Joe Schenk’s 1957 Continental Mark II
When Joe Schenk set out to custom build a car from the ground up, he wanted “an elegant luxury car with the look and feel of an original classic, but with all modern equipment and driveability.”
The result of his vision, and the talents of some of the custom automotive industry’s best craftsmen, is this 1957 Continental Mark II. Their seven-year effort was rewarded by being chosen as a finalist for the Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year during the 20th Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals.
Before it hit the showroom late in 1955, Ford Motor Company ballyhooed the Mark II as “a modern classic” to revive the feel and prestige of Lincoln Continentals of the 1940s – and priced it accordingly at $10,000! Joe kicked off his project by purchasing a 1957 Mark II at an estate sale in Beverly Hills, California.
Remembering the Continental’s festive introduction and observing them through the years, “I’d developed a vision of what they should have looked like when they were new,” said Joe. And that’s the vision he set out to create.
Joe thought the Mark II roof was just a shade too tall, so he and Dan Vanauken at Havasu Speed Equipment in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, agreed that a chop of 1-1/2-inches would be just right. That and many other changes that followed are subtle enough to go unnoticed by most observers: “bug-eyed” headlight housings shortened 1-3/8-inches; front bumper reshaped and tucked; rear deck spare impression sectioned 2-3/4-inches; and much more. Premier Street Rods gets credit for the classy Dark Cashmere paint. Colorado Custom 19-inch wheels and whitewall tires from Diamondback Classic reflect the image of the original turbine hubcaps and whitewalls.
Modern power for the Mark II is now provided by a 302ci Ford Coyote engine with Edelbrock Victor II electronic injection and a 4R70W transmission with MasterShift control. Kugel Komponents built the independent air suspension system attached to the heavily modified Continental frame by Al Simon and Jim Meyer.
Ron Mangus was given free reign on the car’s interior, where Lexus front bucket seats and a custom-built rear, plus door and side panels and a one-piece headliner are all dressed in two-tone brown and tan leather. Mangus also built the custom steel center console and dash to Joe’s design, completed with Classic instruments, steering wheel hand-built by Colorado Custom, and a Kicker sound system.
Joe Schenk has had 60 years to think, “what would I do if I had a ’57 Continental Mark II?” Now he’s gone and done it!
Photos by Marc Gewertz