Lincoln reintroduced its top-of-the-line Continental in 1956 with an exceptionally well-proportioned-if large-two-door coupé body style. The price tag was almost $10,000. All-new Lincolns appeared for the 1956 model year. Totally restyled, with new power and a new series, these were the first offerings from the newly established Lincoln division, which had separated from the Mercury division in April of 1955.
The prior year's base Lincoln series was dropped, and a new top-of-the-line Premiere series was added, featuring more standard equipment than the Capri series. Changes under the hood began with a new, larger 368 cubic inch V8 engine. Mated to Lincoln's Turbo-Drive transmissions, the new engine put out 285 horsepower. To accommodate all of the accessories that were being added to the standard and optional equipment list, a 12-volt electrical system was added. Another new feature was pushbutton lubrication. By simply pushing a button on the dashboard, the driver would activate automatic lubrication of all front-end suspension and steering components.
On the outside, everything was new, starting with a three-inch longer wheelbase as a foundation. In general, styling was smooth, rounded, lower, and nearly a foot longer, yet the cars were visually linked to their immediate predecessors, especially in the greenhouse and rear styling. A strong horizontal theme was used at the front end, with a large bumper again using a thin bar horizontal grille above and below the top bumper bar. This top bumper bar now had large horizontal oval pods on each end housing the parking lamps and turn signals. Single headlamps were set within deeply hooded fenders, and a small grille area extended inward from the headlight above the top grille bar. It was a unique design that the Lincoln carried well.
Bodysides were smooth, with only a single horizontal feature line running from the top grille bar level straight back to the area where the taillamp met the rear bumper. Minimal body trim was used, with a stainless steel trim piece starting behind the front wheel opening and gradually widening to a point just ahead of the rear wheel opening, where it became a wider trim piece covering the fender skirt and lower rear quarter panel. This visually made the car look longer and lower. The Lincoln sales brochure describes the rear styling as follows: "...from the rear, Lincoln identity is clear, yet clean and simple. Back-up lights are completely hidden (behind the rear textured metal panel) helping to achieve an uncluttered look. See, too, how the new textured metal pattern (located between the trunk lid and rear bumper) joins naturally with the horizontal flow of the rear deck and bumpers, and with the new integrated jet-pod exhausts, to tell you even from a distance that this is unmistakably Lincoln for 1956."
Inside, upholsteries and designs were again new, now using leather with nylon or leather inserts (depending upon model) that mimicked individual seating areas for four people. Of course, the new Lincoln was big enough to accommodate six people easily, and had an equally large trunk area, although some of the space was used up when the optional air conditioning system was ordered. Door panels included integrated armrests. A new instrument panel looked similar to previous years, with a horizontal theme; all gauges were on top in a hooded section directly in front of the driver, and other controls were below the main panel.
As previously mentioned, the Premiere was an all-new Lincoln series for 1956. While it did not replace the 1955 Capri series, it instead added more features and luxury to the Capri series. However, the Capri was now the base Lincoln series, with the features and equipment at a similar level to the 1955 model. The only difference was that the Capri no longer was available in a convertible body style, as that model moved to the new Premiere series. Interestingly, Lincoln still did not have a 4-door hardtop, even though most of its direct competition, and both Ford and Mercury, were now available in this body style. Packard was the only other luxury marque not to have a 4-Door hardtop in its line. Lincoln would finally get this body style for the 1957 model year.
The 1956 Continental, though popularly identified with Lincoln, was introduced as its own division of Ford Motor Company. The new division's sole reason for existence was to produce an exclusive, limited production product, and develop new innovations for the rest of the company. As Continental was a separate division for most of the period from 1956 through 1959, please refer to the Continental section of the appropriate year for more information.