The Personal Luxury Coupe represented one of the largest market segments by the close of the 1960s. General Motors largely dominated it, of course, and while Ford held its own with the Thunderbird, sales began to slow with the introduction of the newly styled T-Bird in 1967, which was based on the aging Continental. Lincoln only had the one Continental coupe, which was relatively formal, large, and aging, along with the suicide-door Continentals first introduced in 1961. Ford had done very well through the ‘60s, and the dawn of the ‘70s was the perfect time to spread some love to Lincoln and salvage Thunderbird sales. The first order of business was to Lincolnize the Thunderbird to create a new Lincoln.
To accomplish this, Lee Iacocca worked with Gene Bordinat to create a car that looked like it was its own animal, but would actually be based on the Thunderbird, which was ironically based on the Continental. If successful, the new car would save money by using the existing architecture of the Thunderbird, which was saving money already by using Continental architecture; it would also make money for both itself and the car from which it came and give Lincoln a much-needed Personal Luxury Coupe. Stylists and engineers, led by Gene, accomplished all of the above creating the Continental Mark III.
Often referred to as a Lincoln Mark III, the true and correct name is Lincoln Continental Mark III, or even just Continental Mark III. Reminiscently styled like the Continental Mark II from 1956 and ’57, the car featured a restrained profile with a long nose and short rear end and lacked unnecessary chrome and brightwork. A Continental kit hump was integrated into the trunk lid, just like the Mark II, and a stately front end was designed into the car, but this time utilizing hidden headlights and a waterfall grille that resembled a Rolls-Royce. The Mark III featured a daringly low roofline, most were padded with a vinyl top adding to the cushy, elaborate nature of the new car. A lot of attention was focused on the interior, which used parts unique only to the Mark III, even though if you looked closely enough you could see where Thunderbird lent a hand. But the design of the upholstery, the thick pile carpeting, jeweled gauges, and ocean of standard luxury amenities made it one of the most luxurious of the luxurious, thanks to a bespoke image. Again, comparing the interior of the Mark II with the Mark III, one can find additional similarities. Introduced in April of ‘68 for the ‘69 model year, it amazed even the most jaded of luxury car customers and the automotive press. It looked fresh, and was overtly and unapologetically luxurious, creating a storm of sales and positive reviews. In production only through 1971, the Mark III was relatively short lived, but it created a solid fanbase and gave the new-for-1972 Mark IV big shoes to fill.
Given the recent value trends of the Mark III, this 1971 example may well be a veritable bargain. The seller notes that it’s in well maintained, daily driver condition and is gorgeous while being in great shape inside and out. Judging by the pictures, we have to agree. The interior and top are all original and in excellent condition, and over $10k has recently been invested into the car. Part of the work that’s been done includes a sweet custom horn, the button for which is located under the dashboard. By the pictures, this should be a hard car to pass up for the money – the interior, body, top, tires, and details all look to be in fabulous shape. The odometer reads just over 63k miles, which is likely original given the overall condition of the car, especially the interior. Again, the Mark III’s are showing healthy price increases with no indication that they’ll slow down, and we regularly see examples with similar mileage sell for over $10k at auction, so at this price point – it’s really hard to pass up.