By on June 9, 2007

06lincolntowncar.jpgThe “tumblehome” is the narrowing of a car’s profile from its beltline to its roof. This design trick creates a sleek, visually trim appearance without losing interior space. The tumblehome was once a hallmark of American automotive design, gracing evocative machines like the Plymouth Barracuda, Buick Riviera and Ford Thunderbird. In today’s Minivan-esque sedans and family-truckster CUVs, it’s hopelessly out of fashion. Now that Ford’s axing the Lincoln Town Car, it time to ask: should Detroit let this proud, once popular design tradition go quietly into that long good night? 

Born as a separate model in 1981, the big Lincoln earned its crust as a pillow soft luxobarge, complete with a waft-compatible 5.0-liter V8. In 1990, the Town Car lost its angularity and gained [rear] air suspension. In '95, the interior received a much-needed makeover. In '98 and and '03, more cosmetic tweakery attempted to keep the flame alive. In the last four years, it's been flickering.

The last 2007 Lincoln Town Car rolled off the Wixom, Michigan assembly line on June 1. Ford's moving production to its St. Thomas, Ontario, Assembly Plant, where The Blue Oval builds the equally iconic Crown Victoria and it’s (over-priced) sister, the Grand Marquis. Come 2009, the formerly American-built Lincoln-branded keeper of the Yank Tank flame will either meet its Motown maker or get a sorely-needed reskin. 

This do-or-die decision comes as the people in charge of writing Ford’s 104-year history are busy drafting Chapter 11, as The Glass House Gang try to sell a range of cars without a shred of American swagger. MK-what? Life on the Edge? Born again Taurus? Have you driven a Ford lately? Forget about tumblehome. It’s tumble down.

Obviously, I come not to bury the Town Car, but to praise it– even though our own William C. Montgomery calls ye olde Panther chassis “a relic of a bygone era when big clumsy sedans were the cultural SUVs of the highway.” Even though the old fogies at LincolnsOnline have turned against the current, beancounted Town Car.

Fair enough, but the Lincoln Town Car is also the automotive embodiment of what’s been right with American automaking since the Eisenhower administration. It’s a large-and-in-charge machine with endless comfort, stateside style, mechanical reliability and time-tested (and how) durability. 

Not convinced? Plenty of people are. In fact, the Town Car’s been a FoMoCo cash cow for over twenty years. In 1985, Lee Iacocca noted that the model netted Henry's mob over a billion dollars annually. While Ford was in its [first] pre-Taurus dire straits, it was the venerable Lincoln Town Car that kept them afloat.

Ironically, the Town Car’s financial success sealed its fate. Ford siphoned-off the model’s $10k-per-unit revenue to purchase a Jaguar-shaped black hole and an English off-roader company, and then starved the Town Car of development. Is it any coincidence that Ford’s and Lincoln’s sales declined as Toyota’s and Lexus’ rose?

When the rest of the world abandoned the body-on-frame sedan, the big Lincoln soldiered on, still banking profits for the company that spurned it. Its customers have remained faithful, even as Ford pursues an ill-advised agenda of world car synergies.

In short, preserving the Town Car isn’t about a bunch of nostalgic pistonheads embracing the last American land yacht. It’s about Ford’s seizing the chance to invest in a proven nameplate with a proven long-term revenue model. With some creative engineering, a new Town Car could return both the model and marque to major glory.

There are plenty of reasons why a re-engineered Town Car could provide a base from which to revive the entire American big car genre. For one thing, it could embody distinct and distinctive American style.

Pundits said the Chrysler 300C marked the return of the great American sedan. It did (selling well) and it didn’t (no one moved the ball forward). A new Town Car could lift the styling from the 2002 Continental Concept, complete with suicide doors (cough, Ford Flex), and boldly go where gangsta Cs and gussied-up Camcords fear to tread.

For another, Americans love to waft. While it’s hard to defend a 29-year-old automotive platform, it’s not impossible. The Town Car [still] represents the quintessential straight-line style of motoring. Ditch the Panther’s rear solid axle, install the Explorer’s slow-selling 292hp V8, add a six-speed slushbox and the new Town Car could make some serious imperious progress. 

