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Parked in 1983! 1969 Continental Mark III

Those who knew him often said that people should have revered and feared Lee Iacocca in equal amounts. He was a man who could be witty, charming, and generous. He also didn’t suffer fools gladly and was willing to attack anyone who made the fearful mistake of stepping between him and a personal goal. Many people believe that the original Mustang was his greatest success, but Mr. Iacocca always felt that the 1969 Continental Mark III was his ultimate triumph. The inspiration came to him in the middle of the night when he was out of town on one of his many business trips. Unwilling to wait until morning, he grabbed the nearest telephone, woke legendary designer Gene Bordinat, and instructed him to perform the equivalent of putting “a Rolls-Royce grille on a Thunderbird.” The rest, as they say, is history, with the Continental outselling the Cadillac Eldorado for the first time in its history. Our feature car is a tidy survivor that has been parked in a shed since 1983. The owner has dragged it into the light of day, treated it to a wash, and listed it for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Raytown, Missouri, and the owner has set the sale price at $17,000. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder MattR for spotting another great classic for us.

When you scratch the surface of the Mark III, it doesn’t take long to locate the Thunderbird that lurks beneath. However, thanks to heavier steel and additional sound deadening, the Mark III is significantly heavier than the car it was based on. It is worth noting how much of a triumph the Mark III was. While both cars shared the same chassis and mechanical underpinnings, the Mark III commanded a premium price that was 43% higher than the Thunderbird. It was a big car that offered big profits for minimal outlay. The entire development budget for this model was less than $30 million, proving that Iacocca had a magic touch when he was in the right frame of mind. Our feature car is finished in Maroon with a Cream vinyl top. Its presentation is impressive for a vehicle that has been sitting forgotten for the best part of four decades. The paint shines impressively, while the vinyl appears to be in excellent order. I can’t spot any significant paint defects, dings, dents, or other marks. It also seems that the buyer won’t be facing any rust problems, with the car looking free from those issues. The trim is in excellent order, and the tinted glass looks flawless. So far, so good.

Vehicle manufacturers love cars like the Mark III, but they are less thrilled by models like the Pinto. This has nothing to do with size and everything to do with development costs. The fact is that the Pinto essentially represented a new model developed from a clean sheet of paper. That meant that development costs were high, engineering demands were great, and cars like that need to stay on the market for years if the manufacturer was to recoup their considerable outlay. The Mark III is a different kettle of fish. Part of the reason that it cost so little to develop was that it was what some people might unkindly refer to as a “parts bin special.” That means that many of the components beyond the Thunderbird underpinnings were sourced from other models within the Ford, Mercury, or Lincoln range. Almost every manufacturer does this to a greater or lesser extent, and without this approach, buyers would be faced with far fewer choices when they walked into a dealership with a fistful of cash. When we consider the interior of the Mark III, shared components include items like wiring, electrical components, seat frames, minor controls, and even the mechanisms for the power windows. The interior of our feature car comes with all of these items, and it presents well for a vehicle of this age with white upholstery. I don’t think that it’s perfect, but there are no glaring problems for the buyer to address. Nothing appears to be discolored, there is no physical damage, and nothing appears to be missing. The owner has connected a battery, and the electrical components like the power windows, Cartier clock, and AM/FM stereo radio operate as they should. However, he is unable to confirm whether the air conditioning blows cold.

Lifting the Continental’s hood reveals a 460ci V8, a three-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. That giant of an engine would have produced 365hp in its prime, and this car needed every one of them. At 4,744lbs, the Mark III is a long way from being what could be termed as light. However, that V8 should offer the potential for this giant to romp through the ¼ mile in 16 seconds. The Continental does not run, and it seems that it probably hasn’t since it was parked decades ago. The owner has not attempted to coax it back to life, but he has connected a battery to confirm that the electrical system works as it should. That aspect of the car gets a thumbs-up, but it isn’t clear whether the motor turns freely. It might be worth potential buyers to negotiate an in-person inspection to determine whether the Mark III is a reasonable prospect to be revived. Sounding a note of cautious optimism, the rest of the car looks to be in incredible condition when you consider its history. Hopefully, that provides some indication that the mechanical components are in good health. The owner states that the Mark III has a genuine 41,000 miles on the clock. He doesn’t say whether he holds verifying evidence, but that claim is definitely plausible if it has been sitting since 1983.

