By on February 1, 2011

Poor Ford. As the latest sales data shows, its lone luxury brand Lincoln is one sick puppy. Lincoln’s best-selling vehicles are its entry-level models, the MKZ and MKX, indicating that killing Mercury still has yet to bring higher-end buyers to Lincoln showrooms. Higher-end products like MKS and MKT are dead in the water, failing to crack 1,000 monthly units combined in January. Pull out the dying Town Car and Navigator, and Lincoln moved less volume last month than the subcompact Fiesta. And though Ford acknowledges that it has a problem at Lincoln, managers have hardly been forthcoming about what it plans to do to fix the problem. Which, as far as TTAC is concerned is fine… Ford doesn’t have to convince us that Lincoln is coming back. It does, however, have to convince Lincoln dealers to stay on board… and because they’re playing with their own money, that’s a trickier task. Ford’s Jim Farley tells Automotive News [sub] that

My experience is that if you cannot show concretely that you have to spend x amount of resources and you get this out of it in terms of volume, margin and profit, they’ll never invest, no matter how much credibility we have

But will they invest without seeing product? Ford has announced that it won’t be showing new Lincoln products when it pitches dealers on the brand’s future at the upcoming NADA convention. But isn’t product the problem? Hasn’t product been the problem at Lincoln for years? Even if Ford commits significant resources to the problem, dealers have no way of knowing what that investment will actually yield. Need we mention the LS experiment?

Since Ford won’t make a solid pitch for the future of Lincoln, we’ll send the task over to you, our Best and Brightest. Short of mocking up prototypes, what products and promises does Ford need to make to get Lincoln out of the luxury cellar?

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124 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: How Would You Pitch Lincoln’s Future?...”

  • avatar

    this ain’t quantum physics…

    1.  Drop Taurus SHO (sorry SHO fans), SHO buyers should be in Lincoln showrooms.

    2.  Put Mustang and all Lincolns on one RWD/AWD platform a la Nissan’s FM.

    3.  Find some good exterior AND interior designers. 

  • avatar

    Forgot to add…..with Equus, Genesis, and 2012 Azera/Grandeur, Hyundai–HYUNDAI!!! are making better “traditional” American luxury cars than Lincoln.

    How sad it that!

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Call me stupid, but I honestly believe that Lincoln could have adopted Cadillac’s strategy of trying to build unique products that you can’t get in the Chevy store.  IE: Build cars that you can’t buy in the Ford showroom.  I would think that with the “good feelings” surrounding Ford right now that strategy would work for Lincoln better than it did for Caddy.  Just a thought.  (And yes I know the strategy worked so well for Cadillac that they’re largely abandoning it now, putting the unloved STS out to pasture and replacing it and the DTS with a generic FWD “flagship.”  Honestly I don’t see anything wrong with the STS, in fact the level of depreciation makes it an attractive used alternative to a Chrysler 300.)

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly what I was going to write.  Lincoln needs to totally reinvent itself with brand specific platforms.  If we look at luxury brands that did a great job of saving themselves or coming out of the doldrums they need a CTS or a G35 desperately.  Something that not only is luxury and is legit for performance, but Lincoln also needs to appeal to youger buyers.  Cadillac’s speed of changing their buyers demographic is absolutely stunning.  There problem isn’t like Mercedes that built utter crap for the C-series for a decade, and had to work on the basics of quality; Lincoln has no mind share and doesn’t come to mind as innovator.  I remember in my early 20’s I would lust over the Mark VII – I’m a lot older with gray hair and Lincoln makes zilch I would even consider buying.

      They can use engines and transmissions out of the Ford parts bin, but a new architecture is what the brand really needs.  I don’t know if Ford has the stomach or will to do it.  Platform engineering will not save Lincoln.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree with ya! It’s always been one of the biggest issues. Why would anyone (sensible) come over to Lincoln, when you can buy the same product (minus some bling, trinketry) over at Ford for much less?
      It’s just pathetic! Don’t have to design completely different platforms, but at least differentiate them enough, have some Lincoln exclusive “must have” features.
      My buddy’s dad own a small share in a Lincoln dealership here, he complains about the fact that MyTouch system is available at both Ford and Lincoln dealerships.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      If Ford is to make Lincoln credible, it’d going to have to be:
      – unique products on stretched platforms
      – completely distinctive cars with NO shared sheetmetal
      – best-in-class NVH isolation

      Do that, and Lincoln will be fine.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. Lincoln needs to be Ford’s Cadillac. It is probably too much of a leap to compete with Mercedes and BMW, but a line up of cars that current buyers of Focus or Taurus can aspire to. And create some gap in prices between Fords and Lincolns while they’re at it.

    • 0 avatar

      Cadillac has one “brand-specific platform” and the only vehicle it spawned that was remotely successful is the CTS. Even that one is an also-ran compared to the BMW 3-Series or Mercedes C-Class.

      The STS is a joke compared to a BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class or any competitive Lexus.

      The SRX only began selling when it was switched from the Sigma platform to the much cheaper platform used by the new Chevy Equinox and moved down in price. The other Cadillac that sells well is a tarted-up Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban.

      The DTS and STS are both going away and will be replaced by vehicle based on an updated Epsilon platform (Malibu/LaCrosse). Even the one Cadillac-specific powerplant – the Northstar V-8 – is going away, as it wasn’t worth the money to build a next-generation version. As it was, the Northstar was way behind the competition and had a bad reputation in the field.  

      Granted, Lincoln is in trouble – no argument there. But using Cadillac as a template for success is a questionable strategy at best. Cadillac lags far behind the leaders in sales, prestige and respect, and I don’t see anything on the horizon that will change this. If anything, the gap between Cadillac and the leaders in the luxury market has GROWN over the past decade, and that is after GM sunk over $4 billion into Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Last month, Caddy sold:
      4300+ CTS
      1300+ DTS
      2200+ Escalade
      4200+ SRX
      359 STS
      Sure, Caddy’s a 3-horse brand (CTS, SRX, Escalade), but those models are all selling strongly enough that any 2 of them outsell *all* of Lincoln combined. Premium cars are an expensive game where you have to go big or go home. At least Caddy spent enough so that their CTS is legitimately “world-class”.

      Sure, Caddy could do better, but the alternative is what? Rental cars & minivans like Chrysler? Or shrinking like Lincoln? Without major *sustained* investment in product, Lincoln will be dead.

    • 0 avatar

      RE: Cadillac –
      The DTS is a fleet queen.  The STS isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than the DTS, I have no clue why the STS doesn’t sell better in comparison.  Caddy has hit a home run with the CTS, and Lincoln does need something similar to compete.  The new MKX is supply limited, the new model has gotten a lot of interest, there are just none available to sell.

    • 0 avatar

      Of those three Cadillacs, two are based on Chevrolets, and one – the SRX – only increased in sales when GM cut the price and moved it downmarket.

      The simple fact is that GM spent $4 billion on Cadillac, and it has no more prestige than Lincoln at this point, and it is farther behind the class leaders today than it was in 2000. It is certainly not equal to BMW, Mercedes and Lexus in prestige.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I don’t think Cadillac is a roaring success story, I simply think that because Lincoln isn’t in do-do that’s as deep as what Cadillac was in, that Lincoln could have more success by coopting some of Caddy’s strategy.  And lets be honest, Cadillac does outsel Lincoln. 

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      @geeber: If Caddy has no more prestige than Lincoln, how come they’re selling more than twice as many cars (and growing) while Lincoln is shrinking?

      GM is getting pretty decent results from their money spent. Lincoln is losing ground because Ford simply isn’t spending enough!

      It’s the product, stupid!

    • 0 avatar

      More sales don’t necessarily mean more prestige. GM spent $4 billion (or more) to give Cadillac its own unique platform with several vehicles to be built off of that platform, and the only one left is the CTS. The rest – STS, original SRX – all flopped.