Of course, this is all fantasy. Dearborn's current management team insists that a Volvo-based Ford with the Taurus/Sable/MK-whatever moniker on the trunk will save the company's skin. More absurdly, The Blue Oval Boyz  continue to believe that throwing money at Jaguar’s problems will pay off. Does Ford need a better Volvo-Taurus?  Should they ditch Jag? Sure. But the Lincoln Town Car should be part of the way Fordward.  

Saving the Town Car isn’t a moral obligation; it’s a brand faithful growth strategy in an increasingly competitive market. To think that Americans loyal to the last rolling tribute to the American Sedan will praise the Town Car’s un-American (alphanumeric) replacement is a sad, twisted joke. Following the Lincoln brand’s badge-engineered downward spiral, this joke only brings smiles to your local Lexus dealer.

Even in neglect, nobody does the American sedan better than the Lincoln Town Car. And nobody ever will.

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55 Comments on “In Defense of: The Lincoln Town Car...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    The term, “tumblehome” goes back to wooden warships:
    Tumblehoms at Wiki

    Note its utility in defending your battleship against boarding by others.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Just a thought… what if one put a nice quiet common rail turbo diesel engine in a Town Car? Am I thinking too teutonically here?… zee Germans make such cars. Wouln’t that be like eating the cake and losing weight at the same time? In a time of $4/gal gasoline a more fuel efficient luxobarge might be appealing to people doing long trips… you remember that VW ad schpeil about going from one city to some other city six states over in a TDI Jetta… right? Like that but with the wonderbread ride and institutional padded room silence of the Town Car.

    I’ve done my share of miles in a Town Car, back when I was a kid my grand parents had an 85 which was replaced by a 90’s model. Both purchased because my grandmother (a tall lady) likes to wear hats in the car when she goes places like church. Oh and my grandfather once worked for ford, so he was kinda loyal to the brand.

    Anyways… I like the article Sajeev.

  • avatar

    Oh hey the Taurus is one of our best selling cars, let’s replace it with something else. Oooo the Town Car sells well to fleets let’s replace it with something they don’t want. Seriously Ford needs to leave the Town Car and the Crown Vic alone.

  • avatar
    frenchy

    Ford’s problem has been and continues to be that they don’t support the good models they have. The tauraus, focus, ranger, towncar, crown vic are all good cars that have sold well, yet when was the last time any of them have had a significant update? Ford deserves to go out of business if they can’t take care of their good models.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    KixStart: If it keeps the pirates out of my Town Car, then I’m all for it.

    I don’t know about that Continental concept’s styling on a town car. I think the Town Car should stick around FOR SURE, but I think the Continental’s styling is too young and awesome. Build the Continental–get Snoop to Dropp his 300C like it’s hott. I would LOVE a Continental like that. As it is, the only large car I can stomach right now is a 7-series Bimmer–and there’s a lot wrong with that car.

  • avatar
    dean

    That Continental concept has the potenential to be transformed into the most desirable large car on the market. Which means, of course, that Ford would screw it up.

    How about a Town Car with the concept’s exterior styling and a more conventional interior, and a higher-end Town Car Continental with the radical interior. I know it hopelessly mixes up model names, but I’m no traditionalist so it doesn’t bother me.

    Edit: I just had another look at the Conti concept. I’m a fan of small cars, but I would LUST after that car if they built it.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    While a new model is long overdue, Ford could very easily do a quick-and-dirty upgrade to the current TC to keep sales trickling along. I rented one last summer for a month and was surprisingly impressed. The highs: for a body-and-frame, it had that German “granitic” feeling…very solid. I thought the engine was powerful enough, and the darn thing got like 26-27mpg on the freeway. The steering was okay, and the best compliment I can pay it was that, like a 7 series, it felt like a smaller car from the drivers seat. The lows: seats (front and rear) had no bottom cushion support; after a few minutes, one feels like you are sitting in a hole.
    The plastic wood is really bad. When will mmanufacturers realize that the easiest way to create a reasonable simalcrum of tree-fibers is to start with a good silkscreen of timber, in plastic, and then cover it in a 1/4 inch of polyurethane clearcoat. Jeep does a great job with this. And would a nice analog tach be too much to ask for? I’ve ranted before about Ford’s strange reluctance to apply i.r.s. to the Panther cars. The system from the last 4 passenger T-Bird should fit nicely. It would help the ride/handling, free up space in the trunk/backseat area, and perhaps even mitigate the exploding gas tank problem that police forces are so concerned about. Ford already knows the advantages, as in the current Explorer/Expedition. The styling though is beyond help I’m afraid. The thing just looks like it’s melting. The designers of the next one might look at the 1961 LC or ’70 TC for inspiration…

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Well said!

