- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2000

If you want my 1970 Lincoln Mark III it'll cost you 69 cents a pound, the owner told Carter Wagoner.

"How much does that amount to?", asked Mr. Wagoner.

Upon hearing the owner's response was "$3,000" Mr. Wagoner eagerly said "sold." That's how he came to own the medium aqua metallic Lincoln with a black cavalry twill top.

Only later did he discover that he got a bargain because the price of the 4,675-pound car was closer to 65 cents a pound.

As far back as Mr. Wagoner can remember his family has driven Lincolns. His father, Loy Addison Wagoner, had a Mark III that was the family daily driver in the late 1970s. A second Lincoln served as a backup.

In 1980 Mr. Wagoner was a business major at George Mason University and even then his friends knew of his predilection for Lincolns.

One day a fellow student, working part time at an auto-parts store served a customer looking for wiper blades for a Lincoln Mark III. The clerk, telling the customer about Mr. Wagoner who had two cars like hers, wondered if she would like to talk to him about the cars. Receiving an affirmative response, a meeting was arranged.

There Mr. Wagoner met the owner of the car that had been driven just 23,000 miles in 10 years. The owner was the daughter of the original owner who had purchased the Lincoln new at Wyatt Lincoln/ Mercury in Cleveland.

It came equipped with standard equipment including:

• Vinyl roof.

• Sure Track.

• Power seat.

• Power windows.

• Cartier clock.

• Power steering.

• 460-cubic-inch V-8.

• Power front disc brakes.

• Flow-through ventilation.

• Select-Shift transmission.

The Thunderbird-based Lincoln rides on a 117.2-inch wheelbase providing the driver with a view over the engine hood, which exceeds six feet in length. A LONG hood is required to cover 365 horsepower.

To a base price of $7,281 were added the following optional extras:

• Temperature control..$523.30.

• AM/FM stereo……………301.70.

• Six-way power seats…..179.70.

• Leather/vinyl interior..164.00.

• Tinted glass………………….52.50.

• Remote deck release…….40.70.

• White sidewall tires……..40.70.

• Rear-window defogger…26.30.

After her father died, she inherited the incredibly pristine, low-mileage Lincoln. At the time she and her husband said the car would never be sold.

However, soon thereafter Mr. Wagoner received a telephone call from the "never sell" owners saying they had been transferred to San Diego.

Would he be interested in buying the car at 69 cents a pound?

Mr. Wagoner quickly convinced his father, the man with the money, that this would be a good move.

Quickly selling the family daily driver Lincoln, the treasured new/ old Lincoln was brought home and nestled in the garage beneath a protective car cover where it languished for a few years.

A couple of years after Mr. Wagoner's graduation in 1983, his father tossed the keys to him. "Here," he said, "It's yours."

Since then Mr. Wagoner, cognizant of the value of his low-mileage treasure, has kept his 18-foot, 10-inch-long Lincoln safe and secure in a remote facility in West Virginia.

As busy owners of Advent Funeral and Cremation Services in Falls Church and Annapolis, Mr. Wagoner and his wife, Melanie, must find time to exercise their Lincoln with the long black pinstriping along each side.

Peering through the three-spoke steering wheel the driver is confronted by no less than five squarish instrument pods. From the left the first pod offers information about the oil pressure and fuel level. Next comes the speedometer pod followed by the clock pod. The fourth pod offers data about the alternator and coolant temperature, while the fifth pod monitors the wiper and washer fluid level.

The wipers are hydraulically operated, Mr. Wagoner explains, and all the instruments are mounted in the authentic walnut-trimmed dashboard.

Four warning lights are centrally located in the cockpit to alert the driver, from the left, that:

• Seat belts aren't buckled.

• Door is ajar.

• Headlamps are on.

• Trunk is open.

In 1999 Mr. Wagoner drove his vehicle to a Lincoln-owner's event in Newport, R.I., a trip just shy of 500 miles, after which it was unexpectedly but happily trailered home by a friend going that way with an otherwise empty trailer. That lift saved 500 miles on the Lincoln.

Whenever the luxurious car is in motion, the interior is library-silent compliments of the 150 pounds of sound-deadening insulation.

Of the 21,432 Mark III Lincolns manufactured in 1970, Mr. Wagoner's Lincoln must rank among those with the least amount of mileage. His car is just now approaching the 35,000-mile mark.

On any car, antique or new, it is the little things that either make owning the vehicle a joy or something less than joyful.

Mr. Wagoner delights in the fact his Lincoln, built in a tobacco-permeated era, is built to reflect that fact. "Every occupant of the Mark III," he said, "has his own ashtray and lighter."

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