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In the Garage: 1956 Continental Mark II convertible
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1956 Continental Mark II convertible owned by Glynette and Barry Wolk
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
American luxury cars were riding high in the 1950s, but not high enough for Ford, which decided to target Rolls-Royce by offering the sumptuous Mark II sport coupe for $10,000, about double the price of a Cadillac. “It was actually built by a separate division of Ford Motor Company called the Continental Division,” says Barry Wolk.
“Production ceased in late ’56 with just over 3,000 of the cars made.” A single prototype convertible went to the Ford family, while two others – including the Wolks’ stunning blue ragtop – were commissioned by Ford’s marketing group from new coupes that had been damaged in transit. “They were to be used as dealer-demonstrators in the Chicago area,” Wolk says. “No one knows what happened to them between late 1955 and late 1962.”
HOW LONG THEY’VE OWNED IT
WHERE THEY FOUND IT
The Wolks were searching an online auction site for a 1960s Lincoln when they saw the Mark II. They bought it directly from the owner after it failed to reach its reserve price.
“The car was treated to an off-frame restoration ending in 1994,” Wolk says. “As many NOS (new old stock) parts as possible were used to make it in like-new condition. No expense was spared in restoring the chrome and painted surfaces. The engine compartment was restored to exact specifications. The mechanical aspects carry forward to modern cars so it’s a very capable driver. It will do 80 miles an hour in quiet elegance.”
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“The Mark II is an expensive car to restore,” Wolk cautions. “The massive bumpers and the rest of the bright work take 150 pounds of chromium to cover them to original specifications. The drive train was right out of the Lincoln parts bins, making parts availability a dream.”
The Wolks decline to put a current value on the car. “The Mark II convertible was actually offered by Ford for $18,000,” Wolk says, “but there were no takers for a production vehicle.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Wolk says the Continental has been displayed at Ford’s Michigan headquarters and has won trophies at most of its 40 car show appearances. The couple has also met Ford family members. “When I bought the car, I told my wife that we had just purchased a new social life,” he says. “That turned out to be quite true. We’ve made more long-term relationships in the last 10 years than the 30 before. Car people are special.”