Royal Oak resident Markku Jaakkola, orginally from Finland, purchased his 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III as a graduation present to himself after finishing school in the U.S. He was inspired by an Elvis movie in which the “King” drives a 1969 version of the car.

Royal Oak resident Markku Jaakkola, orginally from Finland, purchased his 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III as a graduation present to himself after finishing school in the U.S. He was inspired by an Elvis movie in which the “King” drives a 1969 version of the car.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Behind the Wheel: A car fit for the ‘King’

By: Jennifer Sigouin | C&G Newspapers | Published August 29, 2019

Photo by Deb Jacques

Photo by Deb Jacques

Photo by Deb Jacques

As a child, Markku Jaakkola, who grew up in Finland, would cut out his favorite photos from classic car magazines and paste them into a scrapbook — and that love of cars continued to grow as he reached his teen years. 

“(The) turning point was when I was 13 years old and bought a Finnish magazine called ‘V8-Magazine’” he said in an email interview. “Then it really started to get more serious, and after that, I knew what I want to do when I grow up.”

Jaakkola followed his passion and traveled to the United States in 2012 to finish school and eventually work in the auto industry. Now, he’s a Royal Oak resident and works as an engineering cost estimator for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. But in order to make the move to America possible, he had to sell most of his belongings in Finland, including a few classic American cars. 

Once Jaakkola finished school in the U.S., however, he decided to buy a classic car as a graduation gift to himself. His inspiration didn’t come from his childhood magazines, though. Instead, it came from a 1970 Elvis Presley documentary, “That’s the Way It Is,” in which the “King of Rock ’n’ Roll” can be seen driving a 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III. 

“I always thought it was the coolest Lincoln I ever had seen,” Jaakkola said. 

After searching online for a few months, he found his 1970 Mark III in South Carolina through an ad on Craigslist. Jaakkola and a friend took a road trip south to check out the car, and although it wasn’t perfect, it was the best one he had looked at, with a price to match. Jaakkola bought the car and drove it back to Michigan, which turned out to be a bit more than his new ride could handle.

“Once we pulled off on the last exit, the engine died and didn’t want to run anymore. Luckily, we made it home,” he said. 

The Mark III had been in storage for a few years prior to Jaakkola purchasing it, so it was in need of some maintenance. 

“There’s a saying that ‘cars like to be driven,’” Jaakkola said. “If a car sits a long time, it will need a lot of work.”

Jaakkola started by rebuilding the brakes; replacing the water pump; rebuilding the front suspension, transmission and steering system; and replacing the carburetor. He also replaced the interior, which was “in rough shape,” using matching elements from a “parts car” he found in Clawson. 

“After that, it’s been running great,” he said. “I like the smooth ride of the old Lincoln. It’s almost like floating on a cloud — it’s quiet, and steering is really light. (The) build quality is also great: When you close (the) doors or trunk, you can just hear a quiet ‘click,’ instead of slamming the doors shut.”

Jaakkola added that even though his Mark III is more of a “nice summer driver” than a show car, it has gotten some attention recently, as it was invited to the Ford Product Development Center Employee Car Show this year. 

“They wanted to show some ‘industry firsts,’” he said. “Mark III had a SureTrack braking system, which is the first computer-controlled anti-locking brake system. The large ‘luxury coupe’ was also a brainchild of Lee Iacocca — one of the great automotive leaders of our time — who passed away earlier this year. So they wanted to pay respect to him as well.”


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Do you own a vehicle that has an interesting history? Contact Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin at jsigouin@candgnews.com or at (586) 498-1052, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of Behind the Wheel.