For those keeping score at home, my auto enthusiasm appears to have begun to wane over my last several COAL installments. After a series of sedans, SUVs, and even a car I didn’t care about, had my automotive flame finally been extinguished? Not a chance.
Lets pick up the story in October of 2014. My 14-year-old son, Josh, is starting to show signs of interest in cars. So after a hiatus of several decades, my brother Andy and I decide to make a return trip to Hershey with Josh and his oldest daughter in tow in an effort to transfer the car bug to the next generation of Halters.
Much had changed at Hershey in the intervening decades. The flea market was now on asphalt, and the show on an open field, in an interesting reversal from my last visit. 2014 would prove to be a rainy year, so many of the best cars stayed in their trailers for the show. But no matter, I caught the old car bug, and caught it hard.
As soon as I got home, I immediately (my wife might say obsessively) went into car shopping mode. I really only had one car in mind – A 1969-1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III. I’ve always had a soft spot for these Lincolns, dating back to my childhood as I documented in my very first COAL. These Lincolns have so much presence. Whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit that you can’t ignore them.
Most of us probably know the story of the Genesis of the Mark III, but for those that don’t, Paul has already covered it fairly well here. The elevator pitch: Lee Iacocca told Ford stylists to stick a Rolls Royce grille and a faux continental kit trunklid on a Thunderbird, and call it a Lincoln. In an added fit of inspiration, Ford decided to use the 4-door Thunderbird with its slightly longer wheelbase as its starting point, affording the Mark III with one of the longest hoods to ever grace a modern car (Pontiac pulled a similar trick for their 1969 Grand Prix). The grille, being vee-shaped, isn’t strictly a Rolls knockoff (with the grille on the Roller being flat).
It is hard for modern eyes to comprehend how fresh and influential the Mark III originally was, which launched the whole neo-classical automotive styling movement. We can only look back at the aftermath of how it played out, with generations of successive Marks, Imperials, and Sevilles all sporting opera windows, upright grilles, and overstuffed button tufted seats, to the point of becoming a tired parody of itself. But before all that happened, there was the Mark III.
The Mark was an immediate hit, and being priced well above the 4-door Continental, was hugely profitable. Almost 80,000 were sold in the Mark’s shortened three model-year run, and survival rates are surprisingly high, with it being a highly sought after luxury car. This means that supplies are plentiful, and prices are reasonable (you can pick up a decent example for under $10K).
Indeed, once I fired up my internet search engine, I quickly found close to a hundred examples for sale all around the country. It was almost like shopping for a modern used car, where you could have your choice of just about and combination of color, condition, and price. This was good, because unlike modern cars, almost every Mark III was built to order. With over 30 exterior colors and 10 different interior colors (in both fabric and leather), there was something for everyone.
Not all the colors have held up well. Colors such as pastel yellow, robin’s egg blue, mint green, and metallic gold look very dated to contemporary eyes. While some might argue that this is part of the reason for owning a vintage car (which I can understand), I wanted something a little more timeless. Others must agree with me, as the most sought after Mark III color combinations are triple-black (black with black interior and black vinyl roof) and triple-white. And while I was open to numerous color possibilities, I was going in with a strong preference towards triple-black. After all, big old Lincolns really do have to be black.
While I was looking at every model year Mark III (beggars can’t be choosers, after all), I really wanted a 1970 or 1971 model. The 70 and 71 models have hidden wiper blades, which looks a little cleaner than the exposed wiper arms of the 69. More importantly, the 1970 and 71 models have real wood trim inside, which I figured would likely have held up better and would be easier to care for and restore than the plastiwood of the 1969 model. For the same reasons, I was looking for one with a leather interior (luckily the vast majority of Mark III’s are so equipped).
Air conditioning was also a must, preferably the manual A/C, since I figured it would be less complicated and more reliable than a vintage automatic temperature control setup. I was also looking for something that was relatively turn-key (meaning no basket cases or projects). And the biggest requirement of all: No rust. Given that these cars are highly susceptible to tinworm, that likely meant getting a southern car and shipping it up north.
I spent several months searching online, not finding exactly what I was looking for. I came really close to pulling the trigger on a triple-white ’71 in Chicago, but at $14K it was slightly more than my 10K budget (and more than I thought it was worth), and the seller wouldn’t budge.
