1956-1957 Continental Mark II Convertible
The one they shoulda' done
By Matt Stone
Photography by Motor Trend archives
Motor Trend, June 2004
Lincoln's recent Mark X concept car is an elegant two-seat luxury roadster. Its mission in life is to suggest what the marque might do should it choose to take on the Cadillac XLR. But a two-door drop-top is hardly a new thing for this brand.
The original Continental of 1940, subsequently and colloquially named the Mark I, was available as a convertible, and Lincoln very nearly offered a ragtop version of the production Mark II hardtop as well. This Continental Mark II convertible prototype was a joint venture between Ford and the Derham Custom Body Company and made its debut at the Texas State Fair in October 1956. To say that it, too, was elegant, would be an understatement. After a tour of duty on the show circuit, it was assigned to William Clay Ford, the Mark II's original patron saint within the company.
Another Mark II convertible conversion was built by Hess & Eisenhardt about the same time, and a few more coupes may have been converted by owners later on. There was also talk of producing a retractable hardtop version. None of it mattered: Mark II sales had gone soft in only the car's second year on the market, and even Ford admitted it was losing money on this high-quality, handbuilt, low-volume machine. Just 2994 Continental Mark IIs were built.
Coverage: April 1964
Speaking of Continental convertibles, we road tested the new-for-1964 longer-wheelbase edition. It offered "not flashy, startling luxury but quiet, tasteful luxury." We also previewed the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe under construction, evaluated a number of new imports, and reported that Dan Gurney had won his second Motor Trend 500 NASCAR race at Riverside--an event he'd ultimately win no fewer than five times.