Striking in its appearance when it first appeared on the scene, as well as more than five decades later, the design for the 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II developed over a long period of time.
The Continental line started in 1940 as an alternative to Lincoln's upscale Zephyr (some reports say Edsel Ford, upon returning from Europe, wanted a car that was "strictly continental" in its appearance), and it was a lower (by 3 inches) and longer (by 7 inches) than its Zephyr brother. The two vehicles continued to be produced side by side by Lincoln up until World War II, with only the Continental surviving the conflict.
Postwar Continentals were produced in low numbers (less than 1,600 of them in 1947) and the body line was killed in 1949 in favor of a new, albeit less flattering, Cosmopolitan.
In 1956, Ford created another category of their company, the Continental Division, for their next vehicle. Debuted at the Paris Auto Show the previous October, the second generation of Continentals, the Mark II, would soon be ready for U.S. showrooms. Elegant and refined, the Mark II had now moved into the "instant classic" phase of its existence, but would only be produced in 1956 and 1957 before being replaced by the larger Mark III in 1958 and the soulless Mark IV in 1959.
Ronnie Koonce and Tim McGee...
Ronnie Koonce and Tim McGee created the custom dash and console, filling the latter with the Kenwood stereo head unit and Hot Rod Air controls and the former with Classic Instrument gauges mounted in a milled aluminum insert. HushMat insulation was used throughout the interior, and Chuck Bennett and Sandra Gregory covered the Lincoln Mark VIII seats (plus the custom rear buckets) and nearly everything else in red leather. The steering wheel is from Billet Specialties and mounts to an ididit column.
Less than 3,000 Mark IIs were ever produced (possibly because of its $10,000 price tag-about $78,000 in today's inflated times), which makes customizing one a decision not for the faint of heart. Calvin and Leon Moore, a pair of 60-year-old-plus brothers from Nashville, had always liked the Mark II's lines, as they were teenagers when the car hit the showrooms in 1956, and they always believed that one day they'd own one.
Decades rolled by before they would have their chance, but three years ago Calvin started looking for an acceptable candidate to purchase and found one in West Covina, a suburb of Los Angeles. Their first intention was to restore the car to its original condition but, while they were finishing up a Tri-Five Chevy build, they decided the car would benefit from new underpinnings (steering and suspension) and an updated engine while keeping much of the exterior stock.
With that, work on the 126-inch wheelbase chassis began with the installation of a Kugel Komponents 4.11:1 independent rear suspension system. The chassis had to be reworked out back to accept this rearend, and A-arms had to be fabricated for the front to complete the custom IFS setup. Rack-and-pinion steering also went in, along with Wilwood disc brakes for each corner of the car. In keeping with the look of the original, 52-spoke, 17-inch, Tru-Spoke chrome wire spoke wheels were wrapped with Michelin MXV4 235/55R17 rubber.
The Mark IIs were originally equipped with the 368 Lincoln Y-block, which had a different production run than the similar Ford Y-blocks. But the brothers weren't interested in the stock engine and turned to Robert Pond Motorsports for a unique choice of engine for the Continental: the 427.
Robert Pond began casting his own version of the Ford FE engine block a few years back and, from the outside, it looks original (except Pond's is all aluminum) but internally he improved on the design. Bored and stroked to 482 cubes, the big V-8 was assembled with a SCAT crank and rods, and uses a COMP Cams camshaft and CP pistons. The water pump and aluminum heads came from Edelbrock, and ignition is delivered via MSD controls. The headers and exhaust (made by Ronnie Koonce with polished stainless steel) were also custom fabbed for this car.