1956-1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II

1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II

Despite a new 1957 model year, Ford did not observe a formal model changeover with the Lincoln Continental Mark II, and serial numbers on all examples begin with the code C56. Nevertheless, a few running changes were instituted when Lincoln entered the 1957 season.

1957 lincoln continental mark ii
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II was outwardly little changed from the 1956 but boasted more horsepower.

Compression was boosted from 9.0 to 10.0:1, and rated output rose to an even 300 horsepower. There were several transmission improvements, including availability of an add-on oil cooler and "Directed Power" differential, the oil-bath air filter was exchanged for a more modern paper-element type, a more efficient Carter carburetor replaced the previous Holley, and four new acrylic lacquer colors were added.

Other changes included an air conditioning intake repositioned form the leading edge of the rear fenders to the front fenders, increased-amperage generator, and removal of the center frame member (to reduce weight).

1957 lincoln continental mark ii engine
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The Mark II's big 368-cid Lincoln V-8 put out 300 horsepower in 1957.

In the end, though, the Mark II couldn't last. Despite its high price, FoMoCo lost about $1,000 on every one it sold, but that wasn't the only factor in its demise. For one thing, dealer support was weak. Of Lincoln-Mercury's 1,300 outlets at the time, only 652 signed up for the Mark II program, partly because promotional materials were expensive and partly because of the factory's requirement that dealers stock Lincoln Continental Mark IIs at 10 percent of their inventory, another costly proposition.

Worse, many cars were discounted when sales started falling, which only hurt its image and antagonized those who'd paid the full $10,000. Then too, some owners ran into service problems, yet most dealers weren't equipped to handle them. For the money they paid, Mark II owners rightfully expected a little extra attention; by and large, they didn't get it.

The product wasn't entirely faultless, either. Some have criticized the styling as too conservative for the "movers-and-shakers" market Ford had targeted, while others cite the single body style and lack of jazzy innovations customers could see. While no two Mark buyers were alike, the cars were, and the 1950s gadgetry expected in such a lofty carriage simply wasn't there.

But perhaps the main problem was that, somewhere along the way, Ford lost sight of its objectives. Many Mark II sales undoubtedly went to the longer-lower-wider 1956-1957 Lincolns, which were more in tune with the times and far less expensive. In fact, Lincoln's 1956 model year production set a record that would stand until 1966, a smashing 50,322 units.

And even before the Lincoln Continental Mark II appeared, Ford had already dug its grave. Unit construction seemed like the wave of the future in 1955, and the firm broke ground that year for a new assembly plant at Wixom, Michigan, designed for the unit-construction Lincolns and Thunderbirds being planned for 1958.

These moves effectively precluded continuation of the existing body-and-frame cars, so the Mark II really had no place in the corporate scheme after 1957, and thus no future.

Despite the dismaying sales numbers, Mark II designers were busy planning variations of the car. Keep reading to learn about two of them.

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