The not-so-pearly chainlink gates of the junkyard do not discriminate, they welcome one and all to the heaven that is laid out on a bounteous few acres of land often near a freeway or under a flight path, and while the inhabitants aren’t able to move about freely anymore, they all seem to somehow hover slightly above the feet of the mere mortals that wander amongst them.
It might sound a pretty good reward but unfortunately it’s not a forever thing. The welcome only lasts between six and eight weeks on average and then it all comes to a somewhat abrupt end from which ones eyes are best averted and there is a trip from above ground to the furnaces below for an eventual rebirth as a Maytag. Or maybe just a Haier.
I’ll have to watch myself with this one, as the car’s beady little sealed beam headlights, all four of them, seem to follow me like the eyes of the Mona Lisa as I move left and right. Watching also will likely be two of our own contributors, namely Tom Halter who himself owns what seems to be a magnificent example of the breed, as well as Jim Cavanaugh, who penned eloquently of the one his father owned, both linked below for your convenience. Although Jim didn’t really seem that enamored of it and that particular car did seem a little bit star-crossed. And it was yellow. But I digress.
Yes, this is a mighty (Lincoln) Continental Mark III, an example of a breed or family that perhaps causes much confusion for those unititated, is it a Lincoln or not, wasn’t there already a Mark III before this one, and between Lincoln, Continental, Town Car, Town Coupe, Mark I through seemingly Mark XMCIIVAEIOUandsometimesY it’s kind of baffling. Perhaps it’s like a shell game where you’re never really sure which the best one really is or is supposed to be and as long as you part with your money it’s all good. For the other guy, anyway.
In this case a 1970, the Mark III (or THIS version of the Mark III) was offered for the 1969, 1970, and 1971 model years. No they didn’t say Lincoln on them anywhere that I can find and were advertised as being sold by your friendly Continental dealer, who though could also sell you something sort of similar named a Lincoln Continental sedan. And is then somehow your friendly Lincoln dealer in those ads. See what I mean? It can be confusing, there was no such thing as an actual “Continental” dealer when these rolled around, it was a Lincoln dealer, and was probably a Mercury dealer as well. Never mind the multitude of Ford logos on the car and engine, although the Continental and Lincoln and Mercury dealer perhaps sold Ford pickups as well as well as other Fords if you went in a different door of the same building. If you look hard enough you might even find the names “Lee” or “Iacocca” scrawled somewhere in Sharpie when the line shut down for lunch.
Differences between years were minor, for 1970 you got orange in the front marker lights and some rear reflectors as the main body tells. The grille seemed to be the same, large and imposing, and reflective enough to check the part of your hair. Those headlights, like eyes, they had eyelids that lost their vacuum, stayed up and then stared off into space sort of panicked.
Or maybe they looked right through your soul when you stood in front of it just like 17-year-old Stacy Kupferberg did when you asked her to the homecoming dance. Yes, the dance that you ended up explaining to everyone you went to with your buddies because the fellas, yeah, the fellas, you had a bond…and Stacy really wasn’t all that anyway, you never really liked her, yeah, you just felt bad for her with her perfect teeth, and perfect hair, and perfect skin, and, wait, where was I? Oh yeah, here I am, in this heavenly field among greatness.
Anyway. The Mark III had these little fender emblems to let everyone laying in the gutter know that you were The Man as you rolled up and splashed them. Yeah, little people, out of the way!
Of course they’d know it anyway since the big 460 underhood would be roaring away.
It’s like a codpiece stuffed in there, heaving mightily left and right as you flex your toe onto the skinny pedal. Never mind that you need to prostrate yourself over the fenders or the radiator support just to check the air filter or whatever else you might want to check occasionally.
But while you’re perhaps checking the oil as it’s quickly guzzling the Premium Gasoline it required at yet another fuel stop and someone from the other pump comes over to check out your ride you can casually look down above the driver’s side headlight and quote all the important specs to them off the data plate that every one of these has as if you knew them off the top of your head. Yeah, peasant, THIS fly ride has 460 cubic inches, 365hp at 4600rpm, a 4-barrel carb, holds 5 quarts of oil, 23 quarts of coolant(!), sports a 26 gallon fuel tank and most importantly if the other guy has a ’62 Beetle, it has a 12 volt negative ground electrical system.
Then you’ll jam the dipstick back into the tube, slam the hood, toss $15 at the attendant and tell him to keep the change from the 26 gallon fillup in 1970, and floor it exiting the gas station so everyone can look over and see the rear end of your car with the new for 1970 reflectors at the bottom of the bumper.
