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straight shooter

1955 Chrysler 300 vs. 1956 Continental Mark II

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If you had to pick between a 1955 Chrysler 300 or a 1956 Continental Mark II which one would it be and why? In my opinion they a two of the most beautiful 1950's American cars built.

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

You cannot really compare the two. One is full of brute force and the other is full of luxury. Being a MoPar kinda guy, I would have to have the Chrysler 300. Personally, I like the Chrysler's looks better, too.

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I think it's still comparing apples to oranges. Both style-wise and performance-wise. I prefer the Continental. If I were to buy a 300, I think it would be an F of 1960

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+1 on the Continental, closest American vehicle of its era to the spirit or concept of a Full Classic - truly a unique departure from the typical styling of its day. (not that those MOPARs weren't - its just that to me they represented a different interpretation of common themes of the era while the Continental was completely fresh.)

If you search the archives you will find a long thread where friend and fellow poster asks a simillar question between the Continental and a Caddy. He since moved on but I think the thread helped him decide to try a Continental for a couple seasons, nice cars...

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Conti, no contest. However, if the 300 of choice was the '56 300B, I'd have to think again. This is all about styling, right? Mechanically, I'd choose the Chrysler, any Chrysler product of that time, in fact. They are so nice to drive and far easier to work on than competitive products from Ford and GM.

Thank goodness we don't have to make these hard choices. There are plenty of great old cars available, for all of us to try this or that. Even though I've owned a Buick for a very long time, I've had other old cars in the mean time. They all had something special to recommend them.

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Guest BJM

Straight Shooter,

I am in the process of trying to purchase a Mark II project, and am active on the Mark II forum. Based on what I have learned, the Mark II is the choice. The Mark II project was to create a very special automobile. FoMoCo created the division, rather then making it a model. The body shares nothing with any other Ford vehicle. The quality and attention to detail on Mark II's is unbelievable.

What seperates the Mark II from most 300's is the provenance. If you want to own a car for it's "artifact-ness" then the Mark II is for you. True, some 300's had interesting owners, but each Mark II was owned by someone interesting. At about $10,000, few people could afford them.

A project Mark II came up for sale the other day that was originally owned by Milton Eisenhower, the President's brother who was also President of Kansas State Univ, and later Johns Hopkins. Many famous industrial families owned Mark II's. If that matters to you, then it's kind of fun to own one, like a famous house. The Mark II forum has a historian that keeps a registry and virtually every Mark II has information as to it's original owner. Not all, but most.

I once owned a 55 Imperial, and think these are fantastically styled cars. But as discussed, the Mark II's came as close to being a postwar "Full Classic" as any car. I encourage you to purchase some books on them to fully appreciate how they were styled, built and delivered.

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Straight Shooter,

I am in the process of trying to purchase a Mark II project, and am active on the Mark II forum. Based on what I have learned, the Mark II is the choice. The Mark II project was to create a very special automobile. FoMoCo created the division, rather then making it a model. The body shares nothing with any other Ford vehicle. The quality and attention to detail on Mark II's is unbelievable.

What seperates the Mark II from most 300's is the provenance. If you want to own a car for it's "artifact-ness" then the Mark II is for you. True, some 300's had interesting owners, but each Mark II was owned by someone interesting. At about $10,000, few people could afford them.

A project Mark II came up for sale the other day that was originally owned by Milton Eisenhower, the President's brother who was also President of Kansas State Univ, and later Johns Hopkins. Many famous industrial families owned Mark II's. If that matters to you, then it's kind of fun to own one, like a famous house. The Mark II forum has a historian that keeps a registry and virtually every Mark II has information as to it's original owner. Not all, but most.

I once owned a 55 Imperial, and think these are fantastically styled cars. But as discussed, the Mark II's came as close to being a postwar "Full Classic" as any car. I encourage you to purchase some books on them to fully appreciate how they were styled, built and delivered.

Well said...and would be the one for me. For a GM guy, Pontiac and Olds in particular, the mark 2 body has just one word from me.....Elegant!

