Detroit's Small-Town Luxury Lament

It’s a little-known fact that nearly half of the 2,000 or so dealer franchises that GM began winding down during bankruptcy were Cadillac stores, most of them located in rural areas. The General’s plan was to focus Cadillac’s dealer network on standalone stores in major metropolitan areas, following the strategies of more premium luxury competitors like BMW and Lexus. But having marked 922 largely small-town Caddy dealers for death, GM saw 2009 sales of its luxury brand fall 15 percent, or twice the rate of Buick and Chevrolet in the same period. The lesson: small-town Cadillac dealers (like attempts to sell the brand in Europe) are worthwhile after all. Automotive News [sub] reports, the majority of those dealers being reinstated are small-town Cadillac dealers. Will Cadillac’s brand integrity suffer by having to serve the small-town American market as well as competing with the European brands? Probably, but at least Caddy dealers can take heart knowing that things could still be worse: they could be Lincoln-Mercury dealers.

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Lord Love A Lincoln

With news that Mercury will receive new product based on the forthcoming Ford Focus, the bandwagon to crown Ford as the new King of Detroit has halted briefly as its passengers take a moment to remember: oh yeah, Ford is technically still trying to compete in the luxury game. Ford’s recent luxury-brand efforts have been so half-hearted in comparison with its Ford-brand turnaround that many analysts simply overlook Lincoln and Mercury when proclaiming Dearborn’s momentum. As, apparently, have consumers. Neither Lincoln nor Mercury cracked 100k sales units in 2009, a feat achieved even by such marginal luxury brands as Buick, Cadillac, and Acura. And as the Detroit News details, the problems with Lincoln-Mercury run deep, and their solutions are far from obvious.

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Stop The Presses: Mercury To Receive New Product!

When GM axed four brands in bankruptcy, it seemed for one bright, shining moment that the era of America’s auto brand bloat was drawing to a close. No such luck. Both Chrysler and Ford passed up opportunities to hack off purposeless brands, and in doing so perpetuated some of the worst examples of brand engineering surviving in the US market. If there were one brand that needed the hatchet, it is and was Mercury. Now, after a decade of Jill Wagner-supplied life support, Ford is breaking the silence surrounding its entry-luxe brand, announcing that a Mercury-badged vehicle will be built “on the same platform” as the new Ford Focus. Put simply: the Mercury Tracer is coming back.

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Mercury Retrograde: Alan Mulally Stands By His Brand

For all the praise and positive comparisons he earns, Ford’s Alan Mulally still refuses to man up and acknowledge that at least one of his firm’s brands is as meaningful to the American consumer as Kaiser or Cord. And it’s not like Mulally can just ignore the brand’s slide into ignominy: after all, people notice when you never introduce new products for a brand that was wholly comprised of cheap rebadges in the first place. Well, Inside Line noticed, and they cornered Mulally at the Washington Auto Show to get his take on the brand with no purpose.

“The plan right now is (to develop) Ford, Lincoln and Mercury,” Mulally answered.

He said Ford is working to more effectively position Mercury with smaller vehicles that occupy the void between the mainstream Ford brand and Lincoln, which directly targets the luxury-premium market. “That’s our plan — to continuously improve the Mercury and Lincoln brands,” Mulally said.

But after a little more discussion, Mulally felt compelled to reiterate: “That’s the plan right now.”

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Piston Slap: Friction Modification for The Mighty-Mighty Marquis?

Jeremy writes:

Hello Sajeev, I have a 1993 Mercury Grand Marquis that I picked up from a family member a couple years back. I registered the car in my name with only 37,000 miles on the clock, it now has just over 51,000. The car was garage kept for years. I have updated the fuel filter, spark plugs, tires, air filter, and the regular oil changes.

After driving the car for a while I noticed the transmission shifted with a slow “shudder” from 3rd to 4th gears. The transmission seemed to shift smoothly under light acceleration but mild to brisk acceleration is accompanied by the transmission shudder.

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Lincoln Going Global?

Having divested much of its premium brand portfolio (Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin), Ford is missing out on luxury sales in growth markets like China. So it comes as no surprise that Automotive News [sub] would ask Ford President of the Americas Mark “ MKF” Fields whether Ford’s Lincoln brand could go global. Fields’ reply?

Potentially, but we are focusing Lincoln here in North America for right now. We don’t have any plans at this point to take it global. That doesn’t mean in the future we wouldn’t look at that, but it’s very important for us to focus on North America.

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  • Wolfwagen I worked for a few companies that have used Transit Connects for service or delivery and of course as Cabs in NYC (NV200 are the best cabs in NYC- plenty of legroom). I had never seen one as a passenger vehicle until a few months ago when I saw one at the local HD parking lot. It looked great for a small family or even an active couple that needs secure storage. However, I have never seen any advertisement from Ford for this model/trim
  • Bike It's a bizarre conversation, for us folks outside the US.
  • RICK Once had 78 TOWN COUPE and wish I had never let it go! Ultimate OTT excessive luxury! Have since had RWD FLEETWOODS, RWD Fifth Avenues ,as well as 89 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series and current 2007 TOWN CAR Signature Limited! All great cars, but 77 through 79 was KING 🤴 of the road! So sad to see what is now considered a luxury vehicle 😢. Who wants to drive a glorified truck 🚚?
  • Kwik_Shift There are better cars to drop $80G on.
  • 28-Cars-Later Opulence!