No Vinyl

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For some collectors, it might be easy to spot what’s special about Scott and Sandy Edelstein’s 1969 Continental Mark III. However, it wasn’t immediately apparent to the owners when they first came across it while perusing an online auction site. “It popped up, and you could just tell there was something unusual about it in the first couple of pictures,” says Sandy.

That “something unusual” is a feature they came to appreciate as one exceedingly difficult to find. This Mark III has a hardtop roof, rather than a vinyl one. And amidst a sea of popular colors for the time—black, white, brown and green—the car also stands out with its equally unique medium aqua metallic paint. The combination of the two makes this car a true one of a kind: one of just a handful of this model ever produced without a vinyl top, and possibly the only hardtop version in this shade of blue.

The couple wasn’t aware of just how rare the car was until they attended their first Continental Owners’ Club meeting, where the reactions from other attendees explained it all. “We pulled in, and as we drove by, everybody just stopped what they were doing and followed the car,” says Sandy. “People came running.”

After that first meeting, curiosity piqued, the Edelsteins had to find out everything they could about their Mark III’s history.

Scott and Sandy’s research has been thorough. They have gathered extensive documentation of the car’s authenticity, and even went so far as to meet with the original owner, who personally requested the hardtop in place of the ordinary vinyl. “There’s just a handful of people we’ve ever met that have ever owned or seen another one,” Scott says.

When you put the car next to its predecessor, the Mark II, you can see the DNA, Scott says. “The designer’s vision evolved from the Mark II into the Mark III without the vinyl roof. With the vinyl roof, it kind of gets obscured.”

As remarkable as this Mark III is to collectors who know its rich history, the car has a particular value to Scott and Sandy, who have found ways to integrate it into other aspects of their lives.

Coincidentally, their long-and-low mid-century home was also built in 1969, and the Mark III looks natural sitting out front. “The aqua color is one that we’ve used as an accent throughout the house,” says Sandy. “The front doors are painted this color, the fireplace is painted this color…”

After nearly half a century, the Mark III has developed a “fine patina,” as Scott and Sandy refer to it. It is in near-mint condition, but not quite flawless— a quality Scott and Sandy embrace. The couple appreciates character they say stems from the car’s minor imperfections.

“It’s always nice to have a car that’s beautiful and perfect, but the more perfect the car is, the less likely you are to drive it — and driving the car is what’s most important, really,” says Scott.

And drive they have. The Mark III has carried them all over Southern California, to San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles, San Diego and Irvine, and beyond.

“And you know, we drive it around town every now and then,” laughs Sandy.

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