1969 Lincoln Continental: Pure Class

1969 was the final year for the classic ’60s Continental. Only gradual changes had been made to the car since its 1961 debut, and the center-opening doors lasted nine model years, before giving way to a larger, all-new Continental for 1970. So many cars changed drastically between 1961 and 1969, style-wise, but not the Continental. Even in its last year, it was smooth, elegant and impressive.

“Lincoln Continental: America’s Most Distinguished Sedan,” extolled the 1969 brochure. The sedan differed from its 1968 predecessor with a new checkerboard-style grill with a raised center section, mildly updated taillights, and a few other minor refinements. The convertible, of course, was absent, having left the model lineup after 1967.

But the coupe remained as a companion to the four-door and its new brother, the 1969 Continental Mark III personal luxury coupe. Both the sedan and non-Mark coupe rode a 126″ wheelbase, and 224.2″ overall length.

Yes, the Continentals pretty much just marked time this year. Of course the big news was the Continental Mark III, Lee Iacocca’s baby, with its hidden headlamps, Rolls-Royce grille, and baroque, button tufted luxury interior. 30,858 Marks were made; though that included the Mark IIIs built from April to September 1968. Like the 1965 Mustang, there was no “1/2” year. All first-year Mustangs were ’65s, and all first-year Mark IIIs were ’69s, and never mind what car show know-it-alls may tell you, ha ha.

The sedan, with its oh-so-distinctive doors, sold 29,351, while the non-Mark Continental coupe sold 9,032. This would become a trend, with the non-Mark coupe finding relatively few buyers, now that it was competing with the Mark III, and later Mark IV.

While all 1969 Continentals were initially equipped with the 462 cubic inch engine, but around January of 1968, the new corporate 460 CID V8, with a healthy 365 hp at 4600 rpm, replaced it. It breathed through an Autolite four-barrel carburetor.

Yes, 1969 Connies were not drastically different from 1966-68 models, but one new option that debuted would have some serious legs: The Town Car option. It was basically a super deluxe interior trim option. As the brochure stated, the option package included “leather-and-vinyl seats and door panels…special napped-nylon headlining, extra plush carpeting, and color-keyed instrument panel trim.”

And since this was 1969 and not 2019, it was offered in several colors: navy blue, white, black, light gold and dark gold. A shame red or burgundy wasn’t offered, in your author’s opinion…

However, the standard Continental interior was nothing to sneeze at. In fact, with its stitching and button-tufted Broughaminess, it seems fancier to your author than the extra-cost Town Car interior. Well, to each their own!

But of course it was a Lincoln, not a Fairlane, Galaxie 500 or even a Mercury Marquis. Strictly first-cabin. And as with cross-town rival Cadillac, a long list of standard equipment was featured. After all, it was a luxury car, Ford’s finest.

Said standard equipment included the aforementioned 365-hp 460 V8, Select-Shift automatic transmission, automatic parking brake release, power steering, power brakes (front disc, rear drum), power windows, power two-way seat, and variable-speed wipers.

Optional extras were many, as was expected from the domestic manufacturers at the time. And befitting its status in the lineup, and its snob appeal at the country club, I’m sure many Continentals were loaded.

Just a partial option listing included the Town Car interior, manual A/C, automatic temperature control, AM/FM signal-seeking stereo radio, tilt wheel, leather interior, vinyl roof (available in black, white or dark ivy gold), cruise control, and a six-way power seat. Twenty-two, exterior colors were offered, fourteen of them metallics.

I spotted this 1969 model in one of the Facebook groups I favor. Unfortunately, only a couple pictures were posted.

However, I managed to find the original ad, with even more shots of this most excellent, gorgeous example. Sadly, it had long since been sold.

But I still wanted to write it up. The black paint, black top and white leather interior was striking. I’ve always liked that combo, ever since my grandparents had a ’77 Thunderbird in black with a white bucket seat interior and red trim. That car made a very big impression on me in my youth.

It was the end of an era. The Seventies were rapidly advancing, and an all-new 1970 Lincoln would be even bigger, more powerful and massive than the 1961-69 Connies. It would also be body-on-frame, making the 1969 models the final unit-bodied Lincolns for quite some time. The 1970s would also be just a little bit more Mercury-Marquis-like, with their conventionally front-hinged rear doors.

Studies at the time showed that while Lincoln owners could take or leave the center-opening doors, Cadillac owners did not like them. So to try to make some Cadillac conquest sales, the ’70 would have conventionally-opening rear doors. But like a starving man at a buffet, I like all these Lincolns!

For even more pictures, you can check out the listing here, on ClassicCars.com. At the risk of repeating myself, I really love this color combination! It’s not common to see cars in black with a white interior, but I’ve always found it striking.

