By on May 13, 2015

The rear is the MKZ's best angle

This whole Lincoln revival thing is going to be a long process of thorough product replacement if recent U.S. sales figures are anything to go by. And they are.

While brand-wide Lincoln sales jumped 20% in April 2015, those gains were created almost entirely by the MKC, a vehicle which wasn’t on sale at this time a year ago. The Navigator, recently refreshed, helped out with an additional 245 sales compared with April 2014.

But the Lincoln brand, as it existed at this time a year ago with five models, was down 8% in April.

With a new MKX arriving soon, steadily increasing Navigator sales, and the MKC hovering around 1,900 monthly sales, is it possible that Lincoln could become America’s Acura? Remember Acura, the automaker which made its name on cars like the Integra but now relies on crossovers for nearly two-thirds of its U.S. volume?

Lincoln sales chart TTACLincoln, even with a second-gen MKZ that’s only been around for two years, saw its car sales tumble 22% in the first one-third of 2015. In fact, the MKZ’s year-to-date losses are more severe than the decreases put on the board by the nearly eight-year-old Taurus-based MKS. MKZ sales are down 23% this year, a loss of 2,851 sales. MKS volume is down 17%, a loss of 544 units. Lincoln car sales slid 7% to just 3,564 units in April, equal to 44% of Lincoln brand sales. The Fusion-based MKZ continues to be the best-selling Lincoln in the United States.

There are impediments to becoming an overwhelmingly SUV/crossover-oriented brand. The Navigator is on the upswing but it remains significantly less popular than, for example, the Cadillac Escalade. U.S. sales of the Escalade and Escalade ESV are triple what Lincoln achieves with the Navigator/Navigator L.

The MKT was never anything but a flop, and following last year’s historically low output, MKT volume through the first four months of 2015 is down 26% compared with last year’s pace.

The new MKX has potential, but the nameplate has never previously topped the 40K annual sales mark. (Lexus sells more than 100,000 RXs per year. 2015 will likely be the sixth consecutive year in which Cadillac sells more than 50,000 SRXs.)

And as we’ve mentioned quite recently, the MKC appears to have maxed out. Inventory levels keeps rising. MKC sales do not.


The MKC is, however, masking the dreadful state of established Lincolns in the United States. Indeed, through the first four months of 2015, because the MKC is simply not proving to be very popular, it’s only barely masking the true state of affairs among Lincoln products that aren’t brand new.

Subtract the MKC from the equation – it wasn’t on sale during the first-third of 2014 – and Lincoln’s year-to-date volume is down 21% to just 22,516 units.

Excitement at Lincoln surrounds the New York Auto Show reveal of the Continental ConceptThat’s not a bad thing. But can Lincoln, which is not even remotely a global brand, sell a car with any frequency? New vehicle launch after new vehicle launch after new vehicle launch, Lincoln keeps offering vehicles that initially appear capable of capturing the U.S. consumer’s attention. And then, crickets.

Lincoln sales in the U.S. in 2014 rose to a six-year high. But 2014 volume was down 41% compared with 2003, a year in which Lincoln sold nearly as many cars (90,427) as they did total new vehicles (94,474) in 2014.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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108 Comments on “MKC Aside, Lincoln Sales Keep Tumbling As The U.S. Auto Market Expands...”

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    First problem with Lincoln, is those stupid MK_ acronyms. I have no problem remembering what a Navigator is, nor recalling what the LS, Continental, Town Car, heck, even the Blackwood were. The MK’s? I had to Google each to see what they were.

    Lincoln, please give Mary Kay Cosmetics their initials back. They never bought Lincoln anyway, I think they still stick to Cadillacs. Give your vehicles proper names.

    • 0 avatar

      Names are coming back.

    • 0 avatar

      I Agree.

      But I always thought it was for Micheal Kors…

    • 0 avatar

      #1 How do you “advertise” when you have nothing worth advertising”?

      The Charger/ Challenger Hellcat doesn’t command (and get) $25,000 over it’s $65,000 sticker because of its interior quality.

      If I can sell a “rental-grade car for $90,000 simply by putting 707 Horsepower into it…then GODDAMNIT THAT’S WHAT I’LL DO.

      Lincoln Continental Concept? 800 HORSEPOWER Supercharged V8 option.

      Yeah – it’s a numbers game.

      #2 The problem IS NOT the “MK” acronym. It’s that the MK acronym DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING THAT ANYONE GIVES A DAMN ABOUT.

      If I can memorize:

      GT-R, 918, FF, and a bunch of others…then I could memorize MK-whatever. The problem is, no one cares to remember.

      #3 In this game, you’ve got to be louder, more powerful, faster and better than “the others” or sink into obscurity.

      You don’t build a car…you build a MONSTER.

      How about “The 2016 Lincoln Dreadnought” with 800HP AWD optional? Base engine: Twin Turbo V6 EGOboost?

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a stupid idea.

        Raw horsepower doesn’t impress the average luxury car buyer. Eye-catching looks, a world-class interior and powertrain, the latest must-have gadgets and a comfortable, pleasant ride that doesn’t make driver and passengers reach for the Dramamine but doesn’t rattle the living daylights outta them – that’s what impresses luxury car buyers.

        The Continental concept is a step in the right direction, minus the eye-searing chrome. It has a name, it has stately styling and it can be motivated by a variety of engines at Ford’s disposal (an Ecoboost V6 for the lower end, a retuned 5.0 for the higher end and perhaps even two Ecoboost V6s lashed together for a prestigious twin-turbo V12).

        In the meantime, Lincoln can and should focus on fleshing out its CUV lineup. It’s a lucrative market with people just begging to throw money at anything that has height and ground clearance.

  • avatar

    Lincoln is doing well in China, however. This means that you can expect the Chinese market to dictate a lot of Lincoln’s future direction. The good news is that the Chinese seem starstruck by the classic, more-stately Lincolns and the way they surround American culture.

    • 0 avatar

      Every half-a$$ run automaker or brand has “China” as their default, automatic answer as to what will inevitably save them from whatever death spiral they are in, just like Cadillac (speaking of half-a$$ run brand), which by the way:

      Cadillac CTS is joining ATS on a now abysmal, long term sales decline into the sink hole. The 3rd gen CTS is a massive failure even as judged by GM standards.

      Cadillac CTS Sales Down 42% CY15; Trim Level Changes Considered
      Automotive News

      May 11, 2015

      Riiiight. Ellinghaus, the euro purse puppy, states that shaking up the trim levels is all that’s needed to save the CTS from its terminal sales death-rapid-descent.

      Where do these people come from? How do they get hired?

      Will Lincoln, spending about a billion $, or Cadillac, spending 12x that, die first?

      Inquiring minds want to know.

      • 0 avatar

        Neither are going to die. Lincoln is cheap enough for Ford to keep putting out product for the forseeable future, and GM is going to spend ALL THE MONEY to keep Cadillac going.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree, although I think Lincoln’s plan has a higher chance of succeeding. Trying to chase the Germans, as Cadillac is doing, sounds like a losing game to me…

          • 0 avatar

            Kyree, I generally agree. It’s not so much that Ford couldn’t chase those brands. It’s more that there are a lot of manufacturers in that race.
            There is another audience that’s looking for entry level luxury and doesn’t need the ultimate driving machine. Someone needs to go after that audience.

        • 0 avatar

          I honestly don’t think either will die as of now, but after $12B of good money gets thrown after bad I can’t help but think somethings gonna give at Cadillac.

        • 0 avatar

          @bball40dtw As seems to be the case always, you are the one bringing the news in the midst of the speculation.

          But keep it on the QT, as the oldtimers say, or on the D. Low, as is the modern equivalent.

          Outspending North Vietnam didn’t work for McNamara as a strategy, quite the contrary, and GM will find itself in a similar situation.

          And of course, the other reason that the Lincoln brand won’t die is that it is what keeps GM overspending, to avoid the fate of Cadillac becoming an even bigger embarrassment to it.

          And while Mullally may have made a few mistakes, or perhaps just did things some of us don’t like, overall from a B-school case study perspective, his grand strategy (and execution) were spot on.

          I’ll bet he’d be a formidable opponent on a chess board, at a poker table and/or with a backgammon doubling cube in his hand.

          He has correctly divined the fact that GM represents an aggregation of many armies, each with their own strategies and agendas, and Sun Tzu-like has forged a single well-coordinated opposition, that, while smaller and lighter, (at the very least in overhead), and he is free to be mobile, striking quickly at weaknesses, and occupying open territory before it can be contested.

          If you are what 28-Cars alluded to, you have every right to feel as if you are a key member of an NY Yankees-like organization, at one of its better times in history.