      So, for that matter, did the Corvette-based XLR, which had absolutely no credibility against the Mercedes SL.

      Is Cadillac ahead of Lincoln prestige? Not from where I sit. 

      Has been a little more successful? 

      Sure…but GM spent $4 billion to get not that much more ahead. It is, if anything, further behind the class leaders than it was in 2000 (given that there is no money for a true Cadillac competitor to the E-Class/5 Series and S-Class/7 Series – the STS was supposed to take on the former, and failed). The next new Cadillac (XTS) is basically a stretched and massaged LaCrosse, which, over the long run, isn’t going to be successful in restoring Cadillac’s former luster.

  • avatar

    Lincoln needs a unique flagship.  If you are going to play in this league, you need something special, because the competition from Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and Audi is awfully good.  Even Hyundai and VW are getting in.
    Lexus sells a lot of re-worked Toyotas at the lower end of the line and makes a lot of money doing it.  But make no mistake, the only reason this works is because of the smaller Lexi have some prestige that carries over from the big LS series.  I think this is largely the case with Mercedes as well, though less so with BMW and Audi whose smaller sport sedans have been destinations in and of themselves.
    Whether you start with the old Town Car architecture or bring a platform up from Australia, or start from scratch, Lincoln NEEDS something that is rear drive, V8 powered (and I mean seriously powered) top quality and luxurious.  It must be elegant.
    Go back in history.  Following the death of the big Lincolns around 1939-40, Lincoln offered nothing for the discerning high end shopper other than the 40-48 Continental, which sold on looks alone.  Ford tried every formula through the 50s, and had zero success until the 61 Continental.  The car was elegant, powerful, beautiful, and of top quality.  It built slowly, but became a genuine contender.  Ford needs to follow this same formula, only updated for today.  Forget CAFE.  Suck up the guzzler tax.  Provide a real Lincoln and people will consider it.

    • 0 avatar

      Most amazing thing about that wonderful big 60/61 Lincoln was that it shared cowl architecture with the ‘curvey’ T-birds that were produced in the same plant in Wixom.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Thinking about it more, I have to agree.

      Lincoln needs to start at the top by launching a “proper” heritage-based Continental with over 220 inches of chrome and no apologies.

      Even if it doesn’t really sell, at least that Continental it will get people’s attention focused about what Lincoln is really about, and then the other cars can fall into place underneath it.

      If you look at Caddy, it’s what they did with the original Seville STS / STS 2 / Catera / CTS. And that was a decade ago. Ford doesn’t have that long, so they need to go big and make a huge splash to get people’s attention.

      The problem is that I don’t see anybody at FoMoCo or Lincoln articulating a vision for Lincoln. That’s scary.

  • avatar

    First and foremost, Lincoln should be rear wheel drive exclusively, powered by Lincoln exclusive versions of the Coyote V-8, high tech and high content, built with the finest materials, a no excuses luxury car, not comprimised by Ford’s accounting department. A model like the one pictured would be a good start. Lincoln needs to be profitable at low volumnes. Frankly, Ford needs a 10 year plan to restore Lincoln with the kind of product I’m suggesting, while the current offerings limp along, so I guess the situation is hopeless.

    • 0 avatar

      RWD, Power, Pace, Grace. (+optional AWD occasionally)
      They need to become the American Lexus, with a dash here and there of a)What Mercedes used to be in the 80s and b)A little of the Sportiness Acura used to have 4+ years ago.
      Also, they should be attractive, nay-stunning in design enough to make people walk from the Ford dealer across the lot to their side just to get a look at one, completely ignoring the brand or baggage.
      What cars do that today? ->Whatever that answer is, Ford needs to put it in Lincolns; old folks be damned.

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t have 10 years with Mercury dead dealers are going to start dropping like flies and sales will fall even further. When they killed Mercury they killed Lincoln

    • 0 avatar

      The vehicle in the banner photo would not have been very Lincoln-platform-unique, as it was built on the chassis of the M205 T-bird (the version last in production.)

    • 0 avatar

      Robert, true but it was a competent platform and hardly anyone knew that the Jaguar S-Type and the T-Bird shared a platform. If the sheetmetal is different enough. How many Lexus ES buyers think they’re getting a gussied up Camry?

    • 0 avatar

      coatejo, I agree with the RWD concept for the most part, but I think the MKZ is fine as the lowest end car. Other than that they should have three car lines, small, medium, and large just like the Germans. It should be:
      “I want to buy a Lincoln.”
      “OK, what size do you want?”
      Mercedes used to do this perfectly, now it seems that Audi is the only one who does it correctly. Also, the flagship has to be the best car in the lineup, with the newest technology. This is where Cadillac screwed up. The CTS buyer has nothing to aspire to, because he has already bought the best Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      This is where Cadillac screwed up. The CTS buyer has nothing to aspire to, because he has already bought the best Cadillac.

      + infinity

  • avatar

    I don’t think the “flagship” is the issue here. Lexus has an awesome flagship… Does anyone even remember what it’s called? Instead, everyone buys ES, IS, and RX. And they still would buy the same if the flagship never existed. The talk about flagship is but a memory about big Caddies and Town Cars of years past. Lincoln should have something better than rebadged Fusion. Call it whatever-ship, as long as it’s better than Fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      It’s a LexuS “LS” – easy to remember that way.

      IMO, the LS is the best-looking of all their cars. Well-proportioned and nicely sculpted.

      Too bad there’s no guts under the hood.

  • avatar

    Lincoln has more brand baggage than equity; they’re tailored for old people, appeal to the old, are styled for the old, are compromised for the old, and have a name that brings to mind an old president who died 150 years ago, or a boring place in Nebraska.

    I say make big, ugly wallowing barges with minimal investment for another 10-15 years to get some money out of the few people still interested in the brand.  Then, a few years from now, start a new premium brand with a clean slate (note: “premium- not necessarily luxury).  You can get most any luxury feature you want on just about any car now days.  A new feature is only lux for a couple of years before it trickles down, so the premium brand must be based on styling, performance, and quality.  This brand could start with a Mustang chassis with IRS and a super-lightweight body to make a legitimate 3-series fighter.  Ideally, to really kick the brand off right, it’d have to be a 3-series beater. Don’t hold back anything, even if you sell at a loss for a few years; the new brand will depend on this car shaking up the industry. It’ll have the power to weight of the Mustang with better balance, handling, and interior.  Agressive yet tasteful, very MODERN styling is a must.

    A larger RWD chassis would be necessary for the bigger cars, and something like an ES350, based on the Fusion, could be the entry-level model.  The new brand would have a dynamic, modern sounding name with no baggage, just like Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura came up with.

    In the mean time, let Lincoln starve with minimal investment.  By the time it dies, not many will miss it.

    • 0 avatar

      +1.. Lincoln is sooooo boring.. diff grill and 10K more for the same thing.. whoopee.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s nothing wrong with making cars tailored to old people. American consumers are getting older, and the older demographics have more money to spend on cars, and a stronger propensity to American brands.

      Lincoln is a strong brand with a small share of an attractive and growing sub-sector. I agree that they need to invest to build market share, but a 3 series fighter would be abandoning their market. Lincoln needs to be more conservative.

  • avatar

    The biggest problem for Lincoln? Product differentiation and (some) exclusivity. It will always be the case, unless Ford decides on a different strategy.
    You don’t have to have a completely new platforms, but for christsakes try to make them different enough. Works for VW (Audi), might work for Ford.

  • avatar

    @ Holden:  what do the G35/G37 and CTS have in common?  RWD!
    Unfortunately, I believe that Ford has already stated that they have no rwd in the works for Lincoln.  At this point really, who even cares about Lincoln?  Furthermore, what stand alone Lincoln dealer is going to invest huge money in upgrading their facility when Ford won’t even disclose their future product plans to them?

