By on November 29, 2013

2014 Lincoln MKS

Remember when Lincoln had cars with names such as Mark, Continental, Zephyr, Town Car and Versailles? Alas, unless you want to own a body-on-frame SUV from the newly renamed Lincoln Motor Company, your choices begin with MK, and end with a letter that somehow corresponds to the model in question.

Should Ford’s VP of Global Marketing Jim Farley have his way, however — and you happen to also be a resident of China — the next Lincoln to be sold may have a real name upon its backside once more.

Why? The Blue Oval plans to reintroduce Lincoln to the Chinese market, who still remembers when many a government official and president turned up in a Continental; this may also explain in part why the lead car in the funeral for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was a Lincoln, if not how it got there in the first place.

Farley believes the concept of non-alphanumeric nomenclatures is worth revisiting, though no current model will receive a proper name for the foreseeable future. Until then, Lincoln’s customer base will continue to need to remember which MK is the right MK for them, unless they want a Navigator, of course.

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63 Comments on “Lincoln to Consider “Legacy” Names Due to Chinese Influence...”


  • avatar
    Easton

    It is time for the alphaneumeric names to die! Lincoln and Cadillac gave up on some great names with a lot of cache and nostalgia to try and imitate their European counterparts. Most consumers can’t keep the stupid letter-number jargon straight, oftentimes even when referring to their own cars. People remember Town Car, Continental, Seville, and El Dorado. The average person wouldn’t know what an MKT or and XTS were if they were run over by one.

    • 0 avatar
      Easton

      The worst company for confusing names has to be Mercedes: C-class, E-class, S-class, CLA, CLS, CLK, G-class, GLK, M-class, ML whatever. I can’t even keep them straight and I’m a car guy. Or there’s Acura, who gave up on spectactular names like Vigor and Legend in favour of meaningless acronyms of L’s and X’s.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      I thought AMC missed with “Gremlin,” but other than that, I couldn’t agree more. The only one I can generally follow is BMWs 3,5 and 7 series. The larger the number, the bigger the car. Got it. Audi has dibs on the even numbers, I guess.

      Cadillac’s system is bad and random and pointless and Lincoln’s is the absolute worst. They have to have done research to confirm Easton: “The average person wouldn’t know what an MKT or and XTS were if they were run over by one.” Luckily, this is unlikely to happen, since there are so few of them on the road.

      Both companies had wonderful names they had spent fortunes promoting for decades and they just tossed them away. If Lincoln wanted a clean slate for some revolutionary vehicle that ran on ground up hobbit testicles, I could understand it, but they are just selling MK Fusions.

      I’m sure there are valuable lessons to be learned from German luxury car manufacturers. Borrowing confusing and passionless naming systems was not one of them.

  • avatar

    I just hope the Lincoln Continental will be worthy of the name or Jack Baruth will go insane again :).

    (And rightly so – a great name deserves a great car, or what’s the point?)

    David

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Name the damn cars please! Yeah alpha numeric nomenclature is just silly and not ever freaking Lincoln should be the “Mark” something. Who do they think they are, Oldsmobile? (Cutlass Supreme, Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Calais…)

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Why? The Blue Oval plans to reintroduce Lincoln to the Chinese market, who still remembers when many a government official and president turned up in a Continental; this may also explain in part why the lead car in the funeral for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was a Lincoln, if not how it got there in the first place.”

    This is scary as I argued the exact same point a few weeks ago, and even cited the KJI funeral. Evidently there is some kind of Asian mystique surrounding the Continental still present in the consciousness of its people, only wise to capitalize on it. Note to Dearborn, the same logic applies to *Americans*.