I had mostly been doing my searches on Craigslist, and old car sites like Hemmings and AutoTraderClassics.com. For some reason, it had never occurred to me to check the “regular” used car sites like cars.com. So around December of 2014, I decided to start checking the “regular” sites, and found this beauty Pensicola, Florida.
On the surface, it had everything I wanted: It was a 1970, triple-black, with leather, and appeared to be all original. It had virtually all the options, including the automatic headlight dimmer with the uber-cool electric eye on the wiper cowl. It even had manual A/C, which I came to find is exceedingly rare for a Mark, as almost all came with ATC (which became standard in 1971).
Negotiations with the owner started out slowly over Christmas break, but picked up pace after the first of the year. The car was originally sold by Eagle Lincoln-Mercury in Dallas, TX (as confirmed by the Marti report), and even still sported the original dealer tag. It apparently stayed in Texas that entire time, eventually being purchased by the former owner at a Dallas used car lot in the mid-90’s. The owner had recently moved to Pensicola, FL, and was looking to liquidate his collection.
He also informed me that most of the electrical accessories were non-functional (windows, locks, seats), as was the air conditioning (yes, I fell for the biggest auto ad lie, it just needs “recharging”). Lastly, the headlight covers only stayed closed when the engine was running: They would slowly bleed open after the engine was shut off due to loss of vacuum: A common problem, I would come to find. I decided that these were all minor things that could be corrected, and that it was more important to me that the car had solid “bones” (strong mechanicals, rust-free body, and pristine interior).
We eventually agreed on a price (taking into account the various mechanical deficiencies), and I flew down to Florida to complete the deal (pending an inspection and test drive). As soon as I got behind the wheel and fired it up, I was instantly transported back to 1988, and my family’s 1971 Buick LeSabre. The one-finger overassisted steering, the wallowy ride, the sheer girth. And most of all, the smell, that wonderful old car smell. They say that smell can be the most powerful sense in terms of triggering memories, and I can believe it.
We did close the deal that day, and I came to find that not only were the windows inoperative, but that the decades-old glue that held the glass to the lift had turned to dust, and that the window glass was attached to the lift only by a zip-tie. Oh well, I was planning on using closed transport to ship it back to Ohio anyways. We shook hands, he took “my” car back to his garage, and I left sunny Pensicola to head back to snowy Cleveland to figure out my next move.
Once I returned to Cleveland, I arranged transport to pick up the car. A few weeks (and a thousand dollars) later, the car showed up at my doorstop, with about 18″ of snow on the ground. Right before it arrived, I was furiously plowing the drive way, trying to keep it clear enough to allow a rear-wheel drive car with 250+ HP, skinny tires, and no traction control to make it into my garage. I also knew from my premeasurements it was going to be a tight fit all around, with only a few inches to spare on the front and back with the garage door closed. While there was a little tire spinning, I was able to get the car in the garage.
Before the weather even broke, I set out to start working on the car. First up: The windows. This turned out to be a (relatively) simple job of replacing the motors and gluing the glass back into the channels on the lifts (Honestly, I don’t know how the previous owner was able to drive the car in Florida with non-functioning A/C and windows that don’t roll down).
Next up, the seats. While I had purchased new seat motors from a junkyard in California, as it turns out I ended up not needing them. As the foam in the seat cushions disintegrates, it tends to collect in the seat tracks, jamming them up. This is a common problem, and a simple vacuuming of the seat tracks will restore full functioning. This has since happened to be a few more times; often enough that I rigged up a “diaper” under the seat cushion to collect the falling debris.
Restoring the functionality of the headlight doors was simply a matter or replacing the vacuum actuators with rebuilt units. Replacing these had the pleasant side effect of allow enough vacuum to accumulate in the system to restore functionality to previously inoperative vacuum accessories like the power door locks and remote trunk release.
Once the spring weather broke, it was off to the shop for what I had hoped would be a quick tune-up and A/C service. The Ford 460 V8 was never known to be a particularly smooth engine, but mine seemed to be rougher than it should be. I hoped all it needed was a tune-up. Once my mechanic started tearing into the car, the bad news (and bills) started piling up.
