1956 Lincoln Continental MkII Coupe

1956 Lincoln Continental MkII Coupe

The Continental Mark II was the elite automobile of the 1950s’ rich and famous: Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Louie Prima, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Spike Jones, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry J. Kaiser, Howard Johnson, the Shah of Iran, and many other celebrities owned them.

The Mark II wasn’t made by Lincoln, but by the short-lived Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company. Its general manager was William Clay ‘Bill’ Ford, son of Edsel Ford and grandson of Henry Ford.

Fact: there never was a model designated as a Lincoln or Continental Mark I.

The Mark II’s sticker price was $10,400, twice the price of the 1956 Lincoln. Much of the car was assembled by hand and Ford claimed it lost $1,000 on each Mark II it sold. The unprofitable Mark II and the Continental Division were discontinued after Ford went public in 1956, even though these cars brought people into showrooms to buy other Ford products.

Ford originally planned to build about 2,000 Mark IIs a year for five years. 2,550 Mark IIs were built during the 1956 model year (June 1955 through September 1956) and 446 (including 2 convertibles) during the 1957 model y ear (October 1956 through May 1957) for a total of 2,996 Mark IIs. About 1,500 Mark IIs are still in existence. (About half are roadworthy) Their current market value ranges from $15,000 to $100,000, depending on condition. (Although some have sold in the low-to-mid $100s).

Henry Leland started Cadillac Motor Cars from the remnants of a failed Henry Ford startup. And in 1917 he founded Lincoln but it soon went bankrupt. Ford, who no doubt remembered Leland’s boardroom putsch two decades earlier, bought Lincoln. Ford longed for the prestige that accompanied the true luxury marque. So, in 1956 the uber up-market Continental Division was created. It aspired to personify American luxury; to recapture the spirit of the great prewar classics, to be in effect, an American Rolls-Royce. With great expectations, the dashing Mark II two-door coupe debuted at the 1955 Paris Motor Show. Chrome was popular at the time but the designers had opted instead for understated European-influenced simplicity. Virtually hand-built, it basked in multiple coats of hand-sanded paint, double-lacquered and polished to perfection.

Powered by Lincoln’s new 368 CID Y-block V-8, the engine was meticulously assembled. It had a tachometer and power steering and brakes. The interior was of the very best imported Scottish leather and air conditioning was the only option. At $10,000, comparable to a Rolls-Royce, it was definitely up-market but Ford still lost $1,000 per car. While the car was elegant, the marketing was muddled. Continentals were sold by Lincoln dealers and had Lincoln powertrains. Customers had trouble differentiating the two. And just 3,000 sales later, the Continental marque was gone.

With only 29,000 miles, the original owner enjoyed this car for nearly five decades. When the current owner bought it, he began an exhaustive six year restoration. All but the near-perfect interior was redone.

With restrained, modern styling and built wîth the finest materials available, the long, low continental MK IIs had a commanding presence of authoritative elegance as the most exclusive car on the market. Everyone of significance owned one from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra to D.W. Eisenhower to Nelson Rockefeller. And, yes, you did need to be a Rockefeller to afford one wîth a price of $10,000 when new – five times the price of an average Ford and half the cost of the average home in 1956. Even at this stupefying price, Fomoco claimed to have lost $1000 on every MK II they sold, and only two years of production could be sustained for the Continental bank.

Said to be one of the most expensive production car of its time, the Continental was introduced to displace Cadillac and Rolls-Royce as America’s most sought after luxury car. Although a classically beautiful automobile, production ceased after only two years. The cars were equipped with power everything, including vent windows and air conditioning. This car has done 100,000 miles and is often driven to shows.

Generally regarded as the last car built in America without regard to cost, the Mark II was intended to be the ‘American Rolls Royce.’ Even with a factory list price of $10,000, it was said that Ford still lost $1,000 per car.

Much anticipated as the successor to the original Lincoln Continental of 1940-42 and 1946-48, the new version would remain a very exclusive car. Just over 3,000 were produced, as 1956 and 1957 models. – Source: conceptcarz.com

56 Lincoln-Continental MkII Coupe