The Continental Mark II is an ultra-luxury coupé sold by the Continental Division of Ford, serving as the worldwide flagship vehicle of Ford Motor Company.
The Mark II was produced for the 1956 and 1957 model years. Like its competitor, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, the Mark II was essentially hand-built, making it the most expensive American-produced automobile sold in the United States at the time. Ford lost money on each unit sold.
The Mark II, a two-door hardtop coupe, used standard Lincoln mechanical components, including a V8 engine and automatic transmission.
The Mark II was the sole product line of the Continental Division. The car derived its name from a practice in European manufacturing, with "Mark II" denoting a second generation (the vehicle was intended as the successor to the 1939–1948 Lincoln Continental).
The Continental Mark II made its world debut at the Paris Motor Show in October 1955. The Mark II debuted in the United States at Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. Intended as a successor to the Lincoln Continental (effectively making its predecessor a Mark I), the $9,960 Continental Mark II was the most expensive domestic-produced automobile sold in the United States; only one option was offered for the Mark II, with Continental charging $595 for air conditioning (used through interior-mounted ducts).
While rivaling a Rolls-Royce in price, by the end of the production of the Mark II, Ford Motor Company estimated it lost nearly $1,000 for every example produced.
While Continental was intended largely as a luxury vehicle, interior elements of the Mark II were intended to make the vehicle more personal than a typical American luxury vehicle. Central to the interior design was the wraparound windshield (mounted 8 inches further rearward than in a Lincoln). In contrast to Lincoln and Mercury vehicles of the time, the Continental Mark II was given a vertically angled steering wheel (with a full set of gauges grouped behind the steering wheel).
The Continental Mark II would have an extensive list of standard equipment for the time, equipped with power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, power vent windows, and full instrumentation, including a tachometer and a low-level fuel warning. In total, the Mark II was offered with nineteen standard exterior colors and 43 interior design schemes (with five interior fabrics)
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