By on July 6, 2017

2003-2008 lincoln town car (public domain)

It’s been an interesting few years at Ford Motor Company, especially for the automaker’s prestige marque. Ever since Ford decided that reviving the listless Lincoln brand with a life-giving cash infusion was the right way forward, watching the division reconcile its unsavory near-past and mouth-watering distant past with its present and future has become a source of amusement.

Not to say that Lincoln’s executives and PR teams are stumbling like Gerald Ford. Far from it. However, sometimes a statement causes a “whoa, hold on a minute” moment that’s too big to ignore.

Let’s face it, to think of the previous decade in automobiledom is to not think of Lincoln. The 2000s was certainly not Lincoln’s decade — nay, the era nearly killed the brand. As parent Ford’s attention drifted, a shrinking pool of buyers found themselves considering such vehicles as the Zephyr and its later MKZ body double. The Navigator, a bright spot for Lincoln in the 1990s, spent the decade withering on the vine, with the third generation of the full-size luxury SUV only coming to an end in 2017. That’s an 11-year lifespan.

Crossovers and SUVs are sales dynamite, but Lincoln’s first MKX was a regrettable lesson in badge engineering that only increased the debate regarding Lincoln’s purpose in the marketplace. An Edge with a retro-themed grille and revamped taillights? Ford can build a Ford with high-end content without calling it anything other than a Ford. Recall the original LTD. Recall the ever higher trim ceilings on domestic trucks and SUVs of all stripes.

Then there’s the Baleen Whale nose, a homage to the classic Continentals of the early 1940s. The styling flourish seemed to get worse the more Lincoln tried to tone it down, as evidenced by the MKS and MKT refreshes.

And yet, when speaking about customer feedback and the brand’s direction to Automotive News Canada, Lincoln Canada’s product marketing manager took the opportunity to slam one of the company’s most successful products.

“Once we get people in and experience the vehicle, they find it stands up well to our competitors and they’re amazed,” Wilson said. “The toughest part is probably our past perception, that we’re still carrying the baggage of the Town Car and ‘this is your old limo airport vehicle.’”

1989 Lincoln Town Car, Image: Wikimedia Commons

Granted, Wilson’s point focuses on image, not quality, so the Town Car dig isn’t in the same category of maliciousness as, say, Sergio Marchionne talking about the Fiat 500e. Still, is the Town Car’s history, and its image, something from which Lincoln should run? Maybe empty nesters rushing out of the house to dine for half price at 4:30 p.m. isn’t the greatest vision with which to lure in young families, but product still speaks for itself, at least to some degree.

In the first year of the new century — the beginning of Lincoln’s dark, confused decade — Town Car sales in the U.S. reached 81,399 units. Six years earlier, Americans took home over 120,000 of the cushy sedans. What was a Town Car? First and foremost, it was a model that understood its purpose, much like its builder and its buyers. Throughout its long lifespan, the Town Car remained instantly recognizable and never grew unsure as to its identity, remaining a durable, powerful, rear-wheel-drive comfort cruiser to the end.

True, livery companies loved it, too. And yes, there’s no shortage of high-mileage Panthers with arthritic suspensions still ferrying people to and from the airport, but doesn’t that say something positive about the model? That it performs a role, even in old age, that others can’t, won’t, or aren’t requested to fulfill? That it’s capable of taking years of punishment and calmly asking for more?

Don’t tell me Lincoln wouldn’t love to see some of those old Town Cars ditched in favor of new Continentals, subtly swaying a certain clientele towards their product through regular exposure. Lincoln needs younger buyers, yes. First-time buyers. Buyers attracted to the across-the-board styling movement afoot at Lincoln, something we’ll call the “Make Like Continental” initiative.

Developing a unique look is key for brand identity, just as content, quality, and segment saturation is a must-have for healthy sales and satisfied customers. And it certainly helps if those customers can’t see a Ford peeking through the skin like a sandwich through Saran Wrap. Thankfully, there’s progress being made towards this end. Sales are up compared to the grim recession-era years.

Yet I’d argue Lincoln should make itself busy sweeping the early MKZ and MKX models under the carpet before cringing at the sight of one of its best-sellers.

[Image: Michaelulrich17/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

101 Comments on “At Lincoln, the Battle Between New Product and Your Grandfather’s Town Car Continues...”


  • avatar

    For me the point being made was that the old town car may have fit for purpose but it is the symbol of the problem with the Lincoln brand – lack of desire. No-one desires to own the taxi that takes you to the airport

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m a GM fanboi and I see nothing wrong with Town Cars ~ one of my childhood friends has them and no problems, comfy and reliable .

