Hooniverse Weekend Edition – Did you know there was a Lincoln Diesel?

We received this tip from Rob (optflv), and crested a flurry of e-mail between the editors. It is an extremely rare 1984 Lincoln Continental equipped with a BMW six-cylinder Turbo Diesel, and it’s for sale on eBay. So let’s take a voyage of discovery….

I will let the listing do all the talking:

In 1984-1985 Lincoln actually produced a TDI version of the Continental/ Mark VII. It came equipped with a BMW diesel engine. This is the same engine used in the 524TD and, at the time, was the fastest and quietest production diesel ever built. It is a far superior engine to anything Mercedes produced at the time. Unfortunately, it was released right after GM single-handedly destroyed the reputation for diesel’s in the USA and thus fewer than 3,500 were sold.In 1984, the Continental name was used on the mid-size luxury car which came with a standard 302-cubic inch V-8 engine. The 149-cubic inch Turbo Diesel six cost an extra $1235 over the base price of $21,769 (and was also optional on the Mark VII). The “basic” Continental was $3,800 more than the Town Car, and even more expensive than the Mark, so this gives you an idea of the luxury level.

The Continental was the competitor to the Cadillac Seville at that time, aping the “Bustle Back” styling that the Seville and the Chrysler Imperial used. Being a Continental, there was also a spare tire bulge stamped on the rear trunk lid as well. This is a very lengthy listing, describing all the pertinant information on the car, as well as all the flaws one would expect from a 26 year old vehicle. Starting price is around $5,000, and the car has over 118,000 miles on the odometer. You can see the listing here.

So, is this a Lincoln that is worth the asking price? And what do you think about a BMW Turbodiesel in an American Car?

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  1. BOOM! Avatar

    Actually, yeah, I did know about it. My uncle and father owned a junkyard at one point, and I did not believe them when they told me there was an LSC with a diesel six. Then I saw it, and did a bit of research. BMW sourced turbodiesel inline six in a Lincoln. Fuzzed my brain for a little bit, that did. Unfortunately it wasn't running when it got there, otherwise we would probably have been rocking a diesel Lincoln for a little while.

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      It wasn't a LSC if it was a diesel, The LSC had the HO 5.0 from the Mustang instead of the regular 5.0 that went in a non-LSC version.

  2. tonyola Avatar

    I knew about these too. I wonder how easy it's going to be to find parts and service for this engine. I wouldn't expect any help from Ford after all these years and I'm not sure whether BMW still supports these diesels.

  3. Scoutdude Avatar

    Yup I was aware of those turds, it may have been "the most advanced" diesel of it's time but it was a un-reliable dog. The price on that example is waaaaay out of line, One in good condition isn't even worth that much. I'd peg the price of that example at $500 tops.

    1. facelvega Avatar

      Yes, surely there is nobody in the country willing to pay five grand for this pos.

  4. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I remember seeing one of these beasts in the junkyard about 10 years ago and being stumped. The car had a minor engine fire that had landed it there and I was at a loss as to where the engine was originally sourced from, I was thinking Volvo but it didn't feel right. Thanks for solving a 10 year mystery for me!
    As for the car, $5,000 for it seems very high given just how horrid the rest of the car was-specifically the air suspension. There's a reason you no longer see these things on the road.

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      There was nothing wrong with the air suspension systems on those cars. Yes after 10 or 15 years the O-rings sometimes dried out and leaked but that was a $10 kit from Ford that takes about 15 minutes to install. Unfortunately most people (mechanics) didn't have clue and condemned the system then charged the customer $$$ to convert it to steel springs and destroyed the car, instead of the $$ fix.

  5. P161911 Avatar

    I knew of the Mk VIIs but not the Continentals. There were even a couple of rumored Mk VIIs with a diesel and a 5-speed MT, only rumors, never have been confirmed.
    I can't remember the last time I have seen one of these Continentals, they must have been pretty rare even when new. Still see several MK VIIs, but no Continentals.
    My father had a Mk VII LSC, it was one of the best cars he's ever had. it went almost 250k miles on the original automatic transmission.

