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1969 Continental Mark III
Early production 1969 Continental Mark III
1968/1969 Continental Mark III


1968 Mark III Auctions

1969 Mark III Auctions



Mark III Returns

Exterior Paint Colors

Interior Trim

Standard Equipment

Optional Equipment

1968 vs. 1969:
The Differences

Early Production VIN and Date Codes Explained

1969 Continental Mark III Weight: The Real Cost of Options


My Name Is Continental Mark III, Two...


The confusion is understandable. 1969 was not the first time an automobile bore this name. Lincoln developed, built, and marketed a car of the same name back in 1958, but almost as if it wanted to turn back the hands of time, or perhaps forget the past, Lincoln debuted the new Continental Mark III in April of 1968. About the only thing the two cars had in common was the name, and there was a two door, two. Oh, sorry...that's "too."

The personal luxury car market was booming in the 1960s, with new models from Buick (Riviera), Oldsmobile (Toronado), and Cadillac (a revamped Eldorado), all introduced that were specifically intended to attract the coveted personal luxury car buyer - and Lincoln had nothing available to compete with! When the 1966 Lincoln Continental Coupe joined the line up in 1966, sales were brisk for a car that Lincoln itself acknowledged would have a limited market, but it wasn't a true personal luxury car, and it was now time for Lincoln to expand its offerings from the two models it had offered since 1961 - both four door cars, one a hardtop, and the other a convertible. Both had served Lincoln well, but convertibles weren't selling in the late sixties because people loved the hardtop look with sporty vinyl tops, and were ordering factory air conditioning and stereo systems in record numbers.

Always mindful of the need to conserve the research and development budget, the opportunity to build a true personal luxury car presented itself when Ford Division's popular Thunderbird announced a new four door model for 1967. With a wheelbase slightly longer than the two door Thunderbird, this platform would be ideal for a new premium personal luxury Lincoln.

And the 1969 Continental Mark III which resulted hit the market and was every bit as sensational as the Continental Mark II of the late fifties, and some even compared it to the original Lincoln Continental, which is a true landmark in automotive design. The new car was very handsome, and bore a distinct styling kinship with the other Lincolns, yet didn't look like anything else on the road.

Up front, a new sparkling chrome grille was prominently featured, and it can only be described as Rolls Royce-inspired. Its look was immediately considered a classic, one that clearly said Lincoln, and one that would become one of Lincoln's most distinctive styling elements for many years to come. Concealed headlamps were vacuum controlled, and were pretty much considered a required item on personal luxury cars of the time, as almost all of them had the hidden light feature.

The lines of the car were clean and reminiscent of the rest of the line, with minimal chrome and a discreet paint stripe that ran along the side of the car. If paint stripes weren't your thing, you could delete it as it was a no cost option on all Mark IIIs. Turbine-textured flared wheel covers, an option on other Lincoln models, were provided as part of the standard equipment assortment on the Mark III.

The deck lid featured a distinctive faux spare tire hump (Lincoln called it a "kick up") that would make the rear of the car as distinctive and memorable as the front. And from the rear especially, the hunched down roof of the car was very obvious, giving it a sportier look than the other more restrained Lincolns.

Inside, luxurious fabrics and leathers were designed with comfort wrinkles to give the seats a cozy, comfortable, lived in look. The quality control folks saw the wrinkles as poor workmanship, but once the point was made that they were intentional, everything was fine. Two different shades of simulated woodgrain were offered to accent the interior. East Indian Rosewood or English Oak, depending on the interior trim color, were applied in just the right proportions throughout the cabin. Touches like the rear seat reading lights were straight out of the standard Lincoln parts bin. Front seat passengers enjoyed individually adjustable full width seats with dual center folding armrests, just the thing for a long trip.

The Mark III featured instrumentation for oil pressure, fuel level, and engine temperature, as well as an ammeter. The Flow-Thru ventilation system was a Thunderbird item that seemed gimmicky at first, until passengers discovered it really did work. Dual vents below the rear window sucked inside air out of the car, taking smoke and foul odors with it.

Under the hood, Lincoln's new 365 horsepower, 460 cubic inch V-8 engine moved car, occupants, and all of their accoutrements with a great deal of authority. Some believe that the horsepower figure quoted was a bit modest, but nevertheless this was an important new power plant for Lincoln. The first engine designed with emission control in mind, it didn't require external pumps, tubing, and related fittings to clean up the exhaust. This engine would be the only one available for a Mark for the next decade, until it was replaced by the 400 in 1979, due to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. It would provide service in other Ford Motor Company vehicles into the eighties, proof of its durability and design strength.

Sales were very good for the 1969 Mark III, with a total of 30,858 sold for the model year, compared to 23,333 1969 Cadillac Eldorados, which of course was the Mark's main competitor. There is evidence that the new Lincoln stole a few sales from its sister in the Ford Division, the Thunderbird, which was in year three of its styling cycle. Officially introduced on April 5, 1968 as a 1969 model, there are some interesting distinctions between the 7,770 cars built during the 1968 production period and the ones built during dates normally considered to be 1969 production. Our 1968 vs. 1969 Continental Mark III: Production Differences [link opens in new window] article provides details. All Continental Mark IIIs built during this time are titled as 1969 models.

Among Lincoln devotees, there have been many discussions over the years as to which of the Mark series cars is the best. Some base their opinions on styling, others on performance, or sales figures, or interior comfort, and others on that warm feeling they get inside when they see one. Regardless of which Continental Mark is your favorite, there is no doubt that the 1969-1971 Mark III was the beginning of a period that would see Lincoln consistently outsell rival Cadillac in the top market segment, which was no small accomplishment.

There are those today who feel Lincoln has ventured a bit too far off the path, now that there is no Mark series or Continental being built. The current Lincoln Navigator, MKX, Mark LT, and MKZ all enjoy the benefits of a prestigious pedigree established in large part by the popular Continental Mark III.

Lincoln has surprised everyone before, by introducing a new car that redefined its concept and set the automotive world on its ear. It just might do it again, when you least expect it.

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1969 Lincoln Continental

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