Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
When it comes to luxury, you don't want just anyone having access to what you have. Luxury can't just be on every block, it needs to be special. So why is being the best-selling luxury model worth bragging about? By this logic, could a 1980s American diesel luxury car be the most luxurious luxury car around? Savor the luxury in that question.
The market doesn't seem to agree with my logic because, for the most part, American diesels that are about 30 years old have almost no monetary value and primarily attract people who like a bit of a joke and a challenge. I don't know about you, but that's exactly why I'm interested.
No doubt a rare find is this 1984 Lincoln Mark VII with a 2.4-liter BMW straight six ... turbodiesel. Someone at Ford thought it would be a great idea for Lincolns in the '80s to feature BMWs early diesel effort that made all of 114 horsepower as an alternative to the old Windsor V8 that actually had much more torque. Otherwise it was standard Mark VII, a personal luxury coupe that actually aged pretty well but still manages to look stereotypical 1980s American car in base spec. You could also get a Bill Blass Edition Mark VII diesel, because that would be kind of awesome.
This one is a daily driver with a newer engine and some questionable bodywork repairs, but that's not enough to knock it out of consideration. This coupe does, after all, have a BMW six in it and it's a version of the Mark VII that's definitely been forgotten with the passing of time. You can tell all of your neighbors, for about $4,500, that once upon a time, you could get a Lincoln with a BMW engine.
But we can't talk about American diesel luxury without talking about a Cadillac. This time, it's a 1980 Cadillac Seville with the infamous Oldsmobile V8 diesel. If you were shopping for a Seville in this era, time has shown it was not an ideal place in history for Cadillac engine choices. At least this isn't a V8-6-4, right? Well...
As for this example, it's clearly a cared-for piece of Cadillac history that looks rather sharp with a deep black exterior and a burgundy interior with wood from the kitchen of a double wide. I don't know about you, but I don't hate the styling of this generation of Seville – it's not nearly as offensive as the generation that followed.
What might be more offensive to some is what's under the hood. Time has not healed all wounds the Olds diesel still comes up as a reminder of what not to do when making a diesel engine. But this is a 34-year-old car, so clearly, there are ways to make it last. The seller pitches this Seville Diesel as museum-grade, which might be a stretch, but it is an example that one of these engines can withstand the years.
Still, that's not quite enough to sell me on it and I'd rather go for the Mark VII. It's rare for a reason, but it's a fun note in automotive history and it's one of those weird pairings we don't see as often anymore. If you're going to be bold with your car buying, be bold.