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Lincoln Automobiles

Book Review: 'Lincoln Design Heritage: Zephyr to LS (1936-2000)' by Jim & Cheryl Farrell

This large-format (approx. 10" x 13") heavy (over six pounds) hardbound book offers coffee table appeal along with a plethora of photographs, artwork and images (1,600 photos total), over 230 bios of designers and clay modelers and a comprehensive history of Lincoln's most important decades. It is a 475-page story plus bibliography and index - over 200,000 words. This limited-edition book is a labor of love by the Farrells, who traveled to Detroit/Dearborn on numerous occasions to scour the Ford Archives, the Henry Ford Museum historical records, as well those at the National Automotive History Collection at the Detroit Library. They also did research at the Art Center College in California, the Collier Automotive Museum collection in Florida as well as other resource sites. The Farrells interviewed hundreds of former Ford employees in order to factually document events chronicled in their book.

2000 Lincoln LS

In 1999, Jim & Cheryl Farrell wrote and published the highly-acclaimed 'Ford Design Department Concept & Show Cars 1932-1961' (399 pages, over 900 photos, published in 1999) now fetches $2-300 on the used book market. In that book, every chapter was about a different car; therefore, each chapter stood alone and the book could be read out of order without losing continuity.

'Lincoln Design Heritage' flows chronologically, beginning with the pre-Zephyr John Tjaarda experimental ... (more >>>)

2040 Is Lookin' Weird: Lincoln has partnered with the ArtCenter College of Design to produce four virtual concept cars as a potential preview of Lincoln design elements.

The cars are set in the world of 2040 or thereabouts. One is a six-passenger utility/van called 'Ensemble':

Lincoln actually built one of the concepts, the Lincoln Anniversary - a low-slung four-seater coupe, and put it on display during Monterey Week at The Quail.

In 1999, I drew a future Lincoln concept coupe proposal called the 2058 Lincoln Solar Mark XVII - sun-powered of course. (posted 8/26/21, permalink)

Ersatz Luxury; Faithful Fans: Mike Seely of The New York Times wrote an article on the cult of the mythical Lincoln Town Car, a model discontinued in 2011.

"Even with the predominance of Uber and Lyft, plenty of Americans still ask to be driven someplace by a "town car." But with every passing year, the odds become slimmer that they'll be ferried to their destination by an actual Town Car, a model Lincoln ceased manufacturing in 2011, and which is now too old to qualify for Uber and Lyft's luxury offerings - or, in some major cities, their standard level of service."

Lincoln introduced the Town Car as a trim option in 1976. Beginning in 1977, the Town Car acquired its distinctive mock-Rolls-Royce grille. It sold like spare electrical parts at a British car meet. Lincoln sales rose from 101,843 in 1975 to 191,355 in 1977. More importantly, it gained Lincoln market share against Cadillac. Lincoln's sales continued to grow and, in 1988, it actually outsold the Cadillac brand. The Town Car made no pretensions of being a Mercedes or a Bentley. It was America's idea of sensible luxury. It was built to a price using Ford's versatile Panther platform, the same one that underpinned Crown Victorias, whether they were passenger cars, cop cars or taxis.

I rented many a Town Car during my travels from the mid-1980s to mid-90s. They were comfy cruisers even on beat-up urban streets and lent a certain slightly-gauche presence wherever you went. Often it was cheaper to rent a Town Car than a large full-size sedan because places like Budget offered special deals on Lincoln Town Cars. In the '80s, they rented for as little as $119 per week.

In 1992, I acquired 'The Barge' - a huge, last-of-the-big-Lincolns 1979 Lincoln Town Car. The model I bought was the Williamsburg Edition which had special paint and trim. It was painted light silver over dark silver and had a deep-red leather interior. With its opera lights and other gewgaws, it was as gaudy as Liberace's Christmas decorations. The '79 rode and drove wonderfully and the big 400 cubic inch V-8 engine never missed a beat. It was a one-owner car from Montana and was in excellent shape. We took it everywhere, including two trips to Canada.

The Barge was the roomiest car we've ever owned. Of course, at almost 20 feet long, it was a bear to park and it sucked gas like there was no tomorrow - 12 miles to the gallon on regular unleaded in the city and the exact same on the highway. Nevertheless, it was a comfortable and pleasing Interstate cruiser and we kept it for almost three years. It was no sports car - on curvy roads, it rolled and gimbaled like a ship's compass in a storm. Sometimes referred to as "BarcaLoungers on wheels," Town Cars always offered a smooth, comfy ride.

