We return to our Lincoln Mark collection protection as we speak, within the midst of studying in regards to the first Mark of the road, the Continental Mark II. The Mark II aimed to hold on the custom set by the gracious Continental of the Forties, and take Ford to new heights of luxurious, desirability, worth (and thus exclusivity), and high quality. The latter adjective is the place we’ll focus as we speak; it was actually the main target of the oldsters on the Continental Division previous to the Mark II’s launch.
It was necessary for Ford to get the standard proper on the brand new Continental Mark II, partially to construct a popularity for the model but additionally to justify its asking worth. Recall from our final entry that at $9,966 ($106,912 adj.) in 1956, the Mark II was the costliest American automotive anybody may purchase. Mark II was meant to mix fashionable car conveniences with the construct high quality and glamour of the previous, and remind patrons of the coachbuilt Ok-Sequence Lincolns of the Thirties.
The Mark II’s high quality management began with a model new plant. All Mark IIs have been constructed at Allen Park Physique and Meeting, a facility that opened in 1956 particularly to construct the Mark II. The plant was renamed shortly after the tip of Mark II to the Edsel Division Headquarters. After Edsel flopped, the plant grew to become the New Mannequin Packages Improvement Heart, the place Ford examined its new product. Immediately it’s referred to as the Ford Pilot Plant and serves the identical perform because it has because the Sixties. It manufactures and checks Ford’s new automobiles, and paperwork the development strategies earlier than a hand-off to the assembling manufacturing facility.
Across the time Ford determined to construct the Allen Park facility, the Continental division crafted up a brand new high quality management program particular to the Mark II. Inside it was seven completely different key initiatives, meant to make sure the utmost in high quality from starting to finish of the Mark II’s construct course of. Recall that a lot of the automotive was hand-assembled. Extra on that in a second, however first let’s speak initiatives.
The first and overarching initiative within the QC program was referred to as High quality Specs. It mandated that any Continental automotive use solely supplies of the best high quality doable. Such excessive requirements price Ford more cash upfront however would end in a really particular product. Suppliers of the Mark II have been pressured to improve their manufacturing requirements to conform in the event that they wished to play ball with Continental.
One results of the High quality Specs initiative was the selection of leather-based within the Mark II. American-sourced leather-based was sprayed with shade, slightly than the extra expensive conventional technique the place it was dyed in a vat. So Continental went to Bridge of Weir in Scotland and bought their dyed leather-based as an alternative. Lincoln would use the leather-based for a while and introduced it again within the 2010s on the MKS.
Elsewhere, high quality requirements meant no availability of metallic paint on the Mark II. Stated paint grew to become well-liked within the Fifties as Individuals wished shiny, sparkly automobiles with tailfins. However Continental’s administration was involved in regards to the longevity of metallic paints, so that they used lacquer-based paint as an alternative. Mark II was the primary Ford car to make use of such a hard-wearing paint.
The second initiative was Preliminary Pattern Inspection. In comparison with regular QC processes in Ford manufacturing, Inspections for Continental have been set to happen earlier. This meant further time throughout the construct in case rejections occurred. Extra inspection orders occurred within the third high quality level, Receiving Inspection.
It was a notable change over how car components inspection normally labored: Continental pushed the onus again on the provider on components inspection. All components have been required inspected prior to their arrival at Allen Park Meeting. As soon as they did arrive, they have been inspected by Continental staff for a second time.
Subsequent was the Further Manufacturing Consideration initiative. Ford appeared on the meeting time of their Ford and Lincoln-Mercury automobiles and allowed twice as lengthy to construct a Continental. Staff at Allen Park have been to make use of the time to verify components to check for match earlier than meeting, in addition to right any defects discovered.
Through the Continental’s meeting, the In-Plant Inspection and Testing initiative noticed every Mark II move by means of 14 completely different inspection factors, all of which have been thorough. A crew of mechanics inspected every Mark II earlier than the automotive may proceed additional. As soon as meeting was completed, there was one other crew inspection and a closing highway check earlier than the Mark II was shipped to the receiving seller.
Via the method, the Mark IIs remained on a rolling cell service. There was no conventional meeting line at Allen Park to talk of: Via every step within the construct, a Mark II was moved by hand to the following construct station. Type of the normal British meeting technique, however higher high quality.
The opposite two initiatives have been exterior Continental’s meeting, on the client coverage stage. The primary of them was High Administration Motion, the place Continental’s brass analyzed knowledge from the varied QC checks at Allen Park, then in contrast that info to any reported buyer points or restore claims acquired. It was the kind of factor a producer would do with many spreadsheets as we speak, besides there was no Excel.
Lastly, Continental dedicated to customer support with the Area Service initiative. It was a program completely for Continental prospects, intent upon the correction of buyer complaints, and follow-up with stated prospects to confirm they have been happy with their car. A part of that satisfaction was actually right down to the quantity of alternative left to the client with regard to their Mark II’s look.
Through the rigorous QC course of, the artisans at Allen Park Physique would paint a Mark II in considered one of 19 completely different lacquers. Clients paired the thick paint with considered one of 43 completely different inside shade schemes, which included 5 completely different upholstery supplies for the inside. The Mark II was not supplied in garish two-tone like different private luxurious rivals have been so usually geared up. Nevertheless, Continental would adjust to such a request if the client was set on it.
Customary on the Mark II was numerous energy gear for the Fifties: Energy brakes, seats, and home windows (together with vents). Gauges have been full and included a warning mild for low gas, each concepts that have been kind of novel on the time. And whereas the Mark II’s wheel covers weren’t a particular characteristic, the means they have been made was.
Every of the wheel covers was created by hand. The multi-spoke design was made up of hand-assembled veins, each hooked up individually. In the identical means, a craftsman bolted every letter of the block Continental lettering on the rear tire hump individually.
Continental employees additionally rebuilt each model new engine earlier than it was put in in a Mark II. As we realized final time, the Mark II’s Y-block 368 cubic inch V8 was taken straight from the Lincoln lineup. Nevertheless, it wasn’t blithely put in right into a Continental, that will’ve been too easy. As an alternative, every engine destined for Mark II utilization was hand-picked from the Lincoln meeting line (as a “good one?”) after which taken aside.
The V8 was then reassembled with Continental’s QC tolerances and practices in thoughts, to make sure that it met requirements. When it was completed, there have been efficiency inspections too. One wonders if the cautious rebuild made a big distinction within the reliability of the engine down the highway.
With its in depth high quality management, elegant Midcentury styling, and sky-high worth, it was time to place the brand new Continental Division’s Mark II coupe on sale to an keen and well-heeled public. And all went effectively, proper? Properly, no. Under no circumstances. However that’s a narrative for subsequent time.
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