There are times when the American automobile industry swings for the fences and hits a home run. There are times, however, that the industry misses out on a tremendous opportunity, and such is the case with this 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III convertible.
Introduced in April 1968 as an early 1969 model, the Mark III was Ford Motor Company’s answer to Cadillac’s El Dorado—GM’s top-of-the-line entry in the personal luxury car marketplace. Ford competed well with the lower GM marques with the Thunderbird but had no vehicle to match up against the Cadillac until Ford vice president Lee Iacocca tasked his design team to “put a Rolls Royce grill on a Thunderbird” for the newest Lincoln model!
In reality the designers did far more than that and, while utilizing the Thunderbird chassis, built a new car atop the platform. The goal, as far as Ford executives were concerned, was to outsell their Cadillac competitor and the first-year offering (1968) did just that by several thousand units. Ford named the car the Mark III, an homage to the short-lived Continental Mark II of 1956 and 1957. The new design featured vacuum-operated hidden headlights keyed to the body color, a radiator-styled grill (think Rolls Royce) and a trunk lid that appeared to hold a spare tire (but actually did not).
By using existing parts and pieces from other models, the Mark III was developed at a relatively low cost for a brand-new model of vehicle. Previously, the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company had been operating at a loss but sales of the Mark III turned the division into a profit center and was later credited by Iacocca to have been one of his greatest career achievements. For the man who spearheaded the launch of the Ford Mustang and introduced the Chrysler K-car that saved that company from bankruptcy, that’s an Impressive feat!
The Mark III was offered only as a two-door hardtop, just as the namesake Mark II was just over a decade earlier. Power was derived from Ford’s 460 cubic inch engine backed by the proven and dependable C6 three-speed automatic transmission. A variety of gear ratios were available for the trusty nine-inch rear differential. Standard equipment included leather interior, power split bench front seats, power steering, power brakes and power windows. A host of factory options were available (air conditioning was not standard equipment until the 1971 model year) including cruise control, power door locks, automatic dimming headlights and a variety of stereo systems. While a vinyl roof was technically an option, because of the additional bodywork needed to smooth the two-piece roofline on solid-roof models very few cars were manufactured without the vinyl roof treatment.
The Mark III held its’ own against the Cadillac during the three years the model was built (the final year being 1971) but just like with the predecessor Mark II, there was something missing for a particular segment of the motoring public. There was not a convertible option for the Lincoln Mark III, and it was up to private, independent coachbuilders to provide such a vehicle. This 1971 Lincoln Mark III is an excellent example of that!
This car was converted to a convertible several years ago by a professional coachbuilder and has been in the present owner’s portfolio since May 2009. It has been driven occasionally since that time and has been stored in a humidity-controlled environment under his ownership. Based on a visual inspection of the car, we believe the just over 56,000 miles showing on the odometer could be correct but in accordance with Missouri laws regulating licensed automobile dealers the car is offered as “mileage exempt” due to age. As with all Lincoln Mark III’s, a 460 cubic inch powerplant lives under the expansive hood and the C6 automatic transmission shifts flawlessly. The rear end houses a 2.80:1 gearset.
Even upon close inspection, it’s almost impossible to determine this car did not leave the Wixom, MI Ford Assembly Plant in January 1971 as a convertible. The coachwork conversion is exceptional and the fit and finish is superb for a vehicle of this age. Added factory options include cruise control, auto dimming headlights and AM radio with 8 track tape player. The light green exterior color and dark green leather interior match the car’s trim tag and present very nicely. The trim tag indicates the car was initially sold to a dealer within the Atlanta, GA district sales office so it is likely the vehicle initially spent time in the southern United States.
Obviously there is no way to know how many convertible conversions have been made on the Mark III platform over the years, but a quick Google search for photos yielded very few examples and at least one of those was from the United Kingdom. It’s a pretty safe bet that you will not find another Mark III convertible when you pull in to your local or regional car show or cruise night! This nearly 5,000 pound, 18 feet long luxury car will be hard to miss no matter the size of the event!
Evergreen Digital Showroom offers this very unique example of early 1970’s luxury for $34,900 USD. Pre-purchase inspections are welcomed and encouraged. We will gladly assist with transportation arrangements at buyer’s expense or work with any shipper the buyer chooses. For additional information or to make an offer on this vehicle, call sales manager Steve Russell at 417-532-8000. To see the other classic, collectible vehicles we offer, check our website, www.evergreendigitalshowroom.com.
Because of the number of vehicles we represent we cannot drive every vehicle for long distances. These vehicles have been part of static displays for long periods of time, in some cases for decades, and are subject to the flaws and imperfections consistent with that. While we do our best to disclose all issues we known about a vehicle in our advertising, these are old cars and something that has always worked in the past might not function properly today. Please check the requirements of your state regarding the licensing and registration of classic vehicles and make sure the vehicle you are looking at meets those if applicable. Unless otherwise noted, all vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom possess a clean (non-branded) title which will be provided the new buyer when purchase funds clear our financial institution. Virtually all our vehicles are sold as mileage exempt due to their age. We do not warranty any vehicle, nor any part of the vehicle including air conditioning systems, brake systems, electrical systems and gauges, fuel systems, accessories or powertrain components.
These are old vehicles and it is very common for them to require certain maintenance and upkeep for them to be operational. In many cases issues with leaks may develop when being driven after a long period of not being used. This is common, as classic cars at some point will leak fluids. For this reason, we do not encourage buyers to attempt driving their purchase home as we cannot guarantee functional reliability of these vehicles. We strongly encourage prospective buyers to be sure they are comfortable with these issues before purchasing a classic car.
Descriptions of vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom are intended to be informational in nature and do not in any way constitute any sort of warranty, expressed or implied. Again, these vehicles are presented “as-is, where-is” without guarantee or warranty. Vehicles manufactured prior to 1981 will likely not be included in the databases of companies such as CarFax and AutoCheck that provide vehicle history information to consumers. If you have specific questions regarding a vehicle we urge you to contact us at 417-532-8000.