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Glad everyone (so far) is enjoying the read. The business case for the Panther Chassis is a no brainer, and I’m glad that point got across.

    Someone’s gonna mention the Aussie Falcon as a potential replacement for the Panther, and I don’t buy it. The Aussie RWD chassis needs to be here, but its not the right size (too narrow) and right engineering (body on frame) to quite do the American sedan justice.

    Matter of fact, I’d say Ford’s on the right track when the D3 Volvo-Taurus plant (Chicago?) closes for a bit and starts spitting out reskinned Falcons instead. THAT’s a vehicle worth the premium over a Fusion.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Edit: I just had another look at the Conti concept. I’m a fan of small cars, but I would LUST after that car if they built it.

    The lure of a PURE American land yacht is undeniable. More hi-res pics here.

    I swear, its been several years since the Concept Conti arrived and it looks better and better as the years go by. Like the original and unlike most concepts, it really doesn’t look dated.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Continental, yes; Continental, yes. Ford so blew that one.

    Thanks for a good read, Sajeev.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I dunno…in an era in which the benchmark luxobarges in the minds of most car buyers have alphanumeric names and a Germanic accent, the Town Car strikes me as an anachronism.

    With the gradual evolution of the eminence of the German sport sedan in the forefront of the public consciousness, the American market has changed and left Lincoln behind. According to this article from Business Week, the average age of a Town Car buyer is 68: http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/dec2006/bw20061212_753286_page_2.htm

    Lincoln’s market is quite literally dying, and the continued production of these sorts of cars sends a branding message that you don’t belong in a Lincoln showroom if you’re too young for Geritol or a senior discount. It’s not great to bank on a demographic that doesn’t have many more trips to the bank, particularly as the car that you worked so hard to sell them may very well be their last.

    I tend to think that the American automakers ought to look to the 300 as a model from which to steal and borrow shamelessly seek their inspiration. Love it or hate it, the 300 had bold styling that made a dramatic statement that resonated with a fair chunk of the market, and that lesson needs to be applied across the lineup. If you can’t win on cachet value or reliability, you’ve got to find another way to win over the buying public, and styling is often a good way to achieve that.

  • avatar
    rashakor

    The Continental has to come back (although have you noticed that all the modern full size sedans look like 1990 S-class Mercedes!!!).

    The concept is very nice. You gotta love that suicide door and the interior is very nice. Sadly will never see production…

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Posted twice in error.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    The big plus is the beginning of the article talks about 10K profit per unit (when a lincoln can command it’s sticker price). This might be true of a lincoln SUV but the journals have all told people buy the ford version for 10K less it’s the same car.(true) Remember Lincolns first post war run at caddy. It was 1961 and the beautiful suicide door unchromed exterior appeared including a still collectable convertable.Now I ask you did that lincoln look anything like the mercury (which in the 60’s was also handsome in it’s own right)? No, it looked expensive and distinctive. This is the lineage ford needs to follow. If they want to out European and Japanese the competiors they lose. Ford needs American cars for Americans that are unique, large, at least as fuel efficient as current lexuses and pleasant to drive. If they can’t deliver, why keep wasting money, quit.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Lincoln’s lineup of vehicles is a confusing hodge podge with no real specific character. Every one of the models now is nothing but a trim package atop a Ford. There isn’t anything special or magical about a one of them.

    There was a time when the phrase Lincoln Continental was uttered in awe. Now, eh, who cares. Tarted up taxi cabs, tarted up F150s, tarted up Fusions …. who really cares?????

    Top to bottom the modern Lincoln is but a Ford with lots of plasti-chrome added. Go up against a 535 or E-class with these … I don’t think so. Even Cadillac puts Lincoln to shame in the character and image department.

  • avatar
    chris2

    good f!%&ing riddance

  • avatar
    mrdweeb

    There was a time when the brand carted some serious horsepower.