    • 0 avatar

      Lexus ES is FWD – it isn’t just about moving the power to the rear wheels – although I do believe that it would help Lincoln’s image.  AWD would be a good alternative, but it adds weight, complexity and cost.  They have big problems.  In the case of the G35 Infiniti was already RWD – it is just they had lost their mojo, their cool in a minor malaise era.

      Acura hasn’t had a RWD offering beyond their defunct flagship.  Bucky Bucky beaver tooth can opener Knight shield front ends – horrid industrial design is what is killing Acura right now, now the motivation coming from the ass end.

  • avatar

    The bigger question is whether Ford wants to invest untold billions of dollars to chase 200,000 in yearly sales.

    My suspician is that Lincoln is going to get the Mercury treatment – Ford will starve the brand of any new product hoping to force the remaning Lincoln franchises into dissolution or bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar

      Standalone Lincoln dealers are the minority of the stores – most are already associated with a Ford store, and the rest should be acquired by the local Ford dealer so that both lines can be sold by the same people and allow Lincolns to be profitable lower volume cars.
      There has been a lot of talk about a big revitalization coming into the Lincoln lineup, but everything is apparently hush-hush right now.  I am eagerly awaiting seeing what comes out, but Ford has no plans on letting Lincoln starve or die.

    • 0 avatar

      My local Lincoln dealership shares the lot and service bays with the Mazda store owned by the same person. Yes, he also owns a Ford dealership across the street. With separate showrooms, but everything else shared, the Lincoln-Mazda store survives on low volumes and the “experience” is completely different than the high pressure old skool Ford showroom.

  • avatar

    Lincoln needs a complete overhaul from designers to engineers to management.  They need rear wheel drive and innovative designs.  Not just all the bells and whistles that all of the latest electronics provides.  The Cadillac grille stands out and has staying power along with it’s edge design.  While I like the waterfall grille of Lincoln, there’s only so much you can do with it and it is getting a little old.

  • avatar

    Hate to be “that guy” but Lincoln isn’t just in the cellar, it’s buried down there. With Ford having a luxury Platinum line and all Lincolns being badge engineered Fords, there is just no reason for having Lincoln anymore. I’d love it if Lincoln came out with a line of cars based on the Mustang platform but it isn’t going to happen.

  • avatar

    Are we really suggesting that something “based on the Mustang platform” can chase away those big bad Audis, BMWs, Lexus & Infinitis?  I’ll have what you’re having, it must be really good.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      A rebadged “Lincoln” Mustang with a LRA isn’t going to challenge the Bimmers, Benzes, or Audis.

      All those guys have IRS technology, something that completely escapes Ford engineering.

    • 0 avatar

      @ SVX Pearlie They can pretty easily slide an IRS into a (stretched) Mustang based platform to create a new Mark that could challenge the Europeans. Ford is a leader in IRS technology for their SUVs with the Explorer and Expedition being the first mass market SUV’s with IRS. They chose to use a stick axle in the Mustang because that’s what their traditional buyers demanded. The Cobra got an IRS for a few years and people yanked it out to put a stick axle in it to go drag racing.

    • 0 avatar

      SVX, Ford’s offered IRS on the previous Mustang. If guys building Locosts in their garage can figure out how to use a Ford IRS rear end, I think that FoMoCo can.

    • 0 avatar

      And they did. The last two Mustang platforms were both initially designed for IRS. It wasn’t until the bean counters got involved that the live axle was reinstalled.

    • 0 avatar

      No one has to suggest anything – a live axle Mustang GT basically went toe to toe with an M3.
      An IRS should be put in just for differentiation, and a total interior reboot.  Use the MKR styling and get it around the Mustang’s hard points.  ‘Ecoboost” the Mustang V6 and supercharge the Coyote V8.

  • avatar
    G. Lewko

    The way I see it there’s two broad “markets” that any car marque is working in this day and age: The mass market, regular people crowd (basically everything that you see advertisements for), and the low volume, everyone else boutiques that differentiate themselves from the norm, usually in price point. From a purely historical standpoint Lincoln as a brand has the design and engineering history, especially from early on, to establish itself as a unique offering in the latter, but the gradual down-marketing of premium American brands since the postwar years in has nestled pretty much all the former “premium” brands in a sort of mass-market faux-luxury segment.
    In the past, this would have been more profitable, but with the gradual feature creep of “basic” marques has resulted in considerable overlap in mission. Indeed, it was this same pinch between faux-economy and faux-luxury that squeezed Mercury into submission, its original segment having been rendered totally redundant by its sister marques. With Ford in a prime position to handle pretty much the entire mass-market segment by itself, Lincoln can either fold up and allow its resources to be absorbed into a unified marque that covers the entire mass market (which is probably what will happen at this rate), or they can attempt to reestablish themselves as a more exclusive, low volume brand, as they were upon first being absorbed into Ford Motor Company.
    In the event of the latter, I’m really, really going to hope they stop trying (and failing) to reinvent their image. You’ll notice a lot of language coming out of Lincoln even as early as the 1990s has been seemingly fixated on being “youthful” or “environmentally friendly” in a bid to try to distance themselves from their past as far as possible. If Oldsmobile was any lesson it’s that trying to feebly abandon your roots in this fashion pretty much never ends well, what with their whole “This isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile.” campaign just moments before their untimely demise.
    At the same time though, if you’re going to work the ultra-premium segment trying to play it conservative or traditional means trying to compare directly against established marques like Rolls-Royce or Bentley. Lincoln should play it suave and smooth instead, with stuff like the Continental concept from the early 2000s, focusing on a slick, sophisticated style rather than being conventional. There’s something pretty much no one is doing right now, but I think they’ve got the design history to pull it off as part of a general renaissance of their position in the market. Whether or not they’ll do it though, that has yet to be seen.

  • avatar

    As per everyone else’s comments, I agree that Lincoln needs its own platforms and ‘identity’ other than a badge engineered Ford. As an outsider who has only recently moved to North America, Lincolns to me have always been the epitome of ‘The American car’. Large, luxurious, comfortable, effortless to drive and boldly but classically styled. Lincoln’s current lineup just doesn’t cut it. And I’m sorry to bring it up, but the Walrus face just looks silly, not stylish.

  • avatar

    I don’t know what’s so hard for Ford to understand about Lincoln needing its own RWD/AWD chassis to differentiate its products from Ford. 1 chassis with 4-5 products off it – sedan, coupe, convertible, CUV, and a LWB version for a sedan and 7 passenger CUV.

    Really, is the formula that much of a mystery?

    Ford thinks they can pull an Audi and use the downmarket chassis in the upscale brand, but instead they are pulling an Acura. Same concept, different result.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sure they completely understand it.  The question is do they want to spend hundreds of millions to develop it.  Think of the risk/reward.  Huge risk you’ll just burn the bucks and questionable reward even if you’re successful.

  • avatar

    How about just making them not so ugly and giving them back real names instead of this MK-whatever crap?

    The blinged-out baleen whale look was never going to fly, and even I as a car nut can’t keep the names straight, what chance does the Lincoln target-market have.

