Restoration Worthy? 1957 Continental Mark II

Big and Heavy isn’t the latest rap star, but along with the word beautiful it’s a good description of this 18-foot long, 5,000-pound 1957 Continental Mark II. This once-gorgeous car is listed here on eBay with a single bid of $2,000 but the reserve isn’t met yet. It’s located in Spring, Texas.

The first-generation Mark series cars, the 1956 and 1957 Continental Mark II, was quite a vehicle. It was the most expensive American car of its time, at least in 1956, being basically a hand-built car. The Lincoln moniker went bye-bye for the Mark II but it would return in subsequent generation Lincoln Continental Mark cars. If the tv show Cannon would have been on a couple of decades earlier, I wonder if Bill Conrad would have driven a Continental Mark II? Probably not, given the cost of losing handmade wheel covers on almost every hard corner (Cannon chase scene reference, sorry). Despite the somewhat deflated look of the car, it looks pretty solid from what we can see. The seller says that the “Condition of the body is not fully known.”

I can’t imagine the expense of restoring a car like this Mark II. My former 1966 Lincoln Continental Coupe was expensive and complicated but it pales in comparison to the Mark II. I really regret selling it and I know that if this ’57 Mark II were in similar condition that my Continental was in, I would never sell this car. But, getting it there would probably be a six-figure proposition. This was close to a $100,000 car in 2019 dollars, that’s amazing for an American car. There aren’t many American cars (cars, not luxo-barge SUVs) that are that expensive today that I can think of, if any?

One of you will know if this car has or had AC. I don’t see the intakes on the rear fenders/quarters, but I believe those were only on the 1956 models? The exclusive Scottish leather has seen better days, it’s not exactly temperate in Texas, although I don’t know if this is originally a Texas car or not. The Mark II came with things that we consider standard equipment today – power windows and locks – but it’s somewhat rare to find a 1950s vehicle with those features.

The seller says that this Lincoln Y-block 368 cubic-inch V8 turns over but they don’t know if it starts or runs. I believe that’s an AC compressor on the right side of the engine (left side in the above photo) and the related hoses, so that answers the does-it-have-AC question. Will it ever look like this again? It’s a shame that a full restoration of a Continental Mark II, even as exclusive of a car that it was and is, may not make sense financially unless a person owns a restoration shop or plans on spending a few years and doing most of the work him/herself. I know that a few of you have owned a Mark II, let’s hear about them!

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  1. healeydays

    This car needs to be saved. Parts to restore are going to be tough to round up, but…

    Like 9
  2. stillrunners

    There are rust buckets that could share their glass to save this one !

    Like 5
  3. HoA Howard AMember

    Good heavens, if there EVER was a car that needs restored,[sic] it’s this. Cost a pretty penny back in ’57, perhaps THE most expensive car sold. Only a select few got to drive these. You want to drive probably the nicest US car ever made, cost no object, of course, this is it.

    Like 15
  4. stillrunners

    It’s an A/C car…..seeing the components under the hood……sooooo sad.

    Like 3
  5. Jrhaelig

    Considering there were only 572 of the 1957 models built, they’re all worth saving

    Like 13
  6. Joe Machado

    Memory says air was standard. Duel heaters. Watched a friend restore one for Richard Carpenter in the 70’s. That was Gary Goers. Always loved these.

    Like 2
    • Scotty GilbertsonStaff

      AC was the only option available, Joe. It added $595 to the $9,695 price.

      Like 8
      • Ron SchweitzerMember

        Scotty, you can see the A/C vents in the ceiling on a couple of the pictures.

        Like 0
  7. nick HOCKMANMember

    57’s and late 56’s did not have the intakes on the fenders for ac cars. This is an ac car. It received the intake from the front wheel wells.

    Like 5
  8. mlm

    IMO this is still the classiest looking car from the 50’s.Always loved this car and would take this over almost any Cadillac.

    Like 10
  9. Al

    I always liked this car and I also liked the ’56 Lincoln Premiere, but if were a choice the Mark II wins hands down.
    It deserves to be saved, but I don’t have the room.
    The garage is full with a ’70 Olds 442 and a just inherited ’31 Hudson boat tail. The last vehicle was restored about 20 years ago and needs plenty of detail to be redone.Orange body and white fenders, pretty awesome.

    Like 9

    I’d rip the top off and turn it into a ragtop. Heck…beats trynna find the glass for it.Y’all wouldn’t mind…right?

    Like 2
  11. local_sheriff

    It was a car for movie stars, ambassadors and state leaders – and would put ANY same era Cadillac completely in the shadow.I’ve only seen such a car IRL once,it has an undescribable presence.
    These blend European class and extravaganza with American size and quality, we’re talking Facel-Vega and Dual-Ghia league here. As for the glass it’s ‘only’ the windshield and rear that are curved, side glass can easily be replicated.Regardless, it’s gonna be a daunting and expensive resto,I can only wish new owner BEST OF LUCK!

    Like 5
  12. Dovi65

    The 1956-58 Conti’s were stunning works of art. A true landmark in Ford history. Given their exclusivity, and low production numbers, it’s shameful that so many fell into this condition. Restoring any Conti from this generation will reach into mortgage territory, but IMO .. well worth the expense. I’d be hard pressed to choose between one of these Conti’s over a Cadillac Eldo of the same era. I wish the new owner much success in getting this one back on the road

    Like 4
  13. Ted

    Triton V10, Lenco, 9 in with 3.55’s, interior restored but in black, paint it Jade Black and Detroit City Menace baby.

