The Mark IV Continental Town Car and Limousine by Hess & Eisenhardt was certainly a rare sight, with only 78 built. As to its beauty, that’s a subjective matter.
Here’s a full profile of one.
The longer I look at this, in its black paint and with its blind quarter roof (that is so different from the regular cars with the reverse-slant rear window) the more I see the seeds of the 1961-78 Lincoln sedans.
This car is the antithesis of the 1959 Cadillac (and Imperial) in pushing a formal, dignified style. Note the minimal use of side trim and compare it to a Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special that year. I am still not a fan of the canted headlights, but among the US competition in this class in 1959, I could defend the “rare beauty” description as having some basis for the “beauty” part of the phrase.
The blind quarter roof is interesting, as it makes the car look like a big sedan rather than a limo. I wonder if the unit body structure made it impossible (or at least highly inadvisable) to cut a rear quarter window into the place where the C pillar would be in the regular car.
I actually saw a Mark IV Limousine once. It was deteriorating in the back row of a used car lot. Sitting on flat tires back around 1984. I can’t imagine that it survived.
Discerning indeed. Mr Money is wearing a Homburg, and Jeeves is wearing a chauffeur’s cloth cap.
No Parking signs? Pah! Irrelevant for the discerning.
As someone who owned a limo service and provided driver services, I know in most US cities, the difference between “Parking” and “Waiting” was the driver at the wheel. As long as the driver was waiting, the car wasn’t parked. As such, a policeman could tell the driver to move the car.
In looking at how stately this presents, I really can’t imagine a well-heeled patron (used to being chauffeured) opting for (IMO) the bizarre Cadillac design over this.
I kinda like the roof. To my eyes its an improvement over the awful reverse-slant roof of the “ordinary” Continentals.
The rarity proves a point I’d thought of before that in the postwar years there wasn’t much of an ultra-luxury market in the way there was through the ’30s and since the ’80s. The top end really was the Cadillac Sixty Special/Eldorado and Lincoln’s “standard” Continental. That’s why the Mark II was a flop and GM never really expected to make a profit on the Fleetwood Brougham.
By ’59, the Cadillac Series 75 limo might as well have been in the Chevy Truck “Silver Book”; it was a vocational model mainly bought by the early black-car services, corporations’ not-yet-outsourced VIP transport and the funeral trade. There wasn’t enough volume for a competitor; 78 units barely reaches beyond FoMoCo itself, suppliers to it and not GM, stars and executive producers of Ford-sponsored TV shows and maybe the funeral home in Dearborn.
This is because Mercedes-Benz & Roll-Royce/Bentley captured that market (and still own it). US manufacturers were focused on mass production cars that didn’t have the status of MB & RR/B.
This car lived 3 blocks away from me and recently sold on eBay for $30,000:
Single circuit brakes! Yipe.
American cars didn’t start to get dual circuit brakes until 1966. While you didn’t have a fail safe design, you couldn’t ignore the condition and functionality of your parking/emergency brake system. Up until the late 1950’s most American cars didn’t even have self adjusting brakes. VW bugs went even longer without them. Back then, a brake adjustment was part of an oil change and lube job, which were required several times a year. I had several 50’s and early 60’s cars back in the day. There was more maintenance and inspections required, but brakes seldom failed without giving previous warnings. While I agree that safer systems are better, a collector car will probably be maintained better than a beater.
Thanks for that find and the extra pictures in the ad! One of 78, I’m surprised that it didn’t go for more than $30,000.
That said, I will say that IMO that’s one of the ugliest dashes I’ve seen. It really does no justice to the exterior…which I find rather attractive.
For the late fifties’ limousines of the Big 3, this one isn’t so bad. As others have stated, the traditional roof does wonders for the styling and, between Cadillac, Imperial, and Lincoln, I dare say that the latter wouldn’t be that bad of a choice (for a limousine, anyway), even with the canted headlights. It wouldn’t be the lumpy, whale-like Cadillac, that’s for sure. Besides the improved roof, the Lincoln wins over the other two primarily for its restrained tailfins.
I wonder how much the Lincoln’s front fender ‘coves’ influenced Exner’s styling of the horrid 1960 Plymouth.
I don’t know about “beautiful”, but I will give it “handsome”
The black paint and the formal roof tone down the worst excesses of the regular sedans and it doesn’t hurt that the ad avoids showing the front 😉
I am not aware of Elwood Engel being at all involved with the design of these, but it strikes me that while the ’65 Chrysler is obviously influenced by his ’61 design, the rear end has some similarities to this Lincoln
I digress on the roof from most people here, I think this roof treatment is less initially startling than the standard reverse-rake, but on closer inspection it doesn’t hold up. It’s too heavily-padded, rounded to the point of being almost lumpy and has an almost homemade look compared to the sharp chrome-and-metal of the normal Lincoln. That being said, the Premiere bubble window carried it off a the best of the three.
