For the second part of my Most Expensive American Cars series, we’ll take a look at the most expensive products sold by the Ford Motor Company. As before, I’ll be adjusting all prices to 2021 levels using my favorite online inflation calculator. Once again, I’m being selective, so don’t complain that I missed the F-350 King Ranch Limited Platinum Lariat edition.
1956 Continental Mark II – $9,966 ($99,548 adjusted)
The Continental Mark II was the car that William Clay Ford (both pictured above) intended to compete with Rolls Royce, and priced accordingly at a then heart-wrenching $9,966 (about double a contemporary Lincoln). Even then, Ford still managed to lose money on every one. Well equipped for its day, the Mark II was available with only one option, air conditioning, at $595. When so equipped, the 2021 adjusted price crosses the 100K mark, at $105,492.
In case you were wondering, the OG flathead V12 powered 1939-1946 Lincoln Continental was actually a relatively affordable car in its day (at least by exotic-car standards), as it was based on a contemporary Lincoln Zephyr. It started at around $2800, which equates to less than $60,000 in 2021.
2020 Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition – $116,645
Near the end of the final-generation Continental’s production run, Lincoln released the car that this generation of Continental should have been all along. Lincoln produced a limited run of 80 hand-build suicide coach door models in 2019, priced at $110,000 apiece. After selling out in 48 hours, Lincoln decided to make the coach door a regular production option for $2020, while increasing the price to $116,645.
The Coach Door Edition may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it is fantastic. To me, the Continental is synonymous with suicide doors, and if the opportunity to purchase one second-hand at a reasonable price were to present itself in a few years, I would give it serious consideration.
1965 Ford GT40 – $20,000 ($172,505 adjusted)
We all know the story, or at least have seen the movie. Rebuffed by Enzo Ferrari at his attempts to acquire his company, Henry Ford II commissioned the GT to bury Ferrari on the race track, which they did finishing 1, 2, and 3 in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race which Ford dominated for the remainder of the decade.
While primarily designed and built to support Ford’s racing efforts, a few were sold for homologation purposes, with an original selling price of roughly $20,000 (exact numbers are hard to find), or $172,505 in today’s dollars. Impressive, yes, but this is actually the cheapest of all the Ford GTs, even after adjusting for inflation.
2005 Ford GT – $149,995 ($208,669 adjusted)
To commemorate the 100th birthday of the Ford Motor Company in 2003, Ford commissioned a modern reinterpretation of the iconic GT40 to be produced in limited quantities.
Speculators quickly caught wind of the GT, so even before production ended in 2006, examples were already selling on the second-hand market for $100,000 or more over sticker price. This would be a lesson that Ford would take to heart when pricing the third-generation GT (below).
2021 Ford GT – $500,000
With an MSRP of $500,000, the current Ford GT is not only the most expensive Ford ever, but one of the most expensive mass-produced American cars, period.
In an effort to curb the speculation that took place around the previous model, Ford required all potential GT buyers to submit applications and sign a contract agreeing not to resell the car for 24-months after taking delivery. Early models whose “no-flip” agreements have since expired are going for upwards of a million dollars or more on the second-hand market, so once again it appears that Ford left money on the table even at this price level.
As a Ford Guy, I love-love-love this—-great topic!
I’d happily find garage space for *any* of these, and if I couldn’t profit from the car in any way, would probably choose 1965 or 2005.
FWIW, a little showroom hooplah from the Mark II’s rollout:
My dad and I went into NYC for the 1956 (57?) New York Auto Show, but the only lasting memory I have all these years later was the roped off (velvet ropes) WHITE, Mk II up on a raised platform with 2 Brinks guards!
The looks struck me altho I thought then, and still do, that the windshield was to “stiff”. Everybody is a critic!! 🙂
Despite that and the, IIRC, $10,000 price tag, my young eyes were impressed. The Mk II was certainly in another galaxy compared to my dad’s stodgy ’52 DeSoto……..even with its HEMI.