    1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

      It looks like that engine was optional from '84-'86 on Mk VIIs, which is about 80,000 cars. Somebody must have ordered one. Whether it's still around, or has been back to China in the form of a broken lamp three times by now, is anybody's guess.

      1. Scoutdude Avatar

        Yes a least a could of VII's were made with that horrid power train I saw one when searching the classifieds for a LSC version years ago.

  6. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    Yes, I knew about this automotive cross-pollination. The original plan had been for Lincoln to build about 20K of them, but in fact only something like 2200 were actually turned out. In fact I had the extreme displeasure of having to work on one. My boss's cousing had one that wasnt running right and making more smoke than a WWII destroyer. Now, I had worked on a few 524TD's with the same engine and it was relatively straight forward, but this was the first version I had seen with wires hanging out of the #5 injector. Wires that had been cut by someone previously. The local FLM dealer had no one who know anything about them. They did have some material on the engine, and a rather cryptic wiring diagram that was of little help, so I set about blindly trying to sort the mess out. after some searching, I found the other ends of the 2 wires under the intake manifold and reconnected them. This improved the smoke situation quite a bit, but not the running problem.

  7. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    Back in the trunk I located the ECU, a Bosch unit that curiously had no labels or part numbers on it. A call to Ford came up with nothing. They had nothing whatsoever in their parts system for that engine. A contact of mine at RBC gave the coup de gras to the whole project at this point. His quote was "Yes, we built it for Ford, to their specifications, and thats all I can tell you. No, we dont have any." The car left our shop the next day, never to bee seen again. As to the above? Caveat Emptor!

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      The ECU in the truck should have been for the air suspension system, not the engine.

      1. Joe Dunlap Avatar
        Joe Dunlap

        Sadly, it was the ECU for the engine, confirmed after a pin-out of the wires from the injector. The injector had a feedback coil built into it for smoke reduction. Never, ever, again. 🙁

        1. Scoutdude Avatar

          So the question is what did the ECU actually do since the basic injection system was mechanical and why did they need to mount it all the way back in the trunk? It shouldn't have needed to be that large since it couldn't have done that much and there was extra room around the EEC III/IV in it's location behind the kick panel.

          1. Maxichamp Avatar

            For the perfect 60/40 weight distribution, of course.

          2. Joe Dunlap Avatar
            Joe Dunlap

            The ECU's function was mainly for smoke control. While it was basically a mechanical injection, actual metered amounts of fuel could be trimmed by changing fuel pressure inside the pump body. This was done by bleeding pressure through the use of a solenoid, similar to the gas systems, K-lambda and KE. I dont remember too much about it, other than one of the vital feedbacks was done with a magnetic coil built into injector #5 (why 5? who knows) that monitored pintle lift and duration. Combining this info with the other usual inputs like ECT, IAT, TP, etc., fuel could be trimmed to reduce smoke and soot. Remember, this was long before trap oxidizers, let alone urea. As for the location of the ECU? When something like this gets cobbled together, probably on a whim and very short notice, this is the sort of result you will get. Had this been a more serious effort, then yes, you would have probably found the ECU up front, nearer the engine. FWIW, I did fail to mention, the vehicle I worked on was a MK VII, not a Continental. I cant speak to the performance, as the vehicle I worked on never ran right. My experience with the 524TD however was favorable. Certainly no 535i, but compared quite well with the lesser 528e.

  8. CJinSD Avatar

    These diesels were based on the M20 gas engine. They were decent engines, but certainly not superior to Mercedes Benz diesels in reliability and durability. I was aware that they were offered in MK VII LSCs and Vixen 21TDs, but didn't realise that any wound up in the laughable Continentals of the day. Without hurting the feelings of any sensitive Seville fans, this Continental was just a cynical attempt to duplicate the success of what must have been one of the most profitable Cadillacs ever. If a refinement of an Olds engined Nova could serve as Cadillac's flagship, why couldn't the Granada top the Lincoln model line? The interior of this car looks like filth on wheels, and I've never seen a light colored used Lincoln interior that didn't. I'd think that $5,000 would buy a decent 524TD, provided any survive.

