Some Assembly Required: 1956 Continental Mark II

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A domestic luxury model, only 3,000 built, mostly hand-assembled and considered to be a Rolls Royce competitor, a Lincoln Continental Mark II? No, actually it’s a Lincoln Continental Mark II, and in this case a 1956 example. A tremendous example of 1950’s American automotive can-do, this ’56 Mark II is located in Freeville, New York and is available, here on craigslist for $7,500. Thanks to Charles F. for this tip!

Stock Photo – Not the Subject Car

The Mark II was a product of Ford’s short-lived Continental division, actually, its only product and produced at a unique facility known as the Allen Park Body and Assembly plant in Allen Park, Michigan. Offered for the ’56 and ’57 model years, a non-air conditioned ’56 model retailed for $9,695 ($10,430 with A/C), a pretty stiff tariff for that day and age. There were initially plans for a sedan and convertible to join the two-door hardtop, the sole body style, but they never came to fruition. Estimates are that each Mark II produced generated a loss of $1,000 per car, considerably less than GM’s loss per unit on their overly complex Mark II competitor, Cadillac’s Eldorado Brougham – everything’s relative I guess.

Our subject car is disassembled – that always adds to the challenge! The seller states, “The paint is cracked [alligatored]“. I’d say that’s the least of the next owner’s worries. Further added and stated is, “4 fender headlight trim rings, 2 front bumpers. Complete steel exhaust system. New aluminum radiator…Frame needs some welding repair“. Perhaps an instruction sheet is included…?

The uninstalled engine is claimed to be a rebuilt 285 gross HP, 368 CI “Y-Block” V8 which comes with three transmissions. What exactly was done to the engine and when it was done, is not revealed. A three-speed “Turbo Drive” automatic transmission was employed for the Mark II. Research states that it is basically a stronger version of the Merc-O-Matic Turbo Drive which used a three-element torque converter in concert with a three-speed plus reverse planetary gearbox. It’s notable for the fact that it’s rather narrow and doesn’t have a very wide bottom pan to accommodate the valve body – when I first spied it, I thought it was a manual unit.

Inside should look something like the above image, a sumptuous environment sheathed in leather. There are no images of the interior of our subject car, and no description, so there’s no telling what’s going on inside. We do know that the Mark II had many standard features, though not air conditioning, including power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, power vent windows, and full instrumentation, including a tachometer and a low-level fuel warning. Considering the level of standard equipment, options were probably few.

Many years back, when the Mark II was just an old, though fairly rare and an exalted automobile, they were not that commonly seen – agreed, the production number was light of course. A friend of my father, who was an inveterate car collector, had one in the late ’60s/early ’70s and as I recall, it was in fair condition – his biggest problem was finding a rental garage in the city that could accommodate its 18.2 feet of length. Beyond that, I don’t recall ever seeing one in the wild. I haven’t seen many at car shows either but that just may be the type and place of events that I attend. This one seems to have too many foibles to be realistically considered. There’s no telling what’s missing and what it really needs, and that cracked frame comment is an attention-getter. But, I may be more risk-averse than others when it comes to cars. What’s your estimate, a viable project or take a pass and move along?

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  1. Terrry

    The Continental Mark II was arguably one of the best looking cars of the fifties. This one is definitely a project, and will require a labor of love and deep pockets to restore it to its former glory.

    Like 15
  2. jmolsnMember

    Love the Mark II but it need tons of love!!

    Like 3
  3. Robert F Gressard

    Wonder if anyone makes frames for these as they rust out. Low production means not a big market.

    Like 2

    Love these big sexy luxo-coupes. My neighbor has a red ’57 unrestored. He & his Mrs. dress up in the style of that era and go for a drive every other month…so cool. That being said…this puppy may only be good for parts.

    Like 2
  5. Dave Peterson

    What’s that old saying about meeting your heroes? This was my ne plus ultra of childhood. The man I knew that owned it also had a swept back Bentley and a Hudson Hollywood coupe.

    Like 0
    • Robert F Gressard

      At the age of 9 I saw one new when a friend of my grandfather drove one over for him to see. I will never forget that car. Years later I had a chance to buy that car but lack of funds prevented It. It is in the Crawford Museum in Cleveland Ohio today. I have a 56 and 57 MkII but they will never be as nice as Ernie’s my grandfather’s friends car.

      Like 0
      • Dave Peterson

        Robert, you only get one “first love”, but your Mark ll would be very close.

        Like 0
  6. DavidLMember

    Cracked Frame??? What happened to crack the frame? Just asking.

    Like 0
  7. Frank of Eden

    We used to see one of these (a beautiful blue one) when our Sea Scout unit was in Deltaville VA… (we kept our old Sea Scout boat there, our unit traveled to the boat on the week ends in the summers from Richmond). We were going there from 1960 to ’63.

    Who ever owned the car must have lived at one of the homes on the water, because we would see it slowly driving back and forth several times each weekend. One of the scouts would would shout “here it comes” and we would all stare at that beautiful car and drool when it moved slowly by… the driver never drove very fast.

    Like 0
  8. ChiTownJeff

    When I got out of college in 1980, I briefly worked for a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in Austin, TX. The owner had one of these. It is the only time I’ve seen one in person. Get this – the owner was blind!

    Like 0
  9. HCMember

    These Mark 11s are many collector’s dream car. But very involved even when assembled. I agree with a previous statement. How the Hxll was the frame cracked? Would have had to be a pretty serious crash and maybe why front clip is disassembled. With the engine being pulled out and looking as it hasn’t been rebuilt as well as the rest of the drive train in pieces, this looks like someone else’s project nightmare. Hard pass for me.

    Like 0
  10. Dale S

    The first one I saw in person was at one of the many used car lots on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Black with wide whitewalls. This was in the early ’70’s.It was in probably #3 condition.

    Like 0
  11. brian gurney

    I just got one, needs some love, the frame has holes, but I weld and will make it work. the body is in great shape and so is the floorboards and interior, everything works, has been in storage since 1972. the big question is….how many of these babies will you see in your lifetime? I am 63 and have never seen one in person. well worth the time and effort to bring it back to life.

    Like 1
    • HCMember

      You’re a lucky man to get one to rebuild, good that you can weld but hope it doesn’t mean it needs tons done. Because they made so few of them, I have only seen them in pictures, never in person. Good luck restoring her.

      Like 0

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