Mustang got too big, around the same time there was a gas crunch, so they made it smaller. And it worked: Ford sold more than a million of these things.
In 1974, the first year of the new fun-size Mustang, there was no V8 option. The biggest engine available was the one you see here: a 2.8 liter “Cologne” V6, equipped with a two-barrel carburetor, putting out a sad 105 horsepower through a three-speed automatic. Acceleration is not its strong suit. But the seller sings the praises of how this one runs, proclaiming that you could “Drive to California today.” Personally, I wouldn’t; it’s August, and the air conditioning is non-operational, but it’s good to hear that the seller has that kind of confidence in it.
It’s rust-free, and the interior is certainly better than most Mustang IIs I’ve seen recently, but much like the Oldsmobile from yesterday, the seller seems to think this car is in a lot better condition than it is. The carpet is badly faded, there’s a huge crack in the dash, and the paint is chalky and not all the same shade of red. If it’s the old single-stage paint, you might be able to polish it up, but as it sits, it’s pretty scruffy.
It’s probably easier to find a Mustang II with a vinyl roof than one without it. This one’s full roof is slightly less offensive than the landau top seen on the Ghia models, but it’s not pretty. But then, the only really good-looking Mustang IIs were the Cobra hatchbacks anyway.
I try really hard to be impartial and just present the cars for you to choose, but let’s be honest: between these two, the Lincoln really is the better car. It’s a decade and a half newer, has more than double the power, and it’s in nicer condition. But it has that stupid top on it, it’s not something you can remove yourself, and paying a body shop to get rid of it and repaint the roof would probably cost more than the car is worth. So can you tolerate the toupée, or would you rather take the baby Mustang with a mere vinyl top?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)