    Not everyone needs/wants a Sports Sedan .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Perhaps, but no one wants Town Cars anymore. If they did, Ford would still be making them.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Sales were acceptable until the real estsate market started its nosedive after 2007, and the Great Recession really killed sales.

        The reason Ford killed it off was that it didn’t want to pay the cost of updating the design or underpinnings. Various government mandates made the cost of a new platform, suspension and drivetrain excessive.

        A modular V8 with a measly 230 HP and 4-speed automatic and solid rear axle being sold in 2010 was ridiculous. Ford really did nothing with the car after 1998.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    ???

    So much to unpack. Let’s start with the Town Car. It’s highly unlikely they can bring the Panther platform back, and I’ll bet soup to nuts Ford wasn’t making much profit, if any, on the last few Panther cars they sold.

    Rebadging? Not really. I just bought one of those old MKXs, after test driving a same year Edge Titanum the same day. There was a marked difference in interior quality & refinement. Could Ford have sold the MKX as a Ford? Possibly, but I guarantee they wouldn’t have sold as many, or have sold them as profitably.

    Top sellers? That exactly what the MKX and MKZ are for Lincoln right now, having moved 30K units apiece in 2016 in the US; each about as much as the Town Car did in its last FOUR years (which admittedly were 09-12, but declined much further than the rest of the market and the Lincoln brand).

    Not to mention large sedans are not in favor right now as is. An ancient, unsafe, gas guzzling relic someone can buy a clean running facsimile of for 1/10th the price would do about as well in today’s market as the whole idea sounds.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      In its last years the town car/marquis/Victoria were selling 250,000 a year with no advertising and few incentives on a platform dating back to 1978 they were massively profitable

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        250,000 units a year?

        Uh…no. Not even a third of that, and that’s a kind estimate. And you can bet a huge percentage of what was sold went to Hertz, or your local police department.

        http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2011/01/ford-crown-victoria-sales-figures.html
        http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2013/07/lincoln-town-car-sales-figures-usa-canada.html

        The market for full size “traditional” cars pretty much died around the same time Vanilla Ice’s career died.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Lincoln sold 120,000 Town Cars in 1994, it’s first year, it’s top sales year. By 2006, it was under 40,000, and the 1994-2011 total run was just over one million.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Nothing wrong with a big, smooth, powerful sedan, but the problem with the towncar was that its design was years past it’s the due date. It became a parody of itself. Buick is trying to attack this market now, and is finding the market quite small – at least for sedans.

  • avatar
    SMIA1948

    If Lincoln is to survive, it must go back to building Lincolns. Lincolns are either big, elegant, and distinctively American, or they are nothing, and they won’t make money. (Cadillac needs to go back to building Cadillacs: big, flashy, and distinctively American).

    It looks like the 2018 Navigator will be a true Lincoln, but the Continental is just too small.

    The biggest Lincoln sedan should be considerably larger than a Mercedes S-Class, but much less expensive. And, it should have a 25 or 30 cubic-foot trunk. Start with the 1961 Lincoln Continental and go from there.

  • avatar
    ajla

    No one is saying to bring back the Panthers, but dumping on something you offered for 30 years that loyal customers bought (and conceivably enjoyed) during your brand’s rough patches isn’t a good look.

  • avatar
    TW5

    American luxury manufacturers need to realize that product is nearly irrelevant. A majority of 3-series lessees don’t know if their vehicle is front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive. They probably can’t tell you anything about the suspension components, and some probably can’t even tell you which size segment the vehicle is in (they only know the size of their vehicle relative to the rest of the vehicle lineup).

    It’s about branding and economic signaling games that are imbedded in various car-buying demographics.

    Cadillac moved marketing and other operations to the East Coast as a means of establishing a beachhead in major markets. If Lincoln had any sense, they’d move to the West Coast and try to make inroads there.

    Cadillac CT6 is superior in many ways to its European counterparts. Doesn’t matter. Sales figures are still a fraction of 5-series or E-class sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I can’t answer to the 5-series, but no way a CT6 touches the dynamics and aesthetics of an E-class.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Dynamics? Yes.

        Aesthetics? Maybe. I like the CT6’s looks, and the E-class’ lines work better on the C-class to my eyes.

        Interior quality? Not even close. Mercedes looks and feels like money.

        Snob appeal? Not even worth discussing.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Lincoln DID move their offices to the West Coast back in the early 2000s (or late 90’s) when Ford had gathered all it’s luxury brands into the Premier Auto Group (Lincoln, Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, Aston Martin). But they moved back to Dearborn because it didn’t accomplish anything.

