I haven't owned the car long enough for big things to start breaking, but...
The carburetor was replaced with a Holley 600cfm auto-choke. The man I bought it from said that the original Motorcraft 4350 carb was junk. The square bore carburetor wasn't a good match with a spread bore intake.
Starter solenoid was replaced with a new one.
It needed a new, higher power battery.
The alternator was replaced with a rebuilt one, but now the belt on the alternator is loose. If you drive with a heavy load on the alternator the belt really screams. It just needs to be tightened, which I will do sometime, since it makes the car look and sound like junk.
The previous owner installed a Sony tape deck in the thing. The only tapes I have are George Thorogood and the Eagles, so I got a CD player for it. When I would crank up the volume it sounded like the speakers had blown. All of the older Lincolns, and most other older cars are wired to a common ground. With the original 8-track you wouldn't notice because they don't have much power, so when you stuff a 50x4 watt head unit in there you get all sorts of noise.
The speakers on the rear shelf were replaced because the original Motorcraft speakers were really pussy. I need to replaced the front speakers now. Anyone know where I can get a 6 1/4" speaker that would fit flush with the door panel? I am not going to cut a hole in it like some trashy people do.
I think it has an exhaust leak somewhere near the front of the car and I think I am just going to replace the whole exhaust system.
The right rear door lock went out. I need to fix this. All it is, is a little motor that spins and hooks the lock and pulls it down or pushes it up. When I toggle the switch, the other locks lock of unlock, but the right rear, just spins.
The car has original forged aluminum wheels. When I got the car, they were really oxidized. I had to spend about 4 hours polishing all 4 of them with aluminum polish. Also, the Lincoln cross has fallen off of three of the four wheels. It is just a little plastic ornament glued to the center of the hubcap that covers the lugs.
The driver's seat is a little erratic. It is a 6-way power seat, but, the original owner must have been fat and broke them. The front tilt and rear tilt switches are slow and are in need of some serious lubrication, but they still function, depending on how much weight is in the seat.
It needs a new resonator. When the car idles it sounds like some jerk threw a handful of pennies into the exhaust pipe.
On the driver's seat, the leather button that covers the seam for the pillow top seats hitch-hiked a ride on someone's ass, but you can hardly notice it.
I wanted to replace the horn because they were weak. I pulled the low note horn out and when I put it back in it didn't work. I think I broke it though.
I have replaced one headlight from the original to a halogen, and I may even do a HID conversion. (Yes they do make them.)
I replaced the brake lights and rear turn signal lights.
The right lane change signaling function on the steering column doesn't work right. There are four positions on the Continental, two that lock for turns and two that you hold for lane changes. I just have to use the turning one, which locks until the wheel is turned a few degrees.
The auto dimmer for the hi-beams is a poor design because even on the farthest distance setting, it gets confused with ambient light when cars are coming. It needs to be pointed towards the opposite lane to be of some use.
I love this car.
The above complaints are not a big deal at all. A lot of the stuff mentioned took five or ten minutes to fix, or is so minescule that it doesn't matter and isn't worth the time.
The engine and transmission will last forever. Everything on the older Lincolns is big and heavy duty, right down to the glove box. I don't know what the people have done to their cars here who have replaced trannys and engines. The 460cid and C-6 tranny is a good package.
I will explain the ratings I gave it. As for performance, the car only has about 220 horsepower 360 lb/ft. of torque. Mine is missing some of the emissions equipment so maybe a little more than that on mine. It is not a fast car! Some people on this website exaggerate the power on their car. I guess it depends on what you are used too. But having driven actual fast cars, the Continental is a slug. It isn't built for speed though, it is for touring. Acceleration isn't too bad though. In street racing, I smoked a 1976 Fleetwood Brougham which by the way had a fuel injected 500cid engine. I guess it's quick when you battle against other super heavyweights. Don't worry though, for all the burnout junkies, it has no problem doing burnouts. Keep in mind mine has a 2.75 rear axle which is not a traction-lok so all the power just goes to one wheel.
So far, it has started every time, it never dies or sputters. It is really well-tuned.
I gave the comfort one a 10 even thought my car doesn't get a 10 in its current state. The suspension isn't suppressing little shocks and bumps. It needs some suspension work. Bigger bumps and freeway riding is flawless though. The Lincoln truly has the best ride of these older cars. Of course it sacrifices handling, but it rides much better than any older Cadillac I have been in, and that is basically all of the competition. The only comparable ride I have ridden in of this age was the Buick Electra Park Avenue, I have great respect for Buicks. I think the movie Donnie Brasco sums it up, driving a Lincoln is like driving a waterbed, which is true. It really floats around.
The turning radius is awful on this car and the steering is a bit dead like in most older cars. You have to palm the wheel to turn corners. It is like driving a bus. The power steering is nice, it only takes one finger.
I don't take it do dealers, they would charge to much for parts. You can still get them though since a lot of the stuff is generic and there are next to no computers in the car. Buy them off of ebay from someone parting out a Continental.
It is expensive to run only because of the gas mileage. I run 89 octane in it. It doesn't need 89 but it runs better with it. If you drive it hard your gas mileage is maybe 8mpg. Normal driving is about 11mpg-12mpg. I don't really know because the gas is inaccurate.
If you are going to buy a Continental of this vintage, get a 1978. It was the best year. It didn't have the big rear wheel skirts, you still have a chance at getting 460 power, it has the big grille not available on the 1976 and earlier models, and it doesn't have the ugly dashboard that the 1977 had.
The styling of this thing is just so awesome. However at freeway speeds it is not as quiet as the 1970-1976 Continental. The body was not designed for aerodynamics, so there is noise generated there. Also, in 1977, Lincoln Continentals and Mark Vs dropped about 600-700 pounds because of emissions requirements. The average weight was over 5000 pounds and now the 1977-1979 models weighed about 4500-4600 pounds. The actual weight of a 1978 Continental Town Car is 4660. A lot of the lost weight was in thicker body metal and sound insulation. Don't get me wrong, this car is still quite quiet on the inside.
It looks scary at nighttime with only the amber running lights on. My brother was driving it once and when he pulled around the corner, it looked like some gangsters were coming for me.
It is the biggest Lincoln bodystyle ever I think. The car is 233 inches I think. That's roughly 19 feet 4 inches. Not many cars were bigger. Ford was the only manufacturer who had the balls to keep the full size car and engine to the bitter end. Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile crapped out in 1977, and Chrysler was never really competition.
My complaint is that Ford is cheap. Why didn't they just include things like dual exhaust and the traction-lok axle? Screw the gas mileage people knew what they were getting into when they bought one. Another thing I don't like is that unlike GM, Ford didn't offer as much of a premium as GM did with Cadillac. Cadillac used Cadillac engines, and had lots of Cadillac premium parts in them. Lincoln used a Ford engine, and used all motorcraft parts, found in other cheaper Fords. It is still a nice car though.
The seats are really comfortable, but like most older luxury cars, they provide very little lower back support. Lumbar seats were optional, but they were expensive and you probably won't find a Continental or a Mark V with them. The driver's seat didn't have a reclining option, but the passenger did. The rear seat is huge. The car easily seats 6 maybe even 8 if you have to.
I really like this car. I don't really care about gas mileage. It is too bad that there aren't many like it any more. All cars nowadays are made of plastic. This one is all metal baby! There aren't many good examples of these cars anymore, most people get them and trash them. I hate seeing them with missing parts and ugly bumper stickers on them. If you get one, keep it nice and don't trash it.