Global Warming Alarmists hated Town Cars; they considered them more heinous than smoking an unfiltered French cigarette within three miles of a day-care center. Which, for me, only added to the joy of driving one. Or owning one.

Seely wrote, "Curiously enough, when Uber got its start in 2009 as UberCab, it was primarily a black-car service that relied heavily on Lincoln Town Cars. But with the dawn of UberX, the cheaper service, the company's hybrid-heavy fleet effectively ate its dad." (posted 12/12/19, permalink)

Music Of Your Life: The new Lincoln Aviator, which made its debut at the LA Auto Show, has warning and alert sounds played by members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

"In total, the musicians created six different alert chimes for 25 different alerts the Aviator could provide. The alert chimes fall into three different categories Lincoln uses for warnings: non-critical, soft-warning chimes and hard-warning chimes. They are all made using a blend of percussion instruments, violin and viola. Lincoln plans to expand the instrumental sounds across its entire lineup eventually.

These chimes will represent warnings for things like an open fuel door, unbuckled seat belt, the lowering of the power liftgate and plenty more. It's not a bad day when leaving your headlights on or door open lead to a pleasant musical sound coming from your speakers. All the sounds seem appropriate for their particular functions, and do sound more pleasing than the normal alerts."

Yeah, well if we're going down this road, I'd like to hear 'Ride of the Valkyries' when I floor the accelerator pedal. When I hit the start button, it would be good to hear the opening words of Little Richard's 'Reddy Teddy': "Ready, set, go man go …"

And, when it overheats, shouldn't this Aviator play Peggy Lee's 'Fever'? Or perhaps 'Hot Rod Lincoln'? (posted 11/13/18, permalink)

Russian Blue: In the latest issue of The Connector, the newsletter of the Pacific Northwest Region of the Lincoln & Continental Owner's Club, Kris Sundberg related a story which links the Russian election hacking with a vintage Lincoln Town Car.

Roger Clements is a well-known collector and restorer of Lincolns. Several of his cars have won top trophies at LCOC meets. Roger once owned a powder-blue 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car on which he performed "an extensive, multi-year, no expense spared restoration."

Kris wrote, "Robert Mueller's recently released secret grand jury indictments of 13 Russian agents who hacked our 2016 election, involved one defendant with a very likely connection to the PNWR. Defendant Yevgeny ('The Chef') Prigozhin, a wealthy Russian oligarch and reputed close confidant of Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin, was the subject of a full-page profile in The Seattle Times." According to the indictment, Prigozhin "ran the Internet troll farm where 12 Russian agents, working for him, were allowed to hack our election through fake tweets and postings to Facebook."

Yevgeny Prigozhin is also a car enthusiast. The article revealed certain aspects of Prigozhin's outrageously lavish lifestyle, including his ownership of a "vintage powder-blue Lincoln Continental," said to be Prigozhin's "favorite car." If you don't know what a 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car looks like, I've posted photos of my old Town Car here.

If you're confused by the 'Continental' designation, you're not alone. Lincoln slapped the Continental name on much of its product line from the 1970s to the mid’80s. My 1984 Mark VII coupe was badged as a Lincoln Continental Mark VII.

It appears that car is most likely the one Roger Clements owned and lovingly restored. In 2002, Roger agreed to sell the car to a party in Finland. "Shortly thereafter, a large UPS package was delivered to Roger's unlisted post office box in Auburn, WA. The package contained brand new, unmarked $100 Federal Reserve bank notes. Roger then delivered the car to Boeing Field in Seattle, where the car was put into a special cargo plane for overnight shipping to Finland." Finland is, of course, right next-door to Russia. Roger and Kris are convinced that the Russian Lincoln is Roger's old Town Car.

Every old car has a story. This Town Car has a very unusual one with a distinctly Slavic flavor. (posted 8/6/18, permalink)

Rare Sighting: In Chapter 13 (titled: The Wizard’s Challenge) of the 15-chapter movie serial, 'Batman & Robin', a 1941 Lincoln Custom makes an appearance, driven by the bad guys. The Custom was a special model - limited-production, long-wheelbase version of the Lincoln Zephyr. The Custom featured a large notched trunk instead of the fastback style of the Zephyr sedan.

