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Image: 1970 Continental Mark III
1970 Continental Mark III
1970 Continental Mark III


1970 Mark III Auctions


A Classic In Its Own Time

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Interior Trim

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Dual Cowl Phaeton Show Car


Regarding the 1970 Continental Mark III

Few major changes were made for the 1970 Continental Mark III, but quite a few minor changes occurred, even though you had to look close to see some of them. Among the changes was the relocation of the ignition switch from under the instrument panel to the right side of the steering column, which was required to implement the ignition/steering wheel/transmission lever interlock. With the key removed, everything was locked down which made it more difficult for thieves to take what wasn't theirs.

The front parking lights now illuminated with the headlamps, a safety feature being adopted universally around this time that let other motorists know a car with a burned out headlight wasn't a motorcycle. Headlight doors for 1970 were also required to open in a specified period of time, another safety requirement that was perhaps responsible for many cars with hidden headlights in 1969 to drop this feature for 1970. All Continental Mark IIIs had warning lights in the overhead console above the windshield to alert the driver if one of the headlight covers hadn't opened all the way, due either to vacuum system failure or an obstacle in the way, blocking one of the covers from opening fully.

The vinyl roof, which had been optional the previous year, was made standard for 1970, although it's always been difficult to find a 1969 Mark III without a vinyl roof although a few of them were manufactured that way. New wheel covers appeared, somewhat plainer than the turbine style ones provided the year before, although still very attractive and surprisingly heavy to anyone who's ever picked one up.

Another new feature were the windshield wipers that parked below the rear edge of the hood, cleaning up the appearance of the car somewhat. The cowl air intake vents were also concealed in this area. Michelin steel belted radial ply tires were fitted to every Mark III and came with a 40,000 mile tread wear guarantee.

Inside, the upholstery pattern was changed and the two color coordinated shades of simulated woodgrain were replaced with genuine Walnut veneer. A Three Spoke Rim-Blow steering wheel made its first appearance on the standard equipment list, and many a driver will remember the first time they drove one, with the horns constantly and intermittently honking for no reason at all. These steering wheels required a light touch to the rim until you got used to them, as all it took was a gently squeeze of the rim to sound the horns.

The 12-mile road test was eliminated for 1970, and a road test simulator took its place. This was an attempt to save money, while at the same time taking the human opinion out of the equation. The simulator was adjusted and checked daily to ensure correct settings, and was a huge time saver which eliminated the back log of cars waiting to be tested before shipment, which had existed from time to time in the past.

Sales in its second year were not as strong as they had been during the extended 1969 model year, and the 1970 Cadillac Eldorado out sold the Mark III, but not by much. 23,842 Eldorados found new homes in 1970, compared to 21,432 Continental Mark IIIs. The Eldorado debuted its huge 8.2 Litre, 500 cubic inch V-8 engine for 1970, the largest engine ever built for production passenger car use, and that motivated people to hit their Cadillac dealer showrooms.

A program was undertaken to lessen the number of vacuum connections in the somewhat trouble prone vacuum system, which operated everything from headlamp doors to the remote control trunk lock. The door locks were now "Electro Vacuum" and used an electric powered solenoid under the instrument panel to control the valves that distributed vacuum to the lock motors, instead of relying solely on vacuum to operate the control valve.

Advertising for the 1970 Continental Mark III was often combined with that of the all new 1970 Lincoln Continental, the first complete redesign of that car since 1961. The Lincoln was usually photographed with a couple standing near it, but the Mark III was almost always shot with just a man pictured, emphasizing its personal luxury aspect. A few ads featuring just the Mark III were also released for the year, although most of them resembled the ads for 1969.

Though the 1970 Mark III looked similar to last year's model, there really was no need for change as quality was very good, the ride was smooth, the interior was quiet enough to allow passengers to nap at 70 mph, and Lincoln was sticking with its "no change for the sake of change" policy, which had been working very well for it for the last decade or so. And with sales close to those of the Eldorado, the folks at Lincoln knew they had Cadillac Division's attention.

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