          Ford is clearly one of the great success stories of American manufacturing, adapting, surviving and even conquering, in a time of great upheaval and change.

          I’ll miss the Mercury brand, but I understand how it got itself painted into a corner from which it couldn’t emerge without a disproportionate effort.

          But anyone who says Lincoln, and especially Mustang, are brands on death watch, has been asleep at the wheel.

          Mustang is a production-quantity laboratory on wheels, a platform that allows for all sorts of engineering experimentation, which then gets tried in the fire of market acceptance.

          The only two dark spots on the whole Mustang story were the overly hyped hp figures of a couple of decades ago, and that garish thing called the Mustang II.

          The remainder of the story has been step by step a story of engineering advancement in the real world, something different, and in the end more impacting on the bottom line, than that other great American performance car experiment, Arkus-Duntov’s Corvette(s).

          The Corvette is a halo car, admittedly an outstanding one, but only a few can identify directly with the idea of owning one.

          Mustang, on the other hand, makes a nice car for many different car owners, everything between Mustang GT’s and a nice white 6cyl convertible with a tan racing stripe, driven by a grocery store security guard (and retired city cop) at a store near me.

          Doubtless his budget was limited, yet he found a nice-looking Mustang that fits his pocket book, and isn’t a garish imitation of anything, rather it is a very nice four seat convertible in its own right.

          And at over a decade of age at this point, I think, it still looks new and sharp, which for him it is and will remain.

          Even a Fox body Mustang nearly a quarter of a century old can still look and run well, and isn’t a nightmare to maintain.

          Try asking someone with a C4 from that era, complete with a $1500-$2000 digital dash, about his or her maintenance experience, or look at the car’s cosmetics today, and I dare say it is an entirely different story.

          Not to mention that the C4 owner can’t, for example, pile two of his nephews into the car and take them out to dinner once in a while, thus cultivating another generation of fans and owners (in the Mustang case).

          News of Lincoln’s death, as the old journalism saw goes, are premature. Ditto Mustang.

  • avatar

    I saw my first 2015 Edge today. The car is great looking and perfectly sized. The next MKX (even better with a name), if it follows the very nice MKC styling improvements to the Escape, will be a hit.

  • avatar

    They don’t offer anything that makes them unique in any important way.

    Also, yes, the MK thing is a complete Hindenburg.

    • 0 avatar

      I will say this again, I am not buying $40K car made in Mexico.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, if you don’t like $40K cars made (assembled) in Mexico, but designed, engineered, serviced, etc. in the US, then you are either a racist, or don’t understand that the location of the assembly plant does not make Lincoln a Mexican car.

        But if you still don’t like it, M-B will be happy to sell you an $80K car made in Germany, but assembled by workers from all over the EU, as well as some who are from elsewhere. No little band of Black Forest elves with engineering degrees hand-assembling vehicles in small groups on a rotisserie-type assembly point.

        Or maybe a nice BMW. Got to love those new AGM batteries that cost several hundred dollars and can only be made and installed by US delegates of those same Black Forest elves. More great German, not Mexican, engineering. I just don’t understand why people say that they still have lots of issues, though. After all, they are not “made” in Mexico.

        But for that additional $40K, you can be assured that the car will not have been assembled by a factory full of individuals who have home-made tamales in their lunchboxes, as if that has anything to do with anything about the car you would be driving.

        I’d be fine with a car assembled in Mexico, especially for half the price of a Euro-box, but I just wish that they would put the recipe for those tamales in the glove box for me.

    • 0 avatar

      “Oh, the humanity!”

      The MK thing might have worked, if people saw it as Mark-C, Mark-X, a continuation of the Mark VII, Mark VIII idea, but they did not.

      But that failure, which led to confusion, will not endure, nor will it sink the ship. Anyone remotely in the market for a luxury car will at least have a look at Lincoln, and the sales people will quickly be able to teach them the name of the style they already have in mind.

      In today’s automotive market, there are very few vehicles that are really uniqe in any important way, as you put it. (Sounds like a Doug-y type article, you heard it here first.)

      A MINI is somewhat unique, in a basically good way. A Miata is/was unique, until recently in a sixties, under-powered way. A Trailhawk is unique, or nearly so, as a dual on-off road vehicle. A Hellcat is unique, as a 700 hp monster, in the tradition of the Buick GN. Just don’t try to turn in it, if you are running side by side with another vehicle.

      Oh, and the Can-Am, whatever it is. Is it a Hellcat motorcycle with an attached sidecar? An Isetta/Smartcar successor, minus a hardtop? Who cares in the end, except for a small fraction of a per cent of the whole auto market.

      The rest of the automotive world has multiple players chasing the same buyer demographic. This is not per se a death-inducing challenge to the Lincoln brand. With a decently evolving engineering story, and continued moves towards a linkage with classic timeless Lincoln styling of the past, Lincoln will get back some former buyers, and will attract new ones, assuming they can avoid having to charge ridiculous premiums compared to cars with similar value propositions.

      Which I believe FoMoCo/Lincoln is situated to be able to do. And their new offerings really do look very nice.

      A vague memory of MK-whatever names is not enough for Lincoln to crash and burn in a truly spectacular Hindenburg-like way. Makes for a colorful narrative, but one not supported by market dynamics.

  • avatar

    Everyone I know who likes Ford cars and SUVs, like Lincoln more. They just don’t think it’s worth it or can’t afford it. Personally they need to do something about their dealerships, too much connection with Ford, not enough premium advantages.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree 100%, Fred. 2 years ago, I was looking for a new car. My previous car was a ’01 Continental. Loved the car. Its replacement would be a MKS (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?). I think I’m the correct demographic. I was willing to spend ~40-50K for it. The dealer here in Austin had — exactly one. Tons of MKCs, MKZs… He wanted to show me a Taurus. Interior materials and fit/finish were just bad. Don’t know if they got any better since the 2013 models…

      I left my name & number for a followup so I could get a test drive on the MKS. I NEVER GOT A CALL. On a lark, I went by the Toyota dealer and found that I actually liked the quietness of the Avalon. And, it was like 10-15K less; more in line with the Taurus.

      I’ll look again when the new Continental comes out. I have a feeling they’ll be too proud to offer it at a reasonable price to get me back in the showroom. I might upgrade to a Lexus then.

      • 0 avatar

        Polara, I can’t speak for the 2012, but the interior on my 2013 is impressive. In fact, one of the reasons I bought it was that it was at least as nice as a 2012 MKZ I was looking at.
        Never drove an MKS. I assume it has some niceties over the Taurus, but the gap is narrow.

    • 0 avatar

      Lincoln needs a halo to shine over the rest of the brand if they want people to value the brand over its options/equipment value. Ford would have to be willing to forgo a dollar in Ford options and hold some features back as Lincoln exclusive too. Mate that to an actually upscale service and sales experience and wait half a decade for perception to catch up and they’ll have a luxury brand. Skip any element, and it’s a diminishing pool of customers who still assign value to ever dimming memories of far lost glory.

  • avatar

    As a potential Lincoln customer and current Ford owner, here’s what scares me off from buying a Lincoln right now. The name changes.

    I recently configured a ’16 Lincoln MKX 2.7L EB with all options and it came out to just over $60K. I’m perfectly fine with paying that, but the competition is swaying me a bit. (Acura MDX is my front runner, X5 35d or 50i, then the new Volvo XC90 T6/T8) I do like the new MKX self parking features so that’s why it’s on my list. HOWEVER, I’m not going to be stuck with a $60K paperweight if they start changing the names.

    I looked at buying a CTS vSport as well a few months ago. I didn’t pull the trigger for the same reason because Cadillac said they were going to the CT / XT nomenclature. Again, the value will drop like a rock once that happens.

    I WANT to buy American luxury. Our current stable consists of a $50K+ F-150 Platinum and a 2010 Taurus SHO that we plan on replacing very soon. But they have to get consistent. I won’t have the American luxury market fix itself on behalf of my wallet. I’ll buy when they’re ready, but honestly, I’m getting tired of waiting and I’m tired of the inconsistency.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a problem indeed. For all of Mullaly’s successes, he didn’t know what to do with Lincoln once they decided to save it. He also didn’t want to spend any money on it. Mark Fields campaigned to keep the brand alive and at least has a plan that makes sense. He’ll be around for awhile, so there should finally be some consistency.

      Also, if you are buying a Lincoln new, the MKX is the one to buy. The new MKZ is doing better than I thought as well.

      • 0 avatar

        “For all of Mullaly’s successes, he didn’t know what to do with Lincoln once they decided to save it. He also didn’t want to spend any money on it.”