  • avatar

    Build big boxy towncars. Some people actually like them. But they need to be quality built and reliable. Forget Faux wood and crappy appointments. maybe a little silver dust hand rubbed into the wood. Caddy is going with a hot rod package and striving to make their cars stand out from the pack. Selling a Ford Fusion with nice seats and a different grille reminds me of GMs antics from years ago. Badge engineering is a no no at this price point.
    You have to ask just what it is that makes a Lincoln a Lincoln. For starters, if you are buying one you don’t give a shit about gas prices really so don’t take an econobox and guss it up. Second, a Lincoln should tell everyone you’ve arrived and appreciate the better things in life, and that takes real style. Hire someone that gets it and can really come up with something that looks to the future without being a funky looking rocket ship. Arrive yes, but arrive in something a little conservative and down tio earth.
    The push to computerize the Lincoln is a mixed bag. Sure the toys are interesting and maybe even expected in a luxury car but if it all comes across as too complicated then it’s not making much of an impression, The CTS-V has technology in the car, not technology aimed at the driver. If the Lincoln had the 5.4L supercharged motor from the GT 40 under the hood how different would it be? Ford’s air shock technology is actually world class, their capable of making a car that handles as well as a CTS-V.
    Ultimately it depends on where they see the brand in 10 years. Caddy will still be here, even if it only sells a few percent of GMs output.

  • avatar

    OK, so lets look at Lincoln in 10 year increments:

    1980: Town Car, Versailles, Mark VI
    1990: Town Car, Continental, Mark VII
    2000: Town Car, Continental, LS, Navigator
    2010: Town Car, MKZ, MKS, MKT, MKX, Navigator

    Copying and Pasting from the Ford Lineup does not create a luxury car brand, nor does having more models in your lineup assure extra sales. As a longtime Ford and Lincoln owner, I honestly see no need to ‘upgrade’ toa Lincoln the next time I’m replacing a vehicle. Even as Ford’s biggest cheerleader, I am also their harshest critic.

    The brand simply does not have any Unique Selling Propositions or Value Added Features over a similarly equipped Ford. It’s easy to play armchair CEO but, realistically, it would be tough for FoMoCo as a whole to invest billions just to chase x00,000 in sales.

  • avatar

    My take on Lincoln is this: Build a “halo” vehicle, like the sweet convertible in the top photo. Bring back a formal Town Car – Lincoln’s legacy is upright, formal sedans and coupes, sharply chiseled in contrast with Caddy’s softer (generally) shape. Lee Iaccoca did well with the massive barges in the 70’s. Bring back their 2011 equivalent. Make a new “Mark” series that means something and lives up to the image. I feel Ford is in very, very deep trouble if it goes alone as only “Ford” and gives up on Lincoln, like they did with Mercury. NAMES, not Alpha-Numeric mish-mash.

  • avatar

    I agree with most here. I remember in the 60’s-70’s that Lincolns were different from ordinary Fords. Today they’re no different; just tarted up Fords.  If they produced an interesting, new and different car Lincoln would be worth a look. The thing is if we can figure that out, Ford knows it, too.

  • avatar

    As a Buick competitor (where Lincoln is currently positioned): stay the course!
    As a premium domestic line:
    Trash all current vehicles.
    Product lineup: mid-size sedan with possible coupe variant, full-size sedan, true SUV.
    Develop a unique chassis designed for longitudinal drivetrains.  Turbo Coyote V8 for cars, dedicated PowerStroke 6 cylinder turbo diesel for the SUV.
    RWD/4WD are the only layouts.
    Copy Lexus dealership model for sales and service.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Um, Buick is absolutely *crushing* Lincoln. It’s not even close.

      But then, Buick has:
      – unique sheetmetal on all cars
      – new product (Regal)
      Result: 16-months of year-over-year sales growth

      Last month, Buick moved 13k units (up 31%), while Lincoln moved 5500 units (down 21%). For every Lincoln, Buick sold 2-and-a-half cars.

      Or, put another way, last month, Buick stole the 1500-odd sales that Lincoln lost, and added another 1000-odd sales for good measure.

      If Lincoln is going to exist, much less compete, Ford needs to rehab them like GM rehabbed Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      @SVX Pearlie

      You can add to Buick’s feather in it’s cap, fastest growing automotive brand in the United States.  I’m concerned based on recent sales numbers that Regal is taking away from LaCrosse, and I’m not convinced the Verano will sell; but Buick is doing a whole bunch right.  Buick = Lincoln?  Not even close.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Buick goes from having one-and-a-half cars (LaCrosse & Lucerne) to adding 2 all-new cars (Regal & Verano). LaCrosse got those car sales simply by virtue of being the only “new” car on the lot. With a fuller line of cars, Buick might see somewhat fewer LaCrosse sales, but if the momentum holds, Buick should continue to grow overall, building a healthy base for the future.

      The thing is, all of this started with GM plans 5 years ago, when the all-new & distinctive Enclave / LaCrosse were developed. They didn’t get to enjoy the results for years and years. Now, everything is great.

      The question is, will Ford invest like GM did to see it through? If they make a similar commitment to product, there’s no reason Lincoln can’t survive and thrive.

    • 0 avatar

      @SVX Pearlie:  I get that Buick is crushing Lincoln.  It was meant for sarcasm.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Call them an Acura-competitor, and you wouldn’t be too far off the mark:
      – meaningless 3-letter names for cars
      – entry-luxury “smart technology”
      – no “halo” luxury / premium vehicle

  • avatar

    Lincoln is a luxury brand. Luxury cars need to be remarkable; they need to make history. Otherwise; why buy them?
    Accordingly, Lincoln should initiate an endurance and/or racing projects, and set records with whatever models they design to set those records.  Second; they should experiment with technology. Advances shouldn’t just be interesting; new technology should be BETTER than whatever it replaces.  Finally, Lincoln needs to completely rethink the lifestyles of the owners it wants to attract. It should be merciless in redesigning vehicles that help those owners to lead their lives more easily and efficiently. Nobody wants to pay a zillion dollars for just another family sedan, sports sedan or SUV, but sporting a waterfall grille. I can’t imagine what FoMoCo has been thinking for the last thirty years.

  • avatar

    @ Holden:  I completely agree with you.  And yes, I know that the ES is FWD and that’s appropriate as the entry level Lexus.  Lincoln already has the MKZ to fill that role.  And actually, Infiniti has not always been RWD.  The first G (G20) was FWD.

  • avatar

    Focus on the one “luxury” the others are leaving out, space, and leave the pursuit of cutting edge “sportiness” to others. There are diminishing returns to everything, and the relentless Bimmerification of every car since the 80s, have place too great a premium on that one aspect of cars. As a result,  large car from any of the other luxury makes, are realistically an $80,000 proposition.
    So, riffing on the “everything is big i America” theme, build a $40-50,000 S class sized Lincoln, still more luxurious than an Avalon, with the focus on smoothness at US speeds, not fleetness on the Autobahn. Don’t follow the others into dependence on keeping 3-4 size and price levels. Just focus the 2 largest sizes, New 5series+, and S Class+. Put money into smooth trannies and big, not high revving, engines. Bonus points for OHV. And extra credit for standardized connectivity for gadgets like Nav, allowing upgrades of Moores Law constrained items without trading in the whole car.

    • 0 avatar

      Trying to out-bimmer a bimmer never really works. I get the feeling there are still a lot of people out there who want wafting power and smoothness, not a car with wood trim and tuned suspension that can go around the Nurburgring in under 10 minutes.

  • avatar

    Unless Ford can stretch the Mustang platform or use one of their RWD platforms from Australia, I can’t see them spending a billion dollars or more developing a dedicated platform for a flagship luxury sedan. As Monty put it, spending big money to chase 200,000 units worth of sales just doesn’t make fiscal sense.
    Unless Ford is going to stretch out reducing their big debt load, I can’t see them putting huge amounts of money into Lincoln. Trying to distinguish Lincoln from Ford with electronic gizmos isn’t going to work when Kia has the same gizmos next year.
    At the very least, Lincoln needs all their models tho have substantially different sheet metal from the Fords. Even car guys shouldn’t be able to tell, from the sheet metal, what Ford a Lincoln is based on.

    • 0 avatar

      How about a Falcon chassis for a Lincoln Mk9? Scavenging a RWD platform from Australia is working for GM, why not do the same for Ford?