8 Replies to “1969 Lincoln Continental: Pure Class”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    The unit Lincolns had started on a shorter wheelbase. Given how import fans claim to like them better it might have been interesting to continue the smaller unit body alongside when the bigger BOF Lincolns came back. The units selling at a higher price perhaps with a Cleveland 351 and swing axles and rear discs at the back. A better Versailles? or just proof that whatever import buyers say they want, they don’t want it from Detroit.

    Reply
  2. AvatarTony LaHood

    My dad bought a 1969 Lincoln Continental coupe (my mother never forgave him for not buying something with four doors) in dark gray metallic. It was the most beautiful car ever. Regrettably, it was also the most trouble-prone. Everything went wrong with that car. It was traded for another classically beautiful, a 1971 Buick Electra (with four doors this time), which was flawless throughout our years of ownership.

    To the point, these were the last truly elegant and beautiful Lincolns–big cars, but with a lightness and grace that belied their dimensions–and they remain the very definition of simple and understated elegance. The bloated, cumbersome 1970 models had all the beauty of an angler fish and handled about as well. If only the 1969 Continentals build quality had matched their beauty.

    Reply
  3. AvatarGlenn Kramer

    I owned a close copy of this car (black with red leather) from ’72-’75. It was a wonderful long distance traveler. I drove all over the south on business and the Continental was the best for covering long distances quickly. Despite the great cars I’ve owned since, this still holds my personal record for point-to-point speed, namely north Atlanta to my home in north Baltimore averaging 80.00 MPH. This included two gas stops. There was no drama, just holding about 85-87, which was not far over the interstate norm back then. A really elegant auto.

    Reply
  4. Avatarstingray65

    Put in a drivetrain from a new F-150 or Mustang to replace the 10 mpg (on a good day) 460 and you would have a elegant looking sleeper restomod.

    Reply
  5. AvatarJustPassinThru

    The end of an era. Lincolns of the 1961-69 vintage always stood out – the slab-side blade styling that stayed with it the whole run. The wipers hinged the reverse of what every other American car was doing – and hydraulic, no less. The suicide rear doors.

    And, from what I read, it was Lido’s doing that it all went away. No reasons were given; it’s just that Lido, the badge-engineering maestro, didn’t have any emotional connection to Lincoln AS Lincoln. Just as he saw nothing blasphemous of taking an old Torino shell, and giving it the Bird in 1978.

    But this one. Unit body, which had no real advantage in use, but for the engineering geeks, offered exclusivity. Those doors. It was a singular, low-volume chassis, and made to BE a luxury conveyance. And it was.

    A sort of Peak Lincoln.

    FWIW, I didn’t know they’d gone to “pillared” hardtops with that final year. I always thought it was unfortunate that they hadn’t gone the opposite way: Explore the sort of b-pillarless, b-post-less four-doors, the way some club-cab trucks and Honda Elements were built. Sure, you’d have to open the front door to access the rear…but how many of these were chauffeur driven? That market went with Cadillac. The clean look, the wide access to the rear, could have been a heavy advantage. Of course it would have required stiffening the roof structure, and perhaps technology wasn’t ready. Or cost wasn’t justified – this was the era where Ed Lundy and his phalanx of bean-counters ruled Ford.

    Reply
    • AvatarCarmine

      Lincoln already made a pillarless version of this car, the convertible, but for some reason, even through there is McNamara parts sharing and cost cutting associated with these and the Thunderbird, the thought of making a pilllarless sedan never came to them, but it was possible, since they already had the engineering done, I would have imagined making the sedan a hardtop would have allowed them to share more cost between it and the convertible.

      The pillarless center opening doors on the 1957-1958 Eldorado Brougham can be opened independently of each other and they practically don’t have a B-pillar at all.

      Reply
  6. AvatarMichael

    I was 20 years old in 1976 when I bought my first Lincoln. It was a very early 69′ Mark III that was built in April of 68′. It was Yellow with a black top and interior. You could always tell the early Mark III’s from the later ones. They didn’t have the adjustable headrests on the front seats.

    I bought it from my Uncle for $4,500. It only had 12,000 miles on it and still looked like it just came off the showroom floor. He had just installed a set of Michelin radials on it which made the car ride and handle so much better. I remember, me and a couple of buddies took off for Vegas for the weekend to celebrate my 21st birthday.

    Here we were, blasting down Interstate 15 at close to 100 mph and the car was dead silent except for the wind rushing past the windows. Can you imagine pulling up to the front of the Sands Hotel in the middle of the night and having three ‘kids’ get out of this incredible car. We paid to have it valet park it. When we came down the next morning to go to breakfast, they had it parked right out front next to a brand new Mercedes SL 450 two seater and a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. They had even washed it for me, which I tipped the guy twenty bucks! Mr. High Roller. Ha, ha, ha.

    I owned it for several years until I sold it and bought, again from my Uncle his 69′ Shelby GT500 fastback. It never gave me a lick of trouble other than oil changes and tune ups. That 460 was an amazing motor.

    Reply

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