Good Starting Point: 1956 Continental Mark II

The Continental Mark II was the most expensive American-built car of 1956 (eclipsed by the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham in 1957, its second and final year), and restored examples are still highly valued today, a testament to the Mark II’s elegance and handcrafted quality. If you don’t mind putting in a little sweat equity, however, this example, shared with us by reader Patrick S., represents a terrific starting point at its temptingly low $15,000 asking price. Find it here on craigslist out of Bradenton, Florida.

The Mark II’s original list price was $9,695, and the little vents at the base of the C-pillar tell us this car was equipped with the only optional extra, the $595 air conditioner. That $10,290 total translates to about $94,830 in 2018 dollars, which isn’t far off of what this car is worth in top condition today. There’s some bodywork needed on this example—the seller mentions the driver’s door, which comes with a replacement, and the hood, which sustained damage at the rear corners suggesting that it may have opened while the car was moving. There’s also something going on just aft of the rear wheel opening in the photo above, which may just be schmutz or may be something more serious. Other noted issues include a missing piece of windshield trim, headlight bezel, and interior vents, and I notice that the hand-assembled finned wheel covers are conspicuously absent. A missing master cylinder prevents it from being a driver.

Some needs are to be expected at this price, but otherwise the news is largely good. The 285-horse, 368-cubic inch OHV V8 and three-speed automatic are both said to be freshly rebuilt. While the engine was shared with the regular Lincoln lineup, in keeping with the Continental’s extensive quality controls, each engine was pulled from the assembly line, torn down for inspection of the individual components, then rebuilt. The seller has provided a couple of photos that allow prospective buyers to make similar inspection of some components.

The interior’s a little harder to inspect, as the photos given are a little oddly cropped, but what we can see meshes well with the seller’s description of its condition as “very good.” Dozens of different interior color and material combinations were available for the Mark II; this blue cloth-and-leather combo pairs nicely with the black exterior for an understated look. It’s a shame there’s no shot of the headliner, if only so we could see the unique roof-mounted air conditioning vents, but some or all of them are missing anyway.

Nobody shopping $15,000 Continental Mark IIs should be expecting miracles, but for the price this car seems like a very promising starting point. Some major work has been done to get it to near-drivable status—although, why not just finish the job and increase the value that much more?—and the original interior seems very well preserved. To the right buyer, the remaining work needed will be a small price to pay for rolling in rare style, elegance, and luxury!

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  1. Miguel

    I am sorry, but with a car of this caliber, I don’t want a starting point, I want a finishing point.

    • Smokey Member

      I agree. What parts you might need will probably be unavailable. IF you can find the hand assembled finned hubcaps, be ready to pay from $1500 to $2000 each for them, and then they will no doubt be in only restorable condition.

    • Andy

      There’s a finite number of ready-to-go Mark II’s out there, are you willing to pay for one?

      • Miguel

        Andy, you can find a decent car for a reasonable price.

        The frustration of looking for and not finding parts would raise my blood pressure way too high.

        If I find one in nice condition, I will buy it, but it has to be original and not what somebody thought was original after a restoration.

        This is the only car I would consider a dream car for me.

  2. Neil

    These cars are impossible to find at this price, in my opinion this is an awesome deal for someone that is interested in having a very unique highend luxury cruiser. But the fact that the seller didn’t get the brakes operating may spell bigger problems. As in they don’t want the buyer driving before the cash is handed over. What happened to the hood? Will the car go down the road straight or is something tweaked? It’s a beautiful car just needs these questions answered.

    • Miguel

      Neil, here is a nice white one that is complete and looks good for $23,000 BIN

      Here is another in baby blue that says it is a good driver and had been in a museum for 3 years for $20,000 BIN

      Yes they are out there.

      • mlm

        Yes they are and they sound like good deals.You can keep the Tri-Fives but give me one of these beauties.Have always loved these MK II’s.

  3. Ikey Heyman Member

    “Schmutz” – I haven’t heard anybody use that word since I moved away from Pennsylvania Dutch country!

    • Jerry

      Schmutz is actually German not Dutch.

    • Todd Zuercher

      I had to laugh when I saw that word too as I figured I was the only one reading the ad that knew what it was. My vocabulary is probably littered with some “Dutch” words as my mom infused me with some of it growing up. My grandparents spoke Pennsylvania Dutch when they didn’t want me to know what they were talking about. They were about the last generation of my faith tradition (Mennonites) that spoke it. It’s still spoken a lot by the Amish.

  4. Sean Rollins

    I had a better starting point with mine, but believe it when I tell you, bringing this back will take huge money. Wonderful automobile once done, but a money pit to be sure.

  5. Steve

    Pennsylvania Dutch are actually historically German. As in Deutschland. I am one.

    • Ikey Heyman Member

      I think the confusion started when the natives asked the newcomers:
      “Where are you people from?”
      “Hey, honey, these folks are Dutch!”

      • Steve

        My mother said her family told her it was important distance themselves from Germany during the World Wars. They had enough problems without cultural clashes added to the mix

  6. Paul

    Whoever winds up with it should be prepared to lay out some serious cash to finish it. I looked at the photos and wondered why a filthy carburetor is sitting on top of a freshly rebuilt motor? Seems odd to me. Also without the brakes and power booster not hooked up, I imagine it would run poorly with that vacuum issue.

  7. Rick

    A friend of my parents bought what was alleged to be car number 1. He smashed it into the side of the garage on the way home from the dealer. He had no car to drive for at least six months as I recall.

  8. RicK

    Was the leather upholstery an option on these? Reason I ask, the Mobil gas station I worked at in the early 70s (when I was in High School) used to service a Star Mist Blue ’57 Mark II and I swear it came new with cloth upholstery

  9. Ben Member

    OMG one of these a rare 1957 starmist blue went for $28000.00 at the Saratoga NY car auction this past September It was a Strong #3 possibly a #2 I could not believe my ear’s when the hammer went down. Somebody went home with a great car at BARGAIN

  10. stillrunners

    Think the Mark II hubcap I found at a garage sale cost me nothing and I made some good bucks off of T-Bird Amos…..he proudly displays it at the Pate Swap meet with a big $$$ next to it ! Most likely the closest I’ll come to one of these pretty girls !

  11. francis

    Saw a white one pull into a gas station the other day. What an impressive car! It was white. I could not get over the size of it! Pictures cannot show how it actually looks! Wonderful! Days gone by for sure!

    • Robert L Roberge

      My parents had a baby blue 1960 MkIII convert. I know all of detrimental things that have been said of the ‘land yachts’ but you have to admit all Continentals were unique and the ’60 was the epitome of a road car. Mother loved that particular car because she could cross her legs given the vast acreage from front seat to dashboard.

  12. Matt DiGregory

    Having owned one of these beautiful cars before I can attest that a lot of parts are still available due to a couple of quality suppliers. Hub caps are more likely $2000 per set, not per hub cap…if they can be found. I file my car ownership in the “should have never sold it” file!

  13. greg m doherty

    A 1960 would have been a Mark V.

    • Robert L Roberge

      You are correct, technically. I refer to all of the land yachts as 3’s as their body styles were the same with the exception of a little tweek here and there. I still have my father’s engraved Lincoln Continental “star” on a block of onyx paperweight and that is simply ‘Lincoln Continental’.

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