The Lincoln Versailles is a mid-size luxury car manufactured by Ford Motor Company and marketed by its Lincoln division as a rebadged variant of the Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch. Marketed as a 4-door sedan from 1977 to 1980, the Versailles reached a production total of 50,156 and was noted as the first production vehicle to offer clearcoat paint.
1980 Lincoln Versailles
|Assembly||United States: Wayne, Michigan (Wayne Stamping & Assembly)|
United States: Mahwah, New Jersey (Mahwah Assembly)
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Compact luxury car|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Engine||302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8|
351 cu in (5.8 L) Windsor V8
|Wheelbase||109.9 in (2,791 mm)|
|Length||200.9 in (5,103 mm)|
|Width||74.5 in (1,892 mm)|
|Height||54.1 in (1,374 mm)|
|Curb weight||3,827–3,913 pounds (1,736–1,775 kg)|
|Predecessor||Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia|
|Successor||Lincoln Continental (1982; indirect)|
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During the mid-1970s, the Lincoln division of Ford sought to expand its model range for multiple reasons. Since 1961, Lincoln had marketed the Lincoln Continental as its sole model line (while sold by Lincoln-Mercury, the Continental Mark series would not officially adopt the Lincoln nameplate until 1986). By comparison, Cadillac offered four distinct model lines and Chrysler (excluding Imperial) offered two distinct sedans.
While sales of large luxury cars recovered following the 1973 oil crisis, its impact led to the rise of imported cars. As the economy-car segment saw market share increases from Honda and Toyota, the luxury car segment saw its own changes as well. While competing in price with Cadillac, Imperial, and Lincoln, the West German BMW 3.0Si and Mercedes-Benz 350SE/450SE offered American luxury-car buyers a far different vehicle than produced by American manufacturers.
In May 1975, General Motors introduced the Cadillac Seville as a 1976 model, developed in response to the fuel crisis and European luxury sedans. While the Seville was the smallest Cadillac in 40 years, it was also introduced as its most expensive sedan. Although using the chassis and mechanical underpinnings of the Chevrolet Nova to save on engineering and development costs, the Seville was given its own exterior; no body panels were shared between the vehicles.
For the 1977 model year, Lincoln introduced the Versailles as its compact sedan offering, expanding the Lincoln model line for the first time since 1960. Although the smallest Lincoln, the Versailles carried the highest base price at $11,500 ($48,154 in 2017 dollars), in line with its Cadillac counterpart. The first Lincoln manufactured outside of Wixom Assembly since 1957, the Versailles was produced alongside the Mercury Monarch and Ford Granada. The model was notable for being the first production vehicle to be sold with clearcoat paint and halogen headlights in North America.
During the development of the Lincoln Versailles, Ford had a smaller budget than General Motors. As it was released in 1977, the Lincoln Versailles showed relatively few exterior differences from the Mercury Monarch sold beside it in the same showroom.
With the front fascia, the body was restyled slightly from the Monarch to give a resemblance to the Continental Mark V and restyled 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car. In a major departure, the Versailles marked the debut of rectangular headlamps on a Lincoln, also becoming the first Lincoln with exposed headlamps since 1969. The rear fascia was restyled slightly, with a Mark V styled "Continental spare" trunklid lettered LINCOLN instead of CONTINENTAL.
In sharp contrast to the Seville, the Versailles shared many visible body panels with the Monarch and Granada, including its entire roofline. For 1979, the rear roofline was redesigned for a notchback appearance distinct from the Monarch. Using a fiberglass cap on the rear roofline, the update required new quarter windows and included the standardization of the vinyl landau roof.
Essentially taking over the role of the Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia, the Lincoln Versailles inherited many standard interior features, including many seen in the larger Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Continental. Along with power-operated leather-trim seats and steering wheel, power steering and windows, the Versailles included features such as a digital LCD clock,dual map lights, lighted passenger vanity mirror, rear-seat map pockets, and plush carpeting with soundproofing.
The Versailles shares its wheelbase with the Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch and the four-door Ford Maverick/Mercury Comet. Marketed as a compact car, the Versailles is closer in size to the mid-size segment of today, in terms of exterior footprint.
According to Lincoln advertising, a quality-control regimen was used at the factory. According to the marketing, final assembly included dynamometer testing of the engine/transmission, a water spray test to pinpoint body leaks, and a simulated road test. The Versailles featured "matched and balanced" driveline elements, low-friction lower ball joints, double isolated shocks, reinforced chassis areas, sound insulation, and balanced forged 14" aluminum wheels with Michelin whitewall X-radials. Bodywork received the first clear-coat paint on a regular production car.”
The Versailles shared its powertrain with the Monarch upon which it was based, with a V8 engine as a sole choice. Initially, the Versailles was powered by the 351 cubic-inch V8, phased out in favor of the 302 cubic-inch V8. The three-speed C4 automatic transmission was the only transmission available. The rear differential used in the Versailles was Ford 9-inch with rear disc brakes, replacing the drums on the Granada and the Monarch.
|Ford Windsor V8||302 cubic inches (4.9 liters)||133 bhp (99 kW; 135 PS) at 3600 rpm||243 lb⋅ft (329 N⋅m) at 1600 rpm||Ford C4 3-speed automatic|
|Ford Windsor V8||351 cubic inches (5.8 liters)||135 bhp (101 kW; 137 PS) at 3200 rpm||275 lb⋅ft (373 N⋅m) at 1600 rpm|
In comparison to the Cadillac Seville, the Lincoln Versailles fared poorly, outsold by the Cadillac by a three to one margin in its 1977 debut year. Following its update for the 1979 model year, sales of the Versailles would more than double, though remaining far behind its Cadillac counterpart.
In its entire production run, Lincoln would sell 50,156 examples of the Versailles. By comparison, Cadillac would outsell that total in both 1978 and 1979, the last two years of the first-generation Seville.
- "1978 Versailles Brochure". Retrieved January 29, 2011.
- 1980 LINCOLN VERSAILLES 5.0L Select-Shift data in automobile-catalog.com
- 1977 LINCOLN VERSAILLES 351-2V Select-Shift data in automobile-catalog.com
- "Obscure American Car: Lincoln Versailles". CNet.com, September 15, 2013, Dan Duncan.
- "Production & Registry totals". The Granada-Monarch-Versailles Registry. Retrieved April 17, 2009.
- "CPI Inflation Calculator".
- Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc 1999), p.595.
- Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc 1999), p.596. 351 specs
- Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc 1999), p.597. 302 specs
- Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc 1999), p.596.
- Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc 1999), p.597.
- Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc 1999), p.599.
- Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976-1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc 1999), p.601.
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