1956 Continental Mark II news, pictures, specifications, and information

The Continental Mark II Story

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 lon  [Read More...]
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 brank.

Source - Jared Lowell
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  [Read More...]
The Continental Division was created by Ford Motor Company to produce the Mark II and was folded into Lincoln after production ceased in 1957.  [Read More...]
The Continental Mark II was Lincoln's attempt to revive a successful nameplate from the 1940's. Edsel Ford commissioned the original Continental as a styling exercise. Well-received by Ford's circle of friends, the Continental went into production as a Lincoln in 1941. The Mark II shared the original's long hood/short deck proportions and its high per unit building cost. Much of the car was literally hand crafted. Priced far above its Cadillac competition, Lincoln ceased production of the dramatically styled coupe after only 2500 had been built.

Source - AACA Museum
Chassis Num: C5602845
Sold for $44,000 at 2007 Gooding & Company.
The Mark II Continental carried a price tag of nearly $10,000 which made it one of the most expensive road-going production vehicles of the time, and very exclusive. Accompanying the Mark II was an assortment of options including Scottish leather an  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2008
Chassis Num: C56C2466
Sold for $49,500 at 2016 Bonhams.
After an 8 year hiatus, the much awaited replacement of the original classic Continental, was hailed as a design success at introduction in 1956. By this time Ford had created a separate Continental Division to better address their luxury car aspira  [Read More...]

The Continental in 1956

Ford Motor Company's 1956 Continental MKII had two missions: to recapture the magic of the original Continental and to displace Cadillac as North America's most sought-after luxury car (even at a financial loss). In an era of excess, chrome trim was used sparingly, and no two-tone paint jobs were available. The fuel filler cap was concealed behind the left taillight, a la Cadillac. Extensive preparation and car went into body finishing, as panels were painted and hand-sanded several times, then two coats of lacquer were applied. Chrome plating was used extensively, not for appearance, but to protect such areas as the door end panels and doorjambs.

Even though it said to be the most expensive production car of its time, about 1,300 Continentals were sold during the last quarter of 1955, many to celebrities such as politician Barry Goldwater, actor Frank Sinatra and the Shah of Iran. But after strong initial sales, the popularity of this Continental began to dwindle. Only about another 1,300 were built during all of 1956, and only 450 in 1957, when production ceased.

In spite of its lack of market success, the Continental MK II is a beautiful example of classic elegance married to modern engineering. It was a valiant attempt to recapture the spirit of the great cars of the '30s, but unfortunately for Ford, that era had passed.

This Car
This stunning black MK II has the easily recognizable understated egg-crate grille, and the long-hood/short-deck motif of cars of the era. Horizontal fender lines sweep back to a point just ahead of the rear wheels, and then kick up slightly before continuing to the taillights. Lincoln's new-for-1956 6-liter V-8 is fitted to the standard equipment 3-speed automatic transmission. (posted on conceptcarz.com)

The Continental is quietly elegant inside. When the leather upholstery was ordered, it was from Bridge of Weir in Scotland; and the brushed-finished instrument panel holds four round gauges of equal size, including a tachometer.

