By on February 13, 2020

1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV in Denver junkyard, front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Nearly two years ago we asked whether the resurgent Lincoln brand should just give up on passenger cars in favor of an all-SUV lineup. Back then, things were heading in the wrong direction for the two remaining Lincoln cars, the Fusion-based MKZ and the equally Fusion-reliant Continental. Fast-forward a couple of calendars and the situation has almost reached its inevitable conclusion.

The MKZ will bow out before the end of the year, and 2021 spells the end for the Continental’s brief return to the full-size luxury car segment. In this regard Lincoln is acting like Buick, though GM’s semi-premium marque stands to reach car-free status first. Can you envision a time when Lincoln finds it worthwhile to introduce a new passenger car?

It seems the brand’s dealers want to see some sort of sedan continue into the future, though the present direction of Ford seems to imply these wishes are as fruitless as the science club nerd’s longing for the head cheerleader.

Surely we’re not in for a completely carless future. Maybe at some brands, sure, but even Volkswagen has a plan afoot to spawn a large MEB-platform car alongside its EV crossovers and microbuses. High-end European automakers seem okay with the idea of EVs with trunks.

And yet the Lincoln lineup of the early 2020s is now pretty clear: Plug-in variants of the new Corsair and recent Aviator. The continued existence of the stable-selling Nautilus and huge Navigator. And, in one to three years’ time, a midsize EV utility vehicle, a compact model derived from the Mustang Mach-E, and a jointly developed SUV created with the help of Rivian (and its cost-saving skateboard platform).

Adam is still mad that Ford’s CD6 platform has only found use in two vehicles, believing it could have underpinned a large RWD Lincoln sedan or personal luxury coupe. In a receptive market, anyway.

If electric is the way of the future (and there’s problems with this assumption, at least as it pertains to Lincoln in 2020), that Rivian platform would set up shop beneath a huge Lincoln car. Think of a return of the 1970s-era landau-barges, only with zero tailpipe emissions. What a trip that would be.

After looking around the landscape, knowing what’s in Lincoln’s product pipeline, and seeing Ford’s descent into eco mobility, can you see another passenger car emerging from the Lincoln brand? What will it look like, when will it show up, and what’s underneath the hood?

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC, Lincoln]

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33 Comments on “QOTD: Will a Lincoln Car Ride Again?...”

  • avatar

    I don’t know what a Lincoln luxury car should be, but it’s hard to picture an America without a luxury sedan in it’s stable, but the market is what it is.

    Of course the answer is… NOT Miata… SUICIDE DOORS, Yeah!

  • avatar

    I remember the ’52 Lincoln two door, a wonderful automobile .

    In the 1970’s I had ’63, ’64 & ’65 (!disc brakes!) Lincolns with the vaunted suicide doors, fantastic high quality automobiles that were like riding in good handling bank vaults .

    Alas, they were too darn big for my tastes so they all went away .

    The one in the header picture looks pretty good to me .


  • avatar

    What made American luxury cars great was that they were overbuilt (not necessarily over engineered), lasted longer, were a bit more reliable, and therefore had a better resale value than lower status cars.

    These attributes no longer exist.

    • 0 avatar

      This is true, and on the premium end the goal seems to be get it to the junkyard almost immediately after the leasing period through a combination of questionable drive-trains, ultra cheap critical components, and planned obsolescence (I also argue no domestic marque qualifies as a “luxury” marque for the last 20 years).

  • avatar

    A friend of mine bought a low-mileage (like under 10k) ’74 Mark IV last year, and about the same time lucked into a low-mileage ’74 T-Bird. They’re both the same mustard yellow color.

  • avatar

    IMO it’d have to be something that could be priced to be profitable at sales of about 1,000 units/mo.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    If Hyundai Genesis, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz can keep building fairly popular sedans then Lincoln should be able to offer at least one or two models.

  • avatar

    With crossovers becoming the new family car, the bread and butter models for the automakers, that opens up the option for sedans to become the statement pieces, the flagships that don’t sell 50k a year, but tell the story of the brand. Lincoln is making a mistake to get rid of the Continental. A new, RWD CD6 based Continental could be larger, more luxurious, and possible come in factory stretch versions for the livery market. The suicide doors could easily be standard on the consumer version, and would make perfect sense on the livery models. Heck, with the Rivian platform there could be 2 flagship sedans, one ICE, one EV.

  • avatar

    Lowered superduty with coils on all fours, retro continental aluminum body, AWD option, 7.3L Godzilla, the HD 10 speed. It would be bliss!

    • 0 avatar

      Why on earth would you use a bouncy 3/4 ton as your base rather than an already ride-optimized half-ton?

      • 0 avatar

        Suspension could be optimized any set-up. With coils and or air the ride could be made sublime. I was thinking the ability to fit the 7.3L gas and the HD 10 speed.

        • 0 avatar

          I expect the half-ton frame would fit that engine/transmission fine. Its lighter weight would make getting the ride right a lot easier, even with the same suspension components.