    • 0 avatar

      I have to point out out that the one thing everyone seems to be missing with the 200,000 units a year is that they are a very profitable 200,000 units. These are not low margin Focuses or Fiestas.

  • avatar

    Turn the taurus into a new “town car” with sheetmetal that is so cool noone could tell where it came from.  Make it the successor to the panther.  Bently-lux it to the max.  Start with a big one based on the convertible.

  • avatar

    In answer to Ed’s question, yes the product is the problem. But building the product without having the fundamentals of the brand in place is what got them into this mess in the first place.

    Ford has demonstrated that it can build cars that people want to buy. But can it build Lincolns that people want to buy? What is a Lincoln anyway? The “Power, Pace, Grace” lined used in a previous comment seems like a great, concise phrase that could start the process of building the brand, but they need to start over with the fundamentals before they start building—otherwise we’ll be back to the current lineup in no time.

    Nutshell version: If they’re refraining from bringing product to the dealer meeting because they’re locked away in a room defining the brand, I applaud their efforts. If not, then they’re wasting their time and might as well shutter the brand now.

  • avatar

    First and foremost… please, please, please ditch the alphabet soup. It’s a tired gimmick whose day has passed. “Continental” evokes something, random assemblages of letters do not. The same with made-up words. Distinguish yourself from the others by using real names for your products.

    Do not attempt to be all things to all people.  That is what the Ford nameplate is for. Be focused, and avoid the temptation to jump on whatever bandwagon is trundling through town. Begin by ditching the tarted-up SUVs and BMW-wannabes. Stick to two to three models and do them well. A formal sedan and a coupe would be a good start.

    A Lincoln should be about timeless, tasteful presence. Scrupulously clean design, free of gingerbread and trendy geegaws. Sharp, proportioned and tailored, like a fine suit. That alone would distinguish it from the sea of bloated soapbars that pass for cars nowadays. Low, lean and cool as a cucumber.

    Smooth, effortless power and refined ride are a given. Don’t even mention “luxury”, a tired concept that can be had at most any dealership… leave that for the proles.

    And for god’s sake, don’t be afraid of color. Offer a wide-ranging pallette of hues and back them up with color-keyed interiors.

    Do you really want to make the brand special? Modern production techniques should make it possible to order a bespoke Lincoln, an alternative to off-the-rack cars. Whatever combo of options and colors that are available in the order book, a la carte. Do not offer packages, offer just what the customers want, nothing less, nothing more. Make it their car, and no one else’s.

    • 0 avatar

      Good call on moving to made-to-order Lincolns.  Would truly differentiate them, and if Mini can pull it off, no reason Lincoln can’t.  But I’m not sure if it’s worth it , at this point they’re pretty much starting from scratch, they don’t have anything compelling in their lineup.  If Ford were healthy, it would be worth trying to overhaul Lincoln, but I believe they still have a lot of debt hanging over them, I just can’t see them getting in deeper to save the brand.
      Killing the brand brings its own challenges, so they may just want to string the dealers along for a year or two until their financials improve, which seems to be what they’re doing.

  • avatar

    I’m with most of you on the RWD, V8, classic Lincoln vibe, but . . . .
    Didn’t they just hire Max Wolff to be the new design chief?  Doesn’t lt make sense that they wouldn’t show new product until Wolff gets to put his stamp on the next generation of models?

  • avatar

    When Ford killed Mercury they killed Lincoln. What they should have done was to keep both brands and make Mercury the Lexus and Buick fighter and Lincoln the BMW and Cadillac fighter. Unfortunately it is now too late to save Lincoln. Mercury was a large chunk of most dealers business and with the big bucks they want the dealers to spend “upgrading” the dealerships and plans to cut others there won’t be hardly any dealers left and killing any chance of decent sales when/if they put out new product.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      In theory, consolidating Mercury under Lincoln would have moved the same volume, but at Lincoln price points instead of Mercury price points.

      In practice, the Mercury buyers all bought Ford “Platinum”, leaving Lincoln dealers high and dry.

      OTOH, if Ford didn’t push “Platinum” trims, there might be some breathing space for Lincoln’s rebadges. For example, if Lincoln were the *only* way to get a leather interior on a FoMoCo product.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford did not expect Mercury owners to move up to Lincoln in significant numbers. 

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      You’d think they should have gotten some, tho. Maybe 20% who simply wanted something nicer than / different from a Ford.

  • avatar

    First: Styling must abandon all traces of current design theme and previous design languages.  Naming conventions need to change. Current MK* crap should end. First letter should denote platform..
    Lets face it, “rebadge and add shiney bits to Ford” has failed as a business plan. They were so close with the Lincoln LS but crappy marketing and development ruined that oppurtunity.
    MKS (aka Taurus won the lottery) – Keep for now, but update the interior to exceed that in MKX…and redo the front and rear end.
    MKX – Either Rename to Edge Baleen edition or do a significant restyle. They unfortunately need a “I have to lease a car for the wife” kinda vehicle in the showroom.
    MKT – Dump it. Beating the Flex with an ugly stick and asking it to strain krill from sea water is a bad idea.
    MKZ – Kill it with fire. Anyone who pays that much for a Fusion should also be exiled to Greenland.
    Lincoln Town Car  – Remove all references from website, dealerships and pay mafia to remove Lincoln decals from every Town Car on road. Screw the fan base…this car is a boat anchor holding the brand back.
    Navigator – Dump it. Market is gone.
    So what we have left is the MKS and the MKX.
    Take Ford AUS Falcon platform.

    Insert 5,0 engine.
    Insert 8spd gearbox (or 9spd..or 10spd. whatever penis stretching transmission is on the horizon for luxo autos).
    Insert big old mytouch panels all over the place
    Insert a design language. Dont just crazy glue Lincoln design cues onto an existing Ford design language.
    Shoot for market appropriate ride quality and handling

    Call it something that doesn’t start with “MK”
    Next up: Take Mustang

    Ditch interior
    Ditch exterior
    Ditch solid rear axle.
    offer both 6spd manual and dualclutch paddle matic.
    Figure out way to squeeze in more legroom and an extra set of doors.
    Make it look good

    End result –
    Top of the line luxo boat in the Falcon platform car to justify calling the brand a Luxury autmobile maker
    The MKX (wife leaser) to compete against the RX and the like
    The MKS as the “the firm is providing me a company car” car
    The Lincoln “not a mustang” to be the Magazine queen to help stir up interest in the brand (kinda like a Lincoln CTS)

  • avatar

    It’s interesting the Ed picked the Mark X concept car. That and the 2002 Continental concept, which share a familial design, could still be the flagship vehicles that Lincoln needs.  Both vehicles still get mentioned almost a decade after they left the show circuit.
    The Henry Ford Museum owns (or has been loaned) the Continental concept. It sold at the RM 2010 Monterey auction for $56K. It has a finished interior and supposedly a V12 engine but it doesn’t run. A static “pushmobile” shell of the Continental concept also sold at the same auction for about $15K.The Mark X concept, which is a runner based on the Thunderbird/S-Type, sold for $102K. They were part of a lot of Ford concepts sold for Ford by RM for charity.
    I saw the Continental concept at the HFM a couple of weeks ago. They’re reconstructing part of the car exhibit there and it was one of a number of cars parked together over to the side.

  • avatar

    Without gangsta-style street creds what’s the use of even trying?

  • avatar

    Ford, you killed Mercury, and now the other gods are angry.  A company without the talent to manage 3 brands doesn’t have the talent to run two, or maybe even one. it’s like old Henry is back in charge without Edsel to add some class.