    • 0 avatar
      YeOldeMobile

      I agree, it’s all about branding and desirability. But outside of the 1950s chrome monsters, and maybe 60s convertibles, have there been a Cadillacs or Lincolns that have any impacton modern buyers?

  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    I’ve admired Lincolns all my life. That includes classy Town Cars, “personal luxury” Continental Marks, and even luxo-barge Navigators and the svelte MKC crossover. I love the new Continental sedan, but I sure haven’t seen too many on the roads here in the Washington DC region. But Lincoln’s abandonment of the Town Car (and it’s demographic, both retired and livery) absolutely mystifies me. Do they dare modify their new Continental to make a new Town Car? If Carole Wilson’s comments are any indication, they don’t have the sense to do that. Lincoln may aspire to recapture former glory, but they won’t get there by targeting relatively younger, “active lifestyle” buyers. That’s what Fords are for. Now get those kids off my lawn!

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Without a number pad for entry, and with those horrible fender lip chromes, I’m none too impressed with monochromatic Town Car there.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Honestly, I’ve never been impressed with Town Cars, monochromatic or otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        I like the scale, and when they were long and low. I also like the way they can run for ages with minimal care. But generally, they’re not particularly great at anything – and were far too expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Viewed as a contemporary luxo-barge, a Navigator or Escalade is WORLDS better than any Town Airport Car / Deville Brougham d’Whatever / Imperial Grand Poobah ever made – it’s far quicker, handles better, seats more people, has more equipment, can tow, and even has 4WD for when the weather gets bad. There’s a reason why folks stopped buying “traditional” luxury cars – they’re far less capable.

    • 0 avatar

      I enjoyed ride from airport (Logan) in the backseat of Toyota Camry more than to airport in Towncar. Camry XLE felt more luxurious than Towncar. American companies simply did not have money or engineering talent to compete in luxury segments. UAW and inept CEOs to blame. Unamerican companies do not need to provide pensions and health care for employees – there is a government for that.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Still, is the Town Car’s history, and its image, something from which Lincoln should run?”

    Considering that a) the Town Car wasn’t selling when it was discontinued, and b) cars like the Town Car stopped selling around the time Bill Clinton played sax on Arsenio Hall, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

    SUVs, CUVs and smaller, better-driving sedans are where the luxury game is now. And I’m betting that in the near future, the segment will include compact luxury sedans as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      I must agree. The Town Car’s image (just like the DeVille and B-body items) belong in the past in Brougham History 101. Trying to pander to anything aero-era or forward is not a good idea.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The funny thing is, I grew up during the heyday of the brougham. They were laughably bad, and while they eventually were cured of their worst quality and reliability problems by the ’90s, the market for them was already dying.

        They’re fun as a nostalgia trip…but who would drop fifty or sixty large on one today?

        (Answer: the same folks who buy Escalades and Navigators, which are today’s broughams.)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Don’t bring it back, but let it rest in peace. It served its purpose fine. No need for the new Black Label Club to condescend it.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Some would call it condescension. I’d call it The Truth About Town Cars.

        The car was a airport taxi / rental fleet queen for a good 20 years before it died.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I’m 33. I’ve been able to comfortably purchase any car in the Lincoln portfolio for 10 years now. I have considered none of their vehicles. Why? Because its competitors have a better product with better cache and resale value.

    Brand perception matters to people. Resale value matters to people. Lincoln should have taken a chance by completely rebranding itself under a different name because most don’t associate Lincoln with anything other than Town Cars and Navigators. The former is dead and the latter isn’t far behind, even if the new one is far better than the old one. Many can’t afford a Navigator and those that can, don’t buy them. They’re buying Land Rover, Yukon Denali, Escalade, MB GLS…the list goes on. There isn’t one Lincoln in my neighborhood. No one I talk to about cars is even remotely interested in buying a Lincoln. “Hey John, have you seen that new Continental? Oh man I can’t wait to test drive one!” Said no one, ever, at least not around here. Granted, anecdotes are just that, but think about it. How many people you know are actually interested in buying a Lincoln when they can buy a better perceived luxury brand, or dare I say, a really nice Ford?

    Lincoln is dead at this point. Mulally should have taken it out back and shot it when he had the chance and as a shareholder, I wish he would have. But he didn’t. So now that Fields is gone, who so badly wanted to revive the Lincoln brand, Ford is now stuck dragging around what amounts to a rotting corpse.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Lincoln is dead at this point.”

      Nope.

      Lincoln annual sales by year
      2011 85,643
      2012 82,150
      2013 81,694
      2014 94,474
      2015 101,227
      2016 111,724

      • 0 avatar
        Spartan

        The market was up over all those years. Do you really think that’s sustainable? You and I both know the answer to that.

