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The 1980 model year design revision and change to the Panther platform significantly reduced the size of the vehicle—the new model was 14 in (356 mm) shorter and rode on a wheelbase 6 in (152 mm) shorter than before—and the new car was 500 kilograms (1,102 lb) lighter. Aside from being the first Mark series available as a 4-door sedan in 20 years, the Mark VI retained most of the styling cues of the 1977 Mark V. The models retained the hallmark opera windows, Rolls-Royce style grille, and its characteristic vestigial spare-tire hump on the deck lid.

The Mark was available with Lincoln technology and electronic equipment. A digital instrument cluster using Vacuum Fluorescent Displays, pushbutton keyless entry, automatic overdrive (AOD) 4-speed automatic transmission, and a fuel injection on the 302 cu in (4.9 L) engine were new for 1980.

The new downsized Lincolns received positive reviews by the automotive press, being more efficient and more spacious than the corresponding Cadillacs of the same year that had been downsized for 1977. The new Lincolns used new assembly techniques, and had aluminum pieces in the body and mechanicals to lighten the cars, in addition to the 800 lb (363 kg) weight loss they received from the redesign. The old 460 cu in (7.5 L) V8 was replaced by a fuel-injected 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8 (marketed as a "5.0" model), and a carbureted version of the 351 cu in (5.8 L) V8, though the latter was available only for 1980.

The basic body was shared between Town Car and Mark VI, but the Mark bore more resemblance to the Mark V, with hidden headlamps, the spare tire bulge on the trunk, the vinyl top and opera windows, etc. For the last time, the Mark series was offered as a four-door sedan, but both Marks were dropped after 1983 in favor of a new Mark VII, and a small Continental sedan from 1982 to 1987 that was meant to replace Lincoln's unsuccessful Versailles compact. The Town Car and Town Coupe bore some resemblance to the old standard Continentals of the 1970s. A Town Coupe was available for both 1980 and 1981, but only about 3,000 were assembled during the two years. The success of the Mark VI effectively reduced interest in the Town Coupe. The Town Car continued to be Lincoln's bestseller for the rest of the 1980s.

The Mark VI was sold during a downturn in the U.S. automobile market. Total production of 2-doors over the four model years amounted to 63,662; or less than the Mark V in any one of its three years on the market. Part of the sales slump for the Mark VI was the redundancy after the Town Car; being for all intents and purposes the lower sedan with oval opera windows and concealed headlamps. Also the Mark V coupe, “from an appearance standpoint the car was essentially a scaled-down Mark V as most of the former’s styling elements were retained in the new design.”