Custom Continental MK II: Mark of Excellence
The Continental Life continues –
Growing up there were cars I dubbed as favorites…when they would appear, they made me smile. Those were such happy times, so long ago…how I wondered where they’d gone. But they’re back again…just like a long-lost friend – all the cars I loved so well. It’s yesterday once more with John Torrie’s custom 1957 Continental MK II. The formidable Continental MK II is my all-time favorite classic car.
The Continental MK II is a timeless beauty that was built for only two models years exclusively by the Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company. No, the MK II is NOT a Lincoln – it’s a “Continental” – I thought I would throw this in to dispel ambiguity. Here’s a dream with a little bit of fantasy. This custom 1957 Continental MK II is a contemporary rendition of a time-honored classic. Now this is what I call NotoriousLuxury…
The classic 1956-1957 Continental MK II
The “Mark of Excellence” is handcrafted by John Torrie Jr. and John Torrie Sr. They built the classic custom in a single car garage…no, this isn’t a typo. This one-of-a-kind beauty was featured in “Rod & Custom” Magazine as the spotlight vehicle. It began its life as a stock 1957 Continental MK II. The car retains its basic silhouette and flowing lines…capturing a rare serendipitous eloquence.
After being sliced, diced, chopped, and lowered, the MK II takes on a totally unique appearance. The custom Continental MK II is absolutely stunning from any angle. The amazing aspect of this beautiful car is the fact that it is as modern as it is classic. Look deep into its timeless styling and you can see the original design. From the aggressive front end cosmetic ensemble to the dramatic signature Continental rear deck lid, the Torries synthesized the best of both worlds seamlessly…in a rudely-elegant manner –
The custom Continental MK II is finished in flawless “Corvette Atomic Orange” base coats. It’s the clear coats that adds depth to all of the contours and sweeping lines which forces the eyes to roam the entire car in a single appraisal. The startling contrast between the shocking orange finish and the classic wide whitewall tires is highlighted by the outrageous 100-spoke chrome aluminum wheels. The custom Continental MK II is a successful confluence of old world charm and contemporary panache –
The car’s avant-garde transformation is augmented by a lower profile. The roof is chopped 2” which makes the body appear even larger than it is. A modest height correction to the stock platform gives it dynamic road-hugging appeal. The car is lowered using Fatman Fabrications 2 ½” dropped spindles with Firestone dampers to replace the coil springs to the front suspension.
This swap allows disc brakes to replace the drum type. The rear suspension is altered using de-arched leaves. The rear drum brakes are retained. Monroe gas shock absorbers assist ride height at all four wheels allowing it to be adjusted for driving or lowered to “strike a pose” when she just sits and wants to look pretty!
There is no unnecessary bling to discount its luxurious beauty. The restrained use of ornamentation is tasteful and sophisticated. Most of the stock MK II accents are shaved away…including the door handles. The front end styling boasts Frenched-in headlamps, custom grille, and lower bumper roll pan finished to match the body color. The upper portion of the bumper retains a stock appearance sans bumper guards. The blacked-out grille work is highlighted by a single chrome horizontal bar.
The startling transformation to the rear of the custom Continental MK II is built upon the “ghost” of the stock version. The Torries kept the basic overall design in mind filling in the taillamps and transferring them to the former exhaust ports in the rear bumper…sweet huh? The iconic ersatz Continental spare tire design remains intact less ornamentation.
The rear bumper was redesigned with a body color roll pan to offset the chromed upper portion tastefully. The custom Continental MK II has all of the elegance of the original presented in sheer understatement that oozes class. Too bad the minimalist approach wasn’t used back in the 1950s when garish styling and strange protuberances ruled. The 1956-1957 Continental MK II is one of the few exceptions to the rule with its classic Euro-inspired simplicity.
The custom Continental MK II’s old world charm influences its resto-mod interior. Sumptuous white leather covers the sofa-like seating. The classic simplicity of the sew style ends the center seams with single button tufting. It’s just as tastefully crafted as the original version. A unique center console design continues up into the rear seats, in a contrasting orange to compliment the exterior. The understated elegance is what captures the attention…everything flows in sync with the rest of the cabin – the car is very luxurious…
Opulent luxury exudes from the original
The Torries captured tasteful contemporary elegance
Under its massive 70” long hood lurks a re-built stock version of Lincoln’s V8 engine. It’s a potent 6.0 litre 368 CID 16-valve naturally aspirated OHV V8 equipped with a 4-bbl carburetor. The Torries sound-tuned the engine to a sexy baritone by using a custom exhaust system with Cherry Bombs. The mighty 6.0 litre “Y-block” V8 for the original 1956 version produces 285 hp @ 4,600 rpm with 545 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in 11 seconds with a top speed in the 120 mph range. It can do the ¼ mile @ 80 mph in 18 seconds.