  • avatar

    Let’s see.
    I seem to remember two utterly brilliant concept cars: the Mark X and the Continental Concept.
    And of course the lovely pre-war Zephyrs. Which… aren’t the new prows tipping their noses to these cars in some way?
    What would I find compelling on a Lincoln lot:
    Marx X – two door, stretched version of the Mustang, clean and crisp styling – go for timeless. Luxury, silence, power, technology. And materials! Amazing leathers and fabrics and metals and details. The only ‘Mark’ should be a coupe, period.
    Continental – A 4 door hardtop sedan that apologizes for nothing and to nobody. RWD or AWD. V-8’s. Flawless paint and sumptuous interiors. Possibly hybrid.
    Zephyr – a smaller hybrid similar to the Continental at a lower price point.
    Does Lincoln need an SUV? I’m not so sure. Guess we’ll see how well the current batch is selling.
    Now, on the above trio of cars, the following philosophy: they are green. The painting process, the interior materials, recycled or recyclable content, the use of lightweight materials and technology such as hybrid systems – these are the green luxury cars. Sustainably harvested woods, environmentally safe/friendly manufacturing and zero VOC’s… you name it, it’s there.
    Lincoln: Sustainable Luxury.
    And every model is fully customizable and can be built to order. Want a blue car with red leather? Check the box! Want a sky blue Continental with a completely white leather interior? Check the box! Mix up the colors and woods and metals and materials inside however the customer desires.
    I figure if Ford could make the GT, they can do this.
    I hope the payoffs would be worth the investments.

  • avatar

    There’s no point in continuing Lincoln if Ford can’t make money.  So, Ford either has to share platforms with Ford products (but differentiate them as well as Toyota does with the ES and Camry) and keep it US/Canada/ME only.  Or, develop several variants off a Lincoln-only platform and take it global in order to get efficiencies of scale.  The former seems like a lower-risk bet with a good ROI.  Maybe do a Mustang-based halo Mark X just to get people in the showrooms.

  • avatar

    I like some of the ideas.
    My quick, random thoughts (because I know what I’m talking about, right…)
    Can’t do the electronics/gizmos differentiation.  Someone mentioned Kia will have it next year.  This is exactly right.  Along same line, can’t artificially neuter Ford to support Lincoln.  A Ford (or Kia, etc) buyer won’t upgrade to a Lincoln to get MyTouch or Sync, etc., its too expensive, instead they will go buy a Kia and skip Ford completely.
    I, on the surface, may also agree with killing the brand.  I hate to see it, but we all knew Mercury had to die, Plymouth, Olds, Pontiac, etc.  We all knew it had to happen.  However, the only reluctance in killing is it leaves Ford without a premium brand, and I think the realities of the auto biz currently require that you have at least 1 premium brand and one “everyman” brand.  You can’t get volume on premium alone and you can’t get profit margins in everyman brands.  Trick is using the everyman brand to somehow create fatter profit margins.
    I’m gonna say sheet metal and interiors are a minimum.  Its still way too obvious the MKZ and MKX are Fords with a few different colors, a different grille, and a Lincoln emblem over the airbag and “Ford” changed to “Lincoln” somewhere on the center stack.  I think it can be done.  Buick, Lexus, etc are all shared platforms, but look and feel nicer inside and out, and are distinctive.  This is key.
    After that, I have no idea.
    Its a struggle.  GM turned around Caddy and moved it completely in another direction to edgy and sporty (even if it is still struggling in some areas), so I think it can be done.  But the question is what should that be?  Lincoln of old?  Cushy and for old farts?  Go after Caddy?  Ok, again, now you’re fighting with every other “sporty” wannabe.  If I had to pick 1 thing?  Classy.  Lincolns (the good ones) were always classy.  Cadillacs were over the top, flashy.  Still are.  Presence was mentioned.  I think this is perfect.  Presence and class.
    Ok, $0.02 tossed….

  • avatar

    Most of Lincoln’s successes in the last 60 years have been based upon style, Continentals, Marks, and even the Town Car is an automotive icon.  Ford has proved that it can build cars with reasonably good quality (as can even the Koreans) so the focus needs to be on developing the design language that is unique and striking, like a Mark II or the 40’s Continentals.  Cars that other designers crib from.  Steal a designer from Alfa Romeo or Aston Martin or even Hyundai!

  • avatar
    George B

    Ford has three choices:  1) Continue the current badge engineering and letting Lincoln dealers die without a buyout path, 2) Just euthanize Lincoln with dealer buyout and focus all their effort on the Ford brand, or 3) Make a unique Lincoln product ASAP.  For option 3, I’d start with Ford of Australia Falcon platform and make new sheet metal in iconic 60s Lincoln style.
    The most memorable Lincoln is the one that President Kennedy was riding in at Daley Plaza.  Maybe the fact that the strongest Lincoln image is so far in the past tells us that it’s time to let Lincoln die.

    • 0 avatar

      The most memorable Lincoln is the one that President Kennedy was riding in at Daley Plaza.
      That Lincoln limo was returned to Ford for significant upgrades and a bullletproof glass bubble back for use by President Johnson. That particular car is in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum, along with FDR’s “Sunshine Special”, Pres. Reagan’s limo (I think it’s the one they were using when he got shot), Eisenhower’s presidential car, and even Teddy Roosevelt’s horse drawn brougham (which looks nothing like an Eldorado Brougham or a Grand Marquis Brougham).
      You can see them all in 3D and 2D @ Cars In Depth.

  • avatar

    If I were to be tasked with saving Lincoln, I have to choose an image that everyone could identify with… every part, every decision would have to embody three words…

  • avatar

    I agree that the Lincoln name is itself outmoded and should be abandoned. My choice would be to rename the division “Continental.”

    Several times before, Ford has presented Continental as a separate entity from Lincoln, so this seems natural. Ford briefly created a Continental Division to sell its pricey Mark II in the 1950s, and in the 1970s the Mark cars were termed “Continental Mark IV” and did not use the Lincoln nomenclature, even on the brochures, which I saw at the time (the same may also have occurred with Marks III and V).

    “Continental” still has stature; few enough people remember the 1990s Taurus-based fwd Lincoln Continentals that any new use of the name wouldn’t likely be associated with that undistinguished, unloved vehicle.

    There wouldn’t need to be any further name for the big sedan – simply “Continental” would do nicely, with “Continental Mark IX” for the separately bodied coupe (no need for the additional sedan-based coupe like the one that was sold 1966-1982). Just the two cars, please, as in the early 1970s, with no option packages with names such as LX or Town Car; elegance should be connoted by simplicity. (Well, maybe a four-door convertible version of the sedan would be nice…)

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      I’m good with this.

      What I don’t understand is this:

      The name “Continental” resonates really strongly with Lincoln, so why is Ford so resistant to bringing it back?

    • 0 avatar

      @SVX pearlie–Agree with you on the “Continental” name–when I was a kid, I heard “Lincoln” and “Continental” together so much that I thought the name was “LincolnContinental”. The current alphabet soup tells me nothing about the vehicles, aside from the Navigator (Escalade for people who can’t or won’t buy an Escalade, with no market to speak of) and Town Car (car that a livery driver takes me to the airport in, with no market to speak of other than livery-car companies). I would bring back “Continental”, “Zephyr”, and even a new Mark if they’re going to keep the brand–and if Ford isn’t going to do something distinctive with the brand, they may as well ax it. Lincoln has a history of distinctive cars (original Continental, the last American V-12, the Mark II, the ’61), so Ford should try to build on that and not reduce Lincoln to such overt tarted-up-Ford status.

  • avatar

    Originally, the MKx nomenclature was supposed to be pronounced “Mark this” or “Mark that”. That’s how they did it with the MarkLT truck and the earliest press materials for the MKS and MKZ referred to them as “Mark”. If they insisted on using an alphanumeric, at least pronounce it like a real word. BMW and M-B are careful to use the terms “S-Class” and “5 Series” in addition to the alphanumerics of individual models.