        Millennials are going to be able to buy luxury cars in droves soon. You think they’re going to buy a Lincoln over a Lexus? Benz? BMW? Tesla? Or..a mainstream brand?

        Lincoln is dead.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          ” Ford is now stuck dragging around what amounts to a rotting corpse.”.

          necrophiliacs rejoice .

          -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yes, I do think that’s sustainable. The market has moved to CUVs, and SUVs, and that’s where Lincoln is strong.

          And we’re not even talking about what will happen when the new Navigator is introduced. Unless we have some kind of economic cataclysm or a massive spike in fuel prices, that thing’s gonna SELL.

          • 0 avatar
            Spartan

            What new Lincoln would you seriously consider buying? What new Lincoln HAVE you seriously considered buying?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “Millennials are going to be able to buy luxury cars in droves soon.”

          Right, with that robust economy and all of those great jobs. If your generation (as a whole) “buys” anything, it will be a lease.

          “You think they’re going to buy a Lincoln over a Lexus? Benz? BMW? Tesla?”

          CLA and 2 Series are *so* luxurious. Bet that Model 3 will be too when it debuts in 2029.

          The greater issue is the fact there is no economic recovery and there may not be until the great reset when it occurs. Automakers will have to sell cheap contrived garbage in order to make the $199-299 leasing budget of most of your generation while competing with better “plebian” marques like Toyonda which will probably offer superior product for the money. Lincoln isn’t dead, luxury is dead.

          If Lincoln is to survive, one strategy is to follow the one Cadillac stupidly abandoned: offer the “5 series” for the “3 series money”. Another strategy is to market to, but NOT build the stupid faux sports sedan POS with no back seat, no head room, and tinny little motors. America’s infrastructure is becoming third world in large swathes of the nation. BMW got away from the Ultimate Driving Machine because they recognized this fact. Since marketing is just a lie, *market* one loss leader sporty model, but *sell* product which is a better value than the competition and isn’t going to feel awkward on the lunar landscape you ride to work on.

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        Not sure that 100k Lincoln sales is all that impressive. VW had a bad 2016 and sold three times as many units, and they aren’t even on their own home turf as Lincoln is. Speaking of corpses, Mitsubishi, closest thing I can think of that reminds me of an automotive corpse in the U.S., sold not that many fewer units than Lincoln in 2016.

      • 0 avatar
        baconator

        Pshaw! You and your silly facts and numbers.

        Seriously, though: How many Continentals need to be sold for Lincoln to break even on the development cost? Rough guess: Per-car profit is about $5k and dev cost around maybe$150M, so breakeven is at 30k units. Every unit sold beyond that would be higher-margin than average for Ford. My guess is that, based on those number, the new Conti already looks like a success from within Ford. It doesn’t seem to be the image-remaking home run that the 300M was for Chrysler, but certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      “Cachet” and “Brand perception” follow actual product quality, albeit with a few years’ lag time. Lincoln has been twiddling around with rebadged Fords and puzzling marketing maneuvers, rather than building a compelling, quality product. I think that has more to do with their current state, which is about a third of Cadillac’s total sales volume, than “Branding,” which is a fancy way of saying that you need to trick people into buying yourself stuff, because it’s not good enough to stand out otherwise. If they made good cars with better looks, the marketing-speak buzzwords would follow.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      “I’m not quite dead yet!” – Lincoln 2017

      Lincoln earned a conquest sale, selling my wife an MKX Reserve to replace her BMW 3 series coupe. It’s a far better vehicle than I expected. Lincoln’s approach appears to be slow and steady wins the race, and it appears to be working.

  • avatar
    HEOJ

    I feel like I’m the only person who actually Like the Balen Whale grill(also the Acura beak)! I also find it funny that Town Car is called baggage but the current flagship is the Continental, which is a name that should have just as much baggage.

  • avatar
    stangmatt66

    Lincoln needs to take a page out of the Buick playbook. Their ad campaign “Doesn’t look like a Buick” is driving tons of sales and getting customers to reevaluate the brand. The Matthew McConaughey ads are just awful.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Lincoln?

    Have they built a Mustang-based 4-door *with the GT powertrain* that will be a faster more reliable 5-series at 2/3 of the price yet?

    No, they haven’t?

    Oh well, back to not caring about them.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      Exactly, but they won’t. Yet they had no problem doing it in the past. That formula saved Infiniti from its deathwatch in the early 2000s with the G35.

      I’d love to see a Lincoln Navigator Sport. I’ve love to see a Lincoln Mustang based sedan and coupe. But they won’t do it.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        I do believe the Aviator you desire is returning upon the next gen of Explorer, when it switches to RWD.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          That’s correct. The Explorer based Lincoln will be here for model year 2020.

