The last Lincoln Continental Mark I was produced

Wednesday 24th March 1948

The last Lincoln Continental Mark I was produced. Before there were series of “Continental Mark”, “Lincoln Continental Mark”, “Lincoln Mark”, or “Lincoln MK” models, there were various models built by the Ford organization employing the name “Continental”. These began in the 1930s with a one-off car, a custom personal car that ended up serving the function of a concept car, which Edsel Ford directed his designers to create. It began with the existing design of the Lincoln-Zephyr and was modified extensively. It was called the “Continental” because it was meant to capture an essence of Continental European luxury. This first car led to a production model, the first of the “Lincoln Continental” series, which was built from 1939 to 1948. In 1955, Ford Motor Company chose to introduce a new personal luxury car as a successor to the pre-war Lincoln Continental. As it was to be one of the most exclusive and expensive automobiles in the world, Ford chose to create a stand-alone division above Lincoln. The new Continental Mark II of the Continental Division adopted a naming convention of “mark number”, also meaning “version number” or “model number”; while used in the European automotive industry, this was also used to identify versions of artillery, tanks, naval vessels, and aircraft, as demonstrated with the Jaguar Mark 1. The name was thus equivalent in original meaning to simply “Continental, version 2” or “Continental, model B”, although the name “Mark” later took on a brand-like feel of its own in the minds of many customers, which later branding efforts then expanded upon. In 1958, the Continental division was reintegrated back into the Lincoln product lineup, with Lincoln introducing the Mark III, IV, and V to replace the Mark II; they served as the flagships of the Lincoln line. In 1961, Lincoln went from a three-model line to a single Continental; the Mark series was dropped. For 1968, Lincoln restarted the Mark series with the Mark III. Instead of being a flagship model of the standard Lincoln, the Mark III was an all-new car. Based upon the Ford Thunderbird, it was a strict personal-luxury coupe like the Continental Mark II and the 1939-1948 Continental, thus restarting the series at Mark III. While sharing little to no common bodywork, the Mark series would share much of its underpinnings with the Ford Thunderbird for its entire production run from 1969 to 1998. The lone exception is the 1980-1983 Mark VI, which was based on the Ford LTD/Mercury Marquis coupe and Lincoln Town Car; the Mark VI is the only model ever produced as an optional 4-door.

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