The Lincoln Mark Series Cars, Feeling Continental (Part IV)

We return to our Lincoln Mark collection protection nowadays, in the midst of understanding about the to start with Mark of the line, the Continental Mark II. The Mark II aimed to have on the custom established by the gracious Continental of the Forties, and just take Ford to new heights of luxury, desirability, value (and therefore exclusivity), and high-quality. The latter adjective is in which we’ll concentration today it was undoubtedly the aim of the folks at the Continental Division prior to the Mark II’s launch.

It was crucial for Ford to get the quality correct on the new Continental Mark II, in element to make a track record for the manufacturer but also to justify its asking value. Recall from our last entry that at $9,966 ($106,912 adj.) in 1956, the Mark II was the most high priced American vehicle anybody could invest in. Mark II was intended to blend modern automobile conveniences with the construct high quality and glamour of the past, and remind customers of the coachbuilt K-Sequence Lincolns of the Thirties.

The Mark II’s top quality management commenced with a brand name new plant. All Mark IIs had been produced at Allen Park Body and Assembly, a facility that opened in 1956 precisely to develop the Mark II. The plant was renamed soon just after the finish of Mark II to the Edsel Division Headquarters. Right after Edsel flopped, the plant grew to become the New Product Courses Development Centre, wherever Ford tested its new product. Right now it’s identified as the Ford Pilot Plant and serves the very same perform as it has since the Sixties. It manufactures and assessments Ford’s new autos, and documents the development techniques just before a hand-off to the assembling factory.

Close to the time Ford resolved to create the Allen Park facility, the Continental division crafted up a new high-quality handle program unique to the Mark II. Inside it was 7 unique essential initiatives, intended to ensure the utmost in quality from commencing to stop of the Mark II’s create approach. Remember that most of the car or truck was hand-assembled. A lot more on that in a moment, but initially let’s chat initiatives.

The major and overarching initiative in the QC program was called High quality Technical specs. It mandated that any Continental motor vehicle use only materials of the best top quality feasible. Such higher specifications cost Ford far more revenue upfront but would outcome in a really distinctive products. Suppliers of the Mark II had been compelled to improve their manufacturing criteria to comply if they wished to perform ball with Continental.

1 final result of the Excellent Specifications initiative was the selection of leather in the Mark II. American-sourced leather-based was sprayed with shade, relatively than the much more high-priced classic method where by it was dyed in a vat. So Continental went to Bridge of Weir in Scotland and purchased their dyed leather as an alternative. Lincoln would use the leather for some time and brought it back in the 2010s on the MKS.

Elsewhere, excellent specifications intended no availability of metallic paint on the Mark II. Explained paint grew to become preferred in the Fifties as Us residents preferred shiny, sparkly motor vehicles with tailfins. But Continental’s management was worried about the longevity of metallic paints, so they made use of lacquer-based paint alternatively. Mark II was the 1st Ford motor vehicle to use these a challenging-wearing paint.

The 2nd initiative was Original Sample Inspection. As opposed to typical QC processes in Ford generation, Inspections for Continental were being established to consider position previously. This intended excess time throughout the construct in case rejections happened. Additional inspection orders happened in the third top quality issue, Acquiring Inspection.

It was a notable alter in excess of how car sections inspection commonly labored: Continental pushed the onus back on the provider on parts inspection. All areas had been necessary inspected prior to their arrival at Allen Park Assembly. When they did arrive, they were being inspected by Continental personnel for a 2nd time.

Following was the Added Producing Notice initiative. Ford looked at the assembly time of their Ford and Lincoln-Mercury motor vehicles and authorized twice as lengthy to make a Continental. Personnel at Allen Park were being to use the time to check out sections to test for match ahead of assembly, as effectively as right any flaws uncovered.

All through the Continental’s assembly, the In-Plant Inspection and Testing initiative noticed each Mark II pass as a result of 14 diverse inspection factors, all of which had been comprehensive. A workforce of mechanics inspected every single Mark II in advance of the automobile could carry on more. When assembly was completed, there was a different workforce inspection and a remaining highway take a look at before the Mark II was delivered to the acquiring vendor.

By means of the procedure, the Mark IIs remained on a rolling cell carrier. There was no standard assembly line at Allen Park to communicate of: By means of each phase in the establish, a Mark II was moved by hand to the subsequent create station. Form of the common British assembly approach, but better good quality.

The other two initiatives had been outdoors Continental’s assembly, at the consumer coverage amount. The initial of them was Major Administration Motion, exactly where Continental’s brass analyzed facts from the many QC checks at Allen Park, then compared that data to any claimed buyer difficulties or maintenance promises obtained. It was the form of matter a company would do with several spreadsheets now, except there was no Excel.

Eventually, Continental committed to shopper company with the Subject Provider initiative. It was a application exclusively for Continental buyers, intent on the correction of consumer issues, and adhere to-up with reported shoppers to validate they were being content with their motor vehicle. Portion of that fulfillment was absolutely down to the volume of preference still left to the purchaser with regard to their Mark II’s appearance.

During the rigorous QC process, the artisans at Allen Park Entire body would paint a Mark II in one of 19 distinctive lacquers. Customers paired the thick paint with a person of 43 distinct interior shade techniques, which provided five different upholstery products for the interior. The Mark II was not supplied in garish two-tone like other personal luxurious competitors had been so normally geared up. On the other hand, Continental would comply with such a request if the buyer was established on it.

Standard on the Mark II was really a good deal of electrical power products for the Fifties: Ability brakes, seats, and windows (which includes vents). Gauges were being comprehensive and involved a warning light-weight for minimal gas, each ideas that were type of novel at the time. And whilst the Mark II’s wheel addresses have been not a distinctive attribute, the way they were being made was.

Each individual of the wheel addresses was made by hand. The multi-spoke style was created up of hand-assembled veins, each individual one connected separately. In the identical way, a craftsman bolted every letter of the block Continental lettering on the rear tire hump independently.

Continental staff members also rebuilt just about every brand new engine ahead of it was mounted in a Mark II. As we discovered very last time, the Mark II’s Y-block 368 cubic inch V8 was taken directly from the Lincoln lineup. Even so, it was not blithely mounted into a Continental, that would’ve been much too straightforward. As an alternative, every single motor destined for Mark II utilization was hand-picked from the Lincoln assembly line (as a “good one?”) and then taken apart.

The V8 was then reassembled with Continental’s QC tolerances and methods in thoughts, to guarantee that it achieved standards. When it was completed, there were being general performance inspections much too. 1 miracles if the cautious rebuild produced a massive difference in the dependability of the engine down the street.

With its considerable quality management, classy Midcentury styling, and sky-large cost, it was time to put the new Continental Division’s Mark II coupe on sale to an keen and effectively-heeled public. And all went well, suitable? Properly, no. Not at all. But that is a tale for following time.

[Images: YouTube]

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Katherine T. Burrows

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