1970 was a big year for Lincoln-Mercury. The Continental Mark III was a sales success, the recently refreshed Marquis/Monterey were strong sellers, the final performance Cougars, namely the 1970 Eliminator and XR7, went on sale, and there was a new Continental. Yes, the 1961 Continental had single-handedly saved the marque from oblivion, and its clean, classic lines and throwback center-opening doors made it an icon of the 1960s.
And the look was deftly maintained throughout the decade. These new Sixties Continentals looked nothing like prior Lincolns, and especially unlike the enormous 1958-60 models. Sounds a lot like 2017, when the new Continental appeared, doesn’t it? But I digress.
Updates in 1964 and 1966 enlarged the Connie and reverted to flat glass for more interior room, but the overall classic look remained. But by 1969, the Continental was getting a little long in the tooth, and new designs from Cadillac in 1967 and Imperial in 1969 were beginning to make the Lincoln look a bit behind the times. It was time for something new.
The 1970 Lincoln Continental really was all new. True, the 460 CID V8 and Select-Shift automatic transmission carried over, but other than that, not much else did. And it was a really good looking luxury car in 1970. Right with the times. With all the early ’70s expected luxury car features: hidden headlamps, concealed windshield wipes, smooth flanks and fender skirts.
Models were limited, as in 1968-69, to a four-door pillared sedan and a two-door pillarless coupe. Cadillac had an impressive lineup, with multiple models and even a factory-built limousine, but not Lincoln. There were but three models: the Continental Mark III, Lincoln Continental sedan and Lincoln Continental Coupe’.
The two-door Lincoln had briefly disappeared from 1961-65, but returned for the 1966 model year. Although once the Continental Mark III appeared as a very early 1969 model, the two door Lincoln Continental became much less popular.
Of course, the big news to many Lincoln owners was the conventionally-hinged rear doors on the sedan. Ye gods! No more center-opening doors! So, why did Ford remove what was becoming a Lincoln trademark?
According to reports at the time of the ’70 debut, many Lincoln owners could either take them or leave them, but surveys indicated that Cadillac owners didn’t like them. So Lincoln abandoned the feature, in hopes of convincing Cadillac owners into a Continental instead of a Sedan de Ville.
A prominent new feature was hidden headlamps. The Mercury Marquis actually got them before the Lincoln, for the 1969 model year. Concealed beneath a full-width and very Cord-like grille, they made for a very smooth nose. The 460 V8 came with four-barrel carburetion, 365 horsepower at 4600 rpm, and 500 ft-lb. of torque. Premium fuel was required. Most likely a non-issue for the well-heeled folks who bought these new.
A 1970 Continental Coupe’ (yes, the official Lincoln literature put the accent on the ‘e’ of ‘coupe’) started at $5,976. Both the Continental sedan and the Coupe’ rode a 127-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 225 inches. Curb weight was a not inconsiderable 4,860 pounds for the two door.
Of course, being a Lincoln, there were many standard features, and almost as many options. Choice was king in 1970! No limited color palette or option packages. Everything was a la carte, so you decided what you had to have and what you didn’t need.
Standard features included the expected power windows, power steering, power brakes (front disc, rear drum), automatic parking brake release, automatic transmission, fender skirts, cornering lamps and a two-way power seat.
Options were many, but some of the more interesting items included Sure-Track, an early form of ABS, automatic headlamp dimmer, automatic temperature control, automatic ride control and the Cross Country ride package. Said package consisted of higher-load springs and heavy-duty shock absorbers. The more expected options of 6-way power seat, various AM/FM stereos and an 8-track player were also on the list.
Being the top of the heap, of course Lincoln didn’t sell near as many cars as Mercury did its Marquis or Ford did LTDs. These weren’t cheap, after all. But the Coupe’ was especially rare to see, as only 9,073 were produced for the 1970 model year.
As previously mentioned, that had a lot to do with the Continental Mark III, which was far more popular for those shopping luxury coupes. 21,432 were built for 1970, despite a much higher price of $7,281-about $1200 more than the Continental Coupe’.
Our featured car today was spotted at the Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, Wisconsin in April 2016 at an LCOC (Lincoln and Continental Owner’s Club) brunch I attended. It is owned by a fellow member and all-around nice guy, John McCarthy, and although I’d previously heard about the car, this was the first time I saw it in the metal.
It was beautiful in Diamond Green, with a dark green vinyl roof (one of five available top colors) and matching dark green leather interior.
He had found it online, in rough but solid shape, and slowly but surely brought it back to presentable condition. Original paint, top and interior too. It wasn’t perfect, but looked very good indeed!
John was nice enough to tell me the history of the car as I was putting this article together. Here is its story:
My 1970 Coupe was originally purchased by Mr. Henry Kroger and delivered through Hempstead Lincoln Mercury of Hempstead NY. Mr. Kroger not only had a residence in the New York city area, but also owned a home in Port Charlotte, Florida as well. Mr. Kroger was a graphic designer and ordered the car specifically, and had it delivered to New Jersey where he lived at the time. He did work for Estee Lauder and Alberto Culver and designed the Head & Shoulders logo. As soon as the car was delivered, it was sent down to Florida where it had spent almost all of its life. A Mr. Robert Oppold, a funeral director who lived in Waterloo IA also had a second home in Florida and lived right next to Mr. Kroger.
After many years of ownership, Mr. Kroger sold the car to his neighbor, Mr. Oppold and was later killed in a plane crash. Once this sad event took place, the car sat for many years in storage, henceforth the extremely low mileage, around 60,000 original miles.
I bought the car from the family that bought the car at Mr. Oppold’s estate auction in 2015. While the car was still very solid, it was terribly filthy and did not start or stop.
I am very proud of the car and think it is not only a rare car, but one of the most beautiful Lincolns of all time. Here are some pictures of the car when I picked it up and they way it looks today.
I parked my Town Car right next to it upon arrival at Lake Lawn Resort. And immediately leaped out of the car to ogle it. It was beautiful! You never see these any more, even at Lincoln club meets they are rare. Later that day, when everyone was about to head home, I followed John out to the car to get a few more pictures. Hey, I really liked this car! It was fantastic to hear it fire up and motor away too. That steady, bass blub-blub-blub-blub was heavenly. Like a road-going Chris-Craft!
This style of Continental coupe would last through 1974. It never sold well compared to the Continental sedan. The Mark III and later Mark IV always stomped it in the coupe sales department. It had its own beauty though, and if you ever have the opportunity to see one at a show, I suggest you spend some time checking it out. You may never see one again!