Lincoln Futura/Mark II connection mystery
I don't think there's a person extant that knows the Continental Mark II body any better than you do, Roger. When I saw the completed body shell I knew you'd be the best guy to go to, to help me solve a mystery in the Elmer Rohn collection of Mark II photos.
When I realized the pictures were sequential they presented an extremely clear timeline of what was going on when. Ford documented just about ever aspect of the Mark II project in photos. There must be at least a thousand pictures I don't have that are digitally stored in the Ford Archives. I've asked for the rest from the highest level and I'm awaiting a response.
Here are the sequential photos for your reference.
In the mean time, there are some time sequenced shots that really clear things up about the retractable program, referred-to internally as X-1500R. The final Mark II modeling wasn't even done when they starting making two-dimensional mock-ups of the retractable top. In the photos you can see the design progress from 2 to 3-dimentional from the concept modeling to the test mule with cycle counter. In-between these sequential photos are 5 photos of a Mark II-like firewall attached to an almost-stock Mark II floor plan. It had footwells, which were a first for Ford, so it would fit over no other Ford chassis as you can't really have footwells with an X-frame. With an X frame the cabin has to have flat floors, a higher belt line, roofline and seating. What made the Mark II distinctive was how much lower it was than normal cars. That much is clear in the photos of the "Cobbled Cars" made on Mark II chassis side by side with the Lincoln counterparts. Those are early in the sequence photos.
The cobbled cars had already been made by Hess & Eisenhardt out of '53 Lincoln sheetmetal and the rest fabricated in-house. Stunning cars. I was told they were sold to the public. I wonder if hey still exist. Ford had a team of engineers stationed there for this and projects like the Retractable prototype.
The date of the 5 photos I have are March of 1954. They were in Elmer's Continental photo connection, but were taken in a Lincoln plant. Continental was just beginning to plan an assembly as all their work had taken place at the Ford Trade School and "Legion", a school where HF would groom a new generation of machinists and tool-makers. On the surface it seems like a great program. Two weeks of shop training to one week of book-learning. Some were housed and fed and they were all given a stipend. I don't know if something like that would work today, but we could use stronger vocational training.
I digress. The timing of the 5 photos doesn't fall in line with the making of the Retractable as it's mechanism hadn't even been perfected. I know of no other Ford show car of that era that sat on a Mark II chassis and, the story about the Continental Division selling the prototype chassis for a princely $17,000 to the Lincoln Division as a base for the beautiful Lincoln Futura coupled to lead me to conclude that this is what the Futura was built on. I asked the Ford Archives if there were any photos of the Futura at Ghia and her search didn't turn up anything, so I have no firewall photos to compare it to. Someone sent me photos of the Batmobile firewall, but the pictures were pretty bad and I couldn't tell one way or the other.
You'll notice some odd things, though, that I think I can explain. The first is the "A" pillars. I think they are shipping supports for the cowl and I think they are bolted on. What appears to be a windshield header also appears, by its construction, just for stability as it would be shipped to Ghia for it's new body. The Futura had no windshield frame, to speak of. The second thing is the heater core openings are in different places and there is a large rectangular hole in the passenger side that doesn't exist in any of the Mark II engineering drawings I have. What must be noted is the body mount stanchions across the front and the holes in the body for the body mounts along the sides, most notably the ones visible in the door sills. What other Ford or Lincoln chassis would this fit on other than one with a perimeter frame with cross-braces?
Farmington Hills, MI