I remember nothing else from that show just the gleaming WHITE Mk II. It seemed like I had never seen such a blazing white automobile before. Each of the few times I’ve seen a Mk II since then I am reminded of that New York Auto Show and the only car that left a lasting impression………..it was attractive. DFO
I saw an invoice for a 1961 Rolls-Royce. The trade-in was a Lincoln Continental Mark II, for which the buyer received a credit of $1,500 towards the price of the Silver Cloud.
Being able to afford that kind of depreciation is part of the price of admission to the club. In 1961 that Lincoln screamed 1956. Cars fell out of fashion fast back then.
One of the reasons why Rolls-Royce was able to turn a profit was that the Silver Cloud was the same car in ’61 as in ’56 (albeit with a different engine). Rolls spun unchanging styling as a positive selling point in exactly the way VW did at the other end of the market. Like VW they were a “foreign car” and could get away with that in a way American carmakers felt they couldn’t. In 1956, even AMC’s relaunch of the warmed-over original Nash Rambler as a Rambler American was two years off, and that, again, was a cheap car.
The custom-bodied classics of the 1920s and 1930s also depreciated at a shocking rate.
The Continental MKII was a high water mark (no pun intended) in American car styling. They really were something special. My grandfather had one, sadly sold in the late 1980’s. To this day I have a preference for Lincolns and Continentals, indeed, the emblematic four pointed star is tattooed on my left shoulder.
When I was about 17 or so, a friend of my father had a 56 or 57 Mk2. He went away on vacation and left it with us and gave me permission to drive it locally. You can imagine the looks I got in my high school parking lot!
What a beautiful car to drive!
So we have the most expensive Continentals, Lincolns, and Fords. What was the most expensive MERCURY, adjusted for inflation?
The most expensive EDSEL was a 1958 Citation convertible.
Good question! Mercury wasn’t known for halo models, so I would feel confident they never came close to 100k adjusted. No time to try to research now, but I would guess some variety of muscle car, like a Cougar Eliminator or 69 Marauder or maybe even the 2003(?) Marauder. I’m probably forgetting something. Maybe it would be a top-of-the-line Colony Park wagon from the 50’s or 60’s.
Interesting question. Mercury never had a full-sized SUV, which is the true money-makers (if they did, they might still be around).
The Turnpike Cruiser and Maurader (every incarnation) were pretty expensive, but my hot take for all-time most expensive Mercury would be a loaded Mountaineer.
“but my hot take for all-time most expensive Mercury would be a loaded Mountaineer.”
Well my 2003 with every option wore a $40,120 sticker and was the most expensive thing to carry the stylized M that year. The Marauder topped out under ~$36k.
I love all these. Of the GT’s, my favorite is the 2005. Among all the retro styled cars to come out, it is certainly the most faithful to its original in styling, shape and spirit. Even without considering the original, it’s just a darned good looking sports car, and its capabilities back up the looks. The new one is OK, just a little out there in styling for me. Too busy, like it’s trying too hard. Sure is fast, though!
About the new Continental, maybe there’s something about those doors. Shortly after committing [to the] suicide doors, the car died. The death should be investigated.
Interesting article. One question is where the pre-war Lincolns (not the Lincoln Zephyr, but the L- and K-Series Lincolns) rank on this ladder. Edsel Ford would order a batch of bodies from several of the great coachbuilders, and sell the resulting cars through the Lincoln dealer network. They were “production” custom-bodied cars.
The Mark II had some slight awkwardness here and there, but is a stunning landmark car anyway. But it’s in a different class of things from racing or racing-adjacent GT’s. It’s a normal car for people doing normal things, kind of an American Bentley…um….Continental.
I’ll bet those first 80 final Continental buyers were upset when more were produced. Anyone know the total sales number?
From what I’ve read, approximately 150 additional Coach Door Continentals were built for 2020 in addition to the original 80 built for 2019. Those first 80 customers got the only 2019 versions as promised. The next batch was all 2020 versions, so their 2019s are still @ just 80 built. I think that this shows that there is probably a market for a Lincoln Navagator Continental that is stretched six or eight inches featuring “ coach doors” for a very lofty “halo car” price.
Im not going to bother doing the conversion into local dollars but 100K is mid level Ram pickup territory I shudder to think how much a GT is nere but I havent seen many if any.