The original Lincoln Continental first appeared back in the 1930s, when Henry Ford's son Edsel had one built as his personal transport. It proved popular and continued in production from 1938 right up until 1949. The name was revived in 1956 in a move that may have been either a huge expensive error for Ford, or a big marketing success!
It was, apparently, brought out as a direct competitor to the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, in a similar price range. Whether or not it was a worthy rival for the crown of the best car in the world is very debatable; it was good but not that good. The price however was astronomical; it was said that you could buy five normal Ford cars for the same price. Was it worth it? Again, that is debatable!
It was a big car but like all American cars of the period there was a lot of boot and bonnet. This two door hardtop was assembled by hand; part of the reason why it was so expensive; and it featured a six litre V8 engine which could propel it to a maximum speed of 110 mph, with acceleration from nought to 60 of 10 seconds. A distinctive feature of it was a stamped out bulge to the boot lid; this where the spare wheel was kept.
Despite the enormous pricetag it was never a profitable car to make; the venture lost Ford a small fortune. In production for two years, less than 3000 were made altogether. However was it such a flop? Ford had established a reputation for building good solid middle range cars but they were hardly looked upon as a prestigious manufacturer of luxury vehicles! The Continental was aimed at a different market entirely to the company's normal buyers. Ford wanted to establish themselves as one of the most upmarket companies and they wanted to have a certain aura of exclusivity for the Continental.
There were even apocryphal tales of dealers refusing to take orders for the car from anyone but the most wealthy, in order to try to enhance it's status; whether or not this is true is again debatable. It was certainly far away the most expensive American built car of it's day and the price alone would have guaranteed exclusivity.
Indeed such notables as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the Shah of Iran owned Continentals; but then Rolls-Royce could still boast of a far longer list of celebrities and world leaders amongst it's customers.
Was it then just a clever marketing exercise to raise the profile of the Ford Motor Company? If it was I would respectfully suggest that they should have sacked their entire marketing department. it was a good car but far too expensive to ever reach a mass-market, even if Ford had intended it to do so. And I doubt if the management at Rolls-Royce even noticed it's existence, let alone worried about it stealing their market.