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December 10 Weekly Open Thread: The New/Old Lincoln

Lincintro_570It's official: It is now known as The Lincoln Motor Company. Errrr, what's that? What was it called before? The Lincoln Division of the Ford Motor Company, as of 1940, according to Wikipedia. Well, there you go. 

This has caused a bit of consternation in some quarters, bordering on (dare I say?) sarcasm:

Legions of people with much more experience and wisdom have written about Lincoln’s pitfalls and how the brand can save itself from oblivion, so I’ll steer clear of those prognostications. But it doesn’t take a genius to see that this whole retro theme (which Lincoln has been playing up heavily at auto shows with displays of classic vehicles) is a non-starter.

I don't mind the change so much, but as the TTAC link makes clear, Lincoln needs to have better products or else this whole retro-naming scheme will go down in the dustbin of history as yet another Silly Gimmick designed to put a fancy shade of lipstick on a pig. We'll see, I guess. But who knows, if this works out, perhaps we'll see the return of The Chevrolet Motor Car Company, the Dodge Brothers Company, or perhaps even Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft!

What say you, gentle readers? Is this the first sign of the end of Lincoln, the start of a renaissance for the division, or a minor blip on the radar signifying nothing? As always feel free to discuss anything auto-related.


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I just looked at the all new 2013 Lincoln MKZ and was unspeakably underwhelmed: It looks boring, the interior did not look upscale, and it continues that swoopy, strange front end that is blighting most every other Lincoln of late.

Whatever happened to the style and class that Lincoln used to present? Other than comprehensive interior ambient lighting and a nice wide taillight treatment, I saw nothing on the MKZ that looked above the rest.

Did Ford not learn anything from Mercury's demise? That the public doesn't want a gussied-up, rebadged Ford that they can have for thousands less?

I'd buy a new Fusion if I was looking at a Ford; at least it's attractive and cheaper. And if Lincoln should wither and die, Ford has nobody but themselves to blame.

For starters, bring back the Town Car. Then, a new iteration of the Mark series. Offer the buyers a choice of either gas or diesel. Make it a real hardtop, with rear windows that open all the way. This might catch Cadillac off guard, since they discontinued the Eldorado a while back. Remember when Lincoln introduced the Navigator? It was a hit until Cadillac brought out the Escalade. Who knows what the product planners are working on?

GM spent a lot of time, money and presumably...effort to rebuild the Cadillac brand several yaers ago.
Their looks and marketing leave me cold but it seems to have worked (but come on, do we really need dinner plate-sized emblems on the back of SUVs?).
Will Ford commit the same resources to save Lincoln?

One of my favorite auto history stories is that Cadillac was originally the Henry Ford Company and renamed after Ford left to build different kinds of cars. Cadillac was made great by Henry Leland...who later started Lincoln.

I was thinking about the Cadillac remake as well. OTOH, I don't know if Caddy is profitable or not, so take that example FWIW. I'm not sure if Lincoln should go the performance route of Cadillac or kind of hit the luxury route of, say, Lexus.

I always preferred the looks of the Navigator to the Escalade. . .I wonder if GM just marketed that better.

I dunno, I can't help but think that Lincoln's time has come and gone. It's core clientele has pretty much died off (literally), and its current crop consists of nothing but Fords-in-tuxedos (and not even terribly convincingly at that modest feat).

At least Cadillac should be credited for genuinely trying to stay relevant in today's world with such models as the CTS-V, the new ATS and such. Where are Lincoln's equivalent models? Selling rebadged Fords with more chrome and larger (and uglier) grilles may have worked decades ago, but it's bad business in today's ever-competitive automotive world.

When people are suggesting that Lincoln needs to bring back the Town Car - the biggest, oldest and most inefficient design that the division had, you know you're in trouble.

There's actually a pretty simple explanation: no marketing consultant ever made money by telling a client that its branding was "just fine the way it is, don't change a thing."

