QOTD: Coachbuilding for the Relatively Regular Customer?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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qotd coachbuilding for the relatively regular customer

Plenty of digital ink and hurt fingers and bums occurred over the past few days, after Lincoln announced its limited run of Coach Door Edition Continentals (don’t call the doors by their common lexicon name).

But I’m here today to ask you whether any of it matters.

I was there in the comments, calling out this 2019 and 2020 custom door exercise. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. No, the present question pertains to coachbuilding, and whether it has relevance in today’s broader automotive landscape. Allow me to explain.

Bespoke features and coachbuilding have long been a costly exercise, as Lincoln surely realized before creating this limited edition of the Continental. Customers will foot (at least some of) the bill, when they pay over $100,000 to alight from their Continental with grace and style like people in the Sixties. Maybe they’ll have a lit Lucky Strike in hand as well.

Whether or not you appreciate the particular long-wheelbase and door arrangement, or even the Continental more generally, Lincoln has done something different with this edition. They’ve offered a coachbuilt car at a much lower entry point than the norm. These limited edition cars are not altered by the factory. They’re shipped to the Washington D.C. suburb of Massachusetts, and modified by Cabot Coach Builders.

Modern manufacturers are willing to give you coachbuilt detailing like special doors, unique interior trim, or some crazy paint scheme. But the customer must be willing to pony up tens (or hundreds) of thousands atop the base price of an already expensive luxury vehicle. The Bentley or Rolls-Royce in question will cost $225,000 before any special accouterments are added. And to those very well-heeled customers, it’s worth it.

But is it worth it on the lower end? Aside from temporary Twitter titillation, do the Coach Door Editions have a purpose? As the well-educated B&B you all are, do you think there’s a demand for coachbuilt vehicles at a lower price point? Said customer might want something special, but is unable to spring for the ultra-luxury marques. Would other marques do well to emulate Lincoln’s example, and start offering modified versions of their standard vehicles? Or is this all just a waste of time? Off to you.

[Image: Lincoln Motor Company]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Writing things for TTAC since late 2016 from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find me on Twitter @CoreyLewis86, and I also contribute at Forbes Wheels.

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2 of 42 comments
  • Keith Tomas Keith Tomas on Dec 21, 2018

    Another gimmick added on to a gimmicky luxury car based on an economy car platform. It's interesting, but Lincoln would have done better to add a more sophisticated transmission (8 speeds or more) and a less frumpy design. The Conti is a decent car, but it's a decent car awash in a sea of outstanding ones.

  • Ryanwm80 Ryanwm80 on Dec 23, 2018

    To answer the question - yes, it's worth it. When I saw this it blew me away, and it made me want one. I don't need it, but I want it, and I think that's what companies need to do, especially today. We see the decline in sales of passenger cars, and I think one of the reasons is that they've become so generic. Here's a car that's a standout, and the reaction from people is that the rear doors are a gimmick? That's what makes cars fun. If cars didn't have special features and were only built to be practical then there wouldn't be anything to get excited about and it becomes difficult for the manufacturer to sell a car when their product is nearly identical to their competitors. As a consumer, I don't care if the work is done on an assembly line or is sub-contracted out. I care about quality, craftsmanship, and there is value in having something exclusive - not just in price, but limited quantities. Thank you Lincoln, for daring to be different!

  • VoGhost This is typical 'imaginary tiger urinating on the other company's logo' one-upmanship we have seen for decades in the pickup market. Ford -- like all carmakers now -- is embarrassed at how weak their performance models look next to the CyberTruck and its 2.6 second 0-60. So they will do all they can to approach the Tesla's performance.
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