|Most car manufacturers didn’t come out with an all-new model until 1949.
With Packard, it was 1951. This superseded the 48-50 bathtubs, giving way to a more modern, lower, leaner look
with plenty of glass. The 51s were designed by John Reinhart, Packard’s chief designer, and were instantly
well-received by the public, selling over 100,000 that year.
Continental Mark II: what could have happened in 1958
Continental Mark II officially never was Lincoln. But he is one of the most famous cars of the
postwar period, one of the first really collectable ones recognized so much by restauradores as by the
enthusiastic ones. With its lines of great dignity, almost arriving at the classic thing, Mark II shone within the
style of its time. One along with classifies the Studebaker Starliner and the first Ford Thunderbird as a main
profit of design of the decade of years 50. With finishing of great luxury, inside and outside, Mark II was driven
by a motor Lincoln V-8 of 368 inches cubical of displacement (cid) specially selected and balanced, that it
produced 285 horsepowers bases (bhp) on 1956, and 300 bhp in 1957.
Combined to cupé, the line for 1958 probably was including a limosina vehicle type, designed to be lead by a
driver. Gordon Buehrig saw this like an opportunity to revivir one of its styles of the decade of years 30, and used
"the berlina" term, that means sedán in French, for this Continental comfortable length and.
The other proposal for 1958 was the one of a convertible one of retractable hard ceiling. Unlike the popular
opinion, this one was not inspired by the Ford Skyliner of 1957. In fact, he was exactly the opposite thing.
To be chronological exact, the berlina Mark II proposal and the retractable one were not forgotten immediately,
after the analysis of the administration. There was a lapse of six months before the final decision went "to
mercurizar" to the Continental one. During this time, the administration considered to continue with Mark II cupé
like the only model during a time, to see how they would be the sales. The berlina and the retractable one were lazy
of side gradually.
For the enthusiastic ones, Continental Mark III/IV/V of years 1958 to 1960, is considered like less attractive
than the most individual models Mark II of 1956 and 1957. Nevertheless, the Ford was enchanted with the change. The
Mark later had an enormous wheelbase of 131 inches, and fulfilled the demands of the buyers of that time, showing
fénders oblong, excessive applications of chromium, frontal fins of tail and lights in diagonal. What is more, were
available in four styles of body: sedán, hard-top of two and four doors and convertible. The 1959 line Mark IV added
town to car (car of stroll for the city) and a limosina, which obtained what the proposal of the berlina Mark II
persecuted by much less cost. Mark V of 1960 retained mísma line of cars.
PROTOTYPE CARS: CARS THAT NEVER WERE
Teague, Richard A. (Packard) In 1951 Chief Stylist Reinhart resigned. He was replaced by Richard Teague. The 1951 Packard was designed by Reinhart, but it would be Teague who updated the design again for the 1953 cars. Richard Teague also played a prominent role in the design of the 1954 Panther, Packard's first fiberglass- bodied car. Originally intended to be named the Gray Wolf II, in memory of the earlier racing car, the name was later changed to the Daytona Panther when it performed so well at Daytona. Design work on the Panther started in 1951 under the direction of Edward Macauley and John Reinhart. Later, after Reinhart left Packard, Teague picked up where Reinhart left off. Teague also worked on the Packard Balboa and was largely responsible for what would be the 1955 Packard. The rear end of the 1955 was a particularly proud accomplishment for Mr. Teague. It has been reported that the design work took only four hours to accomplish, and Mr. Nance loved it. Richard Teague also designed the 1955 Packard show car, the Request, with the big vertical grill plus many Carribean type features, and the 1957 Packard Predictor. In 1955 Mr. Teague was made Director of Packard Styling.
In 1947, when Werner Gubitz stepped down, John Reinhart became Packard's Chief Stylist, which meant that the difficult task of revamping the old designs for the 22nd and 23rd Series would be his problem and that of Edward Macauley who was still the Director of Styling. It was not an easy task but the so-called "bath-tubs" won many awards including the top design award for 1948. In the later years Edward Macauley tried to balance Packard's decline by adding a number of exceptional cars to the Packard roster, including the Panther of 1951 which started out being Edward Macauley's personal car. In 1952, when James J. Nance came to Packard, the order for the Pan American show car had already been given to Henney. Behind the project is Edward Macauley who has to surmount the internal difficulties at Packard at the time. Ferry is President, but he is cautious and doubts his own abilities to lead Packard. John Reinhart has resigned and is replaced by Richard Teague, and Nance is just around the corner. It was a difficult time at Packard, and Macauley was in the hot seat, but out of that period came the Panther, the Pan American, the Caribbean, the Monte Carlo and the final revamping of the evolutionary body design. Finally, in 1955, Edward Macauley retires almost unnoticed. He is not a member of the team in power then, and there are few left who will miss him, but his contribution to Packard was a big one.
