When it comes to large automobiles produced in Detroit, the Continental Mark III might very well win the prize. The latter half of the 1950's were a time of fins and lot of steel. The 1958 Continental Mark III stayed away from extra large fins but instead caught your eye with it's massive size.
The 1958 Continental Mark III is said to be the longest and widest (non limo) passenger car ever built in Detroit. It was longer than that years Cadillac, it's main competitor. Some would say that the Mark III's size was excessive but when you look back at the 50's many automobiles could fit that description in one way or another.
Built by Lincoln, the 1958 Lincoln Continental Mark III had a weight of 4,900 lbs. An interesting side note was that the very first Lincoln Continental was a 1939 model built as a one only model for Edsel Ford's personal use and amazingly was sketched out in about an hour by design Bob Gregorie. Gregorie reportedly used the Lincoln Zephyr designs and made alterations. Auto enthusiasts may remember that Bentley also used the name Continental at one time on some of their lines.
1958 Continental Mark III Design
Continental offered four 1958 models. These included the four door sedan, the two door hardtop, the four door hardtop and the two door convertible. The Continental was not a separate line of cars but represented the top of the line Lincoln models. The separate Continental Division was phased out in 1957. As a result of this distinction between the two car divisions, some mistakenly call the 1956 and 57 Continental a Lincoln Continental when in reality it was separate from Lincoln as a marquee.
Ford Motor Company Designer John Najjar
Design credit for this car is chiefly credited to John Najjar. Najjar was a lead designer for the Ford Motor Company and is also credited for the design of the Ford Mustang logo. John Najjar joined the Ford Motor Company Apprentice School in 1936. After a chance meeting with Henry Ford Najjar was given an opportunity in the the design department and ended up working for Ford Motor for 40 years. During World War Two Najjar worked in designs for the M4A3 Sherman Tank and the B-24 Bomber.
This Continental had an all steel unitized body with welded double panel doors. In addition to this the Continental Mark III had a rear window that retracted by using an automatic switch. The rear window retracted behind the rear seat.
The 1958 Continentals premiered with all new designs. One snazzy touch in addition to the retractable rear window were the angled headlights. While the 58 Continental had tail fins, although very muted compared to many other autos of the year, the name that was given to Najjar's design was called "rectilinear". Rectilinear essentially is a design with straight lines which the 58 Continental had.
Make no mistake, the 1958 Continental Mark III's were luxurious automobiles. Standard equipment in all Lincolns and Continentals were power steering, power brakes, radios, a center armrest, heater-defrosters, padded dashboards and a clock.
The 1959 Continentals would be called the Mark IV's and the 1960 models the Mark V's.
1958 Continental Mark III Specifications
The 1958 Continentals came with powerful 430 cubic inch V-8 engines delivering 375 horsepower.These very large and heavy cars could do the Zero to 60 MPH run in 9.5 seconds which is quite impressive considering their size. These large engines were built into all 1958 models, Lincolns and Continentals.
As a comparison, the 1956 Continental Mark II had a 368 cubic inch Lincoln V-8 delivering 285 horsepower followed by the same engine delivering 300 horsepower in 1957. The Continental horsepower was ratcheted up each year.
1958 Continental suspension included coil springs all around.
The Continental Mark III's wheelbase was 131.0 inches with an overall outside length of 229.0 inches.
1958 Continental Production
Production totals for Lincoln and Continental for the 1958 model year totaled 29,864 vehicles. This contrasted sharply with competitor Cadillac's total 1958 production of 121,775 vehicles. Automobile sales in general was affected quite a bit by the 1958 recession which was the severest since World War Two. Ford Motor wasn't having an easy time making profits with their Continental models as production costs were considered quite high. As it turned out Ford did make a small profit on each of the 58 Continentals sold.
New car price for the 1958 Continental was in the range of $6,000 to $6,500. It should be noted that this price was quite lower than the Continental Mark II which had a new car price tag of around $10,000. Wealthy celebrities of 1956/57 who wanted something other than a Cadillac often chose the Mark II.
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1958 Continental Mark III Collector Car
The early Continentals as collector cars are all about their generations in production. The first generation of Continentals were produced from 1939 to 1948 (minus the war years) as Lincoln Continentals. The brand was revived for the 1956 and 1957 model years as a separate brand apart from Lincoln. Beginning in 1958 the brand again was a part of the Lincoln division.
As of this writing the 1958 Continental Mark III may have a value in the upper $30,000 area if in pristine condition and heavily original. Higher collector prices will generally be found on the Continental Mark II's from 1956 and 1957. These will of course vary depending on condition, restoration and originality but asking prices for the Mark II will usually be north of $50,000.
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