        Mulally did know what to do with Lincoln: Not spend a lot of money on it. This approach was probably less costly than shutting down the brand entirely.

        • 0 avatar

          Fair. Not spend a lot of money on it and make it Fields’ problem, because he wanted to save it in the first place.

          • 0 avatar

            Shutting down Lincoln outright would have required paying off the dealers. That would not have been cheap.

            With this plan, Ford spends relatively paltry sums that will either (a) deliver some sort of payoff to the company or else (b) cause the dealer network to slowly fade away through attrition as frustrated franchisees walk away from their stores.

            It’s a better plan than either outright badge engineering (which was guaranteed to end badly) or going full Cadillac (spending loads of cash that probably will not be recouped even though the volumes are higher.)

          • 0 avatar

            PCH, your supposition of Fords motivation in the slow death of Lincoln meets the observable facts pretty well. I hadn’t seen that, thanks.

          • 0 avatar

            To clarify, I doubt that Ford is engineering Lincoln to fail. It just doesn’t want to devote much cash to avoid that failure. If Lincoln can be saved on the cheap, I’m sure that everyone will be pleased.

          • 0 avatar

            In 2011, FoMoCo had 434 LM dealers and was looking to slim down to 325. As of 2012 there were 172 standalone Lincoln dealers per the second link.



      • 0 avatar
        Richard Chen

        IIRC Mullaly wanted to kill Lincoln, and Fields (now the CEO) talked him out of it.

        • 0 avatar

          That seems to be the generally accepted story. But we still don’t know why he was swayed.

          • 0 avatar

            It was either a big win or a small win for Mullaly.

            If Lincoln ultimately dies, Mullaly looks like he gave it, and Fields, a fair, fighting chance, one that just didn’t work out. And he doesn’t have to spend, and may even have a net save, by doing so.

            OTOH, if the brand survives and eventually pulls its own weight and then some, it will be a win for both Fields and Mullaly, as Fields could not have done it without Mullaly’s being willing to take a chance. (Though not really that much of a chance, as his bet was coppered by the saving of dealer buyouts.)

            But a Lincoln fail will not be chalked up as a Mullaly fail…he started out opposed, then “magnanimously” gave Fields a chance.

            I’m not even saying that it was a Machievellian move…just one that played out well across the board (and ‘to’ the Board}, by giving it a shot, rather than just folding their hand.

            And the other real slick part of the whole strategy, is that it almost “forces” GM (given GM’s ego and internal competitiveness) to continue to put more and more money into Cadillac, or else just hand Ford an easy win, as they had done when they pulled the plug on fleet Caprices, giving FoMoCo Panthers an extended lease on life.

            I just wish I had enough capital, and didn’t have so many other things going on in my life, that I could have gone heavy on F’s stock back around 2008. It was almost an identical setup to the eighties, when everyone was gloom and doom (except an analyst whose name escapes me, who predicted a 3000 DJIA when it was down around 1000. He said “buy now!”)
            and he was right, as were most of the old money people in central VA. So it was in ’08.

            I compare them (FoMoCo) to the Yankees as a baseball team. They will have some bleak periods, often as good or better than the good periods of others. But they consistently fix what needs fixing and continue to grow and climb.

    • 0 avatar

      Let’s face it – resale on Lincolns sucks as it is, so I don’t think that’s going to be the main effect of ditching the “MK” names. I think the main effect will be to simply confuse customers.

      • 0 avatar

        This may be one area where the low level of sales actually helps Lincoln. There really aren’t that many customers to confuse at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if, when asked about Lincoln, more than a few people respond by saying, “Do they still make them?”.

        That presents both a challenge and an opportunity.

        • 0 avatar
          Glenn Mercer

          I agree! Good point. Almost like Abercrombie & Fitch (I know, they are a disaster now) could make themselves into young-and-hip after their original fish-and-hunt brand had totally faded away. Lincoln as blank slate?

      • 0 avatar

        Please tell me (anyone, someone) that I’m not the only person to find FreedMike’s criticism of Lincoln’s sales decline incredibly hilarious given that Ford has allocated 1 billion USD towards Lincoln’s model lineup and retooling of factories, while over the same period, Cadillac has seen a much larger drop in sales as a % of total volume, and GM has allocated 12x the amount Ford has set aside for Lincoln’s relaunch for Cadillac led by Johan de Nysschen.

        I mean, it’s simply incredible to witness actual myopia of GM fanboys, which crosses over to literal delusional thoughts turned into spoken or written words.

        On GM Inside News Forums, they blame Cadillac’s absolute failure on “dumb Americans” (I’m not joking), who don’t/can’t comprehend how good Cadillacs really are, and think raising the price of the CTS & ATS, and pricing the upcoming CT6 in the BMW 7 Series range, will help to resolve Cadillac’s woes.

        I’m in awe.

        • 0 avatar

          He seems to be talking about resale and then customer confusion regarding name changing.

          • 0 avatar

            Cadillac’s resale values are bottom of the barrel, literally.

            The ATS, CTS & XTS are depreciation kings (with CTS being so bad that there are EVEN GM loyalists who openly admit it’s a stain and that the 3rd Gen CTS was a strategic blunder in terms of price increase).

            This mispricing of Cadillacs vs market expectations is why Cadillac can’t remotely compete with its Hero, BMW, on leasing; residuals aren’t even close, so more expensive MSRP BMWs can be leased for less.

    • 0 avatar

      Seriously friend you’re going to be stuck with that paperweight no matter what its called if resale is a priority to you. Cadillac and Lincoln both have terrible resale because ultimately they are over priced, underwhelming, or a combination (I say this as a Lincoln fan, and formerly a Cadillac one). If resale is your game then listen to Biggy: Lexus LX four-and-a-half, bulletproof glass tints if you want some a**.

      • 0 avatar

        The MKX seems to have the best deprecation out of MKAnything, but that’s like being the best Mexican Professional Basketball team.

      • 0 avatar


        If you think a name-change is going to hurt resale and that *matters* to you, why are you even looking at a Lincoln in the first place?

        The name change is the least of your problems*.

        (* And I say this as someone who *likes* Lincoln, in principle.

        But I also don’t price/choose cars based on resale – I’m a “drive it until failure” guy.)

        • 0 avatar

          “I’m a “drive it until failure” guy.”

          I’m the same way but its tough to do this nowadays.

          • 0 avatar

            @28-Cars-Later I’ll bet you’re one of us who wish and hope for the return of something like the Panther platform. Hoping against hope.

          • 0 avatar

            Pretty much. A solid Lincoln not named Navigator would be really great.

          • 0 avatar

            A new V8 RWD Lincoln based on the new D6 platform could go a long way towards curing a lot of Lincoln’s ills. But if what was posted elsewhere is correct, that would have to be at least three or four years off.

            Still, if it came off as an updated version of a Panther platform Town Car, it could be a tremendous magnet for returning buyers, including orphaned Mercury Grand Marquis buyers as well as TC ones.

            We won’t all be dead or in old people’s homes by then.

            OTOH, it will be five to eight years before we would be able to see how it would hold resale value.

            Still, it could be a solution both for Lincoln and a whole host of car owners who currently have “slim to none” options.

          • 0 avatar

            @28-Cars It is tough to drive a new car to the point where you or I would like failure to be. But many of the manufacturers are doing their best (worst?) to shorten the amount of time we have to wait to reach the failure point.

            Some of these newer cars are exhibiting fairly high levels of major component failure just over, or just under 100K miles.

            These are the kind of failure points we all accepted as normal during the middle of the last century, but which we had come to believe were a thing of the past.

            But sadly, look at some of the famous formerly reliable brands that now fail early and often: Volvo, BMW, Range Rover, Subaru, VW, Buick (No. 1 in first year tradein rate, never mind the tradein value)…all right, I’m not going to go on. I’ll catch enough flack from the fan sections just for saying this.

            But driving to failure no longer means an automatic 250K mile vehicle lifespan without major repair, at least not for many brands that at one time showed better reliability.

            But I suspect a good percentage of those who buy luxury brands (at least the ones who do so for value more than for impressing the neighbors), do so with the idea that they will spend more, but get more life out of the car, thus actually lowering their cost of ownership per year.

            And it seems like more than one manufacturer has set out to undermine that strategy.

            And just as back in the day, BMW owners began to be willing to pay whatever BMW asked, rather than what a BMW reasonably cost to make, so now are they, and their brand cousins ready to continue buying “value proposition” expensive cars that are no longer value propositions, given their declining track records regarding reliability.

