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1971 Continental Mark III
Phaeton Edition

This after market option was available through select Lincoln-Mercury Dealers

1971 Continental Mark III Phaeton front quarter viewPrior to the availability of optional factory trim packages such as the 1973 Continental Mark IV Silver Luxury Group [links in this article open in a new window], new car buyers seeking something distinctive and unique turned to the automotive after market, and often they didn't need to look further than their new car dealer for ideas. The Ford Thunderbird was one of the first to capitalize on extra cost trim packages that combined special color combinations and equipment, which were offered on standard cars at additional cost and promoted as something special. The first Thunderbird to offer such a package was the 1963 Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau, of which only 2,000 copies were built. Introduced with the assistance of no less than Princess Grace of Monaco (American movie actress Grace Kelly) herself, a splashy feature in Vogue Magazine highlighted the car, and a one hour televised special made it a truly international story. So successful was this trim package that just two years later, a 1965 Thunderbird Special Landau was promoted as an unofficial way to observe the T-bird's 10th Anniversary.

The Luxury Group editions like the Silver Luxury Group mentioned above would grow rapidly during the seventies, and would expand into the Thunderbird line in 1974 as well, with each new color scheme broadening the potential market. Lincoln's first special edition of this era was the 1971 Lincoln Continental Golden Anniversary Town Car, an official option package built to commemorate Lincoln's 50th Anniversary. Later trim packages denoted no particular event, but were simply a way for the car makers to increase their bottom line by providing distinctive trim and paint colors and upholstery patterns not available otherwise at additional cost.

Perhaps because Lincoln chose to ignore its top of the line (and newest) model—the Continental Mark III—in the 50th Anniversary celebrations, Lincoln dealers like Eagle Lincoln-Mercury in Dallas, Texas worked with after market shops to market and sell a special 1971 Continental Mark III Phaeton Edition. Advertised as a "Decor Group," the Phaeton Edition cost $687 extra. A stock Continental Mark III was ordered from the factory with a vinyl roof delete specified. This can be documented on the ROT sheet, which specifies "HARD TOP" and "DSO 226521 DELETE VINYL ROOF" at the bottom. Cars with their original window stickers will list "DSO#6521 DELETE VINYL ROOF" as a no charge option. DSO is short for "District Special Order" and identifies this car originally was ordered through the Oklahoma City District.

1971 Continental Mark III Phaeton Edition window stickerWhat does the Phaeton Edition include? In addition to everything provided on the standard Continental Mark III, which was one of the best equipped cars on the road in standard form, the Phaeton Edition Additional Equipment Notice added the following:

  • Custom Phaeton Vinyl Roof
  • Custom Phaeton Vinyl Deck Lid Cover
  • Golden Anniversary Pin Striping
  • Luxury Chrome Spoke Wheel Covers
  • Phaeton Fender, Deck Lid and Wheel Emblems
  • Phaeton Mark III Hood Ornament
  • Phaeton Gold Line Vogue Limousine Tires
  • Heavy Duty Undercoating
  • Blue Coral Fashion Wax Treatment
  • Phaeton Landau Irons (Additional $159.00 charge)

The vinyl roof was a halo-type vinyl roof that covered the rear section of the roof. Cavalry Twill vinyl was used on the roof as well as on the deck lid hump. A chrome molding crossed over from one roof rail to the other, providing a separation of the paint and vinyl. This chrome trim was repeated along the outline of the deck lid spare tire hump. The gold pin striping was stock from the factory, and Phaeton emblems were added to the front fenders, deck lid, and in the center of the wheel covers, which were the deluxe version available at extra cost on the 1971 Lincoln Continental, and were modified with color-keyed paint behind the chrome vanes.

The original Vogue Gold Line tires (not pictured) featured a slightly wider white stripe than the stock tires, with the addition of a gold band to provide additional distinction. A 24 karat gold plated Phaeton Mark III hood ornament was added, and it was a bit garish, but truthfully so was the entire Phaeton Edition package! If you didn't want to be noticed—for whatever reason—you didn't buy this car in the first place. Heavy duty undercoating to reduce noise and a hand-applied Blue Coral wax treatment completed the package. Unless, of course, you wanted to add the Thunderbird-inspired Landau Irons for an extra charge, which the car featured did not have.

Exactly how many Phaeton Mark III's were built is not known at this time, but it's safe to say that there weren't many of them. During this period, Cadillac seemed to be the make most customizers focused their attention on, and some of the designs tacked onto Cadillacs were of very questionable taste. Still, it is perhaps these somewhat over the top designs that encouraged the manufacturers to come out with their own, more tasteful, special editions which were responsible for some very distinctive cars over the years.

1971 Continental Mark III Phaeton Edition side view1971 Continental Mark III Phaeton Edition rear view

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