As far as fast or powerful goes, C 300 any year isn't fast. Quicker than many cars of the day depending on year, but after trying to shake two car at Daytona in 1956 that always seemed to be right there and never being able to pull away 1956 would be the end of any seriousness.

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I've always thought ANY "MK" Lincolns (other than the latest verions) were special cars. For that matter, ANY Lincoln back then was usually owned by somebody special in their community. I remember seeing a MK II which was owned by the local L-M dealer back then. It was "a normal car", of sorts, in the earlier 1960s . . . meaning that it had been treated with respect, but showed some age on it. Only thing was that I was more enamoured with '57 T-birds back then. In the later 1970s-earlier 1980s, a friend's dad's long-time alignment shop in Fort Worth had a customer with an unmolested original car MK II. That was the only one I'd seen under the hood of. It looked just like the pictures with the special valve covers and such, which were quite flashy back then. This car, too, was "a normal car" that showed age and wear, but it would have been reasonably easy to restore as it was all there. BUT it would have taken a full-blown operation to make it right. I remember seeing an article, circa earlier 1980s, where a guy in Arizona was specializing in restoring/rebuilding those MK IIs. It was in one of the collector car-oriented magazines back then . . . I think I have it "archived" somewhere.

I think that if I was going to own ONE of them, it would need to be the ONE which had been converted to Ford 460 power by Ford engineers. It was featured on "My Classic Car" sometime back. Seems like there was also a few convertible MK IIs too? Or just prototypes?

Unfortunately, as great as those Lincoln MK IIs were, the Chrysler 300 has the visual and name recognition which many in the general public can key on. The "original Hemi" doesn't hurt anything, either.

Admittedly, by even 1970s standards, neither car was "quick" with their weight and tuning . . . being hindered by exhaust manifold designs which had to "make do" with the available space until the next body change with wider engine compartments. I can more identify with the Chrysler 300s demeanor and performance capabilities as it can make a good car for "profiling", "cruising", or getting places expeditiously . . . especially after the TorqueFlite came online . . . and not having to slow down a huge bit for corners. But the 300s main claim to fame was its top speed capabilities, rather than how fast it got there (with the earlier PowerFlite cars).

I guess since I'm not a member of "The Elegant Group", I'd rather have the 300 . . . but if I could afford that 460 version, with some incognito chassis and brake upgrades, that might swing things more into the Lincoln's parking spot.

Dang decisions!

Happy Holidays!

NTX5467

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I'm sorry, I should have said "Understated Elegance". A little Baby bird simplicity look in the front, the single headlamp-simplicity again, looking head on from the front, the front fenders are not wide remind me of looking head on of 55-56 Corvette. If you know what a 1963 Bonneville side profile looks like, and compare it to a 1963 Grand Prix you will notice a absence of chrome side molding. I think they said "Less is More". Well the Mark 2 is like that too, or factually the other way around. Less IS more and if you've got it "right" no ornamentation is needed.

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Continental Mark II. I certainly wouldn't turn down a '55 Chrysler 300 if somebody offered me one, but I've always wanted a Mark II. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen when they first appeared (I was a 10 year-old kid when they came out). At that time you could buy a fairly nice tract house in the San Fernando Valley for the price of a Mark II.

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Guest BJM

I think that if I was going to own ONE of them, it would need to be the ONE which had been converted to Ford 460 power by Ford engineers. It was featured on "My Classic Car" sometime back. Seems like there was also a few convertible MK IIs too? Or just prototypes?

NTX5467

All Mark II convertibles started out as Mark II coupes. I believe 2 were authorized, semi legitimate. William Clay Ford, brother to Henry II, had one made for his wife. Again, it was sourced from a hardtop coupe-converted. In the following years, a few Mark II's were made into convertibles.

Of course, there would always be a curiosity about why such a flagship vehicle was not offered as a convertible. I believe from the get-go the Mark II Division was seen as a distraction to the Ford management. It had a small window to create these beautiful vehicles.