Riding on a 138-inch wheelbase (13 inches longer than the standard Zephyr), the Custom was offered as a seven-passenger sedan or limousine with a glass divider between the rear-seat passengers and the chauffeur. The Custom was priced 75% higher than the regular sedan. Less than 650 were produced in 1941; 355 were seven-passenger sedans. The example in the movie is pretty dusty and worn and is missing its rear fender skirts. I've seen restored versions of these cars - they are handsome and elegant:

As to the movie itself, the low-budget serial was produced in 1949. The Batmobile was a stock 1949 Mercury convertible. (The Green Hornet had a much cooler car - a customized Lincoln - in his 13-chapter, 1940 serialized flick.) Made by Columbia Pictures, 'Batman & Robin' featured no big-name stars. The plot revolved around the villainous activities of a hooded character named the Wizard. He possessed an electrical device which allowed him to do all sorts of mischief, including taking control of cars and trucks. Eventually, the Dynamic Duo prevailed and all ended well ... as serials tend to do. (posted 4/10/18, permalink)

The Model Name That Keeps Dying: The first Lincoln Continental was a 1940 model. It was killed off by Ford's Whiz Kids after the 1948 model year because of poor sales. The Continental Mark II was introduced as a '56 model and was killed off in 1957 because of poor sales. During the 1958-60 period, the Continental nameplate was the top-of-the line Lincoln model but didn't sell well. See a pattern here?

In 1961, all Lincolns were badged as Continental models - this pattern continued until the 1980s. A mid-size Lincoln Continental sedan was introduced in 1982 to compete with the Cadillac Seville. It did not sell well. For 1988, a Ford Taurus-based front-wheel drive Lincoln Continental was introduced. The model was updated for 1995 and received a V8 engine. The Continental was discontinued after the 2002 model year because of declining sales.

In 2017, the Continental name was revived and is based on a stretched Ford Fusion/Lincoln MKZ platform. Now - 19 months later - "sources intricately familiar with Ford Motor Company's future product plans" for the domestic luxury brand say the Continental will again be discontinued. Weak sales - a problem with many sedan models - are cited as the cause. The 2018 Continental currently sells at a rate of 800 sedans per month or so. Part of the problem may also be a six-cylinder motor and FWD on an $80,000 vehicle.

My idea: Bring back a big V8 model with AWD - a sedan version of the Lincoln Navigator with lower ground clearance. Call it a Town Car. It should be noted that the current Presidential limousine is described by General Motors as a "Cadillac Escalade sedan," so there's precedent. (posted 3/16/18, permalink)

The Return Of The Luxo Coupe: The American personal luxury coupe is an automotive market segment that began with the introduction of the 1958 four-passenger Thunderbird. Luxo-coupes like the T'Bird had bodies which were different and distinctive from those of the sedans and hardtops of the same brand.

Personal luxury coupes were usually offered with the top-of-the-line engines and higher-quality and more opulent trim. These luxo-coupes added a bit of class to the car line and were priced at the top of the brand's product offerings - the '58 Bird cost almost twice as much as the base-level 1958 Ford.

In the personal coupe biz, the Thunderbird was followed in 1963 by the Buick Riviera, in 1966 - the Oldsmobile Toronado, in 1967 - the front-wheel-drive Cadillac Eldorado and, in April of 1968, by the 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III. By the end of the 20th Century, the personal luxury coupe market had become mostly extinct.

In a recent Road & Track article, Jack Baruth suggested that Lincoln make a Mark IX luxury coupe.

"It would be easy to style. Thanks to Euro pedestrian regulations, we are well and truly back in the era of the bluff-faced front end. Instead of hidden headlamps, you could have electrochomic tinted panels that seemingly vanish in front of a set of quad round lights. Make it look like a modern Mark III. The interior should be black and chrome, with top-quality leather in a streamlined motif. Spare no expense. Real crystal, real leather, real chrome, real aluminum.

It's a no-brainer to give it the 400-plus-hp Ecoboost variant, but if Ford really wanted to shoot for the stars, it could offer a Coyote-ized version of the modular V10. Six liters, 500 hp, an electric exhaust valve to let it roar at full throttle the way a 460-powered Lincoln of the Seventies did.