    Stupid lottery never comes through when I need it…………

    Like 5
  14. Jack Bernstine

    I have owned my 1956 Mark II with AC for over 20 years. It is a remarkable car and drives beautifully (especially with radials). I believe you can tell if there is AC if there are vents in the headliner and the evaporator is in the trunk. Also, I believe that it was the second most expensive car for 1957, beaten by the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Nonetheless, they are remarkable cars that were almost hand built. Each fin on the wheel cover is individually attached with a screw. Mechanical maintenance is fairly simple, but parts are expensive. In my opinion, the most understated and beautiful car ever built for its time.

    Like 15
  15. georgeMember

    Lovely car, but hideously expensive to restore. If the owner has the glass and missing trim, it might be doable……for someone with re$ources and time.

    Like 4
  16. Denis Flaherty

    I always thought this design was beautiful…I only saw them in white or black….I would probably just detail the hell out of it and park it on display in my shop and pet it….I don’t think I could afford to restore it

    Like 2
  17. Richard R Brown

    FYI, the new Lincoln Continental Coach is over $100k, and Lincoln sold out before production started, first deliveries are expected this summer. I hope someone buys this, even if they cant restore it now, just to save it. I’ve seen too many of these rare cars end up as unsaveable in someones yard. This need to be put in a garage on blocks for the next care taker.

    Like 1
  18. JagManBill

    No SBC here…needs BBF…drop a 460/C6 in it with an updated 9″ rear (save all the original stuff for the resto); nice paint and interior and enjoy the restomod

    Like 3
  19. robert gressard

    Be careful on this one. You can’t see the car until you win the bid. The location won’t be disclosed. The flipper doesn’t own the car. I have had problems with Mark 2s in the past. The first had the engine in another state. The owner had recently moved and the address given did not exist. Payment had to be made to a third party. No sale here. The second that I bought was described as having a good frame. It had a angle iron bolted over the rusted out frame and the grill had vanished. I hope this one turns out to be a winner. I am debating on a bid but there is a reserve which means to me big bucks wanted. I also have a 57 with factory air and it doesn’t have the air intakes on the rear fender tops. All and all a beautiful simply stunning car. Cheers Bob

    Like 5
  20. Karl D.

    Years ago I was driving through Pensacola and saw one displayed in a showroom for collectible cars. It was white with all the chrome and was as large and impressive as one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet battleships. I almost drove up onto the sidewalk looking at it.

    Like 3
  21. Jetfire88

    There is a junk yard near me that has a couple of these in the back (in fact, a large selection of mid-50’s Ford products, retracts, Lincs, Mercs, etc.).
    I was storing some semi-trailers next door and I could look over the fence at them.
    I never went over to look closely at them because that had the potential to be expensive.
    They are obviously tired, but I believe they have some glass, trim, interiors, etc,
    If anyone here buys them, contact me me and I’ll provide contact details (SE Wisc).

    Like 2
    • Teodor

      Hi. Where is this junk yard? Regards

      Like 0
  22. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    If you Google this model you will find pics of fully restored models, including one in this gold color. I can think of only a handful of these I have seen, always in black. But the gold would be stunning.

    The Mark II had clean, classy and somewhat understated styling. Not something which can be said of certain of today’s cars, with their (over) abundance of swoops and slashes and general over-styling (e.g. Lexus).

    Like 1
  23. Todd FitchStaff

    Nice write-up, Scotty! I love these Continentals. The engine compartment (when factory-correct) is nearly SEMA-perfect. How many factory cars had design time spent on the engine compartment? There were a cost-is-no object halo vehicle. One so reasonably complete should be saved!

    Like 0
  24. Roger Hull

    Just bought a rusty 1956 Mark II with all the glass intact, wonder if the glass from 56 fits a 57?

    Like 1
  25. GeorgeMember

    I can’t imagine it would not

    Continental did not designate model years

    The states did that when licensed

    Like 0
  26. Chris

    This is a terrifying car. An opportunity to win or loose big time. My advice would be to price out a small missing part, say a radio knob or the plastic ball atop the antenna. If it’s more than $20, multiply that by a couple of thousand and add a few hundred shop hours. I’ve seen some available in fair condition for $25,000 or so. Why not look there first.

    Like 0
  27. carl showalter

    Ford claimed they lost money on every one of these cars!

    Like 0
    • GeorgeMember

      Everyone says this, but it’s actually accounting nonsense

      Production was stopped because McNamara wanted to cease all operations that were not huge sellers to make Ford more attractive to investors as the company went private

      He killed the beloved two-seat T-bird, wounded Mercury by depriving it of unique sheet metal, and was about to axe the entire Lincoln division when he was shown the concept that became the 1961 Lincoln Continental.

      I’m not certain about dates, but I believe production was only 12-14 months when the plug was pulled on this halo product, a cherished project of the Ford family, because it was never going to generate enough income to please pension fund investors

      It takes years, sometimes a full production cycle to break even on a new model:

      I they had cancelled the Mustang at 12 months, they would have “lost money on every one sold, too

      It takes a lot of unit sales to amortize the costs of development, production, and promotion for any new model.

      The Mark II was never given a chance to prove itself in the marketplace

      Like 1

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