The campaign reminds me of when Oldsmobile launched the "This is not your Father's Oldsmobile" ads.

And we see where they are now.

The ad campaign on its own is fine, afterall it reminds people that Lincoln WAS a prestigious automobile, but once the campaign gets your attention you end up with the new MKZ which is nice, not thrilling but nice and hardly a car that has the spirit of the cars in the ad campaign. Ironically the commercial basically through omission says that Lincoln has not made a compelling product since 1965. And Lincoln's most profitable years overlaped with the pimpmobile Marks and the late 80's through early 90's Town Cars- neither which can be the foundation of a new product renaissance. I read somewhere that the car Lincoln should of built Chrysler did with the 300 and now basically has that market sown up.

Here's the Lincoln MKZ interior:

Here's the Ford Fusion interior:

The Lincoln starts at $35,925, the Fusion starts at $21,700. That's a $14,225 difference.

'nuff said?

Lincoln has a role to play. It's just that Ford Executives haven't the slightest idea what that role might be. They share their utter cluelessness with GM executives who didn't know how to save Pontiac, Oldsmobile or Saturn, and Chrysler executives who couldn't for the life of them, figure out how to save Plymouth -- their premiere low-priced brand.

All these marquees could have been very successful if only the suits running those companies hadn't substituted gimmics for innovation, tried to save money by lowering build quality, and decided that they could make more money by selling finance contracts than they could manufacturing cars.

I am angry right now, because Lincoln should be saved, and I think the very worst people in the country have wound up in charge of its salvation.

scribble73, when it comes to Plymouth, to be fair, it was the Mercedes executives that demanded that Plymouth be killed off when they took over Chrysler back in 97/98. Chrysler actually had plans for Plymouth to become their "niche" make instead of just being rebadged Dodges like they'd been for (many) years.

They had already started with the Prowler, the PT Cruiser was actually intended to be a Plymouth model, but the Mercedes honchos decided against it and those cars became Chrysler models instead after they killed Plymouth.

Could Plymouth have been saved anyway, despite the Mercedes takeover? We'll never know now, but I think that particular situation is a bit different from the other GM makes that you mention that ultimately died - in that case I spot-on agree with you.

I tend on the side of believing that Plymouth, Mercury, Olds, Pontiac, etc., really couldn't have survived anyway, not in today's environment. There's just too much competition for a single manufacturer to have that many segments covered by different divisions. Frankly, I think GM is pushing it by retaining Buick, although that seems to have been driven more by the Chinese market than anything else.

But I think Lincoln needs to be saved as it gives Ford -- or it should anyway -- the upper-level market. But as everyone has noted they need to make Lincoln a true upscale marque, not just rebadged and slightly upgraded Fords. Do they even have an upscale subsidiary elsewhere that could be used as a base for upscale models? Volvo?

You know... Rolls-Royce motorcars have suicide doors. Why can't Lincoln bring them back on a least one model? Heck, even opera windows weren't all that bad.

They should do something to set themselves above the crowd. But no padded vinyl roofs, please.

"But no padded vinyl roofs, please."

How about UN-padded vinyl roofs?
A lot of muscle cars had them back in the day...aside from Chevelles and Chargers, a lot of Mustangs, Camaros...not to mention all Superbirds.
For cars with a distict break between the quarter panel and the c-pillar, they look fine...almost as if they were designed for them.

Yes, bring back opera windows. On Saturday, I was driving my truck listening to the metropolitan Opera live from New York...and I thought how much better it would sound if I had opera windows in the SUV. :)
Again, we tend to laugh at them now, but some cars...the Mark IV in particular, look great with them. The 72-76 T-Bird based on the same body...not so much with their trapazoid windows.

I absolutely want to see Lincoln succeed. I hope Ford can come up with a winning model. Regarding the new MKZ, I was happy to see the revival of an innovation which was really ahead of its time: the push-button automatic transmission. As a space saving bit of engineering it hits the mark. It also makes perfect sense in this current era of push-button automotive conveniences.

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