Source - Gooding & Company
Chassis Num: C56G3181
Sold for $72,600 at 2009 RM Sothebys.
Sold for $62,700 at 2010 RM Sothebys.
Much of the Continental Mark II assembly was done by hand which meant it had a slow-moving production line. It was very expensive and as such, volume was low and it was not a major moneymaker for Ford. It was, however, their flagship vehicle and se  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2008
Chassis Num: C56A1771
Sold for $24,200 at 2005 RM Sothebys.
Sold for $35,200 at 2009 RM Sothebys.
Near the close of the 1990s, this car was given a cosmetic restoration and a re-paint in its original rich, dark metallic blue. The current owner acquired the car in 2005 and since than has been given new carpeting, a new steering box, new brakes, a  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009
The introduction of the Continental Mark II marked the return of a timeless classic originally designed by E.T. 'Bob' Gregorie and Edsel Ford in 1940. With its elegant design and understated beauty, the Mark II reminded the world of just how beautif  [Read More...]
Chassis Num: C56A1762
Built to the special order of Henry Ford II for his wife, C56A1762 was delivered at the factory on November 21, 1955. Unique to D.S.O. #56C-37 were the special combination of interior trim choices and the one-off black canvas top over metal. All powe  [Read More...]
Chassis Num: C56I 3278
Built to the special order of Benson Ford, head of the Lincoln-Mercury Division, C56I 3278 is a late 1956 model invoiced August 29, 1956. He chose 'Green Lucite Metallic' finish and a special combination of interior colors and materials. While it has  [Read More...]
The first Lincoln was built by the Leland brothers but by 1922 the Ford Motor Company had taken over, with Edsel Ford at the helm looking to produce stylish new vehicles. He sought out the finest coachbuilders of the era and by 1930 Lincoln had estab  [Read More...]
The Continental Mark II was only built for 2 years in 1956 and 1957. They were hand built and were to be Ford Motor Company's premier car of the time. Mark II's are not a 'Lincoln' since a separate 'Continental Division' was created to be above Linco  [Read More...]
The Lincoln Continental Mark II was known as 'America's Most Expensive Car' and required twice as many man hours to produce as a standard Lincoln. It was the most expensive motorcar in America, since the Duesenberg, and cost $2,000 more than the most  [Read More...]
Chassis Num: C56C2255
Sold for $44,000 at 2013 RM Sothebys.
Sold for $60,500 at 2015 RM Sothebys.
This Continental is presented in Starmist White with Deep Red and White upholstery. It wears an older, high quality restoration with the odometer showing 59,660 miles. It has all of its original brightwork, with the exception of NOS lettering and a h  [Read More...]
This vehicle was special ordered and built for Josephine Ford, Henry Ford's only granddaughter and largest shareholder in the Ford Motor Company.  [Read More...]
The original Continental was a one-off designed by Bob Gregorie for Edsel Ford, based on the existing Lincoln Zephyr chassis. Gregorie moved the driver's seat back, elongated the hood and front fenders, lowered the roof, and sectioned and lowered the  [Read More...]
Chassis Num: C56E2989
Sold for $112,500 at 2013 Russo & Steele.
Sold for $247,500 at 2015 RM Sothebys.
The Continental Mark II of the 1950s was elegant, bold, and a departure from what the American market was accustomed to from a luxury car. It had Space Age-inspired styling elements, chrome, two-tone paint schemes, and elegant proportions. In the bac  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2015
Chassis Num: C56C2516
Sold for $69,300 at 2008 Russo & Steele.
Sold for $192,500 at 2017 Gooding & Company.
In 1955, when Ford brought the Continental back into the Lincoln range after a seven-year absence, the car caused a sensation when it was premiered at the Paris Auto Salon. The Continental Mark II Hardtop Coupe was created by Gordon Buehrig, William   [Read More...]
When Continental introduced the Mark II model in October of 1955, it was so well equipped that the only option offered was air conditioning, bringing the cost to $10,681.00. It was the most expensive American car. Weighing 5,190 lbs with A/C, its 285  [Read More...]
Chassis Num: C56 01637
Sold for $28,600 at 2016 Bonhams.
Sold for $49,500 at 2017 Bonhams.
This MK II Coupe was originally supplied to A.J. Weiland, a Vice President of the Ford Motor Company International Division, based in Englewood, New Jersey. It left the factory painted in black paint with a two-tone grey leather interior. It was purc  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2017
Chassis Num: C56P3557
Sold for $68,750 at 2017 Gooding & Company.
High bid of $90,000 at 2017 Mecum. (did not sell)
This Continental Mark II was shipped to Wright Lincoln Mercury in San Diego, California, on January 8, 1957, finished in light blue with a blue and white leather interior. The car was optioned with tinted glass, air-conditioning, and a padded dash.   [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2017
The name 'Continental' was inspired by the 1940's Lincoln Continental powered by a large 12-cylinder engine. Bentley had used the name Continental on their model line, adding to the ambiance and prestige. In 1956 the Ford Motor Company formed the Continental Division for the production of the Mark II. Its general manager was William Clay 'Bill' Ford, son of Edsel Ford and grandson of Henry Ford. Many people associated the Continental as a Lincoln because it featured the trademark Lincoln spare-tire hump in the trunk lid and it was sold and serviced at Lincoln dealerships. Many of the mechanical components were courtesy of Lincoln such as the drivetrain. The Continental Division lasted until 1957 when it was merged with Lincoln and the Continental Mark II was added as Lincoln's flagship model. The name 'Continental' would stay with the Mark line until the introduction of the Mark VII in 1984.

