What The...1984 Lincoln Continental Turbo Diesel

Last week I posted a Volvo 740 Diesel. I rambled on about my fascination with otherwise sedate cars that were offered with diesel engines, most in the mid-80s, and most very briefly.

Today I have another one to happily add to that growing list.

You're looking at a 1984 Lincoln Diesel.

Wait, it gets better. Underneath the hood was a BMW-sourced 2.4-liter turbocharged diesel engine that was also used in the equally short lived and infamous BMW 524TD. That's right, the same BMW engine powered grandpa's Lincoln. And no, this wasn't a custom engine swap. This was the manufacturer's original configuration. Ford/Lincoln was so desperate to take on Cadillac and European diesels, they just outright bought the BMW engines. Good job, Ford. If you can't beat the competition, just buy 'em out.

But logistically and practically, so many questions arise. How did the relatively small engine handle a much larger and heavier car? How were they serviced? Did Ford technicians have BMW engine knowledge?

Bloated 80s American styling, German engineering. The unholy alliance is mind-boggling.

This seventh generation Continental with the '84-'87 facelift are barely seen on the roads anymore and I had forgotten it existed until I saw this ad. It's this weird combination of American design trends from the 70s and 80s combined, with a pompous front-end complete with counter-intuitive and ugly quad-rectangular sealed-beam headlights, iceberg turn indicators, a high and large greenhouse, really thick and upright c-pillars, and an angular and chopped-feeling rear end, which actually resembles Cadillacs of today more than anything else. Oh, and the idiotic but strangely mesmerizing spare-wheel hump bulging from the trunk.

The seller claims the BMW turbodiesel is the "fastest and quietest production diesel ever built", even better than Mercedes-Benz, they say. I don't have any doubt in BMW engineering, but, really, the fastest and quietest? That's quite a claim, although a very appealing one. The 1984-1985 only 524TD has a cult following, possibly for some of those reasons. Not surprisingly, when the 524TD was dropped from the U.S., Lincoln stopped making the Continental diesel. BMW would rather be damned than let an American company continue to use their engine when they themselves weren't even going to continue offering it, no matter how many engines Lincoln could buy.

This ultra-rare example has 118,000 miles on the clock. The seller states they are writing the listing on behalf of an elderly collector who had 3 Continential Turbo Diesels (!) and this is his last remaining one. They say the transmission and torque converters were both rebuilt, and list of host of new parts added.

Cosmetically, they do mention some flaws, as the vehicle is far from perfect. The photos show the vehicle in snow. The engine compartment is soaked, and the interior looks very grimy, with a lot of wear in the steering wheel and on the carpeting. Worse, there are also some rust spots on it.

Mechanically, they say the owner spent $15,000 over the years maintaining this car. It runs, drives, and stops fine and does not leak, smell, or puff excessively beyond the normal start up smoke.

A quick scan of all U.S. craigslists found no other turbo diesel Lincolns for sale at the moment. They were offered very briefly, few were sold, and probably very few are left, at least in operable order. The concept, however strange, is somewhat weirdly awesome to me. Just get used to the idea of ordering some Ford parts and some BMW parts, and you'll be fine.

Find this puppy here on ebay in Minnesota with 16 brave bidders at $1,000 and six days left.


  1. Even more amazing than the 16 bids so far is the fact that the seller actually has a reserve on this thing. Now that's optimism...

  2. It seems that General Motors should have bought their diesel engines, they recreated a monstrous 350 Olds V8 into a diesel that was loud, smokey, slow and only produced 100 horse power and turned out to be totally unreliable. This company completely destroyed any interest most Americans may have had in diesel power. Next time take a page from the #2 American auto maker buy the damn thing you can't make.