I haven’t recommended a new Lincoln in well over 20 years now.
With rare exception, the brand never lives up to the hype of whatever a Lincoln was supposed to represent at various times in recent history. The ultimate luxury coupe that was the Mark VIII. The import fighting LS. The Lexus/Mercedes wanna-be that was the Lincoln Zephyr. All of them were flops in the new car marketplace for a long list of good reasons.
Even the Lincoln SUV’s, then and now, seem to be little more than overpriced Fords with razor thin chrome accents. While the current alphabet soup of names makes it nearly impossible to recommend any new Lincoln without delving into a smartphone for confirmation that the MK-whatever is indeed an MK-whatever.
There is only one Lincoln truly worth it. The Town Car. An old one. A well used one. But maybe not as used as this one.
The black 2006 Lincoln Town Car Signature in the first picture is from the Lone Star State and has 437,229 miles. Still runs. No announcements on the auction block. The same is true for this 2009 model from Hartford, Connecticut with 268,440 miles.
Lincoln Town Cars have long represented the Holy Grail for livery operators who must shuck off various executives and media grunts from the airports to their destinations.
The wandering Texan in the first pic managed to average over 70,000 miles a year in what must have been a near 24/7 livery operation. Not to be outdone, the Northern sibling averaged nearly 90,000 miles a year. That must have included an awful of airport and traffic related idling as well.
No matter. These Town Cars are custom designed for the road warriors throughout our fair land; especially those cost sensitive souls who must operate these fleets without fear of breakdowns in the middle of nowhere.
This is why, every year for well over ten years now, I see the exact same reality whenever I fly off to some media event in the USA. Lincoln Town Car. Chauffeur’s hat. A sign that may or may not have my name correct. Bingo. Another well isolated travel through the angry streets of airport traffic, to a place that requires my services for 48 hours or less.
After a few years of this I started to have a random thought about this livery business, “Why no Cadillacs?”
Well the answer to that question didn’t exactly have to bite me on the ass. I saw it every week. Cadillacs from the mid to late 90′s with Northstar engines that were about to blow out their last coolant ridden remnants out of their tailpipes at the dealer auto auctions. Professional car buyers stayed away from these things in droves and by the time the mid-2000′s rolled along, you could find countless number of 1990′s Cadillacs at the public auctions for well south of $2000.
It was these vehicles that nearly killed Cadillac. Specifically, any model that had the word Northstar somewhere on the rear deck lid or under the hood.
Everyone likes to say that the Cadillacs of the 80′s were the ones that did them in. Wrong! Most Americans had no idea that the Cimmaron existed, or the Allante for that matter. Cadillac may have offered some of the most frumpish designs of the era along with engines that weren’t exactly paragons of reliability. But the grapevine back then wasn’t nearly as well connected as was the case by the late 90′s.
Once the internet became a common tool, Cadillac was screwed. All you had to do was go to one of the well visited auto review sites and there, without the forces of corporate influenced censorship, you would find a hailstorm of hatred from actual owners of the vehicles.
Now with all that being said, there is always an outlier to the bell curve when it comes to automotive longevity. The 500,000 mile Fiat. The 446,000 mile Dodge Neon. And now… the almost made it to 300,000 miles 1998 Cadillac Deville.
293,606 miles to be exact.
It’s sad to think about how much goodwill was lost by Cadillac for what should have been a testament to their engineering prowess. Those who love Panthers (a.k.a Sajeev) may laugh at the thought. But if Cadillac had offered a genuine contender to the Town Car in terms of reliability… and design… and ease of mechanical repair… and…
Well, you get the point. Thankfully the large old fart car has gone the way of the Camry. In fact, the Camry is now to the new affluent retirees what the Cadillacs and Lincolns used to be to the old ones. Some may lament about the loss of luxury bling but to be brutally blunt, I’m kinda glad that the luxury class went straight to the middle class.