Now for the most important part: the price. It should cost exactly $100,000. That price should be front and center in every advertisement. Your neighbors should know that your new Mark Nine cost $100,000. There should be no guessing. Think of all the free advertising Lincoln would get. "The Hundred Thousand Dollar Car." Make the price part of the story. That's the smart way to do it. Cadillac does the opposite with the Escalade; in my mind and the minds of my neighbor, an Escalade costs about 50 grand, but in fact they run well above 90 with the right equipment. The Mark Nine, by contrast, should embrace its six-figure price tag as a true exemplar of a revitalized American luxury aesthetic. The same person who spends $800 on cordovan Alden boots and $5500 on Chicago-sewn Oxxford suit will sign right up.  If 40 grand of the price is pure profit ... well, then you only need to sell 25 thousand of them to recoup a billion dollars' worth of development."

Great idea! I'd love to see an American-branded, production luxo-coupe make a showroom comeback. (posted 3/28/16, permalink)

Basic Black: Back in 2009, after looking at photos of Lincoln's new MKT (described by Ford Motor Company as a full-size luxury crossover), I wrote, "The Lincoln MKT is apparently for those who think not all hearses should carry a Cadillac emblem."

It turns out I was right. It does make a good hearse as this photo of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral shows:

The MKT, which shares its platform with the Ford Flex, has never been a good seller. In 2015, sales averaged less than 400 units per month. (posted 2/23/16, permalink)

Showing Signs Of Life: Maybe the Lincoln brand really is coming out of its coma. The 2017 Fusion-sized Lincoln MKZ has new styling - featuring the grille from the Continental concept - and a 400 horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. All-wheel drive will also be available.

Now they need to ditch that MKZ moniker and go back to using real names. Plenty are available from Lincoln's past: Zephyr, Capri, Cosmopolitan and many more.

In 2016, Lincoln plans to add a dealership in China every 10 days. Lincoln is two months from achieving its first two-year streak of sales increases since 1998. U.S. sales are up 7.5% this year, after rising 16% in 2014.

Lincoln says the average age of its buyers has dropped from 67 a few years ago to 58 today, much closer to the luxury market's average of 54. (posted 11/24/15, permalink)

This Caught My Eye: The Lincoln Motor Company commissioned Automotive Fine Arts Society president, Ken Eberts, to create a piece titled 'A New Star is Born', to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the original Lincoln Continental, and the creation of the 2016 Continental Concept. Ken used his own 1956 Continental Mark II in the piece.

Ken's white Continental Mark II in the background sure brought back memories for me.

Take a moment and compare the Continental Concept to the Aston Martin Lagonda sedan exhibited at Monterey Week. The Continental is elegant, positively soigné. By comparison, the ultra-expensive Lagonda is soulless and derivative. (posted 8/20/15, permalink)

Dead Letter(s): Lincoln is killing off its flagship MKS sedan after the 2016 model year. Hopefully, the Continental will replace it soon after. The MKS never sold well and its styling was not particularly distinctive. The typical MKS buyer is 63 years old; the average luxury car purchaser is 52.

When it was introduced as a 2009 model, the MKS received lukewarm reviews, even from MotorWeek - a show that likes almost everything. Comparing MotorWeek's road test data with Motor Trend's numbers from 1995, the 2009 MKS was pretty much the same as a '95 Continental. The 0-60 dash, quarter-mile times and 60-0 braking were almost identical. MW remarked that the handling of the MKS was "lethargic and understeer pronounced." That understeer was the bane of the old front-wheel drive Connie, too.

MotorWeek reported 20.4 mpg on their test loop. That's about what my wife's old '96 Continental pulled - and it had a real V8 motor, unlike the V6 which is the only engine offered in the MKS.

Not much had changed in two decades. No wonder the MKS isn't selling well.

"Until the end comes for the MKS, however, consumers could find huge deals on the luxury sedan, whose price of admission already starts at under $40,000. Whether they decide to pull the trigger is another story: 3,304 units left the showroom over the first five months of 2015, down 19.1% over the same period in 2014." (posted 6/19/15, permalink)

Name Game: Whatever you think of the recently revealed Lincoln Continental Concept, exhibited at the 2015 New York Auto Show and allegedly a thinly-disguised preview of the 2016 production version, give props to Lincoln for daring to replace its confusing MK Alphabet Soup model designations with a familiar model name adding some heritage to its new flagship. Dare greatly, Lincoln.

