Wednesday 8th May 1957
The 2,996th and final Lincoln Continental Mark II was produced. .Ford created a namesake Continental division centered around its new flagship vehicle. To again highlight the European influence of the original Continental, Ford assigned the “Mark II” suffix to the new Continental (also in an effort to distinguish itself from the similar Bentley Continental). Slotted (far) above Lincoln-Mercury, Continentals were marketed and serviced through the Lincoln dealership network. The Mark II sold for $10,400, the equivalent of a new Rolls-Royce or two Cadillacs (at least until the $13,074 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham out-priced it in 1957). In spite of this, Ford estimated they still lost over a thousand dollars per car on the 3,000 that were built. About 1,300 were sold in the last quarter of 1955 after the car’s October debut at the Paris Motor Show; another 1,300 or so in 1956; and 444 in 1957, some with factory-installed air conditioning. Initially, Ford accepted losses on the Mark II in return for the prestige with which it endowed its entire product line; but after going public, tolerance for such losses fell. Famous owners included Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, the Shah of Iran, and a cross section of the richest men in America. Taylor’s car was a gift from Warner Bros. studio, and was painted a custom color to match her distinctive eyes. The car was featured in the 1956 film High Society, starring Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Louis Armstrong.