In the early 80s American automakers were caught flat-footed by yet another oil crisis and serious inflation woes. This led to the rapid deployment of diesel cars, which no American automaker had any experience with. While GM developed an awful diesel V8 on its own, Ford paired with BMW to build Lincoln Mark VII diesel coupes that are today valued for their rarity.
The 2.4-liter, inline six-cylinder diesel engine was built by BMW and was wimpy even by the low standards of the early 80s, making just 114 horsepower in a 3,700 pound car. 0-60 took 13-seconds, making a Toyota Prius look absolutely gutsy, and while the official fuel economy rating was 30 mpg, in the real world you were lucky to get mid-20s. But if you’re going to call the Lincoln LSC a “Luxury Sport Coupe”, shouldn’t it be at least a little bit sporty?
The crappy performance meant few sales, and it is estimated that just 400 left dealer showrooms during the two model years (1984 and 1985) they were sold. Also, they’re not exactly prized by collectors, as they’re more of a reminder of bad times than good. But clean, low-mileage versions like the one found for sale by Jalopnik can still fetch $5,000 or more from the right buyer.
Diesel cars have come a long way since then, though it doesn’t look like Lincoln will be dabbling with oil-burners anytime soon. That’s a shame, because the new BMW 2.0 liter turbodiesel arriving in the 45 mpg, 180 horsepower BMW 328d later this year would sure be a welcome addition to the Lincoln MKZ lineup.