Auction Pick of the Week: 1956 Continental Mark II


Much has been made of the elegant and expensive 1956–57 Continental Mark II and the fact that Ford Motor Company lost approximately $1000 (more than $11K today) on each one that it built. Regardless of the financial numbers, the upscale model successfully accomplished Ford’s mission of creating a luxury vehicle that turned the right heads and brought previously unattainable clientele into the fold.

Elvis Presley owned one. So did Frank Sinatra, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Elizabeth Taylor, who received hers as a gift from Warner Bros. studio. Beautifully styled and slightly understated in an era when chrome was king, the Continental Mark II offered a European vibe. So there was no better place for its debut than the Paris Motor Show in October 1955, just 20 months after the introduction of the Ford Thunderbird.

1956 Continental Mark II badges

Born from Ford Motor Company’s “Special Products Division,” headed by William Clay Ford, Henry Ford II’s brother, the 1956 Continental Mark II arrived eight years after Lincoln last used the model name. Although the car is sometimes referred to as a Lincoln, Continental was its own marque at the time. The confusion is understandable—Mark IIs were powered by Lincoln’s new 368-cubic-inch Y-block V-8, utilized a “Turbo-Drive” three-speed automatic built by Lincoln and Borg-Warner, and were sold through Lincoln dealerships.

1956 Continental Mark II engine bay wide

Styled by Gordon Buehrig and John Reinhart, the Mark II featured a low roofline and gentle curves. Each Mark II was built (and painted) by hand. Mechanically, the cars were praised for their performance, handling, and quality control. The Mark II was also heavy; at 4825 pounds, it was the heaviest vehicle built in America for both model years.

Slightly more than 3000 Mark IIs were built for 1956 and ’57, and with a price of about $10,000 ($113,389 today), the model was the most expensive American-built car at the time. With standard features that included power steering, power brakes, power front seat, leather upholstery, radio, heater, and whitewall tires, it’s no wonder. The only option available was air-conditioning, which cost an additional $595 ($6747).

Ford advertising proclaimed: “The excitement it stirs in your heart when you see the Continental Mark II lies in the way it has dared to depart from the conventional, the obvious. And that’s as we intended it. For in designing and building this distinguished motor car, we were thinking, especially, of those who admire the beauty of honest, simple lines … and of those who most appreciate a car which has been so conscientiously crafted. The man who owns a Continental Mark II will possess a motor car that is truly distinctive and will keep its distinction for years to come.”

1956 Continental Mark II front three quarter

That brings us to this gorgeous 1956 Continental Mark II, available on Hagerty Marketplace. Finished in Starmist White with a two-tone Medium Blue and White leather interior, chassis/VIN C56D2824 is one of 189 examples built in this color combination.

Among the car’s features: optional A/C, 15-inch wheels with turbine vane wheel covers, push-button seat controls, AM radio, and dual exhaust. In addition, a bespoke center console houses a Panasonic Bluetooth stereo, which is connected to a trunk-mounted CD changer and subwoofer.

Service work in 2022 is reported to include replacement of front wheel bearings, brake shoes, wheel cylinders, and brake drums. In May 2023, service work included repairing the charging system, replacing the points, condenser, carburetor, fuel filters, repacking the front wheel bearings, and rectifying the turn signal wiring for just over $4000.

The odometer shows 53,357 miles, but actual mileage is unknown. The left rear window operates slowly.

Located in Marine City, Michigan, the Mark II comes with service literature, period marketing material, and Continental Owners Club magazines.

With less than a week remaining in the auction, which ends on February 20 at 3:10 p.m. EST, bidding has reached $34,500. Might you be the next enthusiast to join the likes of Elvis, Frank, and Liz?




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    Lovely car. It would be nasty fun to pull into a full-service station and watch the attendant try to figure out where the filler cap is.

    A breathtaking beauty!
    Sadly, I’m not Jeff Bezos…

    One probable error: the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham cost $13,074 — more than the Continental.

    I’ve long contended that GM made the Eldorado Brougham just so they could prove they could afford to lose more money per car than Ford did on the Mark II.

    These were nothing more than glorified Fords.
    (Check the source of the mechanical stuff)
    The “Handmade” bodies really didn’t hold up at the time. (Read reports on these written when they were just a couple of years old.)
    I know of 3 different dilapidated ones in 2 states.
    None of them have moved an inch in at least 15 years.

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