My mechanic immediately determined that the reason for the roughness was that the engine was only firing on seven cylinders. After pulling what were almost certainly the original spark plugs, he confirmed that the compression was strong (good), and that the intake manifold gasket was blown (bad).
Things were even worse on the A/C front. Apparently the heater box was badly rusted, and at some point someone had bypassed the entire heating system by installing a manual shutoff valve in the heater lines, and shoved towels into the all the internal ductwork to keep engine fumes out of the passenger compartment. I ended up having to source a heater box from a junk yard in California, in addition to locating a new dryer, compressor, expansion valve, blower motor, refrigerant lines, belts, R134a conversion kit, and evaporator coil from wherever I could find them (Lincoln Land in Clearwater, Florida was immensely helpful). The refrigerant lines I couldn’t locate we ended up having to fabricate. Oh, and the radiator was rotted out as well. Literally the only part of the A/C system that wasn’t replaced was the condenser coil on the front of the car.
Other work done in the past two years includes starter and flywheel replacement, front end rebuild, replacement of all four shocks and tires, and swapping out the 1970 hubcaps for the more attractive 1969 units. So my turn-key ride turned out to be anything but. However, after all this I have what is essentially a well sorted out 1970 Lincoln that is as close to brand new as you can get.
So was it worth it? In a word, absolutely. The car garners attention and thumbs ups everywhere I go. The wallowing suspension discourages even the slightest bit of aggressive driving, so it forces you to drive “relaxed.” It is a phenomenal highway cruiser, and I’ve taken it on multiple road trips. My son never fails to fall asleep in the passenger seat on the freeway, it is that smooth on the highway. I am truly living the dream of my 5-year old self, one that has taken a lifetime to realize.
But the most valuable thing about the Mark is the time it allows me to spend with my family. My 16-year-old son will willingly spend a Saturday night with me at a car show. Car shows are a great excuse for getting together with my brother and other relatives. I look forward to spending many more years with all of them (the car and the family).
Curbside Classic: 1968-1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III – Right On! The Mark
CC Capsule: 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III – Ignoring The Past?
I’ve always loved the Mark III – to me it’s the best-looking of the post-1957 Marks (though I wouldn’t kick a nice late Mark VII LSC out of bed).
My grandfather bought the Mark II new in 1956 for the then obscene price of $10,000, which was as much as a Rolls Royce and two top of the line Cadillacs (not trying to brag, just an interesting story). It was long gone by the time I came around, so I’ve always been intrigued by that car. I’m told it only had one option available: A/C. My grandfather opted for it and the condenser took up the entire trunk.
My uncle (other side of the family) had a Mark III exactly like the author’s, same wheels (hub caps?) and all. As a kid I thought the warning lights on the headliner were really cool.
Both cars were beautiful black.
Great story, and a win for the family. I’m not a Lincoln fan usually, but this one I like.
Clean and elegant.
Gorgeous car. Personally I would have went for a different color combo (I can get triple black in a brand new Chrysler 300 if I want) but kudos on living the dream.
Nice whitewalls too. I saw a Roadmaster for sale yesterday that had raised white letter Michelin LTX MS tires on it. It isn’t easy to find tires in the sizes that fit the old RWD beasts.
I find it interesting that these *do* exist in triple black, or even black-on-black without a vinyl roof. For a lot of cars from this era black is the rarest color and I suspect a lot of people who would’ve considered it new went for a dark metallic green or brown instead.
I miss the classic Michelin X with the thin white stripe. It looked perfect on these, in fact it was the standard tire from ’70.
Tires were actually something I labored over a lot. When I bought it, the Mark had a set of 10 year old Kuhmo whitewalls, with a modern 3/4″ stripe. That just didn’t look right to me.
I looked in the original brochures to see what kind of tires they had pictured, and it was all over the place. Some had the narrow-stripe Michelins you allude to, but some had triple-stripe whitewalls.
To me, the narrow stripe whitewalls look too much like blackwalls, and on a triple-black car that is too much black.
I eventually opted for the Coker American Classic 1-1/4″ whitewall, as these are reproductions of tires that were commonly fitted to luxury cars in the 60’s and early 70’s. I’m glad I did, because they look fantastic!