    They arrested me and they put me in jail.
    And called my pappy to throw my bail.
    And he said, “Son, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin’
    If you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot… Rod… Lincoln!”
    Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Strange that no one has mentioned the Lexus LS series as the car that is eating the Lincoln Towncar’s lunch. The post keep mentioned the German luxury cars are the competitors.

    I’ve noticed in my friends/family that the older, conservative, and financially secure are buying Lexus LS’s. I certainly get the vibe that the Lexus LS appeals to Lincoln Towncar’s target.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Strange that no one has mentioned the Lexus LS series as the car that is eating the Lincoln Towncar’s lunch. The post keep mentioned the German luxury cars are the competitors.

    All of the cars that are for sale in that market segment are competitors, but Mercedes and BMW still establish the benchmark that Lexus and Infiniti seek to match or beat.

    The Lexus LS targets the S-class as its standard, not Lincoln. But if it is picking up some would-be Lincoln buyers in the process, that’s not altogether surprising.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Lincoln Town Cars are the exclusive domain of airport limousine services here. The RWD Cadillac had a hammerlock on the market but its FWD replacement lacks the moxy to do several hundred thousand highway miles.

    If not for Ford value engineering, never use a 10-cent part if you can find one for a nickel, after nearly three decades the Town Car would be bulletproof. Common issues include interiors that fall apart, important for a limo, and fragile expensive suspension components.

  • avatar
    50merc

    That Business Week article Pch101 cited is worth reading, as are the comments. I heartily agree with the reader who wrote: “Let your customer tell you what the car needs and what will sell. The PROBLEM is your designers are designing what THEY like, not what the TOWNCAR drivers like.” And with the person who said “The only way to revive both Ford and Lincoln is very simple: fire all the designers!”
    True, Ford brass have been criminally incompetent by starving once-popular products like the Town Car. When Bill Ford gets to the pearly gates Edsel will give him a tongue-lashing.
    But whoever was responsible for making the Town Car look like the Michelin Man’s favorite ride deserves the Ninth Circle of Hell.
    My prescription for reviving the Town Car: square up the body, raise the roofline and seats three inches so getting in and out is easier, and make front and rear seating best-in-class roomy and sumptuous (not just soft).

  • avatar
    Rastus

    I love it…one of the links above displays a webpage with yet Another link to a Hyundai Genesis webpage!! I LOVE IT!

    I would argue the name “Town Car” holds more equity than the entire FAMILY of cars called “Lincoln”.

    You see…you can’t just ignore your customer for …oh, 20-something years…and come out with a …

    …”TA-DA, LOOK AT WHAT *WE* HAVE FOR YOU…YES, *YOU*, OUR *BELOVED* CUSTOMER!!!”

    Sorry, folks, it doesn’t work that way. No, in fact, while you are sleeping off your drunken stupor, those “ratty” companies are now, after the SAME 20+ years BUILDING SOME MIGHTY FINE VEHICLES!!!

    Good Riddance INDEED!

    LINCOlN is something JFK was shot in….*THAT* the extent of what this BRAND means.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I love it, Sajeev. Even if I don’t love the Town Car, this is a great article.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    I have to follow up:

    That “concept car” you guys are drooling over…the one which was on stage several years ago….was during the VERY SAME PERIOD in which the Hyundai Genesis was just an IDEA!

    Now…after several YEARS…you are trying to talk Ford Motor Company into building it…while DEVELOPMENT for the Genesis is NOW TAKING PLACE!!!

    YES, that’s right…you WILL be able to *BUY* a rear-drive semi-luxury HYUNDAI!!!

    I can’t wait …it’s going to be a damn fine car.

    Sorry Lincoln, maybe you’d better rethink why you are in “business”. Because you seem to REALLY have a distorted outlook on life.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    4.6L 32v V8?

    6-speed auto?

    RWD?

    Sounds like Lincoln in the 1990s. Sounds like Hyundai is gonna make a killing with the Genesis. Why buy a MKZ when you get that for about the same price?

  • avatar

    If Ford abandons the Panther-sized platform (no one would argue that it mightn’t be a better car as a unibody), they have lost their corporate mind. Oh, wait, these are the same folks who were selling a 95% 5-series and then failed to finish what they started. Maybe the mind is already gone.