          I’ve heard rumblings that there’s a Lincoln Coupe based on the Mustang floating around somewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        High-performance sedan with a big stonkin’ V8? GM could have done that easily with Cadillac, and even had the perfect platform to do it with – Zeta. Imagine how cool that would have been with the styling from the Sixteen concept.

        But no one would have bought it. Just like no one would have bought the Mustang-based Lincoln.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “But no one would have bought it.”

          In 2005-2006 people would have bought both a Zeta Cadillac and a Lincoln-Mustang. The Charger/300 we’re doing nearly 300k units and the Sigma cars were at 80k.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            In fact, Cadillac had not one, but two high performance sedans back then (STS-V and CTS-V) that went like stink, but wouldn’t sell because they were obviously cheap and crappy.

            If Cadillacs had been styled and built like Cadillacs are now, *maybe* they could have done what you’re talking about. But I doubt it. Cadillacs had little luxury/performance cred back then, and Lincoln had even less.

            Chrysler was having an easy time selling 300s for obvious reasons – it looked sensational, came loaded, and was fast, all for $35,000. At that price, it was easy for buyers to forgive the car’s obvious quality and workmanship issues. That’s not as easy at a Cadillac/Lincoln price point.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Cadillacs had little luxury/performance cred back then, and Lincoln had even less.”

            Well, they’re not going to get cred without trying.

            Lincolnizing the Mustang would have been a cost effective way to test the waters. The 2005 Mustang platform was even setup to support a sports sedan, Ford just never pulled the trigger on it.

            As far as Cadillac goes, the 2G CTS had some legs. It was moving about 60K units each year, which is a little under what the Infiniti G was doing at the time but better than that era’s A4.

            GM tripped over their d*ck bad with the dual ATS/CTS approach. They should have kept the 3G CTS in the same market space as the prior gen and the ATS should never have existed. It would still suffer in the current CUV-centric market but should at least manage Q50 numbers.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    The Town Car was a great car ten years ago.

    The root of the confusion is that the “Futura/Five Hundred” naming scheme was wrong-headed from the start, to try to recall some 60s heyday that was forgotten. Those should have been called “Taurus” and “Crown Victoria”. That would have let the D3 platform naturally take over the role of the Panther platform as a massive, inefficiently-packaged people mover with a focus on passenger comfort. We would have never known the Fusion apart from the razor.

    What has Lincoln done since Town Car? The MKS was a good car for people who would have looked at a Town Car, but it was not the spiritual successor; passenger comfort was not better between the MKS and the D3 Taurus, and the MKS only appeared once the Sable died. The Continental is a great car for its class, and it sure seems to be the spiritual successor with its emphasis on passenger comfort.

    Is a Continental better than a Town Car? Yes, absolutely, far and away; but the Accord is 10 years better, and the Malibu is a whole lot better in 10 years from the invisible model. Do they fit the same niche? Ten years ago, if you wanted a land yacht that would let you transport somebody important in complete comfort, the Lincoln Town Car was a good answer. Today, if you want a land yacht that will let you transport somebody important in complete comfort, the Lincoln Continental is a good answer.

    Lincoln should be happy to have something memorable enough to be a benchmark and from which they have improved. You can bet Chevrolet doesn’t think about those people who bought Malibus or W-Body Impalas, because they lost those customers. You can bet that Chrysler wishes that they knew how to move along from their Mercedes-platformed cars, so they just make them, again, but with more power. How’s Accura doing in escaping the shadow of 1990s cars they used to sell but no longer play in that niche?

    The Town Car was great, in the past, where it belongs.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Yeah, but see, the problem is the Continental has been out for months and months and they’re selling less of them than the Genesis G80. People aren’t buying the new sporty Lincolns and apparently they don’t want the plush ones either. This is why it’s so frustrating to hear people say “Cadillac should stop building these world-class sport sedans and build CADDIES.” They do. The boring XTS. No one buys that either.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        In fairness, the Continental is quite a bit more expensive than a G80.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          There’s a $3,000 difference in starting price. I think Hyundai just packaged the G80 a lot more efficiently. Just 2/3 simple packages that people will actually want. No one wants to pay top dollar for Conti with all the options.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You’re right, but the G80 is far more comprehensively equipped at lower price points. Forty-seven large buys you a G80 with RWD and pretty much all the toys. Continentals aren’t very well equipped at that price point. Most Continentals sell for $60,000 or thereabouts, and you can load one up to over $70,000.

            I see the G80 as more of a 300/Avalon/LaCrosse/Lexus ES competitor, whereas the Contintental is a less expensive alternative to something like a S-class Benz or Lexus LS.