I’m not really a fan of the 1-1/4″ whitewalls (too wide) but can see the 3/4″ whitewall style being too narrow. Seems like something of a Goldilock’s type conundrum in trying to find a set that are ‘just right’. Personally, I kind of liked the thin, dual-stripe style. In fact, I wonder if the old Vogue tires that had thin white stripes ‘and’ a gold stripe are still available. True Spoke wire-wheels and Vogue tires’ were quite the choice for seventies pimp-mobiles. In fact, the street term was ‘Trues and Vogues on a Deuce and a Quarter’ (Buick Electra 225).
Regardless, with the relative dearth of whitewall tires these days (and the ones that ‘are’ available are surely pricey), well, you just have to go with whatever you can find. In any case, a whitewall of any width is absolutely preferable to blackwalls on any brougham-era Mark.
If you enlarge the promo shot above (the second picture in my original post), you can see that it has triple-stripe whitewalls. This looks a little too busy for me.
1-1/4″ whitewalls have about the same total width, but with a single stripe instead of three. But you are right – there are not a lot of options when looking for reproduction vintage tires.
I have Vogue Tyres on my mark three with 62 spoke wheels. I like the look !
My uncle’s looked just like the author’s, only it had red interior.
Triple black is the only way that car should ever come murdered out all the way to death row. The movie “The Car” was a ultra customized MkIII.
Great story. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy that beautiful Lincoln!
Beautiful car, the stylists managed to create a timeless classic “right out of the box”.
I agree that triple black suits a Lincoln well, but this is one of those rare cars that looks bad in almost any of the factory applied colors.
Living in north eastern Florida, I do occasionally see these cars on Craigslist and I’ve always wondered what they were like to own, or even just drive. The closest I’ve ever been to these as a driver is behind the wheel of a 73 Torino and then a 75 Thunderbird. Like you said, somewhat wallowy.
This body and the later “downsized” Mark VI models are my favorite ones.
The models in-between these two are like cartoon parodies.
Interesting point. But the IV and V always seemed like an skillful evolution of the III, albeit a bit extreme. To me the Mk VI was the parody, trying to squeeze the Mk V knife edge lines and styling cues into a smaller package. I’m sure it was more practical but always looked like the V’s stunted little brother.
Considering the enormous length, width and weight of the Mark V models; perhaps the Mark VI looking like “the V’s stunted little brother” is not necessarily a bad thing to be?
Great story–I can relate with so much of it. The car that always stuck in my mind from childhood was the 1965 Galaxie–I have no idea why. One with ‘good bones’ but many mechanical maladies popped up in a local paper in 2000. I bought it and still have it. Many people don’t realize how some classics can take far less money to buy and fix than any new car, assuming that you make a good decision with the initial purchase like you did. On the other hand a poor initial choice can be a complete money pit.
These always caught my eye–I am not a big fan of the neo-classic styling that these started, but as with most things, the original was the best. They really did get the proportions and styling details perfect on these. The roofline in particular is just right and the bumpers are pre-5mph and so are nicely tucked into the overall design. Agree 100% on the triple black color combo as the best!
Gorgeous car. I think you must need an emotional connection to a car to be able to stomach the restoration/repair bills. But what an impressive finished product! Now all you need is a beard, hat, and umbrella, and you can be Fernando Rey tooling around Marseille and New York in The French Connection.
“We ripped everything out of there except the rocker panels”
. . . pause . . .
“The rocker panels? What’s that?”
“Come on Irv! What the hell is that?”
I once read a parody of that scene where Irv says, “‘We looked everywhere in that car, except the glove compartment”.
Tom, This Lincoln is a great car, just beautiful.
Your ability and patience in sorting it all out is admirable and the results are well deserved.
I love the solution to the power seat issue; such is the wisdom and inventiveness of an old car aficionado.
And best of all, your son is sharing this adventure with you.
One question: Does it have a Cartier clock? I recall sitting in Lincoln showroom models in the early 1970s when I drove my co-worker there to pick up his Capri and admiring the sumptuous interiors topped by a Cartier clock.
Every 1970 and 71 Mark III has a Cartier clock. Most 1969 models do as well, except for first several thousand produced in 1968.