    The loss of the Lincoln as a large premium sedan will be the saddest day in American car-making history. It’s not perfect, but what is wrong with it isn’t all that difficult to fix. Get rid of the crap interior (seats in particular), give it a modern chassis (perhaps resurrecting the Thunderbird IRS), and don’t mess with what’s right about the car. It is a superb highway cruiser, has room for 6 adults, gets fuel mileage my BMW 335 would kill for, and has real presence.

    Mr. Mulally, I don’t need a car this large, but I’m convinced there remains a market for them. The livery drivers in New York absolutely swear by the Town Car, and I would prefer to ride in the back of one of these over any cheesy GM FWD pretender. This car deserves an investment.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    2006 Town Car sales totaled 39,295, down 16.6% from 2005. If you use that 80% fleet figure from BusinessWeek, that means fewer than 8K were sold to individuals, with a median age of 68. That’s niche marketing for you, just not the kind any manufacturer wants.

    My guess as to why Panther cars aren’t much different than they were 10 years ago is because it just isn’t worth it, that an update such as what edgett proposes would cost almost as much as a brand new platform. And speaking of which, Ford’s DEW98 has come and all but gone. Sad.

  • avatar
    shaker

    From older friends who own 5-8 YO Town Cars: Don’t buy one new! The depreciation on these are horrendous; no wonder the demographic is older — they intend to keep them until the air springs fail! There was also an issue with the “plastic” intake manifolds a while back — still, fairly bulletproof American Iron, and as good (if not better) highway mileage as a Subaru 2.5 boxer (albeit AWD).

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    50merc: “My prescription for reviving the Town Car: square up the body, raise the roofline and seats three inches so getting in and out is easier, and make front and rear seating best-in-class roomy and sumptuous (not just soft)”

    Answer: It’s called a Sable!

  • avatar
    50merc

    SherbornSean said:
    ” ’50merc: “My prescription for … the Town Car…’
    Answer: It’s called a Sable!”

    The 500/Sable had the idea with a taller roof and more rear legroom, but the interior is barely more sumptious than a Focus. Moreover, the 3.0 liter Duratec is too weak even for Consumer Reports. What (if anything) was Ford thinking?

    That Continental concept is slick and makes good use of some Lincoln styling touches. But it’s a Lincolnized Jaguar, or a Lincolnized 4-seater Thunderbird. It is definitely not a Town Car. If Ford has decided to let the Town Car die, I suspect the company is not simply uncaring about those faithful 68-year-old customes, it actually has contempt for them. No soup for you!

  • avatar
    durailer

    IMHO, Ford could make a killing with an updated Panther platform. It’s pure bread and butter -we’ve seen how the Town Car can keep them afloat. As the platform stagnates, the Crown Vic is losing ground on the police interceptor / taxicab market, although the Town Car continues to be Airport Limo of choice.

    High-volume fleet sales aren’t necessairily a bad thing as long as you can profit from them. To streamline efforts, the SHO-derived, Yamaha-designed 4.4 V8 ‘world-engine’ might be a better choice.

    Here in Toronto, our streets are riddled with garish SUV-based stretch limos, partly due to the body-on-frame construction. When these go out of fashion (and they will), it’ll be a golden opportunity for a renewed Town Car.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I don’t think that Yamaha 4.4 would be up to the task. It had enough trouble lugging around the final version of the Taurus SHO.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    High-volume fleet sales aren’t necessairily a bad thing as long as you can profit from them.

    This approach is exactly what got them into trouble in the first place.

    Creating vehicles that are worthy only of fleet duty is a long-term brand killer, locking in low margins and building negative brand equity that increases the likelihood that other products under that marque that are intended for the retail market will be rejected by the marketplace.

    This is particularly bad for a luxury brand. A high volume of fleet sales erodes the cachet value of the brand, which only leads to a downward spiral as more customers retreat for “real” luxury brands that aren’t similarly tainted.

    Lincoln’s failure has been in surrendering its brand identity from that of the luxury touring sedan to mundane fleetmobile by continuing to build cars so out of sync with the market that fleet sales were the only avenue remaining. I fear that after decades of neglect and abuse, fixing it now may be a matter of too little, too late.

  • avatar
    citroensm

    I want FoMoCo to succeed, honestly I do, but I have to agree with some of the posters who say Ford deserves to fail.

