Automotive Mileposts  
Production Numbers
Specifications

1971 Continental Mark III
TOTAL PRODUCTION: 27,091
INTRODUCTION DATE: September 18, 1970
$8,421
Body Style Code: 65A
VIN/Body Serial Code: 89
Lincoln
Gold Star - Celebrating Lincoln's Golden Anniversary (1971)
1971
Golden Anniversary
ENGINE CODE

A


460 Cubic Inch V-8 Engine (365 Horsepower)
     4-Barrel Motorcraft Carburetor/Dual Exhaust System
     4.36" Bore x 3.85" Stroke/10.5:1 Compression
     500 lb.-ft. Torque at 2800 rpm
TRANSMISSION CODE

U
Z
C6 SelectShift Automatic Torque Converter
C6 Special SelectShift Automatic Torque Converter
REAR AXLE CODES

4
6
M
O
2.80:1
3.00:1 Optional
2.80:1 Traction-Lok Differential
3.00:1 Optional; Traction-Lok Differential
SUSPENSION

Front Cushion-link with spring-loaded ball joints, deep-coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar

Rear Coil-link with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers
The Final Step Up

Image: 1971 Continental Mark IIIThe sales brochure for 1971 said: "In this world, there will always be room for something beyond conventional standards of prestige and luxury. That's why there are the Continentals." In this, the final year of Mark III production, there was very little Lincoln could do to make the car better than it was. A few more essentials were added to the standard equipment roster. Automatic Temperature Control and tinted glass, as well as the Sure-Track Brake System, were standardized.

Other than attending to details that were pretty much perfect to start with, the Mark III was the same car for 1971 as it was in 1969. These cars had a boldly aggressive appearance, were very well built, and were excellent road cars. They were also a success in the marketplace, as Lincoln sold about as many Mark III's in its third year of this body style as Cadillac sold of its newly-styled Eldorado. And the Eldorado was available in two body styles for 1971—a coupe and a convertible.

Granted, Eldorado production was affected by a nationwide strike at General Motors that ranked as one of the longest in GM's history up to that time. The United Auto Workers Union strike began virtually on announcement day in late September, 1970, and didn't end until mid-December. This resulted in substantially fewer Cadillacs, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, Chevrolets, and GMC's at your local dealer. The point here is that a car in its third year of a body style normally doesn't compete as well with its newly restyled competitors. Cadillac still sold more Eldorados than it had in recent years, so how many could they have sold without the strike? We'll never know, but it proves the point that the Mark III was a very popular car, even in its third year.

Motor Trend magazine's "King of the Hill" feature returned for 1971, pitting the Mark III and the Eldorado against one another. Written by John Lamm, the article favored the Eldorado in several areas, including interior arrangement and instrument layout. However, Lamm found the bright fabrics of the Eldorado to be less favorable than the leather in the Mark III. Regarding Eldorado styling, new for 1971, Lamm mentioned the "more cluttered design that involves extra bulges, a big chrome 'scoop' on the side and that rear quarter window." 1971 would be the first year of the Eldorado "coach window", a trend that the Continental offering would follow for 1972. Lamm also made note of the Mark III's "smooth, clean, though boxy" styling for 1971, and criticized Eldorado on its finish, which ranked much lower than the Mark III on items such as the padded top, and in areas such as the visibly shoddy assembly.

The article went on to note the Eldorado's ability to use the new lead-free gasoline, while the Mark, with a higher compression ratio, still required premium. Cadillac received points for better braking performance, and the difference in price was mentioned, with the Eldo being around $1,000 less than the Mark. However, equipped comparably, the price difference was minimal. Lamm said, "The Mark III still comes off like the family that has lived gracefully for years with its money, while the Eldorado feels like 'nouveau riche' trying so hard to tell the world it's wealthy." The folks at Cadillac must have been very unhappy when they read that!

The Mark III won the "King of the Hill" contest for 1971, a fact that Lincoln may have predicted when it stated: "People want this car because it is something better. And so today, this car stands alone. First in luxury, prestige and value."


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