A lot to the delight of accountants at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, the brand new Thunderbird-based 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III was a right away gross sales success. It was a case of the best product (a private luxurious coupe) on the proper time. The Mark III went head-to-head with its rival and closest competitors, the Cadillac Eldorado.
And although the Eldorado nameplate had an extended historical past and was higher established than the Mark, Lincoln’s providing topped the Cadillac in gross sales in its first 12 months. A part of that was right down to an exceptionally lengthy first mannequin 12 months that padded the figures, however credit score additionally went to the joy generated by the Mark. Mark III was all new in 1968 (for the ‘69 mannequin 12 months), whereas the front-drive E-body Eldorado had been on sale since 1967. Although a number of updates occurred inside its debut mannequin 12 months (that ran from March 1968 to December 1969), product vice chairman Lee Iacocca knew his pet venture wanted extra updates to maintain client curiosity going.
At this juncture, it’s acceptable to get some context on the general Continental line. The 2- and four-door Continental fashions of Elwood Engel’s design have been on sale since 1961 with out main updates. For its ultimate 12 months, the outdated Continental coupe was bought alongside the Continental Mark III. It was older, extra conservative, and far much less common (and no one remembers it).
Lincoln debuted a brand new technology Continental for the 1970 mannequin 12 months that was bigger, extra slab-sided, much less dignified trying, and a return to body-on-frame development. The brand new Continental was additionally very comparable in look to the Mercury Marquis and Grand Marquis. In 1970 Continental moved to share a platform with the Marquis that debuted in 1969, and primarily previewed Continental styling of 1970. Looking back was that a good suggestion? Completely not.
Alongside the revised 1970 Mark III at Lincoln sellers have been the Continental coupe and pillared hardtop sedan, and the reintroduced Continental City Automotive. The City automobile was notable for its obligatory vinyl roof remedy and extra customary tools and was as soon as once more thought of the flagship Continental sedan.
Although modifications have been required in a brand new mannequin 12 months, designers at Lincoln selected to not fettle the Mark III’s profitable seems all that a lot. The entrance clip of the Mark III remained largely untouched, save for an edit to the nook marker lenses. On ‘69 fashions the lens was clear and lacked any amber tinting. In 1970 an amber part appeared and was positioned vertically on the surface nook of the lens.
Close by there was a brand new non-compulsory wheel cowl design. Mark III’s wheel covers for 1969 have been Sixties-looking and fluted, with veining (like on the outdated Mark II). In 1970 the brand new wheel cowl was up to date to a flatter disc design. It had a central chrome space that was flat like a dinner plate. The plate was surrounded by smaller, much less notable veins.
Different visible identifiers of the 1970 Mark III included the redesigned wiper association. The wipers on all 1969 examples have been uncovered and mounted to a panel between the hood and windshield. In 1970 that panel was raised and redesigned to hide the wipers and make the hood appear to be one steady piece of metallic. Evaluating the 2, the hid wiper look was a lot cleaner.
And whereas it was extra difficult to cover the wipers, one other change made issues simpler in 1970: the roof. In 1969 a painted roof was customary, which generated much less revenue on the time of sale and required extra work on the manufacturing facility for its smoother, paint-ready roof seams. The vinyl roof grew to become a regular characteristic in 1970. No extra worries about roof high quality management at Wixom Meeting!
There was just one different visible change for 1970, because the facet profile and rear design remained virtually precisely as they have been in 1969. The aforementioned amber lens edit was a part of a brand new federal security regulation for 1970, which additionally mandated purple reflectors on the rear. Complying with authorities interference as cheaply as attainable, cut-outs have been made to the bumper at both nook, and a small purple lens was put in. Consequently, subsequent years of Mark III have been by no means as clear trying on the rear as in 1969.
Elsewhere Ford made enhancements within the title of security. A locking steering column grew to become customary tools, as did a redesigned steering wheel. The wheel misplaced its horn ring and was swapped for a rim blow design.
Carried out throughout a number of manufacturers for a really quick whereas between 1969 and 1974, the rim blow wheel had a rubber pad and wires instead of the standard horn ring, or the much less widespread (on the time) horn buttons or central horn pad. The rubber pad had wires beneath and was mounted across the interior portion of the entire wheel.
This was thought of a safer design as a result of the within of the wheel rim could possibly be pressed in any space to honk the horn, and that meant arms may stay on the wheel. Nonetheless, time proved not so type to the design as getting old took impact on the rubber padding.
Usually, rubber shrinkage would trigger the horn to honk unintentionally at random. Alternatively, if shrinking weren’t a difficulty the rubber would harden and make the horn frequently tougher to honk. Typically, customers disliked the poorly thought out wheel design, and it was not utilized in any automobiles after 1974. Ford and Dodge have been the final to let go of the rim blow wheel.
Different security modifications included the introduction of extra fashionable three-point seatbelts. And in a nod to the long run, radial tires grew to become a regular characteristic of the Mark III in 1970. It made Mark III the primary American automobile fitted with radial tires as customary. On the time, a 1968 Shopper Stories examine had just lately proved cross-ply tires inferior to radial tires in each means. The Mark III was the primary in a fast market conversion that noticed 100% of North American automobiles undertake radial tires by 1976.
There was extra federal intervention in 1970, as the federal government turned its eye to emissions requirements. New emission regulation required Ford so as to add air injection to the Mark III’s 460 V8, a system they referred to as Thermactor. Thermactor was a secondary air injection system to decrease emissions, an concept created in 1966. Contemporary air was injected (pumped) into the exhaust, which aided in fuller combustion and meant cleaner emissions. The pumped air injection was typically referred to as a “smog pump.” It had no impact on the 460’s 365 horsepower, but.
In our subsequent entry, we’ll evaluation the inside modifications on the 1970 Mark III, and canopy modifications made for 1971. We’ll additionally focus on the gross sales figures and pricing for the ultimate two years of the somewhat short-lived Mark III.
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