    In the Harbor report of manufacturing efficiency, the Atlanta plant that built the Taurus bested every other facility in N. America (transplants included), but was closed 9 months ago. A week or two ago, Ford shuttered the factory that’s been responsible for Lincoln product during the last 50 years (Wixom), and guess what? It was just rated as the highest quality plant in all of N. America (transplants included) in terms of defects per vehicle, and was a major contributor to Ford’s excellent showing in this survey.

    Beyond the problems already noted about Ford not supporting its successful nameplates, what can possibly justify these decisions? Even if the product these plants were producing was no longer relevant (and there are good arguments to the contrary), why shut down your two most successful manufacturing facilities instead of retooling them to produce other/newer products?

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I keep saying this but, building a 3.5L turbo fwd Lincoln does not make any sense. Sajeev is exactly right! Why not update the still profitable Panther? SUV refugees would appreciate the small car smashing ladder frame and it would have an honest to god difference from everything else on the market. All Ford would have to do is re-allocate the cost cutting team of engineers spending millions to save pennies to spend millions to make millions.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Re: fleet sales…when the TC first hit the rental fleets (again, circa 1985) retail sales went through the roof. L-M dealers were excited because people renting Town Cars liked them enough to want to buy them.

    As stated in a previous editorial, fleet sales aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If you buy high and sell high, everyone in contact with the make/model stays happy.

    The box-body Town Car was a great example of proper use of fleet sales, but Ford has time and time again proven that they love to snatch defeat from the hands of victory.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    A dead-solid, absolute home run of an article.

    The LTC is EXACTLY the car Lincoln needs. It defines traditional American luxury and style.

    Had Ford neglected it? Absolutely. As fleet sales grew, Ford realized it didn’t need to update the car, just keep crankin’ ’em out. And it left development to die on the vine, like so many other cars they’ve neglected.

    Can it be saved? YES!

    And it must be saved. If Lincoln id to exist in the next 5 years, they NEED this car.

    Start with the Continental Cconcept. it was a pure embodiment of the Lincoln design heritage. It screams American! and makes no excuses for that, which is what the Big 2.333 need right now.

    Punch the 5.4 V-8 out for a nice, even 6.0 Liters of good old ‘Murican torque. A Lincoln needs a BIG motor, not some anemic 4.6.

    The beauty of body-on-frame, from the old days, was the ease of styling updates. Remember that the Big 3 used to regularly update styling to keep models fresh. It should be relativiely ease, in these days of CAD/CAM to update the frame and the styling in virtual reality, then translate this to manufacturing.

    Ditto the update to IRS.

    Look, we need to remember that the LTC may not be OUR Cup o’ Joe, but it has(had) a significant market that should be relatively stable. With some stiffer undergarments and and more power (always a good thing), the LTC can be reborn for a new generation, as it should.

    Also remember that there’s no real domestic (or imported) competition. Reasonably priced V-8 traditional luxury.

    This is the opportunity for Ford to redefine the traditional American luxury car for the new times. Smooth, quiet ride. Plenty of stretch our space. Big ol’ trunk. Gobs of torque and serene cruising. Throw in predictable handling and exceptional build quality, and you have a winner.

    It doesn’t have to pull 1.0g nor run 0-60 in 6 seconds. OK, I’ll take the 0-60 times, but other than that…

    Ford NEEDS this car and the profits from it to keep afloat. Lincoln needs this car because it is the defining nameplate of the marque. Not the MKX, MKZ, or ‘Gator. When you think “Lincoln”, you think of the Town Car. And it needs to be a great car again.

    The 1961 Lincoln Continental ser the luxury car world on its ears. It had groundbreaking styling, making the contemporary Cadillacs look like baroque cartoons compared to the minimalist Lincoln.

    It’s time for Lincoln to throw down again.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    That would be, “…The 1961 Lincoln Continental set the luxury car world on its ears.”

    I blame Microsoft.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Does something not seem right here?

    I mean, why does it take a bunch of strange people (some more strange than others, I admit haha)…why does it take people OUTSIDE THE COMPANY TELLING FORD MOTOR COMPANY THEY OUGHT TO KEEP LINCOLN???

    WHY ISN’T FORD MOTOR COMPANY *TELLING THE AMERICAN CONSUMER* HOW THEY ARE REINVESTING IN THEIR *VERY OWN* COMPANY???