    Additional: Since apparently we’re on the same wavelength Dearborn, here’s another free tip. Look at the jump image to this article and noticed how ridiculously high up the hood is in proportion to the windshield and from the grill, its at least 6-12 inches too high. You’ve lifted the whole facia of the car up entirely too much, so now the bumper is SUV huge, the grille is where the hood should be, and the hood sits much too high. I recall many a new Lincoln/Mercury [older] customer complaining to me they couldn’t tell where the front of the car was when you removed the Town Car hood ornament in 1998. I have literally seen dozens of the 98-02 generation T/C with 90s era hood ornaments drilled into the hood or grille. I’m 32 years old and I don’t know If I could tell/guess where the hood of the car is on this. I realize cars are evil and everything has to be CUV with you (as I roll my eyes), but what you are doing with the car designs is incredibly stupid. If you wanted to lift the car models a little (or do something with lifting the air ride (that breaks in five years) on door unlock) so hip-replaced baby boomers can get in easier I’ll understand. But looking at the Zephyr/Fusion, Taurus/MKS my real first thought is “Missed the class on aerodynamics eh?”. I realize you think Americans are devoid of automotive styling/taste, but the folks in China you are desperately trying to attract actually do have some, and they have more selection than a US consumer (where everything is essentially a carbon copied jellybean design). Think “Continental” and not “CUV” with future Lincoln designs.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Thats the D-platform though, for better or worse. Every single D-Platform sedan, maybe minus the S80, is a CUV compromise. The most important and profitable vehicle on that platfrom is a CUV. Now that everything is moving to CD4, maybe the sedans will have better proportions. If you think the new Fusion is off, than probably not.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I overall like the look of Fusion and its an improvement but I think it is a little disproportionate (it looks like it could use a new years resolution and a gym membership).

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      There we go, here’s where I made the Continental in Asia argument. When should I expect my check Dearborn?

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/heres-your-new-lincoln-continental/#comment-2098895

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    Wow, I’m surprised, this may be the first time Chinese tastes have led to a positive design/branding decision by a car company.

    One caveat: if Lincoln decides to release a mini-cuv the good-taste-o-meter will be reset back to zero.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Supposedly the softening of the lines on the Cadillac Art and Science headache was because of Chinese tastes, so its at least the second we know about.

      I’d say the mini CUV is next on the drawing board at least for North America, as North American consumers have and epic lack of culture and taste.

  • avatar
    Panther Platform

    Lincoln needs to be Lincoln, i.e. a big car with a long hood, big engine, and a real name. My choices would be a Mark VIX and/or a Continental. If they put a NA V-8 in it I’ll buy one as soon as it they park it in the showroom.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Yes, PP, agreed. What is so freaking hard about giving US luxury car buyers the option of a naturally-aspirated V-8, for fks sake?

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Because 7 Series and S Classes are just flying off the lots right? I know by definition of your name you’re inclined to support that approach but these people are in the business of selling cars people WANT. So people who are buying are buying CUVs/Mid-size cars. Being a long hood and big engine car now is really irrelevant and unless they’re into conspicuous consumption ala the Escalade they’re less likely to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      A long hood works best with a lower belt line and higher greenhouse. That doesn’t pass the wind tunnel test, and costs 1/2 MPG in CAFE calculations. The designs are following regualtio restrictions, not public desires.

      An old-style 3-box design with classic luxury cues would sell – the stretched Taurus/Continental sold well, the swoopy bar of soap that replaced it didn’t, even though it was more powerful and handled better. Who knew chrome trim and opera windows were so popular?

  • avatar
    realpower1

    asinine the brand destruction at all of the american hqs.. blah blah blah.. wtf is a **K or **Z or **S… ????

    nonsense barf regurgitated out of millions of man-hours masterbating in groupthink committee meetings..
    ABSOLUTELY ZERO LONG-TERM PLANNING TO SIMPLY IDENTIFY WHAT THIS BRAND MEANS!!!!!! Good riddance!

  • avatar
    Spartan

    If only we could go back in time and just tell Lincoln and Cadillac to stay the course with their cars with real names, we’d be having a very different conversation. Instead, they wanted to copy the Germans. At least Cadillac was smart and didn’t ditch the Escalade name.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Lincoln to consider “Legacy” names ….

    What, like 2.5i Premium? Thought Subaru owned those.

    And now ducking the flying rotten eggs and tomatoes, I shall exit stage left. Quickly, in my 2.5GT.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Lincoln’s change to names makes sense. There are 14 species of baleen whales. That means Lincoln could have 14 different models before they run out of whale names and have to adopt a better looking grill motif.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I hate alphanumeric names. The king might be the Mazda RX-7 GS-LSE.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Somewhat related, the wrong combo of letters can ruin a cars name. It is locale dependent of course, but the Eclipse GST sucks (GST = Government Sales Tax, in Canada) and the STI (Sexually transmitted infection).

      I always also hated the Buick Allure name (which was the Canadian name for the 1st gen LaCrosse) due to la crosse being dirty wording in Quebec.