The 1969 Continental Mark III stands as a testament to Lee Iacocca’s ability to sprinkle a thin layer of glitter over an existing vehicle to create a car that cost the company mere pennies but that they could sell at a healthy profit. This wasn’t the first example of this achievement during his illustrious career, and it certainly wasn’t his last. As a landmark vehicle, it is easy to underestimate its importance. The buying public embraced the Mark III with open arms and allowed the company, for the first time, to produce a car that outsold the legendary Cadillac Eldorado. This Continental doesn’t currently run, but the indications look positive that returning it to a roadworthy state may not be difficult or expensive. These are not a big-ticket item in the classics market, and some pretty tidy examples have recently changed hands for around $20,000. However, none of those cars have the history or odometer reading that we find on this car. If you like your classics with a touch of luxury, maybe this one deserves a closer look.


  1. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    I often skip over Lincoln Mark write ups. I’m glad I read this one. Very good write up with a nice little story in there. Beautiful Lincoln also, rich color.

    Like 23
    • LMK

      Bakyrdhero, I came here to comment along the same lines…Excellent write up Adam Clarke !

      Like 3
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Definitely do not just throw a battery in this car and hit the key. It’ll be bent pushrod city.

    Like 4
  3. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    The Continental Mark III was (is) a beautiful car, well optioned though heavy and thirsty. This example seems to be in exceptional condition and is apparently all original. However, for the money asked, it should be running. After the new owner gets the car home, significant money may have to be spent addressing the fuel system, brake system, probably new tires and who knows what else. I think as-is, it’s priced a little high but what do I know; some might consider this Continental Mark III a good deal.

    Like 12
  4. angliagt angliagt

    There’s one parked at a business that I pass almost every day,
    in that Charcoal Silver color.I asked about it & was told the owner is
    just letting it sit & rust away.Sad.

    Like 7
  5. flmikey

    For 17 large, it should be in running and driving condition…

    Like 21
  6. Joe Machado

    Had a 69 Root Beer Brown metallic, tan top, tan interior.
    Excellent driver and ride.
    Lots of car should an economy car hit me.
    I never wanted economy cars because bigger, heavier equates to more protection.
    Gas will always be cheaper than blood.
    Only bad thing I had, was when I traded my 62 Continental Convertible for it, the owner of Snow Ford in Cerritos, gave me a Lassa Opso, (spelling), dog with the Connie.
    The Mark was Jim Snow’s personal car and dog.
    The Lasso shredded the curtains in the living room. Dog Gone.
    But, this Mark is Gorgeous.
    I have too many cars now, or this would be one of my drivers.
    Just sold a 63 Imperial that sat outside.
    Have 10 with a roof over them, and my 61 Plymouth wagon is outside, dang

    Like 5
  7. Steve Clinton

    “Have not turned engine over, but hooked up battery and tested electrical…works great!”
    He’s has no clue if the engine runs, but the battery works great.

    Like 5
  8. Steve Clinton

    “Gas will always be cheaper than blood.”
    Not necessarily.

    Like 2
  9. John

    It looks to be a great car and a great color combination. I especially like the burgundy with white rather than black as was so common. If that is original white leather on the driver’s seat, it would definitely seem to attest to the low mileage claim. It seems the seller should get a little work done to get it running. I don’t see a lot of buyers throwing out 17K for something that they don’t know if it even runs.

    Like 3
  10. Bob Mck

    I truly love this car. But the price may be aggressive since it doesn’t run and all of the systems will need to be replaced after sitting so long. I would love to buy it, if it were priced right. Once refurbished, it will bring the asking price.

    Like 3
  11. NJ Driver 54

    Growing up we had a black & saddle top & interior Mark III. It was not only a beautiful looking car it rode like a dream. Very comfortable & quiet. Gas mileage was lousy but back then the price of gas was under a dollar. The above is a beautiful example of one .

    Like 2
  12. Terrry

    Just as the Mustang was built on the Falcon, so was the Mark III built on the Thunderbird, and both the Mustang and Lincoln were smashing sale successes. As for this car, I’d like to know exactly why it doesn’t run before I pay that kind of price.

    Like 6
    • NJ Driver 54

      Since it has been parked and not driven since 1983 which is 38 years the gas tank is empty and has sludge on the bottom of the tank . The gas has evaporated &the oil in the engine has probably turned to sludge. Most likely it needs a full flush out of the gas tank & engine not to memtion the fuel and brake lines. The radiatior has no antifreeze protection having gone flat just sitting there and/or rust has developed due to the same. I wonder about the transmission & if the fluid has not also thickened due to not being driven. The tires may be developing tire rot from the vehicle not being driven for many years

      Like 3
  13. NJ Driver 54

    Since it has been parked and not driven since 1983 which is 38 years the gas tank is empty and has sludge on the bottom of the tank . The gas has evaporated &the oil in the engine has probably turned to sludge. Most likely it needs a full flush out of the gas tank & engine not to memtion the fuel and brake lines. The radiatior has no antifreeze protection having gone flat just sitting there and/or rust has developed due to the same. I wonder about the transmission & if the fluid has not also thickened due to not being driven. The tires may be developing tire rot from the vehicle not being driven for many years

    Like 1
  14. Gerard Frederick

    How is it possible that this beauty does not run? With the low mileage claimed something is fishy here, unless a plausible exclamation is offered.