    (Sorry for the shouting….but dammit anyway, this is crazy….but none more crazy than other points already mentioned. Goodbye Lincoln, if you have no self-love, then don’t expect much from others).

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Well they are reinvesting…in downmarket chassis from Japan and Sweden with the wrong proportions (short hood and short deck from Lincoln?) and powertrains.

    Bits from the Lincoln MKZ would make a fine Mercury Milan, but Lincoln doesn’t need the MKZ.

    The upcoming MKS is probably a nice ride, though its hot powertrain belongs in a Taurus SHO and its un-beancounted design makes a better Sable.

    Aside from maybe the Aussie Ford Falcon, none of Ford’s global parts bin make a good Lincoln. (And as long as Jag’s still around they can’t go crazy-expensive, we learned that the hard way with the expensive-to-make LS)

  • avatar
    durailer

    What i’d like to see is the Continental and Town Car produced in parallel, both based on a (not-yet existant) updated Panther platform. They’ll share assembly lines, powertrains and greasy bits, but totally different sheetmetal and interior appointments -plausible and profitable using body-on-frame construction.

    The Continental will be geared for the consumer market, complete with suicide doors, pillarless construction and a delicately delightful interior (a la concept) -whereas the TC will keep fleet buyers happy with a more conventional outfit and durable (yet sumptous) interior. Use the TC to maintain cashflow while the Continental sets the bar high and reclaims the cachet of the marque. Special-interest consumers can still get a TC if they don’t like the blingbling Conti.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    to Ford –
    the 2002 Continental Concept is STUNNING and should be built IMMEDIATELY – suicide doors and all!!! PLEASE!!! Give us a reason to buy an american (er-canadian) car!

  • avatar
    vento97

    At least the Lincoln “Mob Car” has some character – unlike certain GM car lines that should have been “whacked” years ago…

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    I happen to have an 05 base model and it meets all of my expectations. To be honest the only other cars that might come close would be a S MB or RR Silver Spirit and they both would cost more to maintain. Lincoln, America Luxury at its best….I think that might have be their tag line a year or two ago…I actually didn’t pay much attention to these cars until I decided I wanted a car that was good riding, roomy and could haul a few bags when traveling.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    Sigma and Zeta Cadillacs will hammer the nails in Lincoln’s coughin.

  • avatar
    postjosh

    not all cars need to be driver’s cars. here in the twighlight zone we call new york city a lot of us leave the driving to others. the panther platform is perfect for that. why anyone would spend the money to be chauffeured around in a benz is beyond me. the back seat is much roomier and more comfortable in a lincoln and it will most likely spend a lot less time in the shop.

    my suggestion: update the standard town car as well as create an upscale version on the panther platform with a body & interior by jaguar. sell it it for about $100k and you have the ultimate chauffeur driven automobile. isn’t the point of brand consolidation to create synergy?

  • avatar
    Glenn 126

    A (slightly) rationalized Continental concept type car with suicide rear doors, using the current frame (updated with rear independent suspension) and a larger (currently truck-only) 5.4/V8 (don’t forget cylinder deactivation), 6 speed automatic and the addition of a hybrid system like Honda’s (batteries under the back seat, fuel tank above the rear axle to avoid “ka-boom” in rear collisions) would make the Lincoln brand proud once again.

    Torque? The combination would provide enough accelerative pulling power and towing power to move the Rock of Gibraltar. (Yeah, imagine that, being able to tow something with a car, huh? It used to be common, once).

    Of course, reality sets in instead and we know that and Ford Motor Co. lost $4380 PER CAR WORLDWIDE last year, and is now set to be selling Jaguar and Land Rover to the first sucker to come along with doe-rey-me. They simply haven’t the money to do anything with the Lincoln, so the brand will die as Packard did, with a badge-engineered wimper. I can hear the Lincoln death rattle now, and Ford is not long behind it.

    Stick a fork in Ford, they’re done.

  • avatar
    OverheadCam9000

    Nice trip down memory lane.

    On the other hand….

    Save the Town Car? Not possible.

    From the June 13, 2007 edition of the Detroit Free Press,

    “BY JUSTIN HYDE

    FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF

    WASHINGTON — Detroit’s auto industry was cast as an environmental villain Tuesday in an unusual blast of criticism by backers of tougher fuel-economy standards who contend the Senate must force the industry to build more efficient vehicles.”