The feature car reminds me of a somewhat similar Lincoln I came across in the early seventies in Edmonton. It was supposedly used by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip during their visit to Canada in 1959?
The car at that time was at a restoration shop and looked little shabby but I recall it had the thick vinyl roof and a dent or two. The shop had a replacement engine in a crate and the plan was to restore the limo. Now I’m wondering if it was a Hess & Eisenhardt conversion. No idea whatever happened to that Lincoln as it never surfaced at any car shows that I ever attended.
Thanks, Poindexter, for all those eBay photos, which show a whole lot more detail than the brochure images do.
Who knows what these “cost” Ford in $$$$?–I’ll guess that they weren’t really profit-makers overall—but it sure is a sober alternative to the Cadillac and Imperial, even with the lively front end, and a real “prestige” top-of-the-line vehicle.
I can only imagine the daily life and social circle of an actual prospective purchaser of these, but the car sure has a lot of presence–wow!
I can’t see what construction tweaks yielded a rear-seat shoulder room increase, but less leg room–I’d have guessed the other way around:
This seems like the kind of ride there would be photos of a corrupt, third-world despot riding around in like, say, someone like Cuba’s Batista.
He was already out of power by the time this car was assembled.
I thought they built these for 1958, too, but I guess not. It’s possible he could have have gotten an early 1959 car (they started building them in September, 1958) since Batista famously lasted until New Years Eve of that year, but who knows?
Between the beautiful 1955-56 Lincolns and the beautiful 1961-64 Lincolns, we got this generation. It is a huge fail in so many huge ways. I’ve always struggled to like them. Too large, too weird, too much – there a moments when they aren’t “bad”, but – yuk. (And I consider myself to be a Lincoln fan.)
The roof works. It doesn’t fit the overall bizarre styling, but that roof looks like it is a quality product. I’ve not seen one shredded, and they look like they were made with some miracle material, probably some kind of cancer-inducing asbestos or atomic waste.
The interior is amazing. Again, the quality of the interior is impressive. That leather was probably intended for combat boots for top brass. Solid stuff. The design of the interior evokes the best of modern design furniture of that age.
The instrument panel is a 1959-designed top of the line television set. The dials, the finish on the golden speedometer is jewelry. The entire look is amazing. It is one of the finest looking and distinctive cockpit designs of the 1950s. It belongs in a Googie and minimalist designed living room. It just needed anodized rabbit ears.
So if I didn’t have to look at the exterior, I’d love this generation. But the canted headlights, the concave scalloped front fenders, the sheer enormity of the car is gauche, in my Lincoln-loving opinion.
Corrupt, third-world despots were fond of the ZiS 110B/Packard Super Eight too. El Comandante, 1963:
I haven’t seen anyone mention that Elvis had a 1960 version of one of these.
The landau bars work well, but, then, I guess that’s true of any luxury barge with a huge C-pillar. For an early Elvis-mobile, that’s a pretty good one.
Back in the 1980s I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Willard Hess, of Hess & Eisehardt, and I continued to talk on the phone with him for years. One of our conversations was after I found a H&E ’60 Lincoln like the one seen here. It was in a junkyard in NJ, and the entire rear half of the roof was rusted thru because they had only primered the new roof area. Because the roof was padded with a cotton material, once water got under the outer roof cover, it was trapped there and the roof metal rusted out. The rear passenger area was wet and filled with mold. The seat material was rust stained as well.
Mr Hess told me the primary reasons for the roof change was to “get rid of that damn sloping rear window”. Gutting the window allowed them to install the rear seat about 4 inches to the rear, resulting in more leg room. This was also the reason for moving the rear window rearward. H&E was able to add interior room, and the second reason was to make the car look longer, without adding to the wheelbase.
I have always liked these cars a little, but the more I see them, the more I like them. Yes the design is flamboyant and over the top, but you have to compare them to their competition’s designs. The Cadillac with it’s tall fins and rocket pod tail lamps. The Fleetwood was slathered with chrome on the sides, an extension of the ’57 through 59 rear quarter treatment. The 75 was a bit cleaner overall. The Imperial still sported tall tail fins along with an incredibly complicated front end, and don’t forget the toilet seat! The Lincoln’s front end is faddish with the canted head lights, but it is the cleanest design. Even Rolls Royce had Mulliner bodied cars with the canted lights, it was an odd styling affect that was quite popular for a short time.
I’m sure that it was much more relaxing to have your driver handle all the traffic and parking. He would drop you off and pick you up at the curb. Now everyone car afford to enjoy that type of service thanks to Uber.
“Any color you want, as long as it’s black…”
It’s interesting to see how thoroughly the dead-flat side glass dates the body . . .
Call me strange but…. This Mark IV would look marvelous with a completely flat windshield like a Jeep Wrangler. Also, this is one of a handful of cars that looks great with a vinyl/ landau roof.
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