From the early 1970s and into our current century, Detroit luxury marques inked deals with big-name fashion designers and sold glitz-drenched designer-edition cars. For example, American Motors had Pierre Cardin and Oleg Cassini, Chrysler had Mark Cross, General Motors had Joseph Abboud… and Ford had everybody. Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy had a special-edition Lincoln Mark V in 1979, and the Givenchy Designer Edition came back strong for the downsized 1982-1987 Continentals. I managed to find one of these ultra-rare cars in a Denver-area boneyard last month.
This generation of Continental went onto a stretched version of the rear-wheel-drive Fox platform, making it sibling to the Mustang/Capri, Thunderbird/Cougar, LTD/Marquis, and all of the myriad descendants of those cars.
Cadillac had big sales success with the “bustleback” look on its Toronado-based Seville in 1980, and Chrysler followed suit with a bustle-ized Imperial the next year. Naturally, Dearborn wasn’t far behind on the trend, and the Continental got a bustleback— with Continental kit-influenced decklid, of course— in ’82. This look went out of fashion fairly quickly after that, though the aftermarket made it possible to put together a bustleback PT Cruiser later on.
This being a Fox Ford under the skin, the ’82 Continental got the Mustang GT’s 302-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) Windsor V8 rated at 131 horsepower. MSRP on this car started at $24,803 (about $68,450 today), and buyers got a vast array of high-zoot luxury features.
My fellow automotive journalist and 24 Hours of Lemons Supreme Court Justice, Sajeev Mehta, loves Ford products of the 1960s through the 1980s with a fervor many find incomprehensible, so I enjoy needling him (in Craigslistese) via text message when I find such vehicles during my junkyard travels. Naturally, I texted him a shot of the Givenchy Continental when I saw it.
It turns out that Sajeev is restoring a 1984 Valentino Designer Series Continental, bought as a three-year-old used car by his super-hip Houston parents. When he learned that I’d found a closely-related 1982 Givenchy, he sent me a request to pull a few hard-to-find bits and ship them to him. So, I opened up my S-K junkyard-optimized toolbox and got to work.
On their way to Texas now.
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