I like the overall shape of the concept car, although the grille is a bit too blingy for my taste. Power for the Continental comes from a 3-liter EcoBoost V6. I only wish it had suicide doors and a V8 engine.

Now that Lincoln's using model names again, how about reviving the Town Car moniker?

I sketched this concept over 19 years ago. (posted 4/3/15, permalink)

Lincoln Doesn't Know Shit: Last week, my wife received a promotional offer in the mail for the new Lincoln MKC, the compact utility vehicle based on the Ford Escape. Since she purchased her last Lincoln 19 years ago, it doesn't reflect well on Lincoln's mailing list management.

Prospective purchasers are being offered a "Lincoln Makers Gift with purchase or lease." It's a Shinola watch.

Shinola was a brand of shoe polish introduced in 1907; it gained popularity during World War I and World War II. Many of my generation are familiar with the old colloquialism, "You don't know shit from Shinola." As Wikipedia delicately puts it, "Shinola was a once-popular brand of shoe polish, which had a color and texture not unlike feces." Not a good tie-in for a luxury car, eh?

The resurrected (2011) Shinola Company specializes in watches, journals, bicycles, and leather goods.

The brochure noted that "your Lincoln Curator" - apparently the firm's novel name for a car salesman - will assist you in selecting the suitable style and type of watch. Perhaps curator is a good term, since Lincolns are becoming such a rarity on the road.

Remember when Lincolns were associated with more elegant things? Think of those Designer Edition Continentals with style touches by Bill Blass or Hubert de Givenchy.

Lincoln also offered Gianni Versace, Emilio Pucci and Valentino designer models during the 1970s and 1980s.

Now it seems they're just offering shit. (posted 10/28/14, permalink)

Geezermobile: IHS Automotive reported that in 2013 Lincoln buyers had an average age of 61, the oldest of any brand in the industry. That was unchanged from 2011. While the Town Car, with an average customer age of 67, has been discontinued, the typical MKS buyer is now 63, up from 61 three years ago.

The average luxury car buyer in 2013 was just under 52 years old. Lincoln is not replacing older buyers with younger ones, which has been among its stated goals.

Then there's this via Autoblog: "Lincoln fans might want to give incoming Ford CEO Mark Fields a pat on the back for having a hand in saving the brand from the chopping block last year. He's among the people spearheading the rejuvenation of the division away from its stodgy image to appeal to younger customers.

According to two unnamed sources speaking to Bloomberg, CEO Alan Mulally was ready to kill Lincoln last year. Following the slow production ramp-up of the MKZ combined a with a costly ad campaign, Mulally was frustrated and openly suggested dropping the brand. However, Fields and Jim Farley, Ford's marketing boss, convinced the CEO that the brand was worth saving. They also created a plan to prevent similar problems for new models in the future."

Time will tell whether the Lincoln brand survives. (posted 6/14/14, permalink)

Badge-Engineered Luxury: Recently, I watched the 1989 James Bond flick, 'Licence To Kill'. It wasn't the best of the Bond films and Timothy Dalton may have been the worst James Bond ever. Nevertheless, the car Bond was driving, a Lincoln Mark VII coupe, looked handsome and was shot from several flattering angles. Of course, I'm partial to Mark VII's, having owned a 1984 model.

The late '80s were Lincoln's best days, saleswise. In 1986, Cadillac reduced the size of their vehicles and offered styling which - from a distance - was hard to distinguish from its lesser stablemates, Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile. Lincoln reaped the benefits of this as Caddy's sales dropped by almost 40%. Lincoln outsold Cadillac in 1988 and 1989.

Fast forward to 2014 and there's not much to admire in the Lincoln line-up. Recently, Dan Neil tested the Lincoln MKZ, calling it "an overpriced, badge-engineered, sort-of-premium version of Ford Fusion that is actually less successful, stylistically, than the donor car."

"This is a brand that has raised badge engineering to a high art, selling essentially up-optioned Ford products with dubious/hallucinogenic styling at premium prices. This would be absolutely cricket, except that in one version of overblown rhetoric or another, Lincoln had been promising a renaissance of the American luxury car for years."