  9. optflv Avatar

    Don't think I've ever seen one of the Continentals in person, but I have seen a Mark VII. Must've been at least 10 years ago. Just struck me as one of the most off-the-wall automotive mashups of all time, and absolute spare-parts hell to try and keep running. I mean, a Continental of that era is not exactly a desirable car to begin with.
    That said, it has a certain allure about it. About as obscure as a modern era domestic car can be…

  10. P161911 Avatar

    There was more than one BMW part available for the Mk VII. I remember my Dad having problems with the sunroof on his 87 LSC. Took off the little interior panel and there was a relay with a nice little roundel and BMW stamped on it!

  11. Jim in GA Avatar
    Jim in GA

    And it’s not a TDi. TDi is a trademarked used by Volkswagon. Just because an engine has a turbo engine, does not make it a TDi.
    There other direct injection diesel out there, and people call them Tdi’s, but this car is not even direct injected.
    Completely false advertising. This crap is what gives ebay a bad rep….and 5 grand? what a Joke.
    Still, interesting. Would like to have the motor and tranny for a small truck, but not for 5 grand.

  12. dukeisduke Avatar

    A cousin of mine down in Louisiana once owned a Mark VII LSC with the 524td engine, so yeah, I know about those.

  13. Traveler Avatar

    Yeah I know about them, I have two Mark VIIs in the driveway. One is an LSC the other is well over 200k miles and still purring.
    They are not for everyone, but if you want a luxury ride and don't want to stop for fuel but every 700 miles it is a great way to travel.
    Parts can be found. You just have to put a little effort into it. Lincoln as well as the Caddy were well ahead of their time and the lincoln with the BMW and the ZF tranny were an engineering marvel. With proper tuning they will run quick enough for anyone, problem is, nobody wants to work on them. The Lincoln version did not actually use an ECU, the car can run perfectly fine without any electronics. The wires on the number 4 injector, for the lincoln version, were only to send a pulse for the Fuel economy computer which was reported in the information center, it controlled nothing. The smoke reduction was all mechanically controlled by the VE injection pump, it would not dump fuel until it saw turbo boost which can be changed with a quick turn of a screw. Timing was controlled by a temp switch in the side of the head. Below 75 degrees it would change the housing pressure in the pump and advance the timing 3-4 degrees. It is a simple mechanical engine with lots of cool features.
    We have an extra engine and tranny we want to put into a truck as well, just not enough time in the day for all the toys.

    1. blueplate Avatar

      Traveler — please register for an account here, so I can mark your comments as something I need to read!

  14. andrey anderson Avatar
    andrey anderson

    I have owned six of these mark diesels. I have five at this time. One has only 81000 miles, looks like new. I have a few spare parts if anyone is interested.

  15. Don Avatar

    Sorry to say, but they came in a LSC. I had one.

  16. Gary Avatar

    I am thinking of putting one in an 86 Jeep Comanche any thoughts on this?

  17. Louis Avatar

    I have a Turbo Diesel, 1984. I am parting it out. Many good parts, bad
    electrical keeping it from running including computer that controls
    injection timing. turns over. Good Transmission (rebuilt). Will return
    with pics and list later Will sell whole vehicle or part out. Prefer to
    sell whole. Has Alloys, new tires, velour interior in good shape.
    rebuilt Transmission, engine not seized. Paint badly oxidized, though
    body in good shape. No dents, not wrecked and repaired. Serious
    inquiries only.Air suspension replaced with custom kit. Smooth ride, no

    1. Nancy Fish Avatar
      Nancy Fish

      Please email me at 200mph1960@gmail.com