            But “back in the day” it was not uncommon to know someone who would buy a new Cadillac, or Lincoln, or Buick, every five to ten years, often closer to the latter, and when the car had nearly maxxed out on depreciation, went back to try and eventually buy, another new car.

            Today the game is “lease for one to three years”, using high tradein values to cut the operating costs, with few people truly expecting to buy and hold a vehicle for years, based on overall reliability and longevity.

            “The cost of everything, and the value of nothing…”. Welcome to the brave new world.

    • 0 avatar

      I hear stories like this all the time about arrogant, clueless dealers who don’t deal. It used to be Honda dealers who had 8 customers for every car not calling back.

      That I understood. Now it’s imbeciles at GM and Ford stores, handed a chance to unload something that few want, yet they don’t bother with follow-through. Amazing!

  • avatar

    Well, here’s the big challenge for Lincoln: the “nicer version of a FWD family sedan” luxury market – i.e., the Lexus ES – is shrinking. No better evidence of this exists than the ES itself, which is way down in sales versus last year. I also submit the Cadillac XTS and Acura RL as evidence (jury’s out on the Buick LaCrosse until the new one is introduced). And every Lincoln is a version of a car, CUV or SUV you can buy a lot cheaper in a Ford dealership. That’s a problem for a top-end brand. At least Lexus has a range of higher-priced RWD platform cars that aren’t based on Toyotas (the IS, in particular, has been a good seller for them).

    Will the Continental change this? I’m not sold. My bet is that it rides on an updated platform that currently underpins the Taurus, so it’s going to be yet another gussied-up Ford. It’ll sell better than the MKS because it’s a looker, but it’s not going to turn the brand around. The new MKX is probably a far more important product for the brand than the Continental.

    And it appears the brand may be ditching the “MK” nameplates and current grill in favor of actual names, and the front end treatment of the Continental. So, whatever traction they’ve gained with all that is going out the window. But with nothing truly compelling behind the names, or the restyled front end, the same problem will persist – these are all prettied-up Fords.

    Can Lincoln compete with Buick, or the lower end Lexuses? Yes. But until they develop some unique product, they won’t be able to sell much with a sticker over $50,000. Maybe that’s the plan. But I think it’s kind of a shame for a brand that used to truly occupy the upper end of the market to go all Buick, and I’m sure Ford would really like to be able to sell something at a Mercedes-like price point.

    • 0 avatar

      The Conti will not ride on an update of D3/D4.

      It will be based on enlarged CD4 architecture.

      Lincoln will never have its own platform. They will always share platforms with Ford vehicles.

      The platform Lincoln needs is coming in a few years. The D6 platform will allow for FWD, AWD, and RWD vehicles. This will allow for Lincoln to have vehicles that are more different from Ford. It will also spawn some RWD Lincolns starting with the Aviator.

      • 0 avatar

        @bball40dtw Will the D6 platform support a BOF design? A Panther II, with or without BOF? Maybe a turbo’d 5.0 or 5.4?

        I can dream, can’t I? But will we be able to drive such a thing?

        You seem to have more than an average understanding of where these architectures are headed.

        The D6 sounds like a solid new direction, given its inherent flexibility of types.

        • 0 avatar

          Bball sits on Ford’s board of directors, I’m sure he can make it happen.

          • 0 avatar

            Is that a fact, or a joke? (About Bball.)

            Wish he would find a way to do an updated Panther platform if it’s true, but I have to believe you’re pulling my leg.

            Still, I wish it was true.

        • 0 avatar

          No BOF. Will be able to accomodate a V8. I don’t know about Ford’s desire to put a V8 in things these days though. Expect the 3.0TT and 3.5TT. Both will put out over 400 HP.

          • 0 avatar

            I could learn to live without BOF. When the reliability and broad torque curve are there, I could learn to love TT’s.

            But it would have to feel like a logical extension to a Panther in order for me to truly “feel” what it was.

            I recognize that BOF has become too costly.

            But I don’t understand why Lincoln couldn’t put a slightly retuned version of a Mustang V8 in a D6 platform Town Car like newer vehicle. OTOH over 400HP is almost enough to make me forget about the number of cylinders.

            As long as FoMoCo doesn’t play the game it has played before of putting out a high HP motor with a narrow power curve, and hoping that people will consider it “high performance”.

            In the real world, I want not only a large top HP number, but a lot of power across the rpm band.

            High HP alone does the trick at the strip or on a circular track, especially with a six speed manual transmission, but on a public road, you can’t always keep your vehicle in the fat part of the powerband, unless almost all of the powerband is fat.

            As a case in point, that is why in 88 the Thunderbird TurboCoupe was supposed to be the most powerful Bird, but the V8, with a much broader power curve, was inevitably faster, beginning at the stop light all the way up into speeds that shouldn’t be mentioned in conjunction with public highways. Give me overall power every time…let the numbers junkies drool over advertised HP.

    • 0 avatar

      I will say this for Cadillac – they may have failed a lot (Allante, Northstar, etc.) but they did attempt some tech/product breakthroughs during GM’s darkest Roger Smith days.

      Not so for Lincoln. I recall late 1980s ads comparing the FWD Lincoln Continental to the Buick Park Avenue. Once anyone was able to rent a Town Car from Hertz or Budget and the black car industry made TC their top choice, the game was over. For Mercury too, which got squeezed into nothingness.

      Where Lincoln belongs — for now at least — is $40-$50K sedans competing with Buick, Volvo and Hyundai, and CUVs at a 15% premium over Ford equivalents. No PICKUPS! And upgrade the dealership experience.

      FoMoCo is probably looking to first have some success with the Continental, MKX and CD4 platform cars. Then maybe they can look at an ambitious flagship. It’s a different business model than what Cadillac is doing, with lots less skin in the game, but it’s something.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed fully on Cadillac. Honestly, I think their biggest problem currently is that the cars are premium, and aren’t shared platform wise with anything else at GM (well, at least until the new Camaro shows up), but the drivetrains aren’t. For me, CUE isn’t necessarily a no-sale, but a $50,000 car with an engine out of a Malibu is.

        But it looks like this is being fixed. And by the look of the pics on the CT6, it looks like CUE is being retooled as well.

      • 0 avatar

        “I will say this for Cadillac – they may have failed a lot (Allante, Northstar, etc.) but they did attempt some tech/product breakthroughs during GM’s darkest Roger Smith days.”

        This is true but just a little less fail would have paid greater dividends. Keeping Northstar out of some models (Deville) while still offering it in others (Seville Touring) would have done wonders for the brand’s reputation and Cadillac’s warranty claims budget. Not offering the gen 1 Catera as an Opel Omega rebadge would have been another bright idea. Allante was just an attempt to do something extravagant which ultimately made little practical sense (FWD E-body sports car? Really?) Personally I think Allante was just a hangover from all of the coke snorted earlier in the decade.

        • 0 avatar

          @28-Cars-Later The Allante was one step forward and two steps back: the idea of a Pinin-Farina styled body was a great idea, PROVIDED they gave it some real performance capabilities (HP, suspension, RWD).

          But the first year was anemic, and by the time they beefed it up, the bloom was already off the rose.

          As to your final comment about the coke hangover, it could be seen in one sense as a belated reply to the DeLorean concept.

          But it was all coke dreams, and no coke affinity for action.

          One of the biggest mistakes I almost made in my life was considering trading a great running 88 Thunderbird Supercoupe V8 with all the trim goodies, for an Allante, thinking the PininFarina body was going to make them appreciable collector cars in a few years.

          Good thing I got over that one before I moved on it. At the time completely overlooked the stupidity of doing it in an FWD underpowered platform.

          Besides if I had bought that thing, I would have been driving it when I met my wife. And instead of thinking I was an interesting older guy in a sporty Thunderbird, her initial impression would probably have been of a midlife crisis douche in a pretentious Cadillac. Which is probably what I would have been…

          When we met, I probably could have been driving a hooptie I maintained, even, but not something screaming self-impressed in one of the most self-impressed cities in the US.

          The Bird made her wonder how I had gotten so much new car for so little; the Allante would have made her wonder how I could have been so stupid as to get so little car for so much.

          I think my kneejerk fear of anything GMC newer than 1960 was what saved me in the end.

          • 0 avatar

            @Big Al At first, I thought you were wrong, but I have done deeper research.

            Back in the day, I, and everyone else I knew, simply referred to the 88’s as either TurboCoupes (the SUPPOSED performance TBird) or V8 Birds.

            The car’s official designation was the Thunderbird SC, on the badging, as I recall.

            Its correct name was the SportCoupe, not the SuperCoupe, which as you pointed out, first came out in 89, as a turbo 6 cyl, I believe.