The Mark III has always been a delightful car to behold. Black is a timeless color, you chose well.
A big part of me can relate to having the abundance of things you did to get the Lincoln going. Been there with the rotten radiator (which now has a dribble, with a weak solder being suspect), the shocks, tires, exhaust, and an engine remanufacture. Thankfully, I have none of the vacuum operated items like you’ve been lucky enough to wrestle with.
May you and your family continue to have great times with it.
The original is still the nicest, at least until the MK-VII.
I concur on the triple black, it’s a knockout.
However, as a kid my imagination was captured by a certain Pewter silver & red leather example
every week on TV.
Also, fans of these and other luxury models should check this site.
This site is an absolute treasure trove.
Lovely car, you picked the right one. But that heater “box”-so much rust it hardly constituted a box any more. I hope you did not have to take apart the entire dash to get at it.
On so many modern cars, you do have to take the dash apart or remove the dash panel entirely and lay it on the seat to get the HVAC box out. Now, mosr are nonrusting plastic. But they still smell bad if the condensate drain isn’t draining, and that’s probably what happened to this one. Many are made of rubber and designed to stay closed until some water builds up, which forces them open, but often they get stuck and don’t drain. I have had to prop them open with a matchstick or a bit of plastic, so they can drain continually.
The HVAC box is accessible from the engine compartment, but it is still a chore to replace. You have to remove the hood, fender liner, transmission filler, and a bunch of other stuff in order to get to it.
Although I don’t yearn for this particular model, it is a very attractive car and I do very much love Lincolns from the 1970s.
Your story brings up a very valuable point about purchasing a vintage automobile of ANY make and model: restoration costs. One must allow for the extra $$$$ to bring the vehicle “up to snuff” to be thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. This is where my affinity for vintage Lincoln and Cadillac models presents a conundrum. You find the car of your childhood dreams. Do you also have the small mint to restore it to its former grandeur?
Kind of like guys who can afford to own and operate WWII aircraft like the P-51 – the original purchase price is the smallest check you write.
Beautiful old Lincoln, Tom, and made all the more special by hearing of the family bonds being built around it.
Very touching that it gets you closer to family and your teenage son. Definitely sounds worth the price of owning this beautiful classic. Also enjoyed reading your other COALs. Thank you for these interesting and inspiring stories.
Very nice, Tom, very nice. While my own preferences of the era run more towards a Mercedes 280SE 4.5, this is a very fine representation of American luxury of the day and if you’re anything like me, the hunt was almost as enjoyable as the ownership experience is.
Even though it had a few foibles, they all appeared to be manageable and fixable with just some component swaps for the most part, no open-ended ongoing nightmares (rust, upholstery etc.)
I do like the triple black. While some of the period colors/combinations have definite appeal, this is classic and timeless and in no way would be considered “kitshy”. The other 29 colors were just offered for those with lesser sensibilities – Just like Baskin-Robbins has to offer 30 other flavors for those too uncouth to appreciate chocolate chip, the One True Flavor.
The best part though, by far, is that you get to enjoy it along with your son. And thirty years from now he may be writing about a 2015 Lincoln MKZ that he bought that reminds him of his formative years and everyone will remember the good old days when one used gasoline to power their cars.
A lovely old LIncoln! These strike a chord with me as my father got a 1970 model in the fall of 1969. His was the opposite of yours in attractiveness, pastel yellow with dark olive green leather and vinyl roof – was there ever a more “1970” color combo?
I came close to buying one of these in the late 80s. It was owned by an old man who was ill and looking to place it in a good home. It was a 71 and was in beautiful, turn-key condition. My hesitation was that 1) there was evidence of rust repair under the very nice repaint and 2) the color, a triple medium ivy green, at a time when I had become really fatigued of green cars from the 70s. I stupidly passed on it to buy a 61 Thunderbird that was in much worse condition.
I completely agree on the wheelcovers. I always much preferred these to the flat ones both your and my father’s cars came with. I had always understood these to be optional because I can remember seeing 70-71 cars with them when they were common on the street. However, maybe enough people felt the way you did and special ordered 1969 sets for their later cars.
