2004 Lincoln Mark X concept car goes to auction

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Twenty years ago, retro design was arguably at its apex (though it’s really never gone away, either here or in other markets). And apparently Ford and Lincoln were considering a way to offer even more retro two-door goodness out of the Thunderbird, which was a couple years old in 2004. The result was the Lincoln Mark X concept car, which is pretty much a rebadged Thunderbird with a couple of unique features. It never went into production, but if you really had your heart set on it, this is your chance to make the sole example your own.

At a glance, you might not notice the Thunderbird connection, especially with the top down. The Mark X leans heavily on the ’60s Continentals with its wide chrome grille and subtle integrated headlights. It also features the distinct chrome trim that runs along each edge of the car from the headlights all the way back to the tailpipes. It also features slender, wide rear taillights, and a dramatically sloping rear fascia with a sharp edge where the tailpipes lurk. The Mark X also has the party piece of the then-trendy power retractable hardtop. It even had glass panels in the roof, kind of like the later VW Eos.

But look a little longer, and you can see the similarities. The proportions, and especially the hardpoints around the doors and windshield, are pretty clearly straight off the Thunderbird. And as contemporary reporting showed, everything mechanical in the vehicle was the same as the Thunderbird, from the powertrain to the suspension. It gets the same 280-horsepower 3.9-liter V8 and five-speed automatic as the T-Bird, along with rear-wheel drive.

The interior is much more of a departure from the T-Bird, though. It has the retro dual cowl dashboard that would later appear in other Lincoln products including the Zephyr, Navigator, Aviator and MKX. The MKX of course was actually a Ford Edge-derived, front-drive-based SUV, and so hardly related to this Mark X concept, but it did at least have a similar Continental-style grille when it launched.

To a certain extent, it’s a little bit surprising the Mark X didn’t get a green light for production. Since all the mechanical bits were already in production, and not just in the Thunderbird. The platform, called DEW98, was a unique rear-drive platform with fully independent suspension that was used in the Ford Thunderbird, Lincoln LS sedan and Jaguars S-Type and XF. They all were offered with the same 3.9-liter V8, too, with V6 variants of the LS and Jaguars. So in some ways, it seems like it would’ve been fairly easy to bring out the Mark X. But since the Thunderbird’s final model year was 2005, and the LS was discontinued after 2006, perhaps Ford decided it was better to ditch the whole line.

But this single concept exists, the same car that made its debut in Detroit in 2004. It still has its interior intact, and even has the original 19-inch wheels it wore on stage. Because it uses a Thunderbird powertrain and chassis, it should be drivable, and probably relatively easy to maintain mechanically. But as it is a concept car, it can’t be registered for on-road use, at least in the U.S. Mecum will auction the car at its Glendale auction on March 8. The auction house hasn’t given a price estimate, but expect it to go for more than the usual Thunderbird.

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