      • 0 avatar
        bill mcgee

        Always thought that Toyota’s choice of TRD ( Toyota Racing Division , I think ) was a poor choice of letters . Most people will probably eventually regard their vehicle as a P.O.S. , no reason to have ugly plastic callouts also calling it a turd every day . I do think Lincoln should revive legacy names for their cars , but not all of them . The Zephyr name after all bit the dust before WWII so most of the people who would remember that as a prestige name are either dead or living in assisted living . The Versailles was laughed at even when brand new as as overpriced flop , a gussied up Granada .

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Wrong letter combinations are not limited to cars. Obama’s 2012 campaign used the slogan “Win The Future” (WTF). The worst I’ve seen was an online dating site where a guy used the line, “I put the STD in stud, now all I need is U”.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    A decade late, but better late than never.

    Ditching historic names was a blunder for Lincoln just as it was a blunder for Acura and Datsun before it.

    It is beyond weird that exorbitantly well paid marketing people pull such absurd moves.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      But the early Datsuns were all numbers and letters weren’t they? B-210, 510, 260Z, 280Z, 240Z? Hell even when they got names nobody cared unless it had the right letters attached. Sentra = Blah. Sentra SE-R = Cool. Hell the coolest name they had was for the trucks and it wasn’t even the official name…Don’t believe “Hardbody” appeared anywhere on the truck be it Datsun or Nissan.

      No, of all the companies to ditch names Nissan probably has the fewer people really miss. No one is nostalgic for an Axxess or Quest though I do wish the Maxima still had that little 4DSC sticker on the window.

      And I think with Acura it is the early cars people miss more than the names. A turd with an Integra badge is still a turd. Like buying an 80′s Nova.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    Then give these stupid names to vehicles that are just gussied-up, overpriced Fords and wonder why sales are down…..DUH.

    John

  • avatar

    The king? The BMW Z4 sDrive 35i begs to disagree.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/heres-your-new-lincoln-continental/

    Derek broke this story back in August. No surprise, here.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Not seeing anything in the current line up worthy of the Continental nameplate but perhaps one of the MK-Whatevers could proudly wear the Versailles nameplate or perhaps a Bill Blass edition MK-S.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Make a cool car and I don’t give a damn if you call it the 6000 SUX…Which was a MarkVII with a really bad body kit wasn’t it? Incidentally, a Mustang based Lincoln would be a cool place to start since of course you killed the brand that should get the “nice” Mustang.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    I think this is one of those topics where posters should preface their opinions with their age.

    Nothing says curmudgeon louder than decrying alphanumeric names because they’re too confusing, while pining for the days of the Zephyr.

    • 0 avatar
      Panther Platform

      I’m 56 years old. Definitely not young, maybe not quite old enough to be a card-carrying curmudgeon. The names have some importance, but if Lincoln came out with a truly luxurious V-8 sedan that wasn’t a rebadged Taurus they could call it Barney the Dinosaur for all I care.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Ahhhh the Zephyr…now that was a real driver’s car. I remember driving it off an LST onto the beaches of Normandy on D Day. Those Nazi’s knew better than to fk with a Zephyr, I can tell you that. Thanks for the memories.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Lucky you. My uncle said he drove a greyhound on the beach a week after D-Day and almost got stuck in the surf. I had to make a trip to the library to find out it was an A8 armored vehicle, not a bus. After that 1-1/2 mile walk to the library, my uncle told me he knew a British guy who rode a kangaroo onto the beach, and I decided to just take his word for it.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Yeah Lorenzo, best not to question the WWII guys. Whatever you say, sir, and thank you.

          My old man actually did fight in in that war in France after the Normandy invasion. His job was to dig up land mines. Thanks, Army. That’s about all he would tell me about it.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        LOL

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      30-something

      I have been reading this and a few other automotive blogs for many years, and I honestly still won’t be able to tell what’s the difference between MKS and MKZ, much less between the other MK-cars. Is it because the name or the car is so forgettable? I don’t know. I bet an average car buff will know the difference between a 528i and 328i, as well as between TSL, RL, and TL, but most will have no clue about the Lincoln MK-names. This naming scheme was a marking disaster for Lincoln IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      wolfinator

      I’m in my late 20s, and I think Lincoln’s alphabet soup is confusing. I think the problem is two-fold: Lincoln’s vehicles themselves are forgettable, and their naming scheme is whack.

