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1971 Continental Mark III
1971 Continental Mark III


1971 Mark III Auctions


The Final Step Up

Exterior Paint Colors

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Standard Equipment

Optional Equipment

1971 Continental Mark III Phaeton Edition


Chapter 3: 1971 Continental Mark III

If you liked the 1970 Continental Mark III, you would also like the 1971 model, as very few changes were made between the two. Sales improved to 27,091 for the year, the third and final year of this body style, which had been marketed since the Spring of 1968. Automatic Temperature Control Air Conditioning, Tinted Glass, and Hi-Back Twin Comfort Lounge Seats with Dual 2-Way Power Controls were added to the standard equipment list, since most Mark IIIs left the factory with those extras anyway.

Not too long after the 1971 Mark III hit the dealer showrooms, potential customers started commenting on the new Hi-Back seats. It seems some people weren't very receptive to them, noting they were too tall, and blocked the view to the rear. In order to overcome these objections, the Lo-Back (as they were now called) seats from 1970 were also made available as a no cost option, so people could choose which seat they liked better. The Hi-Back seats had been introduced on other Ford Motor Company products a few years earlier, and were generally well received. 1971 was the first year that they were installed in a wide variety of Ford cars, including the Ford LTD, Mercury Marquis, etc. They had been available as part of an optional interior trim package on the Thunderbird since 1970, although the more conventional Lo-Back seats were still standard fare.

Over at the Cadillac dealer's place, a new Fleetwood Eldorado was announced. And it was a totally new car, now available in a choice of coupe or convertible. The Eldorado Coupe was the most popular of the two, with sales of 20,568 sold. The new model for the line, the Eldorado Convertible, was just the thing for 6,800 wealthy folks who still enjoyed the open air sensation that only a convertible can provide.

1971 was the year of the big General Motors/United Auto Workers (UAW) strike. It hit right about the time the new models were introduced, and lasted for 67 days, placing a serious crimp on new car availability in General Motors' dealer showrooms and car lots. Perhaps for this reason as much as any other, sales of the all new Eldorado weren't much better than those of the three year old Mark III.

Not that the 1971 Eldorado was perfect. It is generally noted that quality control slipped a bit during this time, and some of the materials used didn't seem to be up to par with what was expected in a Cadillac. The new styling also left some cold, with deeply beveled sides and rear deck, a fake scoop on the rear quarter panel, and stationary Coach windows in the roof quarters that replaced the rear side windows on Coupes.

Cadillac's 500 cubic inch V-8, introduced the previous year, was designed for 1971 to run on new low lead or no lead fuels, while the Mark III still required premium gas due to its high compression ratio. The Eldorado was the more flamboyant of the two cars, with the Mark III considered to look like and represent old money, and the Eldorado likely the choice of those who'd just come into the good life, and wanted to let everyone else know they had.

Big changes were in store for the Mark for 1972, with the introduction of a completely restyled Continental Mark IV, which would challenge rival Eldorado at a new level, and serve notice to Cadillac that its status of being the top luxury car in the land was now under challenge. After more than three years in production, the 1971 Continental Mark IIIs left the factory in top condition, with very few issues. Even today, they are generally dependable cars that are still strong and quiet, and you'd be hard pressed to find a more comfortable automobile for a long trip.

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