The 1957 version is a tad bit more powerful with the same 6.0 litre V8 which now produces 300 hp @ 4,800 rpm with 563 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration for this version is rated as 0-60 mph in 10.3 seconds with a top speed in the 119 mph range, completing the ¼ mile @ 80 mph in 17.5 seconds. Both engines are mated to Lincoln’s 3-speed automatic Turbo-Drive Cruise-O-Matic transmission.
The opulent Continental MK II was a trend-setter with its classic elegance…the $10,000 price tag gave it pre-eminence few automobiles could achieve. The 1956-1957 original was designed to be one of the finest handcrafted automobiles in the world. Quality, fit, and finish were paramount. The exclusive Continental Division crafted the car with a rigid 7-point quality control regimen.
The Continental was to Ford as Lexus is to Toyota. The stunning land yacht was one of the heaviest automobiles built for the day at 4,825 pounds. It was so comprehensively equipped, the only option available at the time was air conditioning which added another 365 pounds. The Continental MK II has the luxury length of 218.5”, rides upon a long 126” wheelbase and is a massive 77.5” wide.
The classic 1956-1957 Continental MK II was built completely by hand exclusively by the now defunct Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company. Again…it’s not a Lincoln, it’s a Continental. This supreme achievement in motoring was built for only two years. The Continental Division existed only two years as well.
The elite Continental MK II was the image car for the Ford Motor Company. They actually lost money on each car produced because of the MK II’s extensive handcrafting. The classic simplicity and understated elegance was far ahead of its time when the other luxury cars from this genre were sporting gaudy designs with tons of chrome and towering tailfins.
Custom cars are the ultimate expression of individuality. Anything from mild to wild takes the onlooker on a visual journey escaping the mass-production status quo. This type of automotive abstract art was popular for vintage vehicles from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s…when cars were real! The designers had something to work with. The most eminent custom car designers include Gene Winfield, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, George Barris, Thom Taylor, and Boyd Coddington.
I don’t have any information regarding this radical contemporary custom. This is a 1979 Lincoln Continental MK V. Look closely at the front end ensemble, the custom grille and modified bumper. “Bumperettes” were popular in custom cars from the 1940s & 1950s. Every customizer has a style, it all starts as an idea…look at the results. If anyone knows anything about this stunning custom Continental MK V PLEASE let me know. I am dedicated to bring you anything that is notoriously outrageous. This is the NotoriousLuxury mission…
This custom 1979 Continental MK V is rudely elegant
…slammed right into the ground with authority
…a slammed, down-right nasty Series Sixty-Two ragtop
Here’s the 4th of July in a custom F-100 pickup
This custom “Big-M” leaves ya weak in the knees…
Here’s a mild custom 1955 Crown Victoria
1979 Coupe deVille custom “LeCabriolet” ragtop
An ultra-rare Continental MK II convertible
Contemporary automobiles are designed to cleave the air efficiently. Altering today’s cars could create potentially dangerous situations. These wedge-shaped designs are specifically created to battle turbulence and cross winds. The front end styling includes features to enhance stability and reduce uplift. The rear of the car utilizes diffuser assemblies designed to create downforce. Removal of these essential design features could render today’s cars airborne at certain high speeds with the right combination of wind shear and loss of downforce.
Special thanks to Daniel Schmitt at: http://www.schmitt.com
I grew up admiring custom cars especially when Detroit, Michigan was “The Motor City!” The one of a kind automotive masterpieces are abstract art in motion. The custom 1957 Continental MK II handcrafted by the Torries, John Jr. and John Sr. is a “Mark of Excellence.” Frenched-in headlamps, chopped roofline, custom roll pans and valances replacing chrome bumper assemblies gives the car its own unique persona. The overall silhouette is lower augmenting the rogue character of the rudely-elegant design.
The 1956 and 1957 Continental MK II were handcrafted to be among the world’s finest luxury automobiles. These eminent Flagships are built by the Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company which was only in existence for the 1956 and 1957 model years. The Continental MK II is a classic example of American automotive history. It’s yesterday once more, thanks to the Torries! From its aggressive front end ensemble to the ersatz spare tire design…the custom Continental MK II is an exemplary contemporary rendition of a time-honored classic. NotoriousLuxury salutes the Torries, John Jr, and John Sr. for their “Mark of Excellence.”
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I just read you article on the 57 lincoln, wanted to thank you that. my husband John and son John Jr really appreciate it. My husband had cancer when this car was built,and this build keep his mind off of his illness. Wanted to thank you again for this beautiful article.
At the risk of being politically incorrect “MERRY CHRISTMAS YVONNE!!!” You made my day! The moment I set eyes upon that custom Continental I had to give it its ‘propers’ since nobody else did effectively. Make sure to tell all who helped in that car’s creation…the entire world loves it! My audience is world-wide. Some of my articles are on automobile manufacturer’s websites. My email box FILLED the moment I featured it. I am honored to have it posted to my site! God Bless you and yours this holiday season!