The Packard Panther lineal heritage started with the personal car of Edward Macauley, Packard's Director of Styling in 1951. Using parts from production Packards and styling ideas from John Reinhart, the Panther was mounted on a 122" wheelbase. In effect, it was a coupe with a shortened body covered by a fixed hardtop. It used parts destined for the 1952 model year including a 1952 bumper, '52 hood crest with 1951 lettering on a 1952 grill, plus a hood scoop that was essentially the same as that which Henney put on the Pan American. Wheel covers were also 1951 and had the Patrician cloisonne center emblems. The engine was a 327 cubic inch Packard straight eight connected to the Ultramatic transmission.
The Patrician was aptly christened after the old Roman term for aristocrat or noble, being Packard's top model in its sedan lineup since its introduction in 1951. A distinguished and very comfortable automobile, the company promised a relaxed ride; the low engine speeds gave it a hush, while the power steering and power brakes were all of them the best in the industry. Its "Contour-Styled" body was the design of John M. Reinhart who used lots of glass, including a one-piece curved windshield and a squared-off lower body which brought the fenders up level with the hood and deck, arguably for the first time on a mass production Detroit car.
The Continental Mark II was in itself a unique car. Ford Ilustrated in the winter 1975 issue shed some light on the two convertibles' parentage in their review of the Continental marque.
"After the discontinuance of the Continental in 1948, an array of new Lincolns were built, some good, others not so good. The company kept receiving requests for another Continental. No doubt the officials took note, some more interested in the commercial value rather than the heritage. Whatever the reasons and motives, much credit should be given to William C. Ford, Edsel's younger son. He and his styling staff, including John Reinhart, designed the Mark II.
"Much publicity and built-up suspense preceded its introduction. The Mark II was formally introduced to the general public in October 1955 as a 1956 model." [However, one year prior to its introduction, William Ford announced his plans at the first national rally of the Continental Owners Club, held the week of October 16, 1954 at Greenfield Village, Michigan. - Ed.]
Ford Illustrated went on to say... "From its fine jewel-like grille to its sculptural rear tire mount cover over the rear deck it was a magnificently built automobile. It did not share chassis or body with any other Lincoln, it was strictly 'Continental'. Available in one model, coupe. A proposed cabriolet was considered for 1957. Actually there were two Mark II convertibles built, one by the company, another by an outside concern..."
Who that outside concern was, is still unknown. John Reinhart, cheif stylist for the Mark II told CAR CLASSICS that he know one car had been built for Ford by Derham for exhibition at the Texas State Fair. The March 1857 issue of Speed Age mentioned in a story titled "Is Continental a Dud?", "The ears of Continental enthusiasts perked up some time back when Continental announced that custom body builder Derham of Rosemont, Pa., had finished a Continental convertible and would display it at the Texas State Fair. Continental's executives considered bringing out such a model, but decided against it since it would have to be built by someone other than Continental, and Ford could not supervise quality control, and therefore couldn't issue a warranty. Even at the anticipated price of $18,000, Ford figured there would be plenty of customers waiting, but right now it had problems enough with the sedan."
No mention of a second Mark II convertible was made in that Speed Age article, yet one year earlier in an unnamed automotive publication a picture of the Mark II convertible was run with this caption: "Only one model of the Continental convertible was built this year . It was this car, contructed in Lincoln's own shops for the personal use of William C. Ford. The custom convertible used the Mark II body virtually unchanged except for the convertible top treatment. At the start there were plans to put the design into limited production, but there was never any follow-through on the idea. This design has been the result of much conflicting information as to whether one or two such cars were built. As far as could be determined from sketchy records that exist, there were actually two such cars - the model shown here, and an identical version built in 1957 by Derham for the Ford show fleet."
That entire statement contradicts Ford Motor Company which stated that the car was not built by Lincoln but by Derham, and that only one car was produced!
What happened to that first car built for Ford by Derham? After it was decided that production of a convertible Mark II was cost prohibitive, the car was given to Mrs. William C. Ford. Mrs. Ford later sold the car to Paul Wagner, a vice-president at Ford Motor Company, and a member of the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club. After a short time, Wagner sold the car to a fellow club member, Walter Goeppinger, who still owns the car
Goeppinger told CAR CLASSICS that Mrs. Ford had used to Mark II convertible as a family car and that it required restoration when he purchased it. The work was handled by a Minneapolis restorer named Odd Drathen. Drathen totally restored the car changing it original color from white to green and then to sky blue. The mechanics of the car were perfect and Goeppinger claims the Mark II is the best car he has ever driven, past or present. As to the origin of the second car, Goeppinger and Continental historian Axel Holm agree the second car (which both have seen) was produced, not by Ford or Derham, but by another custom coach builder. Serial numbers indicate the second convertible was a coupe purchased in Chicago sometime in 1956 and later taken to Florida for the custom conversion.
