The Corpus Christi Old Car Museum Auction

Lot 127
1956 Continental Mark II

Selling on Saturday

1956 Continental Mark II


• Luxurious and timeless postwar design statement
• Rare as 1 of only some 3,000 examples produced
• A car of the rich, famous, and powerful when new
• Handsome color combination; rare air-conditioning
• Well-restored, preserved, and presented throughout

368 cid V-8 engine, single four-barrel carburetor, 285 HP, Lincoln Turbo-Drive two-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with upper and lower control arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes; wheelbase: 126"

In all respects, the Continental Mark II was a radical departure for Ford Motor Company, so much so, the car was not even badged as a Lincoln. Instead, it was the launch product of the new Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company, with a dedicated assembly plant. Development of the Continental Mark II was spearheaded by William Clay Ford, and key staff included chief stylist John Reinhart, chief body engineer Gordon Buehrig of Duesenberg and Auburn renown, and chief engineer Harley Copp. With excellent lines and tasteful adornments, the understated Continental Mark II emphasized elegance over flamboyance. Key design cues included proportions similar to those of the Thunderbird, and an homage to the original Continentals of the 1940s, a molded trunk lid in the shape of a concealed spare tire. Under the four-pointed star on the hood resided a dynamometer-tested 368-cid V-8 engine developing nearly 300 horsepower.

Largely hand-built, the Mark II was truly a product of exceptional quality with only the finest materials used throughout, including dashboard instruments with the looks and precision of finely crafted timepieces. Buyers could choose from 19 standard exterior colors and 43 interior design schemes with five fabric options. Even with an initial sticker price of nearly $11,000, Ford reportedly lost an estimated $1,000 on every Mark II built. In fact, according to former company insiders, the true loss per car was far greater. Nonetheless, the Mark II shared the same target clients as Rolls-Royce, netting valuable publicity, heightened by such buyers as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Rockefeller, and President Dwight Eisenhower. Conceived at the height of automotive fashion, the 1955 début of the Mark II at Paris was fitting. Based on the serial-number range, Continental Mark II production reached 3,014 vehicles including three prototypes and 11 pre-production cars, with the vast majority sold for 1956. Today, these glamorous vehicles continue to rank firmly among knowledgeable collectors and enthusiasts as the finest of the postwar era.

Featuring excellent colors, this 1956 Continental Mark II is a highly attractive example throughout, continuing to benefit from a quality restoration and preservation. The luxurious interior and highly detailed engine bay are consistent with the rich exterior finish, and while already quite rare as a 1956 model, this Mark II is even more so with factory air-conditioning – the sole available option – costing a significant $595 when new. Comprehensive standard features and amenities include power-assisted brakes, power steering, power front seat, power side and vent windows, plus full instrumentation including a tachometer and low-fuel warning indicator. An updated digital AM/FM cassette head unit provides additional entertainment. Handsomely presented, highly equipped, and steeped in excellent history as Ford Motor Company’s top product for 1956-57, this 1956 Continental Mark II is wonderful and highly collectible.

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