On upholstery, I remember reading elsewhere (I think it was a caption on ThatHartfordGuy’s Flickr album) that Lincoln had a higher take rate for leather interiors because Cadillac tended to have nicer cloth ones, and the standard trim in a Mark III was the same “panty cloth” found in the LTD.
There might be some truth to this. I’ve seen Mark III’s with cloth interior, and it was nothing special.
Interesting story about the leather. The interior designers specifically wanted the leather to fit loose and tufted, like fine furniture. The QC people wanted the leather pulled tight (like on a modern car), because they were afraid that the gathers and pleats would look “low quality.” Obviously they lost that battle.
The wrinkle effect was strongest in the early models. It gradually faded, and was gone completely by the MK-IV, so it was a short-lived victory.
They called it “super puff treatment” – see attached page from a copy of the 1969 Mark III Illustrated Facts & Figures Manual I managed to pick up at a car swap meet a few years back. How broughamy is that?
I think you hit on the 4 things that make classic car ownership enjoyable:
a) good bones (I have lived in up state NY and know the pain of the tin worm)
b) parts availability (Internet to the rescue)
c) support (a mechanic you feel comfortable with and can appreciate your car)
d) patience (working thru the issues one at a time)
You are very fortunate to find such an excellent example of the Mk III.
Enjoy the ride and please give us updates;-)
How about triple dark blue?
Glenn Kramer, you really know how to fill a driveway! Nice cars.
Here’s something that was pretty rare even when new – a Mark III with a painted roof instead of vinyl. I think it looks great.
The only year painted roof was an option was 1969. The take rate was low (only about 200, as I recall). The painted roofs were money losers in any case, as the welds had to be finished to a much higher degree than when they were just covering it up with vinyl. Because of this, the vinyl roof was made standard in 1970 and 71.
Most of the painted roof Marks you see today are actually former vinyl roof cars that have had the vinyl later removed or repainted. I’ve never seen an genuine painted roof Mark (you would need the build sheet or Marti report to confirm that it is an authentic painted roof).
The car you have pictured is a 1970 or 71 (judging by the wheel covers and wiper cowl). While is suppose it is possible that someone special ordered a vinyl roof delete Mark from the factory, it almost certainly started out with a vinyl roof. Painted roofs were just not that popular back then.
The Mark III, IV and V were all beautiful cars and they had this air of exclusivity, due in no small part to expert marketing and being a big hit with celebrities. Recall Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon talking one night about their respective Mark III’s. Also, in the early 70’s I would always walk through the player parking lot at old Memorial Stadium after Oriole and Colt games and these were everywhere. These were much more desirable at the time than the Eldorado, which Cadillac seemed to treat as an afterthought.
Ooh-is that a “Save the Sea Turtles” license tag in the ad picture? No wonder you got a good car. I kept mine (tag, that is), it was my favorite FLA tag.
That is one nice ride. When I was a young boy, our next door neighbour had a small contracting company. A construction boom made him a millionaire, and the first thing he did was buy one of these. Gold with tan interior. The car seemed much classier than an Eldorado for some reason.
I sympathize with your A/C woes, having once done a very similar job on my brother’s ’70 cougar I can imagine it wasn’t fun. Kudos for having the patience to see this car set right, I’ll bet a lot of these were scrapped when the second or third owner gave up on getting all the accessories to work.
I’m curious, do you let your teenage son drive it yet?
Josh has no interest in driving “The Boat,” as he calls it. He is much more interested in our newer rides (wait for next week’s COAL for more info).
I read about these restoration projects on cars that seem like solid foundations to start with and shudder. There’s strong admiration for the folks that have the determination, funds, and ability to see them through to completion.
On a side note, it doesn’t look like these early Marks have a stand-up hood ornament. I never would have imagined that possible.
The Mark III didn’t come with a hood ornament installed (for pedestrian safety reasons). The car supposedly did come with one – it was presented to the owner in a display box, and the owner could mount it to the vehicle himself if he was so inclined.
I guess they didn’t figure out the spring-loaded hood ornament until the Mark IV.
I remember seeing several Mk IIIs retrofitted with springloaded hood ornaments from the Mk IV back in the mid 70s. Everyone loved the hood ornaments on the Mk IV after they came out.
