Car Clock of the Week: 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car


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Since I spend so much time in automobile graveyards, it stands to reason that I am going to see a lot of interesting car clocks. Sometimes I can’t resist buying a clock now and then (I admit it, my car-clock collection is up to three figures now), but I have learned to avoid the scrolling mechanical “digital” clocks found in Detroit cars of the 1970s and early 1980s; unlike their quartz-controlled Japanese counterparts, these clocks almost never work when I find them. Miraculously, though, I managed to find a good Cartier clock in a Lincoln discarded in California. Here it is.

4,639 pounds, 159 horsepower. And a Cartier clock. Photo by Murilee Martin

The 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car was perhaps the pinnacle of the Malaise Era land yacht, and in the tradition of Continental special editions, it came with a Cartier clock. I found one of these cars in light apricot metallic paint in a California self-service wrecking yard a few years back.

1979 Lincoln Continental Cartier clock with radio

It seems strange that a Continental buyer wouldn’t get the 8-track player with CB radio option, but this car has just the base AM/FM radio. Photo by Murilee Martin

The dash was already torn apart when I got there, so grabbing the clock was a matter of removing four screws. When I got it home and hooked it up to 12 volts, it worked.

1979 Lincoln Continental Cartier clock

If it broke, you were supposed to send it to Borg or Smiths, depending on which side of the US-Canada line you were on. Photo by Murilee Martin

It’s stamped with a Ford logo and part number and the build quality is low-bidderish, so I’m pretty sure that the only connection Cartier had with this clock was the name molded in plastic on the face.

The guts are purely mechanical, and they’re pretty loud for a cushy luxury car (we can assume that these clocks were much quieter when new). The scrolling seconds reel in green looks good.

1979 Lincoln Continental Cartier clock

Still has genuine pink junkyard warranty paint. Photo by Murilee Martin

I replaced the incandescent bulb with an LED unit and hooked the clock up to power in my office, but the grinding noise drove me crazy in a hurry. Still, it keeps reasonably accurate time.