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1969 Continental Mark III Weight:
The Real Cost of Options

One Automatic Headlamp Dimmer—3 lbs. for $51.20...What?

Continental Mark III accessories

Question: What costs over $17 a pound, and makes night driving less stressful?

Answer: An Automatic Headlamp Dimmer!

With a curb weight of 4,739 pounds (1968 production) or 4,744 pounds (1969 production), the Continental Mark III is no lightweight on the street. But did you know that a fully loaded Mark III can actually weigh much more than one with just standard equipment? With a combined weight of 164 pounds, those extra options add more than just digits to the price tag.

For instance, a vinyl roof adds a whopping 10 pounds. It hardly seems possible that a thin piece of vinyl, a bit of padding, glue, and a couple of mouldings could weigh that much. And how about that AM Radio/Stereo Tape system? At 17 pounds, that baby has a bit of heft to it. The biggest contributor to weight gain is the air conditioner. The Manual control system adds an incredible 84 pounds to the car, and the Automatic Temperature Control adds even more at 87 pounds! In effect, an option laden Mark III is carrying the equivalent of one additional passenger at all times over a Mark without all the options.

A fully loaded Continental Mark III with all the optional extras adds 164 pounds to the curb weight of the car, for a total of 4,908 pounds. If you want to see how much the options weigh, check the list below:


Speed Control - 12 lbs.
Automatic Headlamp Dimmer - 3 lbs.
Rear Window Defogger - 3 lbs.
Vinyl Covered Roof - 10 lbs.
Power Door Locks - 7 lbs.
6-Way Power Seats - 16 lbs.
AM Radio - 10 lbs.
AM/FM Stereo Radio - 14 lbs.
Remote Control Deck Lid Release - 2 lbs.
Air Conditioner (Manual control) - 84 lbs.
Automatic Temperature Control - 87 lbs.

With today's high gas prices, you'd be surprised how much an extra 164 pounds will cost you in fuel economy. In fact, with everything else being equal, the weight difference between a fully loaded Mark III and one without any options can be almost 1 mile per gallon!

What can be done to squeeze every mile out of a gallon of gas on one of these heavy cars? Quite a bit, actually. First of all, make sure tires are properly inflated, and check the tire sidewall to determine maximum pressure for that tire. Adding a couple of extra pounds to your tires over the manufacturer's recommended inflation pressures will improve your overall fuel economy and allow the tires to run cooler, but you'll sacrifice a bit of smoothness in the ride if you do so. Front end alignment is critical, as tires that run true create less resistance. These two things alone can cost you up to 6 percent in fuel economy. Also, make sure the engine is properly tuned and the carburetor is adjusted as lean as possible.

Get the junk out of the trunk. If you don't need it on the next trip you'll be taking in the car, take it out! You'd be surprised how a very few extra items can add up in the weight department.

Finally, and perhaps the most important of all, is to drive economically. This means accelerating gradually, avoiding jack rabbit starts, driving smoothly, and anticipating traffic conditions ahead to minimize braking. Don't jab at the gas pedal, increasing speed in little bursts. Drivers who drive economically increase their fuel economy as much as 20 percent.

So you don't have to sacrifice and remove your 8-track radio to enjoy better fuel economy in your Continental Mark III, but do you really need that extra power window motor, hydraulic floor jack, and wheel rim with no tire on it in the trunk? These cars are a thrill to drive, and stand out on today's congested roads with thousands of look alike imported cars all painted in various shades of gray/beige. So, drive your Mark III and know that you've done all you can to get the best possible fuel economy, and while you're out, remember that your car serves as a reminder to all who see it that America once knew how to build a safe, luxury performance automobile that didn't look like anything else on the road. It was the most distinctive car of its generation, and time has done nothing but enforce that statement.