      • 0 avatar
        Spartan

        Say what you want about the XTS, but I’d buy one. I had one as a rental for about a month and it was great. I had a 300C after the XTS, awaiting for my car to arrive, and the 300 was in no way better than the XTS. The XTS clearly was a better car.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Actually, the XTS sells extremely well, which is why it has survived and will even be getting a facelift next year, when it was supposed to have died off by now because it didn’t fit Cadillac’s image.

          It’s a successful modern interpretation of the floaty Sedan DeVille / Deville / DTS lineage, and it’s evidently a market segment that Cadillac can’t ignore.

          I think Lincoln has the right idea.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          XTS has always been a winner. I’d take one in metallic red, with the V-sport package, any day.

      • 0 avatar
        BrentinWA

        The XTS sells more than the CTS and CT6, not that any of them are throwing up massive numbers. I actually have an XTS Platinum and I enjoy that it’s motivated enough to move confidently and quietly but I can also do 90 in a sharp S-Curve going up and over the continental divide. It’s seats are massively comfortable and do not induce fatigue after a 500 mile drive.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    I’ve always been a bit of a Lincoln fanboy. My grandparents had a slew of Grand Marquis’… and a few Town Cars in there as well. I myself had a ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC. LOVED that car… fast, comfortable, quiet, and economical. Currently, I have my grandfather’s LAST Grand Marquis (sentimental purchase)… an ’08. The de-contenting is apparent from some of his previous Marquis’. The ’98 & up Town Cars never really appealed to me… too bulbous… but given the chance, I’d trade grandpa’s Grand Marquis for a new Continental in a heartbeat… REALLY like what they’ve done with it. It cracks me up how many say the Lincolns are just rebadged Fords… yet the Impala/Caddy XTS get a pass? Whatever. I’ve considered picking up a used MKS (ecoboost) tho… lotta value there…

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “yet the Impala/Caddy XTS get a pass?”

      You think Cadillac gets a pass on TTAC?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I do like the Continental.

      And actually, none of those is a rebadge. Aside from trucks and truck-based SUVs that share the same bodyshell, neither Ford nor GM is rebadging anything. The MKZ and the Fusion may be platform-mates, but they aren’t rebadged versions of one another. They’re different vehicles altogether. Besides, a platform means a lot less than you think it does these days; it mostly has to do with the individual components that have to fit a wide range of cars, like steering racks, axles, pedal assemblies, etc…as well as making sure that those cars can ride on the same assembly lines at the same time…and less to do with the things you can see on the car.

      The Navigator and the Expedition could be called rebadges, but even then, it sounds like FoMoCo has made so many upgrades and improvements to the upcoming Navigator versus its Expedition sister that the two are distinct vehicles.

      The Tahoe and Yukon are a great example of badge engineering. They share the same body and interior, panel for panel, and the only differences are the front fascias and the badges, plus artificial differences like equipment you can get on one, but not the other. The Tahoe versus the Escalade? Less so. The Impala and the XTS? Absolutely not.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Sorry that I have not been able to read any of the other postings before I comment, but am in a rush. So please excuse if I repeat what others have said.

    Lincoln (Ford) should be proud of the Town Car and its historical importance. What other vehicle combined durability, affordability and ‘luxury’ to the same extent. The reason that they were and are still so sought after as airline limos and weekend limos is because they do so many things adequately.

    Lincoln was largely a sales afterthought through much of the 50’s and 60’s. The Mark III and the Town Car put them on the map. So much that for a number of years they outsold Cadillac and even had a better ‘reputation’ or ‘prestige’ factor in the domestic market. One of the reasons perhaps that Cadillac lost their way????

    Devaluing your own corporate brand and history is never a smart move.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      The main reason why the Town Cars ruled the livery market was because the Devilles were leaky engine pieces of crap with suspension that had to be frequently rebuilt under fleet use. Whereas any semi competent mechanic can rebuild a Panther and get it back on the road in a few hours on the rare occasions that they needed service. Downtime is money lost for fleet operators.

      Ask any fleet operator how their trial with the Deville/DTS went and why they went back to Town Cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      I agree – and if they were so ashamed of the “Town Car” name, why would they badge the MKT with it? I think consumers would rather forget the MKT than the Town Car.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Lincoln is getting back to being what is always has been – comfortable luxury cars. Lincoln doesn’t need phony sports models like the V-Series or M -Series etc. Just sell quality luxury vehicles that are fast, smooth, quiet and comfortable.