There never was a model designated as a Lincoln or Continental Mark I.

The Continental Mark II had an understated beauty; it was elegant without the need to be flamboyant. Unlike the flashy American style of the time, it was very tasteful in its design. It did not use chrome, two-tone paint, or sharp styling cues to accentuate its beauty. At the front was an egg-crate style grille and straight fenders. The hood was long and curvy, perfect for concealing the 6-liter engine. Mounted on the hood and in the back was the four-pointed star that later became Lincoln's emblem. The Lincoln 368 cubic-inch V8 was matted to a Lincoln three-speed automatic transmission. The back had the signature Lincoln spare-tire hidden in the trunk lid. Though sharing many similarities with the Thunderbird, these were completely different machines. The Continentals were mostly hand made; the paint was applied multiple times and then sanded, double-lacquered, and polished.

These rolling works of art were very costly. The $10,000 sticker price was equivalent to a Rolls-Royce. Top-of-the-line American luxury brands, such as Cadillac, were selling for around $5000. Even at these high prices, Ford still lost an estimated $1,000 per car. At the time Ford was a private company and was willing to incur these losses but when Ford became a public company, losses were not permitted. A stock Mark II was $10,000 in 1956. Derham and Hess & Eisenhardt both estimated a convertible conversion to cost $18,000 to custom build. That's why there were so few Mark II convertibles.

The Continental was sold to the rich and famous. Anyone who could afford the cost was welcome. Famous buyers included 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 Continental Mark II was debuted to the public at the Paris Motor Show in 1955. During the close of 1955, around 1300 Mark II's were sold. For the entire 1956 model year, another 1300 were sold. In 1957, around 450 were produced for a total of just over 3000. Around 1500 still exist in modern time. Only three convertibles were created.

Mark III
The Lincoln Continental Mark III was produced from 1969 through 1971. Actually, in 1958 the Continental Division of Ford tried to produce the Continental Mark III but sales and production never really materialized. The onset of the 1958 recession accelerated the demise of the Continental Division.

The 1969 Mark III was introduced in 1968 as a 1969 Model year. It was positioned to compete with Cadillac's Eldorado. The Mark III was, in many ways, a luxury version of the Ford Thunderbird. The Mark III and Thunderbird shared many mechanical components; their styling was similar and both were built at Ford's Wixom, Michigan plant. The engine was a Ford 429 enlarged to 460 cubic-inches.

In the back was the signature spare-tire bulge, though no spare-tire was housed in this enclosure. The design was rectangular and smooth. It was taller, larger, 300 pounds heavier, more powerful and luxurious than the Thunderbird. Power brakes, steering, windows, headlamps and front seats were all standard. Vinyl with cloth inserts was standard with leather being optional. The door trim panels and instrument panels were either rosewood or oak, depending on the interior color chosen.

The vinyl roof was popular, even though it was optional. Other options included a variety of radios, 8-track tape players, and air conditioning. Both front seats were power adjustable, but for an additional cost additional power adjustments could be installed. An automatic headlamp dimmer could be ordered, meaning that it would dim automatically for oncoming cars. Anti-lock brakes, cruise control, and a limited slip differential were available for an additional cost.

In its introductory year, nearly 31,000 examples were produced. Though the Eldorado had better slightly stronger sales, this was still a very respectable start for a long and successful series.

In 1970, 21,432 examples were sold. The following year, 27,091 were sold. Even though the best year was in 1968, sales had begun in 1968. Meaning that the sales sold in 1968 and 1969 were counted together.

In 1970 the vinyl roof became standard and the windshield wipers were made recessed. The interior trim was now real wood. A locking steering column was introduced. Radial tires were standard equipment.

1971 was the final production year for the Mark III. Tinted glass, SureTrak anti-lock brakes, and automatic climate-controlled air-conditioning became standard.