          • 0 avatar

            The 7.3L is almost certainly physically smaller than the 5.0L and in a car application it could use the lighter 10 speed out of the F150 since it is less powerful than the 3.5 HO.

            By the way, I would camp outside the dealership to order such a vehicle if it were to go on sale.

      • 0 avatar

        Ride-optimized? Try a Dodge Ram and anything F-150-based won’t feel ride-optimized.

        Coil spring (or air ride) as you mentioned would help a lot.

    • 0 avatar

      “7.3L Godzilla, the HD 10 speed.”

      Be realistic, Read my lips: No more ICE luxury sedans. It’s going to be BEV or nothing.

  • avatar

    A “car” today means a crossover, so Lincoln will have plenty of *cars* in its stable for the foreseeable future. A lineup of Corsair – Nautilus – Aviator – Navigator is a fine lineup for a luxury brand; the execution just has to be right.

    For a sedan to be added to that mix, luxury buyers will have to show that they are actually interested in buying sedans. (Livery drivers don’t count, because an SUV with an extra-comfortable second row will work fine for them.) Right now, they are showing no such thing.

  • avatar

    A more interesting question would be to speculate on “Last Man Standing” in the affordable midsize sedan market.

    Will it be Toyota with the Camry, ES, and Avalon?

    Perhaps Honda with the Accord and Acura TLX?

    FCA/PSA with some platform not currently sold in North America?

    • 0 avatar

      I think soon enough this market in the US will be made up only of Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai/Kia. I don’t expect any of them to leave it any time in the near future, at least not until total segment sales drop under half a million a year.

    • 0 avatar

      Corolla is like a cockroach, it will be the last sedan standing. Will even survive nuclear war.

    • 0 avatar

      There are plenty of sales for *some* automakers to sell midsize sedans in the US. Just not enough sales for all automakers to sell them. A tragedy of the commons of sorts.

      As for *which* will continue, I think the simple answer is “those who have successful markets elsewhere.” Sedans are much more popular elsewhere. Ever been to Seoul? You’ll see more Hyundai Sonatas in ten minutes than you’ll see in a year in a given American city.

      I wonder about the “wide body” Camry and how long that unique variant will last. They seem to sell it in a ton of markets, though.

  • avatar

    Lincoln’s best-selling model is largely a Volvo. Clearly, sticking with your heritage works.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned MANY Lincolns over the years – currently a 66 Continental, 95 Town Car, 98 Mark VIII. Until recently it seemed that Ford was doing whatever it could to destroy the brand and make it go away like Mercury. Dumping the Town Car was an enormous mistake, and thinking that people who want one would buy an UGLY station wagon as a replacement was even worse. I think that Lincoln needs something UNIQUE, and drawing on the brand’s heritage the most obvious thing to do would be building something with suicide doors again – and I mean BUILDING IT that way, not retrofitting a few cars to sell at exploded prices. The fact that those few cars sold so fast SHOULD tell Ford something – but they have to want to hear first, and I don’t think that’s something anyone in Detroit is good at.

  • avatar

    I used to own a 61 Lincoln Continental that was really built like a tank and a wonderful car to drive, but honestly it was a bit too cramped inside and kinda smallish for an American luxury car in the 60’s. Granted they increased in size in 64, but they were still smaller than a comparable Cadillac and Imperial.

    I also owned a 93 Town Car that I liked a lot as that car felt like it floated on clouds, I didn’t care for cheap interior materials however. Still a very smooth car.

    Onto my current Lincoln’s, a 78 Continental and a 79 Mark V Cartier edition. The 78 hands down is literally the smoothest, most comfortable car I have ever driven. This goes for my Classic Cadillacs too, even when compared to modern new cars, nothing comes close to isolation and comfort like the 78 Conti.

    Although these cars shared a lot of parts with other Fords, for 77-79 these Lincoln’s had in your face styling with that RR grill that truly made them unique and like nothing else. The immense length and width of these Lincoln’s command respect and authority on the road. The quality was pretty good for being a late 70’s land barge, but nothing like the Lincoln’s in the 60’s which were very high quality.

    Sadly these overbuilt Sherman size tank like Lincoln’s will never replicated again. No matter how many SUV’s the brand has in its lineup, there’s nothing cooler to look at than long, low slung Lincoln or Cadillac from the 50’s-70’s. They were simply bad ass cars that not only looked the part, but drove smooth as hot butter. Long live old school Lincoln’s!!!

  • avatar

    I purchased a 1998 Mark VIII LSC at a Copart auction in Virginia two years ago for $350. A tree branch had fallen onto the right rear C-pillar and had shattered the moonroof glass. My brother drove it cross country in September 2018, after which I parked it for awhile as I had other vehicles to restore.

    I had the bodywork done two months ago and bought another complete moon roof setup from a local LKQ yard for $37!
    Only 66,464 miles today and it still drives like a dream! And it gets 22 MPG.

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