  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    One of my daily drivers is an 06 Grand Marquis and I love driving it especially in city traffic. Here are some of the reasons why

    -the great greenshouse that doesn’t feel like a coffin, unlike most “modern” full size cars.
    -I get 16-17 in the city and 25-27 on the highway. It’s not Prius but guzzler? Whatever.
    -the car drives smaller than it is, its relatively short wheelbase for its size makes parking it a breeze.
    -the motor was tuned to work great a moderate throttle, you can get up to 80 without leaning into it and no drama.
    -the meaty tires on the 16 inch wheels combined with its functional suspension design take care of crappy roads with ease
    -it drives “easy”, it’s a hard concept to explain but certain cars have that ability to let the driver relax. The Panthers are the prime example of that.

    As far as the whole “oh no only taxi fleets and airport livery people drive panthers”, well I make enough money that I don’t really care what people think of me based on what I drive. You think I’m a taxi driver? Fine. My family started out blue collar in the coal mines and steel mills, and I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t get hit up for money or “investment opportunities” at reunions and parties.

    What the Panthers’ departure signified was the disappearance of a whole segment of Americans who were comfortable being who they were without worrying about what they look like they are worth to strangers and vain neighbors, as long as the car worked and was relatively trouble free.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I have a picture of my barber’s late-run Grand Marquis next to my MKS. They are the same height, roof-to-roof.

      The thing is, his Grand Marquis is on 24s, while my MKS rides on the stock 20″ wheels…proving how bulky and oversized my car is. Ha.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        What’s with that giant console in MKSs and Taurus’s? Is it like a “I-95 special” that would come in handy on the Wire as a secret compartment to hide…granola bars?

    • 0 avatar
      Panther Platform

      I’m just short of 60 years old. My Lincoln dream car would be a big personal luxury coupe with a detuned 5.0 liter V8. Or at least a sport sedan. Not going to happen. I have had a Crown Vic, Town Car, and now have a 2003 Grand Marquis LSE. I really can’t improve on what TwoBelugas has written. These cars are big, tough, relaxing to drive, and close to indestructable.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I don’t think he was saying anything untoward about the type of vehicle the Town Car was, which was a cushy, traditional large American luxury car with no sporting pretensions.

    The problem with the Town Car was that it was archaic for at least a decade before it was canceled. By the end I don’t think they were selling too many to anyone outside of “black car” fleets.

    The B&Bs and Jalops of the Internet might believe the Panthers were some model of perfection (by what standards I don’t know) but the market disagreed. You couldn’t even buy a Crown Vic retail for the last four years of its life, and if you get a chance to ride in or drive a 2011 Grand Marquis, take a look at the interior trim. they wrung every last penny out of that tooling.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I agree. It was the sh*tty interpretation of American comfort-luxury that did the Town Car’s image in. The final, rounded design that bowed for MY1998 was *significantly* cheapened versus the previous Town Car, and from then on, FoMoCo did nothing substantial to improve it or persuade you that it was a modern car.

      Had they continued with the gentlemanly swagger and proper luxury of the 1990-1997 Town Car, things might have gone very different for Lincoln, and the MKS—which, let’s admit it, was a failure—would never have needed to exist at all.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      As far as being archaic, after 03 they had a decent rack and pinion steering that solved the handling vagueness, the suspension was return, the frame was stiffened up. Hell they even added a Tach! It won’t win slalom contests but seriously, look at what sells on the market now, do you think new car buyers seriously care about driving dynamics?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Part of Lincoln’s trouble is that it can’t seem to settle on a design language, or even a set of attributes. The almost semi-circular grilles of the old Continental, LS, final Town Car and 2nd-gen (2003-2006) Navigator gave way to the clumsy split-wing grille, which is a homage to a Lincoln era no one remembers. Finally, now that they’ve managed to implement the split-wing grille correctly on the MKZ, MKX and MKC…they moved to a Jaguar-aping patterned grille on the Continental, refreshed MKZ and upcoming Navigator. There is not a single design detail to tie the cars that Lincoln sold 15 years ago from those you can buy right now, other than a coffin-shaped logo. In fact the cars sitting in the showroom today look quite apart from each other (and let’s not even get into how the MKC looks like a budget Q5). That cheapens the brand. It makes you realize when you consider a Lincoln that even if the car lasts 10 years, it’ll look really dated by then.

    Premium brands (typically Euro ones) that have recognizable attributes, like BMW (kidney grille, quad headlamps, Hoffmeister kink) and Mercedes-Benz (upright divided or giant-star grille, hood ornament, greenhouse shape) do a lot better. Audi and Cadillac both had significant design transformations during the 2000s, but they seem committed to them, as future schools of design have been linear and contemporary improvements upon past ones. Jaguar shows no signs of letting up on the renaissance it created when it eschewed its sovereign, traditional design for the slinky new language heralded by the 2011 XJ redesign. Time will tell how long Lexus can endure with the predator look, but at least it’s distinctive and consistent, and certainly hasn’t hurt sales any. Volvo’s new look is gorgeous, and very very Swedish; I wouldn’t even call it a departure from the past, since Volvo’s design language has up to now been very hard to define beyond the basic profile of the front fascia and the rectilinear grille with its diagonal band. And of course super-traditional storied brands like Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce live and die by how well they can tie their modern cars to those of their early years.