    There is no place in our Socialist future for capitalist luxobarges like the Town Car.

    Bicycles for All!

  • avatar
    Alcibiades

    Great article, Sajeev. Unfair to say that the Grand Marquis is overpriced, however, as for the last several years it has been substantially cheaper than the Crown Vic. Right now there is a $7,500 rebate on the Grand Marquis. They’re cheap!
    Also, someone complained about the fake wood. At least for the 2007, the wood is real. Does anyone know how many years the dashboard wood has been real American Walnut?

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Maybe its unfair to slam the Grand Marquis on price, but MSRP to MSRP compared to the Vic makes the beancounting stand out in my mind.

    The wood is real where? Only the (optional) wood on the steering wheel is real, the rest of the dash is plastic across the board. Its been like that for most every Panther, except for oddball special editions like the Cypress Edition and aftermarket kits.

    Glad you guys liked the article, the Panther’s business case had to be promoted. Maybe all these rumors of PAG going up on the auction block will help keep the Panther (with updates) around for decades to come.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I just drove 700 miles today from the Outer Banks of North Carolina back to my home state of Ohio, in my Mercury Grand Marquis. There was two instances of why I was thankfull for being in a full sized sedan.

    There were two places in the trip where the roads were closed due to accidents – once on North Carolina 158, and again on I-64 between Norfolk and Richmond (The second one was an hour or two of almost no movement).

    The advantage of driving a couch is when traffic stops, you are sitting on the couch in your living room as you wait it out.

    Ford has really dropped the ball big time on these cars – in my opinion due to office politics. All the guys in management who had a vested interest in the Panther have either retired or died. New management has put their career on the success of the Eurojapanese substitutions, whether it kills the company or not.

    Sad to say, but the best Town Car was the 1995-1997, which I greatly prefer to the newer ones.

  • avatar
    buckeyebud

    These are some great comments. I have been a Ford fan for many years and have owned a Ford product since I turned 16. I have watched Ford play catch-up for some time now. Their botched attempt with the 500 and Freestyle. Their lack of utilizing their SVT team. And their on-going efforts of rebadging a Ford and calling it a Mercury or Lincoln.

    I know I am repeating what most of these fine folks have said, but I have had this conversation with many friends of mine. Ford is still struggling in seeing what the consumer is desiring. If I was Mullay, the first thing I would do would be getting rid of Mercury altogether. They have not had a unique car for years (don’t get me started on the Cougar.) Lincoln would have a complete overhall and I would look to Caddy and Lexus as goals to shoot for. GM really has done a wonderul job with Caddy. Can we remember their first attempt for a two-door covertible roadster, the Allante? They got cocky and M-B destroyed them. The new XLR is something is worthwhile.

    Ford has been given a chance to reinvent themselves. If they stay on the same path as they have been, the Big 3 will become a thing of the past.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    5 years later and the L.A.P.D. has no more real (body on frame) Crown Vics left , more’s the pity they were very good squad cars indeed .

    I’m not yet 60 and many of my contemporaries bought new Town Cars until they stopped making them , not so saying only Old Folks love them .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    debo

    We traded in our 2009 Lincoln Town Car for a 2011 Lincoln MKS. The 2009 was our third Panther based Town Car, our ’97 was the best of the lot and we kept it going as long as we could, looking good until our northeast winters just ate it up. We drove it to a selvage yard only because it just didn’t look pretty any more. It still ran like a champ with everything working, the leather seats still shiny and the interior immaculate, totally rusted underneath.
    We bought the ’97 in 2001 when my husband retired from MA State Police. He drove Crown Vics for most of his 32 year career. Even with rear wheel drive he ran patrol during the blizzard of ’78 picking up stranded folks on the MA Pike in Panther based ’77 Crown Vics. The only thing that went wrong was the wiper motors burned out from the blizzard condition snow. When he retired, he wanted the comfort, power and reliability of the Panther platform of the Town Car. They were beautiful, comfortable sedans with trunks you could pack two full size coolers in, or luggage and golf bags for four players. We love our MKS, but we know, at best, it is just the best Tauras Ford makes. We hope the concept Lincoln Town Car with those suicide doors makes it to production. We will own it!


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