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In my opinion, the Continental Mk II is the best looking car ever built in the U.S.A. It is elegant and simple and plain all at the same time; not adorned with a lot of un-needed chrome and doo-dads. However throwin the '57-60 300-C thru 300-F and the question becomes complicated. The Chrysler received a clean, elegant restyle and it would have to be on of the most desireable road cars ever. Oh well, for me the question is one of simplicity since neith one sells with in reach of my budget. However, the availability of diecast lets me indulge most of my fantasies. Right now there is a beautiful white Mk II sitting on my computer desk and tucked away to be enjoyed on another day are a pair of 300-B-s and a -57 300-C.

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Thanks for everyones replies, It seems that most consider the 56-57 Mark II above the 1955 Chrysler 300. Some of you consider the 57-60 Chrysler 300's to be a better match against the Continental and I can see why.

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ONE thing which might sway the decision, other than mechanical or "shapes" considerations, would be COLOR. There are some cars which look good in their upper trim levels and some which look better in the lower trim levels . . . due to ornamentation and details, but if the color is not good on a particular car's sheet metal, NOTHING will make it desireable to a large group of potential buyers/owners.

In many cases, a "high metallic" paint can really show off a car's shapes and contours very nicely, especially if the color is right. In that case, the metallic just makes it "pop" better. One case would be the Buick Lucerne. I studied that car for cummulative hours in an effort to try to make it look better . . . by adding a two-tone combination (in various configurations) and even some additional brightwork. A BIG problem is that with the "less is more" orientation, so many OEMs have removed ALL bright trim, now "showing their panel gaps" around windshields and such (of ALL places!!) to unabashedly show how "crafted" the cars now are . . . but which also lowers production costs at the same time. I liked the darker metallic blue and the bright crimson red tintcoat, as colors on cars, but until I rented a black metallic one and stopped to look at it, THAT was the color which made that vehicle "pop" as it showed up the many nice body contours with the color and the metallic made it that much better. Add a few accent pin stripes and a double-pair of "cats whiskers" to the deck lid (ala '58 Buick) and it would be complete, at least to me. Plus that one was a later model one, with Michelins on it (rather than the earlier Bridgestones) that had a ride which was pleasantly firm but not harsh, plus the center console for a sporty flair.

Colors tend to go in cycles, which can also affect sales or reflect socio-economic issues of the times. Some of the colors of the later 1970s (with the newly-downsized full-size cars) were different, but pleasant. By the time we got to 1980s, though, the "pastel-metallics" just didn't have the zing of th earlier color choices. Then we got more darker metallics in the middle to later 1980s and sales seemed to rebound nicely. Similarly, the styling and adornments were nice, too, which fit nicely with the revitalized color choices.

That's enough for now . . .

Happy Holidays!

NTX5467

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I would prefer to later series Chryslers, or even moreso, the 1957-1958 Imperial - a better comparison.

It would be hard to beat the '58 Imperial in either convertible or hardtop configuration, and then add in the reliability, parts availability, overall good looks, and of course the 392 Hemi...

No Contest, but that is just one guy's opinion.

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Marty, some of the same thoughts crossed my mind earlier today. That some of the same economic demographic customers which would have the means to purchase a Continental Mark II would probably be very similar to the '57-'60 Imperials' customers' demographics (as evidenced by the sales brochures and print ads for those years of Imperials).

If I recall, in a time when assembly line advances were all the rage, the Continental MK IIs had much more "hand labor" in them than other vehicles. The styling was more of a custom style than a mass-produced style . . . a style which looked modern back then and still looks good now. Tastefull, elegant, and exclusive.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

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I like the Lincoln for its distinctive style and build quality. The Chrysler is a hotter performing car. Two different approaches to building the ultimate rich man's indulgence.

Either one would be ok with me. Better send me one of each so I can try them out and give you a definite answer LOL.

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... now if you could get a Mark II with a Hemi in it.... lol, no tomatoes please!

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