Big-Boy Opulence: 1958 Continental Mark III – Luxury Beyond Scale!
The 1956-57 Continental Mark II is an absolutely gorgeous machine. Have you ever seen one in person? Back when Ford was pushing Continental as their super-luxury division (think the way Imperial slotted above Chrysler about the same time period) the Mark II was the most expensive American car on the market (about $10,000, or adjusted for price, you’re near as no difference to $100,000) and it showed. Gorgeous paint quality, mild and tasteful use of chrome, any option you could’ve possibly wanted…the Mark II was more-or-less hand-built. It was America’s answer to Rolls-Royce.
For 1958, however, a mandate had come down that the Continental needed to be under a $6,000 price point. Things suffered. It looked like the Lincoln Premiere on sale at the time, with just a couple of trim differences and a Breezeway roof line. You want to know what the 1950s point of excess is? Look at it…hanging around 5,000 pounds curb weight, nearly twenty feet long and six and a half feet wide, it was a barge. An over-styled, heavily finned barge with headlights that looked like a Barris add-on and tiny 14″ wheels that made it look like a hippo in ballerina shoes.
Put bluntly, the Mark III that Jay Leno is showing off is so radically overkill that it defies belief. Even in the Fifties, this was too much…and this is the time period that produced the gunsight-taillight Imperials and the 1959 Eldorado. Are there redeeming qualities? You’ll have to be the judge, but at least Leno has one of the nicest examples around. Take a look back at the ultimate mark of “too much” was the order of the day…