Those spring-loaded hood ornaments were quite a thing back in the day. Well, until wanna-be rappers began taking a pair of bolt-cutters to them to use as medallions for their neck chains. I think a lot of Mercedes’ lost their hood ornaments that way.
It was an epidemic in LA for a few years – you saw one Mercedes after another with a missing hood ornament. Then it stopped.
Well, this is just a guess, but maybe the cops got wise to the fact that anyone displaying a Mercedes hood ornament on a neck chain likely wasn’t the most law-abiding citizen. It would then be very easy to target these folks for further scrutiny if, for nothing else, to ask them exactly where they got their unique jewelry.
That would seem to be a very good reason to bring the whole hood ornament theft craze to a screeching halt.
That and the Ford Taurus rung down the curtain on the Brougham Era.
Oh god, that’s gorgeous.
And I don’t normally go for stuff like this.
Great article Tom. Four questions: 1. Does your car have the rear lamp monitoring system? My parents owned a beautiful maroon 1969 and I thought this was the neatest feature. It had two fiber optic tubes that directed light from the taillight- brake light bulb chamber to two red lenses on the rear deck. You could look in the rear view mirror and watch your taillights-brake lights operating. I have never understood why more cars don’t have this. 2. Does your car have the Borg Warner AC compressor? My parents’ car had one and I always remember it being somewhat noisy when engaged. 3. Does your car have the red jewel- like light that lights up when the cruise control is in use? 4. Does your car have the automatic parking brake release? If I remember right engine vacuum was used to release it. Once again a really nice article. You brought back a lot of 48 year old memories.
1. Yes, it has the brake light monitor. They all do – this was standard on the Mark III. And yes, mine still works.
2. Almost positive mine is a Tecumseh compressor, and yest, it makes a lot of racket.
3. Yes, there is a little red jewel light that lights up whenever the cruise control it switched on. By modern standards, it is pretty dim and not very impressive. It is just a small bulb, and we are used to the brightness and color purity of LEDs. But I’m sure back in 1970 it was pretty impressive.
4. Yes, it has the vacuum operated parking brake release that activates when you shift out of park. Mine no longer works (the release or the parking brake).
Funny, my 67 Park Lane has the same vacuum operated parking brake and it still works.
The angle about non-working a/c and non-opening windows in Florida certainly occurred to me–but especially on a black car!
Ouch! I can feel the heat from here…
Tom, I’m jealous. I love these big Mark series Lincolns a lot, and I’ve often said, that as soon as the time is right, I’m going to get myself a big Lincoln in my driveway. Of course, my dream car is a 1977-78 Mark V with a 460 under the hood, either in triple black or triple midnight blue, but the idea remains the same. I’m jealous of your Mark III, and I hope that car stays in your family for a long time.
A beautiful specimen! And you’ve put it in fine shape.
I remember so well when these came out; it really was a big deal. Lincoln nailed this segment so much more successfully than Cadillac did with its Eldorado. These two cars almost perfectly represent the different stylistic approaches from GM and Iaccoca-era Ford. The neo-classical era was underway, and Ford capitalized on it while Bill Mitchell had his own ideas and approach.
And on the plus side, you spent far, far less than you would have for a 9th generation Continental considering all the stuff you’d have to fix that wasn’t so easily dealt with by yourself and your mechanic.
The chairman of the board’s Mustang! When these first came out I was just going to start high school and was a complete car nut. My Dad had a ’63 Lincoln at the time, and I loved that car, but it was a sedan. I thought of those as kind of old man cars. The Mark, on the other hand was a rakish coupe! I was so impressed by these cars, the interior quality is heads above the same year Eldo. Just such a beautiful classy looking car. I always knew that these would be considered classics, and the market had deemed them to be an affordable one. Great job on sorting yours out. Enjoy it.
And that is the way we should all do this old car thing! You, Sir, are the good example we must emulate.
So success and happiness IS possible. Thank you for the story.
You have my admiration, Tom. I can relate to the “Well, I’m in it this far” resignation that often accompanies restoring an old car. I’m happy to see you’ve done such a thorough job, and the 1969 wheel discs are indeed far cooler than their 1970 counterparts. Congrats on a beautiful restoration of a classically elegant car.
