At a time when Mercedes Benz and other European marques were making inroads into the US auto market Chrysler, Ford et al harnessed homegrown and imported “high end” fashion talent to create exclusive, limited run options for their top range cars. Lincoln’s Continental “Collector Series” circa 1979 featured a massive, expensive boat of a car with Thurston Howell III overtones competing with Cadillac Eldorado to be America’s homegrown luxury car. In 1976 Ford introduced the Designer series to cement the exclusive image of their flagship Lincoln towncar and to topple Cadillac’s new Seville. Lincoln’s Designer series offered the European fashion houses of Cartier, Pucci and Givenchy and homegrown haute couturier Bill Blass free range over the interior finishes, with signature upholstery, a 22-karat gold plated plaque on the dash and logos highlighted in the cars’ oval “opera” window. The Designers series was a sales success for Lincoln and the trend for Designer logo options continued into the 1980s. With Pucci, Givenchy and Bill Blass options. American designer Bill Blass created a particularly natty option for the 1984 Continental Mark V, augmenting the already chrome-heavy “land yacht” Lincoln with a jaunty nautical theme including white piping on navy bodywork, matching piped upholstery, canvas-look roof material and matching logo cufflinks.
The Bill Blass Lincoln is still a collector car and his signature finishes have weathered thirty years of wear and tear and fashion change. The Bill Blass edition still conjures heavyset wealth and might still appeal today to a lavishly monied demographic – or a rap mogul.
So yes, I really like the Bill Blass Lincoln. But who knew that my dad would feel the need, during a particularly lavish online shopping therapy session, to BUY one for me to drive around??!! Two months ago I got the call: "Sal, remember the Bill Blass? Would you like to drive one around San Francisco?" My answer - yes if it would get up the hills...which it wont. His reply: "hmmm I didnt think of that when I bought one....".
We took delivery of the BB in LA last week and Dad and Brother Jono drove it to Corte Madera via Santa Cruz. The car is immaculate, with navy below the belt, an intact gold double pinstripe with tricky flourishes, BB nautical seat buttons and acres of squishy navy leather with white piping. Runs a dream apart from the occasional cutout that mechanic Dave is sorting out as we speak.