The 1956 Continental Mark II featured here was built by the Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company. This beautiful and luxurious automobile was first introduced at the 1956 Paris Motor Show. The model was received very well by both the public and the media.

The Continental Mark II

continental mark II specs
1956 Continental Mark IIThe Continental Mark II

The mostly hand built Continental’s Mark II model was produced for the 1956 and 1957 model years. The Mark III would make it’s debut in 1958.

People frequently refer to the 1956 Continental as a Lincoln Continental, the model that was developed chiefly by Edsel Ford in 1939. This of course is not the case.The reference was to those great looking Lincoln Continentals produced back in the 1940’s. When the Continental Mark II came out in 1956 it was from the Continental Division as opposed to the Lincoln-Mercury Division of the Ford Motor Company. ( One of the reasons that it’s easy to confuse Continental and Lincoln Continental is that after the 1958 Continental Mark III, in 1959 the Continental Division merged with the Lincoln-Mercury Division and you were back to a Lincoln-Continental luxury automobile.)

continental Mark II photosHeading the new Continental Division for Ford was William Clay Ford who was Henry Ford II’s younger brother. The young Ford took over this division while in his mid twenties.

When the Continental Mark II hit the market it had a price tag of $10,000 (up to $13,000 with options). This was high by all standards. It was the highest priced luxury automobile in the U.S. You would have compared it’s price at the time with the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. As it turned out later, Ford made the decision that Continental needed to compete directly against Cadillac and therefore the price of a 1958 Mark III was reduced to about $6,000.

It’s been estimated that Ford Motor Company lost about $1,000 for every Continental Mark II they sold. Although the car style and luxury appointments were applauded by the car buying public, due to the stiff price there were not a great deal sold or produced. About 1,800 Mark II’s were sold for 1956 and 1957 combined therefore our featured Continental is indeed rare.

1956 Continental Mark II Specifications

56 continental specsThe engine on the 56 Continental Mark II was a 368 cubic inch V-8 with a Holley 4 barrel carburetor delivering 285 HP.

Transmission was a three speed Turbo Drive automatic.

Brakes were power assisted four wheel hydraulic drums.

Dimensions include a 126.0 inch wheelbase, 218.5 inch overall outside length, 77.5 inch width, 56.0 inch height.

See related Auto Museum Online articles found on the links below…

1962 Lincoln Continental Convertible

1948 Lincoln Continental V-12

Reference material for this article includes..The Lincoln Continental Story From Zephyr to Mark II by Tim Howley…CLASSIC MOTORCARS Lincoln and Continental: The Early Years by Marvin Arnold.

 Continental Mark II Collector Popularity

The Continental Mark II is a rare collector car. These mostly hand made luxury automobiles are slim in numbers with only a few thousand sold.

With this rarity and high new car price considered you might think these models stand out in bold print with collectors but they really do not. Compared to what they sold for new, asking prices today are quite moderate. Going back to 1956 and 1957 the Ford Thunderbird was getting all the attention. Both considered luxury cars but obviously quite different in dimensions. In fact the Continental weighed around 5,000 lbs and was not offered as a convertible as a Mark II. Those are two factors that lower today’s collector value vs. the Thunderbird of the same model year.

continental Mark II specificationsCurrent asking prices for 1956 Continental Mark II’s range from about $25,000 to $50,000. You may see some lower and higher depending on condition and mileage. In contrast a restored 1956 Thunderbird might have asking prices in a range from about $40,000 to $90,000.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)