    Like 2
    • Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

      @ Gerard
      I think it’s just that it’s been sitting for 38 years and needs a thorough “going over” before firing up.

      Like 0
    • John S Dressler

      I don’t live far from Raytown. The winters there are cold, sometimes very cold. This is a beautiful car but unless the shed the car was parked in was 24/7 climate controlled you could be looking at a cracked block, which would be a great reason for the car not to be in running condition. If that is the case, old tires and a dry fuel system would be the least of your expenses.

      Like 0
  15. Joe Machado

    Yep, gas is always cheaper than blood.
    Hospital bills, injuries, time off, yep, gas is cheaper.
    List is endless.

    Like 1
  16. John Staley

    HOLY SMOKER BOYS and GIRLS WHOOOWEEEE, is that the gawl darndness most pertyest Mark that you ever did see? MAN-OM-MAN, I thinks shed fit right nice in my garage! Now, whered I put my check book? HEY HONEY!

    Like 1
  17. S

    This is such a beautiful car in a great color combination!
    I dont know why the current owner hasn’t started it though – old gas in the tank? He could bypass that and put fresh gas in a smaller tank and hook it up to the fuel pump. The engine not being run would be my main concern.
    And there’s no way I’d spend $17,000 on this if I can’t hear the engine run, or I can’t test drive it! It will need to be gone through – brakes redone, carb rebuilt, radiator flushed, etc.
    By the way, Raytown, Missouri is where Mama’s Family lived! (starring Vicki Lawrence, etc). The thought of that made me laugh.

    Like 3
  18. John Oliveri

    I live the colors, I love the car, I personally prefer the 70, due to the ignition on the column, but 17 large for a non runner, is a big if, and nothing is cheap here, and miles and miles of Vacumn lines, brake lines, fuel lines and tank, the Fomoco carburetor is gonna be screwed up, fuel pump, and like someone said, it’s gonna need to be brought back gently

    Like 3
  19. Mark

    This car does not run, it’s a $1700 dollar stone.

    Like 2
    • John Oliveri

      Until you’ve attempted one of these cars, that have been in slumber, you really don’t k ow how much pain and money it can be, I purchased a pristine 75 Mark IV from an estate sale,1986, car had 32,000 miles on it, everything Vacumn wise power window motors, brake calipers cooling system, electrical, and the biggie, timing chain went, bent a few valves, oil pump , nightmare!!!

      Like 6
  20. Brad460 Member

    Very well written storyline, Adam. Your writing style and substance has really gotten quite good.

    Like 1
  21. Sam Shive

    Pull the plugs, Put some Marvel Mystery Oil in the cylinders wait 24 hours and put a 3/4 socket on the crank pully and Push/ Pull That will tell you if she’s froze up. Beautiful Car, BUT $17,000 is the owners dream price, CASH MONEY always talks. Take the 1 away and start at the 7. Spend about 3 ( If she’s not froze up) and you’ll have a sweet ride.

    Like 4
  22. Stevieg

    Beautiful car, but way overpriced as a non-runner.
    Sorry Adam, I come to your defense a lot, but this time I gotta say something. No where in the ad did he say he tested the power windows, like you said in your write up. They are vacuum operated. After being parked so long, there is no way the windows work. I had one that ran & drove, and the windows didn’t work due to a vacuum nightmare!
    Beautiful car though. I’d love to own one again, if I could find one with full electric windows.

    Like 0
    • Jim Smith

      Interesting, my 69 T-Bird had electric windows, not vacuum. I don’t remember the windows in my Mark. The T-Bird definitely had vacuum powered wipers, with 7 speeds, and the headlight doors were vacuum powered too. Occasionally one wouldn’t close so it looked like she was winking at you.

      Like 0
  23. Jim Smith

    At different times in the late 70s and early 80s, I owned both a 69 Mark III and a 69 Thunderbird. The Mark was definitely heavier, and despite the bigger engine, it felt slower than the Thunderbird, which sported a 429 Thunderjet. The T-Bird felt sportier, the Mark more like your typical luxury car. I loved both of them equally in their time. But of all the luxury cars I owned, my 70 Deville convertible was my favorite, because it was a drop top. Each winter I suffered through, just waiting for that first warm sunny spring day when I could once again go cruising.

    Like 2

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