The Ford Motor Co.'s crown jewel of its personalized line of automobiles is the Lincoln-Mercury Division's Mark Series.The 1994 Lincoln Mark VIII continues the series' tradition of being its own automobile.The Mark VIII is a high-dollar piece of equipment, but it offers a combination of aerodynamic styling, the advanced technology of Ford Motor's first passenger car 32-valve V-8, an advanced electronically controlled automatic transmission and computer controlled air-spring suspension.That just touches on some of the features of the VIII. There virtually is an unending list of electronic genies that lie within fingertip reach.The coupe obviously is geared toward those who never relished the mundane and can afford the bottom line. You're looking at some $42,000-plus full sticker to park one of these things in your garage.In return, you're driving a luxury automobile offering a world-class ride, excellent handling and dramatic styling that is highlighted by the highest level of standard equipment ever available in a Lincoln.There are two principal approaches to describing a '94 Mark VIII. Technically, it is a carry forward of the '93 coupe that debuted in Indianapolis Lincoln-Mercury dealer showrooms late in December of 1992.Style-wise, the interior has been updated from the '93 model offering. Soft all-leather seats, cloth- wrapped secondary sun visors, a remote memory recall for the driver's seat and mirror positions, and two trim levels are all new for 1994.Driving the VIII that Ford Motor's Michael Vaughn provided for a test car was somewhat like meeting an old friend. There were no trick items to which one had to become accustomed. All accessory controls were where you expected them to be, and it just was a matter of getting in and going.Getting in was about the easiest part of the journey. The door sills are cut into the roof, and it was not necessary to duck to slide behind the wheel. The doors are like a bank vault, and almost as wide.Once inside, it was gratifying to find the coupe possessed one of the few power moonroofs that left some headroom. And it doesn't take long to realize there really is something under the hood.Lying there is Ford's first all-aluminum V-8, an engine that is the culmination of more than 60 years of manufacturing V-8s. The 4.6-liter (281-cubic inch) eight-cylinder sports four overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder in the best tradition of the Ford-Cosworth V-8 that will run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during May.Many dual overhead cam engines sound extremely busy at full throttle acceleration. Not this 4.6. Oh, you can tell it's going up the rev scale. But the sound is muted, and on the interstate it cruised along with virtually no noise at all.Coming off the line with one's right foot planted firmly on the floor, the car moved out with a rush, assisted by an optional traction control that kept 280-horsepower from spinning the rear driving wheels.The shift action was smooth, whether under full throttle acceleration or in a normal driving mode.By and large I'd say owners of a Mark VIII have little or no interest in being drag racers. Consequently, the design of the car is slanted toward comfortable transportation and at times with some verve.With all the amenities, comfort and convenience is a given. The ride -- with all four wheels of the rear-drive being independently sprung -- is excellent. Control via front/rear and side-to-side automatic load leveling approaches sports car quality. And it's almost impossible to do something wrong courtesy of the electronic information systems.One thing I especially liked here was the "Miles To Empty" readout on the information screen Much more precise than with a dial.If there was a criticism, it would be the engine seemed a little slow to warm up. However, if you park the car in a garageovernight that won't be a problem in the morning.With aerodynamics being the name of the game toda y, the Mark VIII might not have the classic styling theme of past Marks, but it is light years ahead in every other respect. As such, it's a coupe built without compromise. 1994 Lincoln Mark VIII Base price: $38,050 .As tested: $42.845.Type: Front engine, rear-drive, five-passenger luxury coupe.Engine: 2.4 liters, DOHC V-8, 32 valves, fuel-injected, 280 horsepower, 285 foot-pounds of torque.Transmission: Four-speed automatic.Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 7.0 secs.Top speed: 150 mph. (Est.)Mileage: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway.Wheelbase: 113 inches.Length: 206.9 inches.Width: 74.6 inches.Height: 53.6 inches.Curb weight: 3,768 pounds.Options: Ford-JLB audio system, CD player, power moonroof, traction control, automatic light dimmer, chrome wheels.
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