    I drive a newer Lincoln. But I bought it because it was a damned good deal for what it was. Unlike every other car I’ve ever bought, I have no real passion for it or the Lincoln brand. A lot of that is down to its design, which will be anonymous and forgotten within five years (and the other part of that is because the more I drive it, the more I realize that it was put together very poorly).

    So, Lincoln, pick a good, durable design language and stick with it. The Continental and Navigator are a great start. Build on that. But I don’t want to see something way different in another 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      There’s a standalone Lincoln dealer not far from me, and driving past it, I’m always struck by the range of grilles on the used Lincolns parked out front. There’s at least three different styles just from the past 5 years. It makes them look like they’re floundering around with no idea what they’re doing.

    • 0 avatar
      BrentinWA

      The Q5 does a good job of appearing to be a “budget” Q5 all on its own.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I’ve seen enough well-driven Panthers roast Miatas and Civics through corners at Lemons races to dismiss their dynamics entirely.

    Sure, they’re not great compared to modern competition. But they’re still capable of more than 98% of the drivers out there can support.

  • avatar
    TomHend

    Gerald Ford was a good man, it is a shame a bunch of deep state comic writers did him in.

    Mike Rowe’s take on Gerald Ford:

    http://mikerowe.com/podcast/?episode_page=3

    Podcast # 43 The Paint Salesman

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Pardoning Nixon did Ford in. The comic relief was just the icing on the cake.

      (And for the record, pardoning Nixon was likely the right move. There was little to be gained by prosecuting the guy after he quit.)

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Panther platform sales did crater in the last decade – in 2002 they sold almost 220.000 of them vs. almost 75,000 in 2010. (I use 2002 because that is the model year of mine so that is what I researched).

    If you look at a 2010 vs a 2002, while there were chassis upgrades, the rest of the car was decontented from front to back. In fact, there were so little positive change that there was no reason to buy a new one, when a used one was available, often with better features.

    I’m still driving my 02 Grand Marquis LSE, but then again, my wife and I still have our 2000 Corolla as well in back-up of our minivan – we like to buy cars that age well, and keep them around.

    One the Town Car went away, the best option was a pre-2015 Genesis.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    When I was in college and the 90s Town Car just launched, I thought taking one and dropping in gonzo built Windsor (Mod motors were still new and unproven) woulda been sweet.
    I dunno what Ford could do to make Lincoln relevant again. I thought both the LS and the original Explorer-based Aviator would be slam dunks, but they were both anything but.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Aviator could have worked better if it offered 4×4.

      LS… I can’t think of a realistic way for it to not have been a total disaster given the plans. Maybe not be a decontented mid tier Jaguar?

  • avatar
    Legitbutter

    I got it! New Town Car with inspiration taken (re dimensions, conservative elegant styling) from the RR Phantom but with a big American V8 and obviously less luxurious materials (but still nice) for the interior to cut price point 20k below the base s class mercedes. The continental should only be the ttv6 but make it a styling icon with a crazy ass 4 door convertible (halo car, tie in to glorious past). Or at the very least crib the s class coupe and convertible at a cheaper price point. Build a sleek midsized sedan on a mustang platform (yes the turbo 4 and v8 included) make Aston Martin rapide coupe like styling. Not practical but maybe brings in a younger crowd. Navigator and midsized one as is (big profit makers)

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    This shows you what kind of sheer buffoons the trim level Ford calls Lincoln has running it.

    Lincoln, as a “brand” can’t muster 120k sales a year and this clown is bagging on a single model that sold 120k a year.

    It shows how out of touch they are. The problem isn’t the successful Town Car. It’s Lincoln. And Ford still has no clue what they’re doing with the “brand”.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • stuki: As long as the Fed keeps printing money, CA can print theirs as well. They’ll just continue to call them...
  • stuki: And then there are people who believe in Santa Claus. And, perhaps more relevantly, science fiction.
  • SunnyvaleCA: >>> I presume you’re in a red state; you will miss the world’s sixth largest economy, which...
  • maui_zaui: The more I look at the G70’s front end, the more I see a gussied up Elantra Sport. I know it’s...
  • RHD: More than two years later, and they still haven’t fixed it…

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States