    • 0 avatar

      Please dump the alphabet soup.  I know what an MKZ is (the only Lincoln that turns me on at all), I think I know what the MKX is (the smaller crossover?).  MKT?  MKS?  Don’t have a clue.  And if I don’t have a clue as to what the car is, I’m not going to be spending my time shopping one.

  • avatar

    I think the things that Lincoln would need to do are well expressed here. My opinion is that Ford should ditch Lincoln. The investment that it would take to make Lincoln a serious competitor is not worth it. Not only the new platforms, but the marketing effort to convince people that Lincoln is back after nearly 40 years of selling badge engineered cars (with a few exceptions of course).
    This market is extremely competitive and getting more competitive all the time. The odds of success are too slim. Send it the way of Mercury.

  • avatar

    Lincoln’s finished.  It would cost billions to reverse Lincoln’s reputation as an old man’s car and make it a valuable brand.
    Ford had a good luxury brand.  It was called Jaguar and they sold it, for good reason.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary for Ford to have a luxury channel, especially as the Ford-branded products continue to improve and move upmarket.  Trying to fool customers into paying more for the same car because it has a different badge is an outdated concept, anyway.

  • avatar

    At a minimum, they need to combine brands and dealerships that havent done so already. Keeping busy is hard enough…having the tools and the parts but only able to work on some of the cars sux.

  • avatar

    Give the guy a chance.

    • 0 avatar

      Let’s hope. IMHO his Holden SSX (G8 Rageous) is great, the CTS coupe is ok but that WTCC Ultra is hideous.

  • avatar

    Funny.  I had this chat with some Ford sales and marketing guys about a decade ago when the LS came out and we thought you could distill a new Lincoln direction very simply.
    Nothing under 300 hp (its 10 years later so let’s call it nothing under 400 hp)
    Nothing with Front Wheel Drive (preferably everything with AWD).
    Nothing under 50K
    Nothing made for the Ford brand first.

  • avatar

    It would be a shame to see Lincoln go bye-bye. But it does seem that Ford has neglected the brand past the point of no return. I get the feeling there are no insiders at Ford willing to take on the Lincoln revival.
    I’d like to see a comparison of the engineering budgets for Lincoln compared to say, Ford’s various F series trucks.

  • avatar

    I was just reading about Lincoln’s early days in Mike Lamm’s  A Century of Automotive Style and it seems to me that Lincoln’s never been really successful outside of the 1960s and early 1970s. Henry Leland made a superior car, with boring styling, never sold enough cars and Henry Ford took over Lincoln, some say as a “plaything” for Edsel. Though Edsel made sure that the big Lincoln was offered with a variety of stylish bodies from a number of coachbuilders, the company lost money into the 1930s. It was only when the Zephyr was introduced that Lincoln sales approached anything close to break even. Though the 1940-41 Continental is brilliant, it also didn’t sell profitably. The Continental Mark II is a nice looking car, the baby Bird all grown up, but Ford lost big money with every one they sold. It was only when Robert Macnamara saw Elwood Engel’s proposal for the ’61 Thunderbird and suggested adding two doors that Ford started selling Lincolns in appreciable numbers.
    The post ’61 Lincolns helped sell Mercurys for sure. The big Mercs were available with almost every option that you could get on a Lincoln, but they were built on the shorter LTD chassis and of course the Lincolns were a step or two up in price.
    So 1961-1975 were the glory years for Lincoln and Mercury.
    If Ford pays attention to things like this post, they should know that to revive Lincoln they first need a stylish flagship that stands out from the crowd the same way a ’61 Continental stands out from a ’61 Caddy. If there’s one thing that’s Lincoln’s heritage, it’s style. Make something worthy of the name Lincoln Continental (i.e. 1940, 1961) and they might have a chance at recovery. Continue to do modest reskinnings of Ford models and watch the brand circle the drain.

  • avatar

    I know I’m not saying anything at all original here, but here goes.
    For starters, Lincoln needs to be based around a basic architecture not used by Ford in North America. If this is some improved version of the Falcon chassis, I wouldn’t complain. It should ideally be RWD, with an AWD option for northern and Canadian customers (Lincolns are actually fairly popular here.) Nissan has the right idea with Infiniti, platform-wise.
    My recommendation would be to build the line around two core sedan models (as it is right now.) An MKZ-sized (or slightly smaller) sedan would be the volume seller. It would be a slightly more subtle, traditional alternative to the CTS. Fit it with the 3.7L or the 4.0 Barra I-6 (used in Australia), and offer a turbo on uplevel models.
    Sitting on a stretched and modified version of the same RWD architecture would be a larger, more expensive model. This would be approximately the same size as the current MKS, but would be priced against the E-Class. Offer it with three engines: 3.7L, 3.5 EcoBoost, and the 5.0L V8 used in the Mustang. The emphasis would be on traditional American luxury — comfort, but with a bit of muscle included in the package.
    Neither Lincoln would be set up as a canyon-carver, but nor would either car be a modern-day Continental Town Car. A third model would be a crossover (perhaps something in the mold of the Infiniti EX35) closely related in size to the smaller sedan. Styling on all three would be elegant, simple, and would make a statement — not unlike the Continentals of 1960s everyone wishes would come back. Ditch the krill-eating nose.
    The emphasis would be on smooth powertrains, a stable driving experience, subtle style, and high-quality interiors. The latter is a field where Ford could easily beat Cadillac — they’re almost there already. If Hyundai can build the car I’ve just described, Dearborn can too. If not, Lincoln is dead in the water — and will soon be joining Mercury, Merkur, and Edsel in the great beyond.

  • avatar

    Oh yes, and bring back proper names — Continental, even Navigator and “Aviator” are okay.

  • avatar

    For the most part Ford’s success has been by using standard components/drivetrains/platforms with different bodies.  It is good for economies of scale and to improve quality.

    So I will echo what most of you have said already.

    Build a 4 door baby Lincoln using the Mustang platform and drivetrains.   Must have IRS, handle & perform excellent while having restrained luxury.    Pricing MUST be good.    The car body should NOT be SUVish tall, it should be low & sleek like a Porsche Panamara.     Keep it about the same size as the old LS.   This would sell to the Ford faithful that want Mustang performance and 4 doors. The V6 Ecoboost can be the workhorse to maintain CAFE and performance. For the hard core group offer a few 5.0 boosted versions.   Build it right and the reviews will say it’s the alternative to the over-priced x,y,& z crowded field of 40k+ cars.   

    At the same time build an AWD luxo-barge from the Taurus platform.    The body must be awesome.   Look to the stretched Audi A8 for inspiration.  The interior can be total luxury with all the bells & whistles.   This car should be promoted as inspiring confidence in all conditions, not performance.   Snow, entertaining, urban settings, business, theatre, and even going to church.   Again, pricing MUST be good.
    Call it the Town Car so there is no mistake of it’s purpose.    

    MKS, MKZ should then be killed along with the grille.    

    Lastly, Lincoln does not need it’s own dealerhip network.  
    A Ford dealer will work just fine.   It will also allow a bigger dealership network for sales and service.
    It should be a value proposition. Don’t pretend to be what you are not.

  • avatar

    Hmmm…Hyundai has an over-reaching luxury car line-up but won’t spend the money on a dealer network. Ford has an over-reaching dealer network but won’t spend the money on it’s luxury car line-up.
    Ladies and gentlemen, you have your next merger!