The second Mark II convertible, owned by Fred Yuric on Anaheim, California, is the only other known Continental of its type. There are several differences in the to cars. John Reinhart pointed out that the car he designed along with Gordon Buehrig (of Cord fame), has a different roof line than the convertible bodied in Florida. In addition, the Derham convertible has a canvas boot covering the lowered top while the Florida model has a steel color-keyed boot that holds the entire retracted top. The Florida car also has Lincoln air as an added option. The Derham car does not have air.
Although only about 3000 Mark IIs were built, the new Continental could have gone in several different directions. Reinhart pointed out that Ford had planned the two-door coupe for the first year and a four door model was being considered along with several other types. The most interesting was a convertible hardtop that retracted into the trunk. One such model was built and tested by Lincoln but Henry Ford and the Board of Directors decided that the design would go to the Ford Division, and shortly after, the Skyliner was introduced.
Oh, and the Mark II hardtop convertible... no one knows what happened to it. Another mystery to solve.
1958 Continental Mark III Convertible by John F. Katz
Stylish, not-a-Lincoln model a massive undertaking
The 1958-60 Lincolns and Continentals have fallen into disrepute, particularly among those easily embarrassed by excess in size or styling. One officially sanctioned Lincoln history coyly pretends these cars never existed, its text jumping from 1956 to '61. A more sympathetic author, Paul R. Woudenberg (Lincoln and Continental: The Postwar Years), has suggested that "the public had a hard time understanding the whole concept" -- which would certainly account for the sales figures.
In any case, by 1955, when planning began for an all-new car in 1958, Lincoln was already on its way to becoming an asterisk in automotive history. Ford's flagship has fumbled for an image since the end of the war. But general manager Ben D. Mills thought he had hit upon a winning formula: Lincoln would out-Cadillac Cadillac in exterior bulk and interior room, yet retain a distinctly Ford appearance.
Transforming Mills' concept into metal would be Lincoln's new studio chief, John Najjar, who joined Ford as a tool-and-die maker in 1936. Najjar flared the bumpers, giving the new Lincoln a firm visual base while reflecting the outward-canted headlight pods and mild tail-fins. The flared front bumper led naturally to Corvette-like coves around the front wheel openings. Compared to a '58 Cadillac Series 62, the '58 Lincoln stretched one inch longer in wheelbase, but 12 inches overall, while slipping two inches under the Caddy's overall height.
Ford wanted to consolidate production of the relatively low-volume Lincoln and Thunderbird at a new factory at Wixom, Michigan. Keeping the 'Bird's profile low while adding a back seat necessitated a unit-body -- and that meant that the Lincoln had to go frameless as well.
Now one had ever built a unit-body as large as the new Lincoln; no one knew if it could be done at all, much less in two years' time. But corporate engineering chief Earle S. MacPherson (of suspension strut fame) thought that designing the world's largest monocoque might be fun.
It wasn't. The first running prototype collapsed on contact with a chuckhole. With production little more than a year away, engineers frantically patched the problem with more than 500 pounds of additional steel structure. The increased weight for Lincoln to design an essentially all-new engine, at 430 cid the largest in the industry. With 375 hp at 4800 rpm and 490 lb-ft of torque at 3100, comfortably out-powered and out-torqued the contemporary Cadillac V8 and even the Imperial's 392 Hemi.
Meanwhile the elegant but expensive Continental Mark II floundered in the marketplace; its slow sales no longer justified its unique frame and bodyshell. Continental designer John Reinhart tried to wring a Mark II variant out of the Najjar-designed unit-body, but the proportions were all wrong and the result was so discouraging that Reinhart left the company. Ultimately, the '58 "Continental Mark III" differed only in trim and glass from the Lincoln Capri and Premier -- although Ford presumptuously promoted it as a separate marque. The Mark III's most distinctive feature was a flat, retractable backlight that followed the reverse angle of the standard Lincoln C-pillars. A finer textured grille, round (rather than oblong) taillights, cleaner side trim -- and a $500 premium -- further separated the Continental from a mere Lincoln. A convertible version, steeply priced at $6223, was offered only in the Continental line, and shared the closed Continental's reverse-angle rear glass.
Lincoln production dropped 38.5 percent -- more than double Cadillac's loss in a generally bad sales year. Wixom built only 17,134 '58 Premiers and Capris, plus 11,550 Continentals. With 3048 sold, the slightly bizarre convertible accounted for 26 percent of Continental production, and outsold every other bodystyle except the four-door hardtop.
Ford second-guessed the '58 Lincoln's styling before the car went on sale; Najjar was taken off the job, and a new studio chief Don DeLarossa reined-in some of the excess for '59 Lincoln and Mark IV. The result was less distinctive, but no more attractive. Sales remained disappointing until Elwood Engle's handsome, knife-edged '61 saved Lincoln from oblivion.
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