Henry Ford purchased Lincoln from Henry Leland in 1922. An upscale luxury model, it was brought into the Ford family to help bridge the gap between the utilitarian Ford Model T and other luxury marques offered by competitors. Ford’s son Edsel was the chief stylist on the Lincoln line and in 1939 he designed the Continental. Available as a two-door coupe or convertible the Continental styling was unlike the regular Lincoln line and appealed to the country club set. Well received and highly regarded, it sold well both before and following a four-year hiatus in production, due to the Second World War. In 1956 The Continental Division was established and it produced the two-door coupe Mark II models. Beautiful hand-built automobiles, the $10,000 price tag saw most purchased by movie stars, bankers and world rulers. Production ceased after only two years.
Many felt the four-seat Thunderbird that debuted in 1958 was chosen to be Ford’s personal luxury conveyance and it fit the bill until the late 1960s. Lincoln re-emerged in 1969 with the Continental Mark III. Again, drawing on the historical image of the Continental coupes, it offered huge comfort and class and paid homage to the long-hood, short-deck tradition of the previous Mark series. For 1970, the only changes were concealed windshield wipers, upgraded signal and tail lamps as well as a new interior upholstery theme, with genuine walnut veneers in place of the simulated oak and rosewood previously used.
One look at the Mark III coming, going or sitting in a parking lot, you knew this was a distinctive automobile for discerning owners. Power came from a new 460 cubic inch V-8 engine producing 365 horsepower at 4,600 r.p.m. and was backed by a smooth three-speed C6 automatic transmission. Along with many opulent standard features came an option list longer than the Rae & Jerry’s Steak House menu.
In 2013, Coe Peersman of Winnipeg spotted an online ad that led to him purchasing a 1970 Continental Mark III. A recent graduate — he secured a job and went looking for his first car. “I always liked classic cars, with their power and aggressive looks and it was something I could afford,” says Peersman. He travelled to Winkler, met the couple who owned the Continental and struck a deal.
With 136,000 original miles, when Peersman purchased the car it still featured the factory Raven Black paint, black vinyl top and dark green leather upholstery. He installed new intake manifold gaskets to fix an air leak, new brakes and gave the big V-8 a much needed tune-up. Equipped with most of the available options, the Mark III rolls down the road with power everything including, air-conditioning, tilt wheel, cruise control, AM radio, power windows, power door locks, power seat and remote mirrors.
Since acquiring the Mark III, Peersman has had it out to several Sunday Night cruise nights at the Pony Corral Restaurant on Grant Avenue and has been enjoying driving it. “The ride is amazing, it’s smooth and just glides along,” says Peersman. Having just graduated and earned his diploma in the two-year automotive technician program at Red River College, Peersman is hoping to land a position in his trade and carry on in the automotive field. Peersman’s future plans for the Mark III are a full restoration to return the car to showroom condition.
The Continental Mark series escalated in 1972 with the introduction of the Mark IV, incorporating the opera windows in the pillar of the roof and much plusher interiors. It continued with the bigger is better theme until the model was downsized in 1981. Restyled in 1984 and wearing the Mark VII badge it continued until its final incarnation as the radically restyled Mark VIII from 1993 to 1998 as a grand touring luxury coupe.
Today, the earlier Mark III models are more in demand than the later cars, due to their styling and more powerful high-compression V-8 engines. There’s an air about these cars that has held true for many decades. If you drive something this bold it makes a statement. You’re successful, you appreciate the finer things in life — and you're not shy about everyone knowing it.