In an era more marked by glitz, excess and exuberance than anything else, the 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II. Designed to represent, and be, the ultimate in personal luxury, the ’56 Continental had pure, subtle lines and styling that were clearly meant to convey an air or European luxury. The cars were hand-painted and assembled, at a rate of only 13 per day, and shipped in special fleece covers designed to ensure that they made it to the lot in absolutely pristine condition. At $10,000 each, an incredible sum at the time, they had better be perfect! In order to help protect the Continental’s image, dealers were even instructed to restrict who they sold the cars to, avoiding gangsters and other criminals or undesirables. Imagine if Cadillac did the same with the Escalade! The lots would be full!
Beneath its beautiful and classy exterior was a serious, powerful car. It was equipped with a 7-liter V8 that produced 300 horsepower, and coupled with the standard four-speed automatic transmission, could accelerate to 60 in 12 seconds, all the way to a top speed of 115 miles per hour.
Of course, all this luxury and slow production and being difficult about customers has a price, and in the case of Ford, Lincoln’s parent company, the price was to lose money with every car they sold. The 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II was not a profitable affair; it stayed in production until 1957, when Ford decided it needed to lose money in a more straight-line fashion, which it accomplished with great fracas with the Edsel.