            But due to Ford pushing the TurboCoupes in 88, very few people paid much attention to the 88 V8’s at first.

            Then when the 89’s came out, designated as SuperCoupes, about the same time people were beginning to notice that the 88 V8 had some real power, and since it’s nominal identity (again, IIRC) was just a SC, many people would refer to my car as a SuperCoupe, as opposed to a TurboCoupe. Both of the 88 Birds still came on the Fox body platform.

            The MN-12 I believe is the more slanted front hood, beginning with MY 89. And I don’t believe that any V8’s got into that platform. Ford said that they couldn’t do it, as the more sloping hood wouldn’t clear, and they wanted a better coefficient of drag for better mileage/CAFE results.

            Personally, I thought and still do that the MN-12’s look ugly compared to the 88 Aero Birds. (Must be something about me and Ford Aero designs…my 97 Grand Marquis is also the last of the Panther Aero platforms, and I also think the Panther whales don’t look as good as the Panther Aeros.)

            And now, looking back, and after remembering how many people would refer to my car as a SuperCoupe, confounding it with the name that the 89 performance Bird got, I think I came to believe that the SC did in fact stand for SuperCoupe and not SportCoupe.

            Or perhaps not, and that is just how I remember it today, nearly three decades later.

            So you are in fact, apparently correct, there was no SuperCoupe til 89. The V8 from 88 was most frequently just called a ThunderBird SC, and properly called a SportCoupe.

            But even though the 88 TB SC V8 may not have been a SuperCoupe, it was a hell of a strong machine, with a torque curve almost as flat as your dinner table, and every bit capable of turning its advertised 143 mph top end (and yes, I had had my speedo calibrated previously…at 60mph readout, I was doing within a half mph actual.)

            I believe that Ford, in its attempts to get more customers into the TurboCoupe, overstated the hp and torque figures for it, and understated them for the SC V8.

            And in addition, the TurboCoupe had a very peaky torque curve, and noticeable turbo lag.

            If I had bought the TurboCoupe “sales pitch” I would have been a very disgruntled customer. But with the SC, it fit very nicely into the “personal car”, not sports car, niche that Ford was trying to define it as.

            It had many of the characteristics of a large-ish 2+2 sports car, or more precisely, a GT in the modern sense…power and handling, married to comfort and convenience.

            There have been many nice cars that have been made, costing five to ten times what that car cost, or even more, but which I wouldn’t take in trade for that V8 Bird (except if it was to flip for cash, of course).

            But as a daily driver, it had it all. And since I had to do a lot of traveling as part of my work as an IT consultant who didn’t like to spend most of a day a week in airports, I put lots of miles on it, and enjoyed every minute that I was driving it.

            I don’t know what its true hp rating was, but there was no way that it only produced 150hp. The official Ford story was that they detuned the 5.0L engine so as not to stress the transmission and drivetrain, but Ford, as well as a lot of performance modders, put a lot more hp than that through the AOD transmission in its stock form, so to me it sounds like just more of the official “party line”…buy this STRONG TurboCoupe that gets good enough mileage not to incur a CAFE penalty. You don’t want that underpowered, normally aspirated, mere 150hp old school V8 if you want real performance. NOT!

            And the drivetrain was smooth at and near top end. I think it came with a 3.08 rear end, and I know it had an Overdrive gear, so it only turned about 1600 rpm or so, at 65mph, and at twice that, it was barely over 3K rpm, though as I recall, I may have had to run it in direct top gear, rather than OD, when I hit hills, in order to get into the fat part of the power curve.

            Right now they are dirt cheap, but somewhat scarce. But I personally expect that people are going to figure that car out as being worth getting and keeping again.

            But what do I know…I sold mine to avoid a thousand dollar transmission bill, though as I have noted before, due to family obligations regarding my wife, my son, my wife’s college and our house.

            But if I knew then what I know now, I would have tried harder to hang on to it. At the time, with the high miles, and net of the work it needed, it was theoretically just above salvage value. But I wish I had kept it. But you can’t go back and re-do your life, and at least it was for some really good reasons. Still, I miss it, like few other things I have had and lost over the years.

            As a side note, the 88 Bird came with I believe H-rated Goodyear Eagle tires, rated to “only” 138 mph continuous use. I was doing a project for a shop that made highway signage, and just for grins, a couple of clients of mine and I made up a sign for the rear window: “WARNING-Do not operate this vehicle above 138 mph with stock tires installed.” Used to get a lot of double takes in the parking lot when I’d go out to the strip to watch the really hot cars run. Though I do wish now I’d gotten a timing slip for it. But I was still making payments on it, and was afraid Ford’s financing arm might get bent out of shape if I violated my sales contract by running it, even just for time.

            But I know I spanked a few older Corvettes, all but one TurboCoupe with nitrous, Camaros all day long (though I’m sure that there might have been some rare top end model that I couldn’t take), etc.

            It could be a real bad boy from zero up to about sixty or sixty five, at a couple of spots with traffic lights on highways. As well as the previously mentioned top end. Met another guy at a commuter bus stop in DC who said he too had tried to run his out. Only he got pulled doing about 120 on a nearly deserted stretch of superhighway, and the judge gave him a couple of weekends of picking weeds for it. Told me he didn’t like picking the weeds, but it was worth it just to see what the car could do.

            Yeah, some of you can flame all you want about that, but (a) I didn’t do that, and (b) that car was the kind of car that just invited you to “pull a ton”, as it was so easy and so quiet running at or near its top end.

            But I’d best go to bed before the urge to go hooning overtakes me tonight…I try, I really do, but “Red Barchetta” and all that. Either you understand, or you don’t.

            If I just wait a couple of weeks, I can hit the strip and see what my new tune has done to my time. Till then, good night to all.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree but 1. this new platform would have cost big money whereas an E-body derivative was cheaper/easier and 2. anything perceived to be infringing on Corvette was always quietly mangled or killed by GM execs in the period (i.e. Fiero).

          Allante despite everything could have worked better with a few tweaks. The first being let Pininfarnia do the body design and put their name on it, but build the thing in North America. Partially building a uni-body car in Italy and then flying them over on converted 747s to be then further assembled was incredibly expensive and stupid IMO. You get 75% of the same luxo effect by having it look Italian and wearing an Italian design badge no matter where it is actually assembled (a phenomenon we are all to familial with today). Price was another thing to adjust. I think a base E-body Eldo in the period was 27K or thereabouts. Allante was more than double even though the two cars had similar underpinnings. Not doing the goofy assembly would save quite a bit per unit and would still allow for nice margin I’d guess in the 35-40K range in period dollars (probably would have moved more volume as well). But Cadillac -then much stronger than today- went for broke and decided it’s reheated E-body was the equivalent of an Mercedes SL and priced it as such. Allante is the child of hubris, IMO. A delusional hubris which still plagues Cadillac to this day.

          I’m not familial with a Fox T-bird Supercoupe, only the Turbo Coupe in the Fox and a Supercoupe V6 in the subsequent MN12 iteration of Thunderbird. When did Ford turbo a V8 in MY88?

          • 0 avatar

            @28-Cars-Later Don’t think I said the Supercoupe had turbo only the V8 (5.0L a/k/a 302).

            What was the case was that the dealership and FoMoCo were heavily pushing the TurboCoupes, which came without a CAFE penalty, even to the point of advertising them as the most powerful Fox body Bird that year.

            What they were doing was hoping to avoid CAFE penalties by steering buyers away from the 5.0L Supercoupe. Don’t know if they made any Supercoupes with other than the 5.0. But from the moment I saw it, in titanium silver, with midnight blue interior, moonroof, aluminum billet wheels, floor shifter, etc. etc, I was as in love with that car as I have ever been with any car, including my Panther.

            I refused to budge, and proved over and over at traffic lights that the Supercoupe could flat out outrun the Turbocoupe throughout the power range. And mine was entirely stock. The only Turbocoupe that ever handed me my @ss was heavily nitro’d, as the driver admitted at the next light.

            And there was once in the late eighties a case of a severe fog storm all up and down the east coast, and they were broadcasting no tickets for speeding, only for reckless, get to where you have to go and get there fast before the entire east coast was fogged in.

            Was able to prove that the advertised top end of 143mph was not idle boasting, though I cruised with a relatively light amount of traffic, above 100mph all afternoon, from Atlanta to Richmond.

            Had a 944 (I think) Porsche try to outrun me. Teased it up to its top, which I knew to be 128mph, whichever model it was. (That was a quarter of a century ago and my memory isn’t that perfect. But I had read a road test of that car a couple of months earlier, so I knew what I was up against.)

