The Mark IV and the contemporary Ford Thunderbird were built on a common platform at the same plant in Wixom, Michigan, and were essentially rebadged variants. Both front seats were power adjustable.
For the 1977 model year it was replaced by the Mark V, which kept similar dimensions and internals but featured updated straight-edged styling.
The Mark IV carried over most styling motifs from the successful Mark III, including the tall Rolls-Royce-style grille (even taller on the Mark IV), the fashionable long-hood short-deck style, covered headlamps, a "spare tire hump" in the trunk, and the taller, knife-edged fender line.
The car was both longer and wider than the Mark III, and was slightly more rounded in shape, the fender line losing some of its straightness and sharpness. The wheel openings on the Mark III were somewhat tear-dropped at the trailing edge, but the Mark IV's were symmetrical front to rear in the Oldsmobile Toronado-inspired style then popular.
For 1972, close-fitting bumpers dipped in front to allow a longer grille. At the rear, the bumper followed the rounded "spare-tire hump", continuing its lines further down. Both of these styling touches were lost in subsequent years because of Federal 5 mph (8 km/h) bumper mandates; the front in 1973, the rear in 1974.
All Mark IVs were equipped with a vinyl roof. The Mark IV introduced the opera window to the Mark series, a feature that would become a Mark trademark until 1984. In 1972, it was an option, but it was almost universally specified, and from 1973 onward it was a standard feature.
All Mark IVs were equipped with the 460 in³ (7.5 L) Ford 385 series V8 engine. 1972 Mark IV's were rated at 365 bhp, the engine being a direct carry-over from the previous Mark III. In 1973 compression-ratio was lowered considerably due to new changing EPA requirements, and Ford adopted a new SAE method of measuring horsepower, resulting in 212 SAE net hp (158 kW). The performance-gap between the 1972 and its later-year brethren was significant. All model years drove through a C6 3-speed automatic transmission.
Continental Mark IV Designer Editions
For the 1976 model year, Lincoln introduced the Designer Series; special edition Mark IVs with color, trim and interior choices by famous fashion designers. All carried the designer's signature on the opera windows, and had a 22 karat (92%) gold plated plaque on the instrument panel which could be engraved with the original owner's name. The concept was successful, and future Lincolns would continue to offer designer editions.
For 1976, four designer editions were offered:
- The Bill Blass Edition was in dark blue with cream accents. The external finish was dark blue metallic paint, with a cream "Normande Grain" landau vinyl roof, cream and gold pinstriping, and cream or dark blue bodyside moldings. Inside, a blue cloth or leather interior used cream accent straps and buttons.
- The Cartier Edition was in dove grey. The external finish was dove grey paint, with a dove grey "Valino Grain" landau vinyl roof, red and white pinstriping, and dove grey bodyside moldings. The interior was in dove grey cloth or leather.
- The Givenchy Edition was in aqua blue. The external finish was aqua blue "Diamond Fire" paint, with a white "Normande Grain" landau vinyl roof, black and white pinstriping, and white or aqua blue bodyside moldings. The interior was in aqua blue cloth or leather, and the instrument panel was in a special, lighter shade of simulated woodgrain. The Givenchy color was aqua blue in 1976, dark jade green in 1977 and 78, and crystal blue in 1979.
- The Pucci Edition was in red and silver. The external finish was dark red "Moondust Finish" paint with a silver "Normande Grain" landau vinyl roof, silver and lipstick red pinstriping and red or silver bodyside moldings. The interior was in dark red "Majestic" cloth.