1991 Lincoln Mark VII

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$2,293–$16,489
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Orlando Sentinel

Ford has two unique cars in its lineup.

There's the Taurus SHO, a high-performance sports sedan with a special 24-valve Yamaha V-6 engine.

And there is this week's test car, a 1991 Lincoln Mark VII LSC Special Edition coupe.

You won't find anything exotic under the hood - at least not until the 1993 model year - but the LSC has a personality all its own.

The interior is perhaps second only to that of the Cadillac Allante in its design, layout and quality of material. There seem to be few parts shared with other Fords.

The LSC's styling may have what it takes to one day achieve classic status.

This car looks great from any angle.

ENGINE, PERFORMANCE

The LSC fooled me.

When I first saw it, all dressed in black, I thought it would ride and drive like a slightly larger version of the current Thunderbird SC supercharged sport coupe.

It did not.

I thought it would handle like the best sport coupes, be nimble, able to blast through corners quickly and without fuss.

It did not.

Nope, the LSC just looks like it can do those things. The LSC's mission is not one of sportiness - at least in tire-spinning performance. This is a luxury car.

It rides like one.

It handles like one.

It performs like one.

Under the hood is the same 225-horsepower, 302-cubic-inch, fuel-injected, 5.0-liter engine that is in the Mustang GT and LX.

The difference? The Mustang weighs 2,834 pounds. The LSC tips the scales at 3,807 pounds.

The LSC is a bit slow off the line, but from 35 mph to 65 mph, it really flies.

The V-8 is connected to Ford's superb four-speed overdrive automatic. The shifts are smooth and well-timed. Gas mileage is decent for such a big car. It is EPA-rated at 17 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg on the highway. According to the LSC's computer, I averaged 26.5 miles per gallon cruising at 65 mph with the air conditioner running. City driving dropped that figure to 18.6 mpg.

STEERING, HANDLING

The LSC has that trademark Lincoln ride. It is so quiet you'd think you were floating on a cloud.

The suspension is supremely soft. There is a considerable amount of body roll when the LSC is asked to perform cornering maneuvers. There is, however, no squealing of tires and no sense that the LSC won't retain its composure. But the car is clearly out of its element in strenuous situations.

Long, flat roads and wide, sweeping curves taken at safe speeds are where the LSC is most fun to drive.

The suspension system is fairly intricate. It consists of microprocessor-controlled front and rear air springs with automatic front-to-rear and side-to-side leveling and front and rear stabilizer bars. There are also nitrogen-charged MacPherson struts, front and rear.

Four-wheel power disc brakes are standard. The test car came with anti-lock brakes that I did not care for. I tested them on wet pavement. The ABS system was the noisies t one I can remember. The pedal pulsed and the front of the car nose dived.

The power-assisted rack and pinion steering was light to the touch. The car can be steered with one finger.

FIT, FINISH, CONTROLS

The facing of the interior, console and parts of the dash are done in a specially machined black metal that I have never seen in a Ford product. It is classy.

There is a long row of buttons on the dash that allows the driver to call up nearly any bit of information he could want - from distance-to-empty to trip time and odometer readings. However, the test car's computer system did not always agree with the fuel gauge.

With nearly 5 gallons of gas in the tank, a warning buzzer sounded that said there were less than 50 miles until empty.

The black leather bucket seats are the car's only weak point. The headrests are virtually unusable. The only way the back of your head could touch the headrest is if you leaned all the way back and stared a the roof. This needs revision.

The seats also don't hold the driver in place well enough. The Thunderbird SC has inflatable side and back supports. The LSC could use them, too. Rear seat passengers are likely to remain comfortable on long trips. There's ample room. The trunk has a good amount of room and is easily capable of swallowing 10 grocery bags or numerous sets of golf clubs.

The test car's black paint job, colorful badges, minor chrome trim and black interior gave the LSC a powerful presence. Unlike so many other expensive cars, this one has character and personality.

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