      I think BMW has the best alpha-numeric scheme. It’s obvious that the first number in their car names translates to size, which makes it easy to keep straight. And anything with an “X” is a crossover, with the second digit being size.

      Audi has a system too – an “A6″ is clearly greater than an “A4″ – there’s a progression everyone can grasp.

      Mercedes is a bit confusing, but you can kind of keep it straight. “E” is “Executive”, “C” is compact some of the time, etc. I suppose many years of marketing help there.

      But Lincoln? I’m not interested enough to want to expend the mental energy to try and keep up with their hair-brained naming scheme. What’s bigger/better? An MKT or an MKZ? I guess the Z? That comes last in the alphabet, so it must be the range-topping “best”? See the problem?

      That and BMW, Mercedes, Audi, etc are all cars people aspire to. They can get away with having silly alphabet soup names, because people will still want the cars, and therefore remember their names, even if the scheme wasn’t the best (like Mercedes). Lincoln isn’t there, and thoughtlessly aping some naming scheme doesn’t help.

      You can’t have horrible names AND forgettable vehicles. IMO it’s the worst of all worlds – people will just forget the names AND the vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have always had the numeric or lettered naming scheme. Lincoln has not. 3-series means something to people. The S-class has been officially around since the early 70s. Lincoln has four names in their history that actually meant something: Continental, Mark series, Town Car, and Navigator. Now they only use one of those names. It also happens to be on their oldest product that is based on two generations old F-series. Unfortunetly, not enough people buy what those names were anymore; large sedan, personal luxury coupe, and BoF SUV.

        I would agree that many of Lincoln’s products have been forgetable lately. They aren’t bad, but most are “meh”. I am actually glad the current products haven’t ruined the badges of Lincoln’s past. Only in the crossover space will they be class competitive. The MkC is very nice, the next MkX will be an excellent product, and the MkT, despite its looks, drives better than all of the other large crossovers (besides $80k+ M, RS, and AMG models).

        If Ford is really going to bring back these Lincoln names, we better have the product to back up the names. It should start with a Mark X as well as a four door version that is based on the Mustang.

        • 0 avatar
          Panther Platform

          I love Lincoln and have owned a 97 Town Car and 98 Mark VIII. I was fortunate to have arguably the best version of the TC and the last hurrah of the Marks. The world has changed and Lincoln has not adapted like Cadillac. I think Lincoln’s only chance to survive is to come out with a highly desirable Continental that would appeal to the kind of driver who is now driving a Chrysler 300.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            I am a big fan of the 300, and I would buy a Lincoln that resembled one. But despite it being the only car left of its kind, it’s only selling in moderate numbers — about 70k last year.

            That’s not a big enough market segment to save Lincoln or anyone else, sadly.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Thats why they have to utilize existing and shared platforms. A new Navigator, CD4 based sedans and CUVs, and a Mustang platform based coupe and sedan are what will keep Lincoln alive.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Well, sort of. Audi has changed its scheme so many times that it really can’t claim history beyond the mid ’90s. I will credit them for having a system that intrinsically makes sense.

          Mercedes is just drifting into confusion. If S means big, why is a CLS smaller than a CL? And if CL means coupe, why is the CLA available as a sedan?

          The biggest problem with Lincoln is that it’s NOT alphanumeric; it’s just alpha. There aren’t any numbers to indicate relative size/class, and the first two letters don’t mean anything. So you’re basically stuck with a single letter model differentiator.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The mid-90s is farther away that 2007, and the A4/A6/A8 were the right products at the right time. When everyone else was going RWD and/or sporty, Ford decided that Lincoln needed to be a FWD cross between Lexus and Audi.

            The problem was that the Lincoln MKZ was original supposed to be the Mark-Z or MkZ, but then it became the em-kay-zee because of focus groups. Then Lincoln was left with a FWD car that had no naming heritage, and wasn’t much better than a Fusion. Instead of recognizing the error, they slapped that MKSomething on everything.

            I love my MKT, but I hate the name. Maybe I should buy Lincoln Aviator badges for it.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            They could start going back with the MK9 -> MKIX -> Mark IX

            And then do like MK-CT -> MK Conti -> Continental


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