            Let it go by at its full top end, then showed it what the Bird could do. The look on the Porsche driver and his passenger’s faces was priceless. When they passed me the last time they were sure they had me for good…sorry!

            Backed off after a minute though, the tires were only rated to 138mph.

            It was crazy…a complete free get out of speeding tickets day. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Passed dozens of state trooper cars on the side of the road, just watching for reckless passing and letting us roll.

            No turbo in the Supercoupe, supposedly not as powerful as the turbocoupe, but one hell of a strong car…nice date car for my quickly approaching midlife crisis, and a helluva good all around performance driver as well. Clearly it had more torque and a broader power curve than the Turbo Bird.

            One of the best cars I have ever drove, much less owned. And I haven’t been as fortunate as Jack in that category, but have had my hands on the controls of more than one outstanding car.

            Loved that Bird. Finally sold it when the AOD tranny started to go at almost 300K miles, the year my son was born and my wife went back to college. Something had to give…finally parted with it in favor of a down payment on a house.

            Loved my wife and son more than the car, but if I hadn’t still loved my wife, I don’t know how it would have turned out.

            If I didn’t have a nice Panther now, and if my wife wouldn’t kill me, I’d be looking for another TBird identical to that one.

            Glory days, gone in the wink of an eye…after six or seven years and 250K+ miles.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Alright, lets clarify this:

            Turbo Coupe = 83-88 Thunderbird equipped with the turbocharged 2.3 Lima motor. This is “Aerobird” Generation which rode on the Fox Chassis.

            Super Coupe = 89-95 Thunderbird equipped with the Supercharged 3.8 Essex V6. This car rode on the MN12 platform (T-Bird, Cougar, and Lincoln Mark VIII). It would have never been sold alongside the Turbo Coupe unless there were some leftover 88 models on the lot when the 89 came out.

            There was a “Sport Coupe” option which was an MN-12 Thunderbird with a v8. I don’t think it hung around as a name for more than a year or so, however both generations had v8 options. The Fox birds had the 5.0 motor (standard, non HO version. The MN-12 cars got the 5.0 HO version, however output was down due to intake manifold mods to get it to fit under the low hoodline of the MN12 cars. This came circa 1990. Eventually they switched to the modular 4.6 v8. Don’t think they ever got the later version with the PI heads which is the one I would want. One could also get a Mark VIII which had the DOHC 4.6 and made extensive use of aluminum throughout the platform but had the air suspension which has likely sent many of them to the crusher.

            Anyway, no Thunderbird SuperCoupe ever rolled out of the factory with a V8.

          • 0 avatar

            @Big Al I will trust my experience over what someone edited into a Wikipedia article.

            In 1988 Ford was pushing the TurboCoupe as its “performance” Thunderbird, due to its probably artificially inflated HP number, and also had a 5.0L V8 w/the AOD transmission, which it was marketing as the SuperCoupe.

            And I am certain the V8 was not dropped into it after it left the factory and before its first title. The dealer fought like hell just to try to not have to put the aluminum alloy wheels on it, until they were finally convinced (falsely) that I was considering a Fiero if I couldn’t get the TBird with exactly what I wanted on it, down to the wheels.

            And you might be correct that it was designated as a SportCoupe, and maybe I had a senior moment, but whether it was what the dealer called it, or whatever, you are the first person in 27 years that I can recall challenging my referring to it as the 88 Supercoupe.

            But a rose by any other name…

            It had the Fox body, the 5.0L engine, and I am fairly certain I remember there being two different HP levels, with mine being the larger.

            I didn’t really start to notice HO and SHO designations in the Ford line in the 90’s, as there hadn’t been a Ford, or even an American car, in the family for at least fifteen years prior to my buying the Thunderbird in 88.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            I meant no challenge, I’m just an 80s ford guy and the 88 Turbo Coupe with a stick is one of my favorite rides ever. I worked at numerous dealers and there were all sorts of “dealer applied” trim packages so it is highly possible. 5.0 HO was the mustang motor. All the TBirds I saw had the crown Vic 5.0 standard output motor until the mn12 models. But yes one could get a 5.0 in a fox body bird…I don’t dispute that at all.

          • 0 avatar


            You need to hang with the resident Panther, Fox, and general Ford/LM fanboy on this site, Sajeev. I know generally what you are talking about as a Fox Cougar or two has passed through my possession but I’m not expert on the models hence my confusion. I’m also surprised to hear an AOD did 300K but maybe when they aren’t 15yo+ when they get into your possession it was more commonplace.


            I’m reaching here but I think Ford was stingy with the H.O. variant of the 5.0, something like Mark VII, certain Mustangs, and certain trucks only. I know for a fact no Panther received the H.O., I speculate no Fox outside of Mark VII or MN12 received it.

          • 0 avatar

            @28-Cars-Later Actually the AOD began to get squirrelly around 225K and really began to get ragged by the time I was coming up on 270K, so it wasn’t like it ran like a top til 300K.

            It was a good transmission, while it was still running right. Prior to it, I had never enjoyed driving any automatic transmission car, with the exception of a 61 Mk II 3.8L Jaguar sedan with the Studebaker-Borg-Warner auto trans. Very smooth, very solid trans, that would lock the brakes and not creep at a light, and that would release the brakes when you hit the gas at the greenlight, something newer Jags wouldn’t do.

            Had my doubts about the AOD but couldn’t get the 88 Bird with a stick. Don’t recall if they didn’t make one or I just couldn’t locate one, but it had to be AOD.

            And I was pleasantly surprised at the well spaced ratios, and the solid feel, tight without being jerky. Every other auto I had ever driven had felt slushy and/or improperly spaced gearing.

            The only flaw, in retrospect, was that you couldn’t manually lock it into any gear, the way you can with the 4R70W. As you probably know but others may not, first and second in the AOD were one choice, and the transmission chose the shift point. With the newer trans, you can lock it into any one of the four gears.

            Not that you would need it that often, but there is no reason not to be able to either. Other than that, and the fact that it was analog controlled instead of digital, like the 4R70W and the one that came in between, the AOD-E (for Electronically controlled, as opposed to hydro-mechanically controlled.)

            And the console/floor shifter made for a nice feel when driving it hard. The column shifter on my Grand Marquis, by comparison, does tend to add to the “old geezer” “three on the tree” kind of feel (although in this case it is three on the tree, plus a pushbutton for the OD.)

            On the other hand, if I ever manage to get enough muscle built up in the Grand Marquis, the three on the tree will just help to maintain the stealth look. But I miss the crisp feeling of the AOD console shifter.

        • 0 avatar

          Keeping Northstar out of ALL models would have done even more for the brand’s reputation and Cadillac’s warranty claims budget.

          Allante should have been RWD, with variable slip differential, dual piston disc brakes all around, and at least legitimate pretensions of being an old school Euro-style Gran Turismo type of vehicle.

          And they would have done better to relocate PininFarina’s entire shop to Detroit, and made all of his loyal staff near millionaires, rather than playing that silly “fly the body across the ocean” game they played.

          The Allante should have been a gussied up Corvette — perhaps not quite so close to the performance edge, but something like a modern day Mercedes 300SL gull-wing…radical departure from the past, a new thing in its own mold.

          Instead, it was a half-baked, warmed over attempt at a “too late for the party” Pantera like concept car with no clear concept or performance niche.

          Except for its final year, the car was as anemic for what it pretended to be, as the early Miata’s were.

          And I still laugh every time I picture a former co-worker, IT consultant type, Phil from Texas…a large man, to say the least, and a Texan who had always driven Cadillacs. During a down period in the consulting game, he decided to follow Cadillac’s lead into a Cimarron…it was both comical and sad to see this 250lb, six foot two long tall Texan (at least he didn’t try to wear a Stetson), trying to shoehorn himself into his Cimarron, on our way to grab some dinner after work.

          He looked, sad to say, like the clown in the circus who was the biggest clown, yet sat on the smallest car in the clown vehicle fleet.

          The car was tight for me, at five nine, maybe a buck ninety at worst.

          Who WAS that car designed for?

          And what was sadder was when he tried to talk about what a great value that small Cadillac was, over breakfasat, as he also was arranging to try to get something else repaired on it.

          I didn’t stay in touch with him after we both left KY, me back to VA, him to TX, but I will bet you he eventually traded that beast for either a used DeVille, or a Lincoln. But I’m sure he wasn’t going to buy a second Cimarron.

          In fact, did Cadillac EVER have a repeat buyer for that vehicle? My money is on the NO side of that bet.