And of course, most importantly, the C O N T I N E N T A L all spelled out neatly in a semicircle around the (faux of course) spare tire hump. You’d get to repeat this not very far down the road due to the prodigious thirst of the 460 at full chat or almost as prodigous a thirst at slight murmur. The glorious patina seen here would still be several decades in the offing for this one at the time, but it was there all along, underneath the glossy black paint just itching to emerge once someone stopped regularly buffing that paint with a (hopefully fresh) diaper.
Someone experimented with a different wheel here on the right rear that changes the character of the car quite a bit. I think I’d perhaps prefer four of these on mine.
Here’s a standard hubcap from one of the other three wheels that couldn’t be bothered to keep itself attached to the car.
Lincoln logos as opposed to the name are all over the car though. Or were these originally Continental logos appropriated by the big name for its own use? In this case it’s on the rear right roof pillar on the vinyl covering where apparently the spirits are clamoring to get out from being trapped underneath but every angle of the car has at least one in view along with every hubcap sporting it as well.
You could spec yours without the vinyl roof although it wasn’t heavily promoted that way as the roof was a multipiece affair and required far more finishing at the factory in order to be presentable when not hidden under the vinyl. I’ll take the snow cover over vinyl any day of the week though.
The trunk is a rather large affair but then again it’s a rather large car.
It’s so large I can’t really get it all in one shot. Here’s the other angle. The spare went up on the shelf like a huge elf, hopefully never needing to be hefted down and back up and over the rear sill.
On top of the trunk is currently resting the large dashboard face. Oy, that’s genuine wood there, mate, in this case walnut. No fake stuff like in the Cadillac Eldorado, no sir. Just six thick slabs of real wood all the way through.
Add a few leaves of holly and a smattering of red berries and this would make a fine if belated Christmas card for all of my Lincoln Luvvaahhs out there! A drier and more varnished version of this is what the passenger would normally be looking at ahead of them.
Speaking of said passenger accommodations, here is the whole shebang, just imagine the wood plank up in front there. This car is actually quite fetching in the black over light tan combination.
Another Lincoln logo, along with seat controls unfortunately twisted away here, all attached to an enormously long door that pretty much requires parking well away from the entry doors at Bergdorf Goodman lest subsequent entry back into the car becomes a trifle embarrassing if another has parked next to it.
On the lavishly piped seat rests the center section of the steering wheel awaiting better days after its release from the bonds of steerage.
Big cars tend to have the smallest storage compartments. There would seem to be plenty of room up above if that vent was canted a few inches outboard for a much more useful space rather than the shinbanger at the bottom.
The back seat is kind of like going to the movies right before the show starts, it’s a bit dark in here and the only view is straight ahead. That nubbin of an elbow rest is a trifle odd too.
At least getting back there shouldn’t be too difficult, especially if the front seat occupants leave their seatbelts tucked up in the rafters where they’ve been since this trundled down the assembly line in Wixom, Michigan all those years ago. Just open the door, fold the seat forward, and dive in.
But not until you note the brightly colored callout in the doorsill still firmly affixed 53 years later making it clear that the Mark III isn’t actually a Lincoln or a Continental but rather really a…Ford. How insecure does the Ford family have to be to insist on multiple upmarket brands and sales channels and yet in one place that every time an occupant enters the car that occupant will gaze at this plaque informing them that they bought a Ford Torino. Well, okay, not really a Torino of course but the 460 was available in the Torino as well so I don’t know, just sayin’…
Still, once you got past that Ford logo (it’s right there on the left next to the seat, I don’t want to keep drawing attention to it but…) that seat looks pretty comfortable, I can’t really fault the materials here. The leather looks good and for some reason I really like the styling on the seatback side with that metal strip surrounding the seatback. And there’s even a button, one solitary button, right in the middle of the seat, exactly dead center under your…well, isn’t that special.
Taking it all in at once, and again imagining the dashboard face in place, it seems to be sort of a two-tiered design and maybe a bit more modern than normal Detroit designs.
That’s a thickly padded dashboard right there! I know many miss the bright and metallic dashboards of yore, and many of them were actual works of art, yet for actually driving they were probably more of a reflective and puncture wound inducing menace. Progress!
The little squiggly center section of the gauge has me thinking of Harvest Gold kitchen appliances and the similar pattern on the knobs thereof. The gauge is interesting in that there are no numerals, in fact these were sort of a multilayer design with this as the base and then another level with the numerals on that with the needle sort of sweeping below it and the clear screen on top.
However, after the walk down this memory lane without a clear name, that’s all the time I can spend with this dearly about to be departed specimen, as there are others wanting of my attentions. I think I’ve made enough of a Mark with this one for now.
(I couldn’t find a commercial for the ’69 or ’70 but the final year had one…)