  • avatar

    The New Continental

    Mustang RWD uni-body chassis stretched to 126″ WB
    78-in overall width
    58-in overall height

    400+ hp 5.0L V8
    6-speed dual clutch transmission
    Electric power rack-and-pinion steering (Mustang)
    Strut front suspension (Mustang)
    3-link live axle rear suspension with Panhard rod (Mustang)
    13-inch disc brakes
    17-inch wheels

    Stately, boxy styling based on the 1961 Continental
    Stainless steel framed door windows
    “Suicide” rear doors (straight-cut trailing edge, no rear wheel dogleg cutout)
    Minimal tumble-home to maximize interior roominess
    Thin strip of horizontal LED headlights mimic the “hidden headlight” look without moving parts
    Single horizontal strip LED taillight
    Skirted rear wheel for better aerodynamics

    6-passenger capacity with front bench seat
    Front split bench seat with 3 integrated 3-point belts
    Rectilinear dashboard
    6-gauge cluster
    Column shifter
    Electric auto-release parking brake
    LED interior lighting
    Rear windows with liquid crystal adjustable privacy tint

    Full size spare
    25 gallon fuel tank under rear seat

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      I have one big objection here. This is a FoMoCo product, so it should be:

      25 gallon fuel tank directly behind rear bumper, in a lightweight, reinforced magnesium cradle…

  • avatar

    Ford only keeps Lincoln going for sentimental reasons. Selling JLR was a dumb ass move to top all dumb ass moves. JLR sales are now soaring (up 24% according to TTAC) and they have plenty of new product in the pipeline thanks to the vote of confidence in them by TATA.

    Bad bad move letting JLR go.

  • avatar

    I think this discussion is dancing around a bigger point and that is, you can’t run an “everyman” division and a luxury division with the same management.  The mindsets are completely different.

    BMW is BMW because there is no everyman’s division to fall back on.  Similarly, Jaguar and Aston Martin now have a fighting chance since they are no longer run by Dearborn.  Aston Martin especially since it is run by an English gearhead group with Persian gulf sovereign wealth backing.

    Contrast this with Acura.  Honda has no idea what to do with Acura.

    Look at Fiat.  Ferrari and Maserati are independent companies wholly owned by Fiat and not merely divisions of the parent company.  Their management is separate from Turin.  Alfa Romeo is dying because it is run from Turin not Milan.  Its only recent hit car (the 8C Competizione) is built by Maserati with Ferrari cast offs.  The MiTo is an upscale Fiat 500, so talk about directionless management.  (I’m looking at you Sergio.)

    VW may be the lone exception to this rule.  But again, Lamborghini is run by Italians supported by German financial discipline.  Alfa would do well to be run by VW. (Heresy!)

    So, long rant short, Lincoln is toast.  Dearborn can’t run a luxury division, and Lincoln does not have enough brand equity to spin it off.  (Note that I am not knocking Dearborn, Mullaly et al are doing great things with Ford.  But they will fail at reviving Lincoln.)

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Some thoughts:

    1) Lincoln needs another iconic design in the same league as the original Continentals (1941 and 1961).  But not a slavish retromobile — Ford designers need to come up with the Next Big Thing.  And that thing needs to be connected to Lincoln’s past, e.g., by dumping the alphabet soup names in favor of old Lincoln names like . . . Continental.  This car must be beautiful, but more importantly it must pioneer a new way of thinking about a luxury car.

    2) The 1961 Continental stood out because it went against industry norms in more than one way:  Not only was the styling unusually restrained for the time, but the Continental was unusually small (in early versions) and it was offered in one trim level and two body styles (four-door sedan and convertible).  Those were radical steps for the time.  Ford shouldn’t be afraid to challenge multiple sacred cows regarding what constitutes a contemporary luxury car.

    3)  As a case in point, Lincoln doesn’t need rear-wheel drive.  Lincoln isn’t a performance brand in the same vein as BMW — and arguably never should be.  That market is glutted with wannabes anyway.  Lincoln needs its own unique niche. I bet the gearheads are too narrow-minded in their thinking to come up with a clear vision.

  • avatar

    let’s see G3, G5, G6, G8,  out of business.

    MK, MZ, MT, dying on the vine.

    gee, you’d think someone in Dearborn had some common sense.

    beyond that, they need a sales expert, I could triple Lincoln sales in 3-4 months using the very same products.

    see The Buickman on FaceBook.

  • avatar

    I wonder how many extra Fusions could be sold if Ford simply added a “Limited” trim?  10% Limited sales would equal about what the MKZ is selling without the Lincoln brand overhead (headache?).  The Edge Limited looks terrific.  Edge sales are up and MKX sales are way down.  Ford might be better off dumping Lincoln and doing a volume 4-door coupe Thunderbird instead for halo reasons.

  • avatar

    Most of the comments are similar to what I was thinking Ford should do with the packaging of Lincoln. They need to turn it into a premium brand that well beyond what you find in the average Ford. 

    But along with the package, there should be marketing that interjects the Lincoln into a new generation.  They’ll need to place their products in TV shows and movies.  They should be talking to every player in the NBA and NFL about driving one of their cars or SUV’s.  Give a few Lincolns to some custom shops to display at SEMA. 

    It’s not rocket science, it just takes a cohesive strategy that doesn’t just throw money at a problem, and can adapt to the market.  People still want a classic luxury car, and not everyone wants a Cadillac, and Chysler doesn’t offer much either. 

  • avatar

    The numbers are probably long dead and buried, but does anyone here know if the Wixom-built T-bird and Continental of the 1960’s actually made Ford any money? The unit body platforms were unique from any high-volume Fords of the era. I know the 1956 Mark was a money loser, but in such small volume that maybe the halo effect of that car was worth it overall. We had a ’64 Continental and it was a standout in looks compared with Cadillac, but sales volume was a fraction, mostly due to Cadillac momentum since the end of WWII, but also because of a much bigger array of models offered, from crank window equipped Calais sedan to Fleetwood limo. my point is that a Lincoln-exclusive platform is just too expensive to justify. If they can pull it off using a long wheelbase Mustang, it might work. Otherwise, Lincoln will join Imperial on the scrapheap of automotive history.

    • 0 avatar

      The Thunderbirds definitely made money. One Ford stylist later said that the Squarebird generation (1958-60) made so much money that “Ford didn’t know what to do with it.” Sales were a little softer with the 1961-63 models, but the 1964 Thunderbird set a sales record for the nameplate that wouldn’t be broken until 1977.

      The hideous 1958-60 Lincolns/Continentals were tremendous sales flops that lost money. They were such flops that Robert McNamara wanted to kill Lincoln entirely. I believe that the suicide-door Lincolns broke even, at best, although their sales steadily increased throughout the 1960s (unlike sales for the Imperial, which were only really good in 1964 and 1969, when all-new models were introduced).

      Lincoln started to make serious money with the 1968 Continental Mark III, which was based on the four-door Thunderbird platform.

  • avatar

    Say what you want, but Acura does pretty well with their tarted-up Hondas – heck, if Lincoln was in the same position we would not be having this discussion. Also, what are Lexus best sellers – a FWD Camry-based sedan and a FWD/AWD crossover. I do not believe the “halo car” effect – has anyone actually offered proof that such a thing exists?
    Why isn’t Lincoln selling? Easy to answer after going into a showroom and sitting in them. Their interiors are sub-par when compared to the competition, a Lincoln looks like an upper trim Toyota (at best). Your average buyer looks at a Lincoln in a showroom and walks out without even bothering to do a test drive. He/she does not care about RWD, V8 and other stuff (heck, he is out there buying FWD Lexuses and Acuras).
    As far as RWD is concerned, do you know what I hear from people who own BMWs? Man, rear wheel drive sucks in the snow, my next car will be an SUV for sure. Never confuse what the car geeks want with what the general public wants.

  • avatar

    I’ve said for years that Mercury dies with the Panther, and it did. Now I am beginning to think the same with Lincoln.

    1. Dump the alphabet soup names, bring back names like Continental, etc.

    2. RWD V8 flagship, if it’s not too late, save the Panther, or import from AU

    3. Mustang platform needs something else to do, about a knock your socks off Mark 8?

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