I was always curious about the Sure-Track brake system (rear ABS). Has it ever been called into action while you were driving it, and if so, what does it feel like?
I often wonder if this was the same basic system that they dusted off and put into ’87-96 F-Series trucks, since they were both Kelsey-Hayes units.
I don’t know, my ABS system is currently bypassed. I can’t imagine it worked all that great, given the 60’s era electronics power it and the fact that the rear brakes were drums.
Even if the system were operational, I’d be afraid to try it. I’m not sure how 50 year old brake lines and slave cylinders would handle all the pressure and pulsing.
What a beautiful car.
A very beautiful car, and going with the ’69 hubcaps gives a big oomph of drama & style!!
Beautiful car. I, too, have always loved the Mark III.
I’m surprised nobody has yet mentioned the story of Eddie Campos and his 1970 Mark III. Many people credit him and the fate of his car as what got the ball rolling to what became what we know as the “lemon law”.
Long story short, the bought new Mark III was constantly breaking down. His wife recounted the car wasn’t but two weeks old when the ignition system fell out onto the floor. From there on out it was constant problems. The final straw was on a trip back from Vegas to California; the A/C failed and the windows froze in the up position (apparently the fuse relay for the accessories is poorly placed in these cars and was prone to overheat and pop the circuit). Eddie drove it to the front of a local Ford plant, doused it in gas, and burned the car into the ground. The car wasn’t even a year old yet. The story got National coverage, and motivated people to do something to protect themselves from faulty defective products. I think the official name of the law passed several years later is the Moss-Magnuson Warranty Act.
Absolutely stunning car. These always look their best in black or dark blue. The inch and a quarter whitewalls look perfect on it.
I think I’m going to cry, This one heck of a story, and I love the Mark III! I only wished I could get one… My twin Sister in Philadelphia has a beautiful British Crimson 1970, and I’ve been currently giving her no peace about giving it to me. I liked the Mark III in the first season of Cannon, and I did a comic strip in which the hero drives a Highland Green 1971 model (replacing a ’62 British Capri.) I can’t say much praise than I do for these cars, they’re so cool! Someday, I’ll get a Mark III to go with my “Green” MK IV (in every sense of the word!) and my MK VII LSC which I race in exhibition events. Lincoln’s are more my speed.
This is a another great Mark III story:
Nice one. Generally boulevardiers are not my thing (and are totally impractical here in the EU) but the Mark III is somehow different, being of the first and the purest of the breed. Good for you having found it and I do not consider the things you had to do to it as excessive. If I were living in the US I might have been tempted myself (you may disapprove, but I would have probably modified it a bit to stop and go round corners a bit better but that’s the European thing in me).
I had a question what kind of rims are those?? I have a mark 3 and really like that look. Hope to hear from you. Thank you.
Well love to see some other Mark lovers out there. I am 60 and my first purchased car @ 19 was a 71 MkIII in Brooklyn for $2,400 dark turquoise w/black int. Cruised with the guys , asked my wife to marry me and drove my sister away from the church in it. Been a mark guy since, 3 mark 3s, 2 MarkVs, a markVI , and for 11 years I drove 3 mark 8s everyday. They haven’t made one worthy of my loyalty since. I drive a 2005 Navigator now and no one has a love affair with the Marks like me. I found this thread by looking for another Mk3 need a Black on black low mileage 71. All the black seem to be 69s. Great stories maybe the Mark 9 will perk me up again. 9 marks with my butt in one for 750,000 miles Love the cars always treated me well. ( except one 97 was a pain in the ass! ) carry on!
Im in the same mode, just haven’t found mine yet. Broken back recently means i need to find a prrfect mark 3. Hope to find one soon. Great story thanks for sharing
My burgundy Mark III is beautiful and I have quite a story for it, too. I’m still working on lots of little things that don’t work but I can start it and drive it any day. I live way out of town in the Oregon coast range and it’s much nicer t drive to town than my old Wrangler. I have learned that it burns through some oil if I drive it over 80 mph very much. Maybe someday I’ll write my story with it, including some of the many compliments I’ve gotten.
My Mark III is now in the shop and I’m looking for exhause manifolds. If you can help, e-mail me at email@example.com.