Mark IV

In 1972, the Lincoln Continental Mark IV was introduced and would stay in production until 1976. It was similar to its predecessor but grew in both length and width. It still shared a platform with the Thunderbird and in many respects, were similar.

There were few differences of the Mark III and the Mark IV. The Mark IV was slightly rounder, the wheel openings were a little different, and optional opera windows were installed. The grille was longer and a new bumper adorned the front of the vehicle. The popular vinyl roof was now standard. In 1973, a new federally mandated 5 mph bumper was installed.

Under the hood was a 460 cubic-inch Ford 385 Series V8 capable of producing just over 210 SAE horsepower. Power was sent to the wheels courtesy of a C6 3-speed automatic transmission.

Sales were strong for the Mark IV with the lowest production year being in 1975 with 47,145 units sold. 1973 was the strongest year for sales with 69,437. With total sales amounting to 278,559 for the five years of production, the average total sales per year was 55719.

1976 had strong sales partly because of the newly introduced Designer Series. These were special edition Mark IV that were given color, trim and interior choices by famous designers. The designers' signature was placed on the opera windows and a 22 karat gold plated plaque could be found on the instrument panel. The gold plaque could be engraved with the original owners' name.

There were four designer editions offered: Bill Blass Edition, Cartier Edition, Givenchy Edition, and Pucci Edition. The Bill Blass Edition was dark blue with cream accents; the Cartier Edition was dove grey; The Givenchy Edition was aqua blue; and the Pucci Edition was in red and silver.

Mark V
In 1977, In Lincoln Continental Mark V replaced the Mark IV, and would stay in production for only three years, ending in 1979.

In comparison to its predecessor, it was rounder, longer and wider and no longer built on a Ford Thunderbird platform. The engine was downgraded to a Ford 400 cubic-inch small-block engine. The Ford 385 460 cubic-inch was available, except in California, as optional equipment until 1978.

The Continental Mark V was a big and heavy car. It averaged 7 mpg under normal driving conditions and 3.5 mpg under full acceleration. Ford was close to violating the Corporate Average Fuel Economy law so in 1980, a smaller Continental was introduced.

Mark VI
The Lincoln Mark VI was introduced in 1980 and stayed in production until 1983. It was smaller version of its predecessor with minor design revisions. The headlight covers and steering wheel were new. Under the hood was a 5-liter eight-cylinder engine. With the reduced weight and a smaller engine, fuel economy improved.

Mark VII
The Lincoln Continental Mark VII, later just called the Mark VII, was introduced in 1984 and produced until 1991. The Mark VII sat atop the Ford Fox platform, had originally been used for the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr.

From 1984 through 1985, a special edition Versace Designer Edition could be ordered. A Bill Blass Designer Edition was produced from 1984 through 1992. The Luxury Sport Coupe was produced from 1984 through 1992 while the LSC SE was produced from 1990 through 1992.

The Mark VII continued the ambiance set-forth by its predecessors. Leather seating and all-power options were standard. This included a computer message center, digital instruments, keyless entry and more. The luxury sport coupe (LSC) version after 1986 was did not receive all these amenities.

The ride was smooth thanks in part to a full airbag suspension and electronic ride control system. Power was sent to the wheels courtesy of a four-speed automatic transmission. Under the hood was a 5-liter High Output SEFI or throttle body fuel injected V8 capable of producing nearly 230 horsepower. In 1998 the horsepower was further increased after the throttle body was enlarged and better flowing cylinder heads were adapted.

The Mark VII had electronic 4-channel antilock brakes and composite headlights; the first American vehicle to use these features.

The Mark VIII was the next iteration in the long line of the Mark Series. It was produced from 1993 through 1998. The base 2-door coupe was powered by a 4.6 liter DOHC V8 producing 280 horsepower while the LSC models produced 290 horsepower. The LSC model versions, produced from 1995 to 1996 was the first American vehicle to be equipped with HID headlights. The 1997 through 1998 LSC models continued the HID headlights but with larger housings.

Slow sales resulted in the cancellation of this luxury car series. A Lincoln MK9 Concept was introduced in the early 2000's, but plans of production seem doubtful.
By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2008
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Mark II

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