          And for all my whining about Cadillac failures, brought upon themselves by themselves, I have really liked some of the better Cadiallacs, at least from a distance. The mid-seventies “Godfather” type of black Cadillacs, for example, looked like a vehicle unmatched by anything else.

          But too little, and too infrequently. And buried amidst the famous failures.

          ’55 and ’58 Chevvys, the GTO, the “rat” motor, the better versions of the Corvette, and a few other successes, aren’t enough to build decades long brand loyalty, unfortunately for them.

          For every GMC vehicle I can recall especially liking, I can think of several made by Ford, and usually a couple of MoPar’s as well.

          Mass mediocrity, in their better moments. Sad, but true. Doesn’t even matter the reasons why…they just are.

          Oh, and I forgot the Escalade…wretched excess, but in a glorious way. Definitely a guilty pleasure. Whoever put that one together had the right idea, at the least. Not sure right for what, but definitely right for something, no matter how intangible or ineffable the concept.

          If I were a rich athlete or a rockstar, I’d definitely have one in the driveway. And let my accountant look at the costs and the repair history.

          As in the song:

          “I have a Mercedes, goes one eighty five,
          I lost my license, now I don’t drive…”

    • 0 avatar

      “And every Lincoln is a version of a car, CUV or SUV you can buy a lot cheaper in a Ford dealership. That’s a problem for a top-end brand.”

      This is Lincoln’s problem in a nut shell. Today basic or base models cars have so many fancy features its hard to sell additional “luxury” unless you’ve got a seriously different vehicle or some major option choices (AWD, V8, etc) to sell. People will pay the upcharge between VW and Audi but the price difference between Ford and Lincoln gets you nothing. In fact it gets you laughed at since people think Lincoln is already dead or don’t know what an MKXQZ is.

  • avatar

    Say what you will about the MKC (The one pictured, I hope) but it’s one heck of a sharp looking car. Looks good in pictures, better in real life, like a spaceship.

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    Spartan: One can argue (and I am NOT being snarky, I am 100% sincere in saying this) that you already own “American luxury.” An F150 for over $50,000 may be to the US market what a BMW 5 is to the German market. What I mean is, when people say “The Detroit 3 can’t build premium vehicles,” my rebuttal is “They absolutely can, only theirs are called ‘trucks.\'” Can you imagine what Lincoln would look like today if it had had Ford’s truck product development budget? But there are two big issues with this American luxo-truck phenomenon (and no, I am not talking about MPG or CO2…): a) when the Great Recession hit and NA truck sales collapsed, there were no other high-margin Detroit products to sell elsewhere (BMW could sell 5s in China, GM couldn’t sell Silverados there) — the luxotruck is mostly a one-market market; and b) it seems that thanks to the rise of the unibody CUV that the premium car OEMs have been favored, versus the premium truck OEMs, because it is easier to adapt a car unibody to CUV unibody (see Mercedes CLA-to-GLA) than to adapt a truck body-on-frame (see… nothing). So IMHO I think the SUCCESS of the Detroit 3 in luxury TRUCKS has inadvertently led them to WEAKNESS in luxury CARS/CUVs. Can they catch up? Sure. But it’s a long slow road, as first one has to match the leaders in reality, and then in perception…. End of pontificating rant!

    • 0 avatar

      Glenn, I’ve never looked at it that way. I think you’re spot on in your comments. It’s as if American luxury trucks are as luxurious as we want them to be and for luxury cars, we buy from the import brands that have perfected the luxury car in the same way that we have perfected the luxury truck. That surely would explain why the Escalade sells like hot cakes while the rest of Cadillac doesn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Glenn Mercer

        Thanks for the kind words. Re Cadillac, they have high hopes and I think they are making great progress. But man, the transition has been hard and slow. I remember talking to a Caddy dealer a few years back, and he summed up the challenge like this: “My guys are in the showroom, and the door opens, and in comes a customer. Could be a young couple looking for an American BMW, like maybe an STS. Or could be what I have to call an ‘urban’ young male customer, looking for a Slade. Or could be an elderly couple looking to replace their DeVille with ANOTHER DeVille. How the hell do I present a consistent brand value and image to all three of these types?”

    • 0 avatar

      You are absolutely right. Today’s big trucks are the LTDs, Electras and De Villes of 40 years ago. In good times, those monsters sell well.

      In energy shortages/price increases or bad times (one usually leads to the other), they stick to dealer lots like Krazy Glue. There’s no alternate market for them outside of someplace like Dubai.

      Those people don’t want a CTS. And when the market here is soft, buyers only get U.S. brand mainstream cars if there’s cash on the hood.

    • 0 avatar

      The Japanese captured the mainstream car and small truck market.

      The Germans captured much of the luxury car market.

      Full-size trucks were just about the only thing that Detroit had left. Nobody else was building them, so there was no competition for quite sometime. Meanwhile, the buyers in the heartland have enough brand loyalty that it is hard for the new competitors (Toyota and Nissan) to gain much headway.

      Given those circumstances, it’s no wonder that trucks were moved upmarket. Detroit didn’t really have much of a choice.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re right but its also worth noting the definition of what a car “was” has also been redefined in the same period. People say the old BOF RWD boats were not what the market wanted anymore but what else is a truck but this with a bed?

        • 0 avatar

          @28-Cars-Later You are spot on. And when the killed the Panther platform, they abandoned the BOF RWD boat market that didn’t want a truckbed on the back of their vehicle.

          Yes, they wouldn’t break, and that hurt dealer service profitability, but if and when I buy a replacement for my Panther, a 97 Grand Marquis, I don’t know where I can go to find something I would think is as good, at any price.

          Or, hell, I may just take a cue from Cuba and just keep rebuilding it, part by part, for as long as a part can be had.

          After all, if people can still repair Model A’s, why can’t I expect to find parts, even if at a bit of a premium, for my Panther until long after I am gone, and mine has gone to my son, who I hope will appreciate what he has gotten.

          But you won’t see me, and hopefully not my son, in a new car showroom looking at what they make today, with the possible exception of a new Mustang. And even that will stop working for him as a primary car, once he starts collecting a family.

          • 0 avatar

            After reviewing where Lincoln is going, I now think my idea of what a good FoMoCo vehicle of the future might be a bit.

            For one, I want to see what a D6 platform Lincoln will look like, both with a V8 and with an “ItchyBoost” turbo mill. And with and without an SUV body.

            The smaller, but more powerful Ford motors are beginning to look interesting, depending on turbo lag issues and depending on the breadth of the powercurve.

            And given the amount of fun Jack Baruth and his brother seem to be able to have in FiST’s and FoST’s, I no longer consider them to be just “econo-toys”. They might be a decent “sleeper” and economy alternative to Mustangs.

            If carbon fiber becomes affordable enough to make a large size but lightweight full-sized Lincoln sedan, and with a 30mpg more or less motor that can still turn zero to sixties in well under ten seconds, it will be (a) somewhat of an engineering miracle and (b) something I thought I’d never see that I would seriously consider.

            And if anyone can do that in the next five to ten years, my money is on FoMoCo. And when and if they do, they will upset the apple cart in terms of current market structure and perception.

            For years, auto engineering sort of stagnated, except for some NHTSA driven changes.

            But it now seems that the manufacturers are in an arms race to deliver more room, with more power, at better mileage, and with more reliability for better prices, and none dare stop or look back.

        • 0 avatar

          “its also worth noting the definition of what a car “was” has also been redefined in the same period.”

          I seriously doubt that the average person knows whether he has or had a body-on-frame car, let alone what it means.

          What did happen is that the market stopped demanding floaty large American sedans. I would attribute this to the downsizing wave that came out of the OPEC crisis; the smaller imported cars had better handling, and customers began to think of that sort of driving characteristic as normal rather than as an aberration. If you grew up on a diet of 240Z’s, 510s and 2002s, then a Coupe de Ville or Mark VI might not seem to be quite right.

          • 0 avatar

            But prior to their demise, Panther platform vehicles offered larger sized sedans, but with an option for good handling. After all, many of the things that were there, either stock or as options, at the end, were the thing of sports cars growing up.

            In no particular order, disc brakes all around, dual piston at that; Watts linkage; rack and pinion steering; front and rear sway bars, some of them quite stiff; limited slip differentials; dual intake and exhaust valves per cylinder; overhead camshafts; transmission coolers.

            Virtually none of these things were found outside of top of the line Mustangs and Corvettes on American cars, and on not that many top Euro sedans.

            But it took a few more years to be able to also provide the dramatically increased mpg in that size package. Had that happened sooner, and except for “hell for leather” ambitious CAFE standards, there would have been no reason for smaller vehicles, and for people to pay a greater premium, and use more fuel, in order to ride around in BOF RWD sedans with a truck bed in the rear. A simple sedan of the Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/TownCar size would have fit the bill.

