QOTD: Cruel, Cynical Tease, or a Return to Past Glory?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd cruel cynical tease or a return to past glory

The recent report that Lincoln might return the Continental to its suicide doored past aroused a cornucopia of feelings here at TTAC. Among them: guarded titillation, with many — your author included — envisioning a retro-themed alternative reality in which slab-sided Continentals remain the pinnacle of roadgoing luxury. A crossover-free world in which the 1961 Lincoln is a template for how to clean up in the premium segment.

Basically, the movie Her, only with Continentals instead of high-waisted men’s pants.

The second feeling: a deep sense of distrust in both the automaker and the buying public, as the report goes against everything we’ve heard up to this point — and everything we know about the average American’s fondness for full-size sedans.

Which emotion should gain the upper hand?

Let’s face it — until this past weekend, things weren’t exactly rosy for fans of the Continental. A report last fall claimed development work on the next-generation Ford Fusion was called off, and Ford CEO Jim Hackett’s later words didn’t exactly inspire hope in those who value the Fusion or any other Blue Oval car. Of course, the Continental rides atop a modified CD4 platform, the same one underpinning the Fusion. Our own source claims the CD6 platform, which underpins the 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator, and seems like an obvious candidate for a next-generation Continental, is an SUV-only platform.

Since last year, we’ve seen another report, also derived from sources close to Ford, claiming a next-generation Continental is also off the table. This didn’t come as a surprise; sales have declined markedly since the model’s late 2016 debut, and both Ford and the buying public seem ready to accept an automotive landscape that relegates vehicles without a liftgate to the sports car segment.

Jim Farley, head of global markets at Ford, steadfastly refuses to discuss the future of Lincoln passenger cars. Nor has he mentioned the continued existence of any Lincoln car. But hey, there’s two new utility models coming by 2020, and four more after that!

Things looked grim for lovers of the traditional American luxury car. Then came word from the NADA meetup that Lincoln showed dealers a next-generation Continental with suicide doors, one it’s apparently determined to build, and… it just seems like too much hope. Too much like cynically placating a nervous dealer body that still holds fond memories of the Town Car years.

There’s a number of competing elements in all of this. First, there’s Ford’s desire to streamline its lineups and position itself for future success. That means SUVs in the short term and whatever electrified mobility the crystal ball crowd says we’ll be gaga for in three, five, seven years. Whatever’s necessary to boost profits and get that valuation on an upward climb. Whether heritage factors into this plan in any great measure is unknown.

Just last week we talked of car-less Lincoln, and it seemed like a very plausible near-future reality at the time. If buyers aren’t even taking to the Continental in Cadillac XTS-like numbers, who can honestly state, with any measure of accuracy, that a successor with suicide doors would perform any better? The current Continental’s development wasn’t cheap, so why would Ford sink more money into redesigning the model and potentially plopping it onto a new platform? Besides keeping a famous model nameplate alive for heritage reasons, what’s the upside in keeping a Continental in the Lincoln lineup?

Is it even possible, in this day and age, that a Continental sedan that fully embraces the Kennedy era (as the Lincoln Continental Concept did back in 2002) could actually become the hit Ford wants?

What’s your take on all of this, B&B? Are we being taken for a ride, or is our dream ride looming just beyond the horizon?

[Images: Ford Motor Company, Alden Jewell/ Flickr ( CC BY 2.0)]

Join the conversation
2 of 61 comments
  • Oldschool Oldschool on Mar 28, 2018

    Lincoln’s used to be masculine cars, huge and imposing and they didn’t give an phuck about it either. That’s what they need now. A little attitude and pizzaz in their styling. Too many modern cars are very feminine in design and weak. Too many soft curves and not enough strong angles and edges that make it bossy. Even new Cadillacs lacks the imposing design that made their cars great iconic in the past. Let’s hope that a Conti redesign will eschew some extra boldness and powerful looking grills like the 77-79 Continentals and Mark Vs which are one of the most grand and best styled luxury cars of the 70’s and or of all time.

  • Ral Migoya Ral Migoya on Mar 28, 2018

    Maybe Lincoln is planning to make a Continental named crossover with suicide doors.

  • ToolGuy VW (marque not group) and Tesla very nearly switched positions on a YTD basis.
  • RHD Inexpensive gasoline appears to be a thing of the past. ILO is correct - we have enough sunlight, wind and emerging ocean wave energy to power the entire country and then some. Clean air is nice, and being free of the whims of OPEC, geopolitics and hugely profitable oil companies will do all of us a world of good.
  • Raymond Segura Can you tell me where I can get the rear bumper for 69 impala?
  • Art Vandelay some of the crazy numbers I get. Percentages look bigger with any fluctuations with low volume makes and brands leaving the market will see massive month over month changes. But what’s with Buick? I still see the occasional ad on TV and yet the drop is disproportionate even compared to all the other GM brands.
  • Master Baiter "There is no mandate for consumers to buy EVs, not in any country or state. That’s made up."Right. And you are not mandated to purchase a toilet that only uses 1.6 gallons/flush. You could choose to not have a toilet--just go in the woods, like the bears do.