Continental Mark II
- rare version with optional air conditioning
- original interior
- most expensive American car of its time
- elegant original colour combination
The Ford Motor Company is still one of the most important companies in the world today and not only revolutionised the automobile sector by introducing assembly line production.
The name Contintental was first used by Ford in 1940 for the most exclusive variant of the Lincoln Zephyr. The model thus became the first Continental – also known as the Mark I after the appearance of the Mark II.
In order to be able to offer the demanding clientele a new top model, Ford decided to build a new Continental at the beginning of the 1950s. The “Special Products Division” under William Clay Ford, Henry Ford II’s brother, was responsible for this. The financial resources for the development of the new model were enormous and no comparison to those of the usual luxury brands, e.g. from Europe, which were much smaller and increasingly weakened by the Second World War.
On 01.07.1952 the “Special Products Division” became the Continental Division and thus a separate brand within the Ford group. The clear objective of the Continental Division was to develop an absolute luxury vehicle that ranked above the previous American premium brands Cadillac, Packard, Chrysler and also Lincoln. The Continental was aimed at customers who had previously bought a Rolls-Royce.
In order to also appeal to the previous customers of the successful Lincoln Continental, the new model was called the Continental Mark II. The biggest difference, however, was that the Mark II model was not a Lincoln, but a separate model of a separate brand.
The modern pontoon design was more elegant and less conspicuous compared to the American competition. It was very well received at the presentation and the Continental Mark II became a design milestone. Many details were integrated inconspicuously. For example, the exhaust tailpipes are flush with the bumper and the fuel filler is hidden behind the left tail light. A special design element was the curvature in the boot lid to accommodate the spare wheel. This design element already existed on the Continental Mark I and so it is commonly referred to as the Continental Kit to this day.
The Continental was also technically ahead of the competition in many areas. The drive was provided by a 6.0 litre V8 engine, which was specially assembled by hand and finely balanced. It was coupled to a modern multi-drive 3-speed automatic that put the power on the road. In 1956 the car produced 285 SAE hp (212 kw) and in 1957 the power was increased to 300 SAE hp (223 kw). This allowed the heavy car to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in an impressive 12 seconds and a top speed of 184 km/h (184 mph). These were enormous figures at sports car level in the 1950s.
The car’s frame also had a new design, where it was lowered between the axles and thus offered significantly more interior space than its straight-frame rivals. The chassis had independent suspension at the front and a rigid axle with leaf springs at the rear. A novelty were the telescopic shock absorbers, which changed the damping in the Mark II depending on the speed. In addition, there were numerous luxurious features as standard, which were not even available on most cars of its time. Among other things, the car has 4 electric windows and even electric triangular windows. The high manufacturing quality, the expensive materials and the exclusive equipment can be seen in many details. The effort that went into the hubcaps or the radiator grille, for example, is enormous. The cars were assembled mainly by hand in a separate factory. The paintwork was also done very elaborately in numerous time-consuming individual steps and finally polished to a high gloss by hand. The only extra that could be ordered at the time was an air conditioning system for a whopping 595 US dollars.
The expense drove the new price up to an enormous 10,000 US dollars and the car was thus aimed at a very exclusive clientele. By way of comparison, the most expensive Cadillac models cost about half that and even a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing cost “only” US$6,820 by comparison.
It was the pinnacle of American automobile manufacturing in the 1950s and so the absolute stars and business giants of its time drove it: Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley etc. all drove a Continental Mark II. It sold extremely well at first, but sales were of course limited given the high price and so a total of just over 3,000 vehicles were sold in 1956 and 1957. In 1956 Ford became a public limited company and ceased production of the Continental Mark II, as the enormously high manufacturing costs made it uneconomical to sell the car.
The vehicle we are offering here was delivered in the USA in October 1955 in the elegant colour combination of black with white-grey leather interior. According to the register, only 84 vehicles were delivered in this colour combination. It is also one of the rare examples with the optional air conditioning. This can also be recognised by the special air intakes on the tail fins, as only the cars with air conditioning had these.
The car was with a collector in Florida from 1971 to 1984. Later, the car was sold to a well-known classic car fan in Switzerland, who drove the car in his home on Lake Lugano. In 2005, he sold the car to the current owner from Germany. He imported the car but never registered it. We could support them in this. The import duties were paid at the time and there are no further duties. The car is part of a collection and has been moved very little in the last few years. The engine runs and the car is roadworthy, but some of the technical parts (new fluids, new seals, overhaul of the chassis etc.) would have to be overhauled to be fully operational again. However, the basic substance is good and the solid American engineering does not pose a major challenge. Especially because the basic quality of the Continental was so good.
The paintwork is very nice, except for a large scratch on the driver’s door. The interior is still largely original with a slight patina.
The car can be viewed by appointment at any time at our premises in 33415 Verl. A lifting platform is of course available for this purpose.
Please contact us if you are interested in further information.
We prepare our descriptions and advertisements very conscientiously and carefully. Nevertheless, we ask for your understanding that the details given here are non-binding descriptions which do not represent guaranteed properties. We are not liable for errors, input errors and data transmission errors and reserve the right to make changes and prior sale. In this case, the sale is carried out on behalf of the customer without display of VAT (differential taxation) but with warranty.