            Now the people who want the size, pay more, in order to drive a truck they don’t need, so as to have room for five or six adults, plus HP, etc. Hence, no fuel saving is achieved, and people pay more for a truck bed they don’t need, because the manufacturers pulled out of the Panther platform space too quickly and too easily.

            And yes, I qualify as a Panther fanboy, but I still say that my argument makes sense. (Which is the argument others made before me, credit where due.)

            I don’t want to have to drive an F-250 to get a roomy interior and luxury…a TownCar would do the job nicely, if one or one like it were still available.

            Instead, I drive a used Grand Marquis coming up on 200K and looking almost new. Because I don’t want to drive around in a truck, or a small car. Wish I had better mpg, but I no longer commute a lot, so I’ll take that particular compromise, and like it.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      I shopped a 50,000 F150 this week. That doesn’t get you the “luxury” version. 52K was an XLT crew cab without leather or Navigation though granted, as I was leaving it magically became a $42k truck. The Platinum trucks had leather and a stupid power tailgate which I guess would be the luxury versions. I didn’t look. I told him I wanted a basic truck and he showed me the XLT. When I said basic was more along the lines of my Frontier S in my mind he shook his head. I explained basic would be bore like a rubber floor, power windows and cruise at most. He acted like I was from Mars and proclaimed the XLT to be the entry level truck. They were all 4×4 trucks so one could do a little better price wise but still…truck pricing is crazy.

      • 0 avatar

        I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I were the salesman. Salesmen are out to make a living. Customers like you are more trouble than it’s worth in commission.

        I don’t say that to be a prick, I’m just being honest with you. If you want a basic work truck, you’re better off finding a used nice truck and not giving a damn about what happens to it. Rubber floor trucks are fleet specials. You’re not going to find that on a retail lot and I doubt they even order it for you unless you pay cash because they don’t wanna be stuck with the damn thing.

        • 0 avatar

          They’ll order it for you. Just be ready to put something down.

          (I called the guy I buy new cars from to check. He said that he’d ask someone ordering an F150 XLT with rubber floors put $1000-$2000 down for deposit. If it’s someone who has bought a vehicle from the dealership before, he wouldn’t ask for a deposit.)

  • avatar
    formula m

    Their advertising money is effective on this site. It’s almost impossible to get past a Lincoln ad on your cellphone here at TTAC without setting off their pop-up ad. Super sensitive ?

  • avatar

    Looking at the article title photo: give the MKZ a goshdarn hatch! In hybrid guise, it could be like the discerning man’s Prius.

  • avatar

    The problem is Lincoln became Mercury.

    • 0 avatar


      Most Lincoln vehicles are more different than their Ford siblings than a Mercury ever was. Lincoln is what Lincoln has always been, for better or for worse.

      • 0 avatar

        That may be true, but I think the perception is that Lincolns aren’t different enough. Lincoln needs a kick-ass halo car to generate interest in the brand. That might not be enough to save it, but I think it’s their best shot. But it won’t be cheap, not sure I’d take that gamble if I ran Ford.

        • 0 avatar

          They don’t yet have a platform that is suitable for a RWD halo product. It doesn’t seem that the Mustang can be stretched, and every other car platform is FWD based. Also, before they launch a RWD halo sedan/coupe, you better believe the Aviator is showing up. That’s an area that Lincoln can compete. they just need to not make the Aviator look like the MkT.

          • 0 avatar

            When is the AWD/FWD/RWD compatible D6 platform due to arrive?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            So don’t stretch it…just make it different. One could do worse than a stately looking coupe with MK IX badges on it. Then you could build the 3.5 ecoboost Mustang everybody claims to want without stepping on the Mustang as they would be at different price points and missions. Don’t think it would sell in significant quantities but it would be cheaper than a new platform and would do most of what some crazy expensive to develop halo would do which would not sell either.

            But yes, get the Aviator to the dealer first.

          • 0 avatar



            The talk is that the MKZ could be the first Lincoln to go to that platform. That would mean a new Fusion in 2018 as well. I don’t know if the MKZ will be redone that soon though.

            The Explorer refresh should hold it over for about three years. Expect an aluminium Navigator on the new F150 the year before the new Explorer/Aviator.

  • avatar

    I’m 31 and my wife is 29. We’ve had a Taurus SHO since our mid-20s. We’re not the typical customers for that car or the Lincoln brand in its entirety, and that’s another issue. What reason do I have to buy an MKZ, for example?

    It just doesn’t appeal to me in its current form. Lincoln just now started to get customers in my age demographic by building the MKC, finally. I can tell you with confidence that if Lincoln produced an MKZ Sport with AWD and a 2.7L EB, that car would generate a ton of buzz for the brand. Add in a 6 speed manual and it’d be the second coming of the American sport sedan, but with luxury as an added benefit. I would buy that car for myself.

    The wife had a Taurus in college so when we got great paying jobs, she wanted a black SHO with all options so she told me to go find one for her. That I did. It’s been a great car for DINK-ers, but with a baby on the way, we want something more comfortable with more room. I wish American luxury would be the default but instead, it’s a compromise, and I hate that. I want to buy an MKX, but…

    For $10K more, I’m in an X5 with all the options I want
    For $2K less, I can get a fully optioned MDX
    For $5K less, I can get a fully loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make this about me, but can you imagine how many other people who want to support Ford/Lincoln, are fighting with this? Once they graduate from a mainstream American brand, there’s no coming back.

    • 0 avatar

      “It just doesn’t appeal to me in its current form. Lincoln just now started to get customers in my age demographic by building the MKC”

      I don’t think this is accurate as I am in your demographic and if anything the little me too mommy mobile is a reason to stay out of the dealership.

      • 0 avatar

        “I don’t think this is accurate as I am in your demographic and if anything the little me too mommy mobile is a reason to stay out of the dealership.”

        It’s aimed at our age group, particularly towards women. I wouldn’t buy one, even though I think it looks great. I wouldn’t want the wife to buy one because I’d be the one stuck driving it when we’re going somewhere.

        If only Lincoln would put the 2.7L or 3.5L EB in the MKZ with AWD and a 6 speed manual. My god I’d buy one tomorrow.

    • 0 avatar

      @Spartan “Once they graduate from a mainstream American brand, there’s no coming back.”

      Hey hey, my my. Out of the blue and into the black.
      Once you’re gone, you can’t come back.
      Out of the blue, and into the black.
      Hey hey my my.

      – written by Neil Young

      The soundtrack to your journey. Maybe he saw the handwriting on the wall for the blue oval, ahead of his time.

  • avatar

    Once the Max Wolff era design influence wears out, hopefully Lincoln can get things turned around. Though I do like the Woodhouse design far, far better, I’m still not certain it’s on the mark with true Lincoln style. I’m looking forward to seeing the 2017 MKZ redesign. I hope they keep the touch-sensitive controls inside.

    • 0 avatar

      Touch-sensitive buttons are gone. You are one of the 4 people that don’t want them to die in a fire. The MKX points the way forward.

  • avatar

    I have to say that I wouldn’t mind owning an optioned out MKZ Hybrid. Even though I hate the idiotic name, I like the look, I like the efficiency, and I even have a soft spot for the brand. But having to pay for an elderly parent’s care for the foreseeably future means I’m just not in the market for something like that right now.

    People give the MKZ a hard time for being too similar to the Fusion, and maybe it is mechanically, but I think the styling of the MKZ is just so much better. It does make the MKZ pricing look a bit much, I will admit. Thing is, other far more blatant rebadging exercises, such as the Chevrolet Trax/Buick Encore twins, somehow escape any criticism at all and it makes me wonder if people just dislike Lincoln on principle.

    • 0 avatar

      @blueflame6 Perhaps it is because FoMoCo loyalists are more perceptive than GMC loyalists, when it comes to things like how much you pay for a badge. Though I am sure that there are those too who just dislike Lincoln, on principle or because they fear being ridiculed for driving one after seeing Matthew McConnaughey’s comcept ads.

      Personally I thought his ads were pretty cool, but I’m sure there are many, especially between the two coasts, who think they are just spaced out.

  • avatar

    I live in Columbia, MO. I bought my escape brand new at the #1 ford dealership in new Ford sales in the entire state of Missouri, here in Columbia. When I bought my Escape I asked my saleswoman how many Lincolns they sell a month, she was like “8 or 10 new Lincolns a month”. They sell hundreds of Fords a month, more than anyone in the state. Were in the middle of the country, and they could be selling tons of Lincolns, but they basically sell no Lincolns.

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