1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II Debut

The 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II debuted amongst much fanfare. For starters, Ford staged a series of private showings of the Lincoln Continental Mark II in major U.S. cities, all strictly invitation-only.

Bill Ford was usually on hand to greet the guests, most of whom were industrialists, politicians, and celebrities. Typically, a Mark II was the centerpiece, revolving slowly on a spotlighted turntable while pianist George Feyer played "The Continental" and other 1930s tunes.

1956 lincoln continental mark 2
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The 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II debuted to critical and consumer acclaim.

A special introductory commercial aired on the The Ed Sullivan Show, then sponsored by Lincoln-Mercury, and Continental Division managed to strong-arm Ed into letting Feyer play "The Continental" on his show. The pianist got all of two minutes. Evidently, "The Host of the Toast" wasn't impressed by Feyer or the Mark II. He reportedly drove a 1956 Lincoln Premiere. So did Walt Disney.

Nevertheless, there was no shortage of famous names on the Lincoln Continental Mark II owner list. Included were future New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, Milton Eisenhower (brother of the U.S. president), Barry Goldwater, and the Shah of Iran.

From Hollywood: singers Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima, actors Walter Brennan and Stuard Granger, and movie moguls Cecil B. DeMille, Darryl F. Zanuck, Mike Todd, and Jack Warner.

Tobacco baron R. J. Reynolds and Nevada hotelier Bill Harrah were also included, as was shipbuilding tycoon and erstwhile automaker Henry J. Kaiser.

You really had to be rich and famous to own a Mark II, because its suggested $10,000 retail price was simply simply stratospheric for the mid-1950s. Actually, most went out the door for about $8,500, and a short-lived rumor that Ford would sell only to blue-bloods was just a public relations ploy.

Whatever your station, you got a fully equipped car, which was only right. The only major extra was air conditioning, and about 75 percent of all Mark IIs were so equipped.

Minor accessories for 1957 were limited to automatic headlamp dimmer and Ford's "Lifeguard" seatbelts, dished steering wheel, and padded dash and sun-visors.

The Mark II may have cost twice as much as a Lincoln Premiere hardtop, but it was not exactly twice the car. It was more carefully crafted, to be sure, and it handled a little better -- but then the 1956 Lincoln was an exceptional handler for its size, and Mark II brakes were characteristically weak.

This would play a role in the eventually disappointing overall sales of the 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II. Keep reading to learn more about these sub-par sales.

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