Once upon a time, Lincolns were stately cars. Even when the brand was in decline, Town Cars were smooth-riding vehicles with a limo-like look. That's why they were so popular with livery services. And people who wanted a classy, comfortable ride.

Neil continued, "Anyway, the position of director of Lincoln Design is a thankless job and a hopeless task, because the bosses and the board of Ford Motor Co. have made it so. As much as Ford would like a piece of the premium luxury market and the margins it commands, the leadership - President and Chief Executive Alan Mulally and his deputy Mark Fields, by name - won't spend the money it would take to turn Lincoln brand into a serious luxury contender, a near-peer with Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.

I am sure they would love to, but ROI is just not there. That is not bad management. It is just management."

Mere incremental improvements are not enough to save this brand. Today's Lincolns have no real identity - they are perceived as tarted-up Fords. Lack of uniqueness is just one potentially-lethal problem for Lincoln. The other is that it is no longer perceived as a true luxury brand.

Will the Lincoln marque even exist 10 years from now? I wouldn't bet on it. (posted 5/9/14, permalink)

Phoning It In: That's apparently the design school cited when categorizing the styling of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator.

Other critics have described it a 'fugly'. Looking under the hood, you'll find a V6 motor. A proper V8 is no longer available to haul this weighty sled. The basic platform on which this mild and lame facelift is based dates back to 2003 or so.

In any case, this is another nail in the coffin of the once-successful luxury marque known as Lincoln. Be sure to see all the 'new' models at your local Lincoln hospice. (posted 1/29/14, permalink)

Lincoln Death Watch: Over at The Truth About Cars, Derek Kreindler tested a 2013 Lincoln MKZ and was not impressed. "Most cars seem to have one redeeming feature that saves them from the depths of vehicular Hades. This has none. It does nothing better than a Fusion, costs as much as a decently equipped 3-Series, and displays the kind of QC issues that one would have expected from a Korean auto maker a decade ago. In such a competitive marketplace, this is a disgrace."

In city driving, the MKZ delivered only 16 mpg. On premium. With a four-cylinder motor. Geez. By comparison, my V8-powered Lexus LS has never delivered less than 19 mpg on a tank of gas. Usually, it's more like 21-22 mpg - 24 or better on the freeway.

The tested MKZ example featured a fuel filler door "that spontaneously pops open every morning and hangs like a limp appendage." There were the usual complaints about the touch-screen controls on MyLincoln Touch. The same kind we experienced with our rental Ford Taurus in earlier this year.

I've yet to see a Lincoln MKZ in person. There aren't many late-model Lincolns on the road around these parts. No wonder. The nearest dealer is in another state and at least an hour drive from here.

On the same day that the MKZ review was posted, one of my Lincoln club buddies telephoned to inform me that another club member had died. The deceased - a very nice fellow - was both a car enthusiast and a Lincoln fan. During his lifetime, he owned over 300 different makes and models, including many trophy-winning Lincolns.

During the 25 or so years that I knew him, he always showed up for club touring meets driving the latest model Lincoln, trading it in every two years or so for another new one. Interestingly, his last new car was a Cadillac - because "he couldn't find a new Lincoln he liked," according to my buddy.

RIP to this fine gentleman ... and to a certain once-fine car brand. (posted 7/26/13, permalink)

Couldn't They Find A Real One? A recent television commercial for the redesigned Lincoln MKZ begins: "This is about the arrival of the new ..." as a charcoal MKZ is shown then fast-dissolves to a blue 1956 Continental Mark II: "... with the soul of the past."

The Mark II choice was jarring because:

1. It is not a Lincoln. The Mark II was sold and titled as a Continental. The only item on the car containing the word 'Lincoln' is the label on the glass windshield washer fluid container in the engine compartment.

2. The Continental Mark II is not well known outside the car buff world. The 1960s suicide-door slabside Lincolns are far more iconic and, having been featured in numerous music videos, are more familiar to the 40-somethings who represent the target market for the MKZ.

3. Something looked 'off' about the televised Mark II. Looking closer at it, I realized that the headlight bezels and other trim appeared thicker than on the genuine article. Since I have owned two Mark IIs - a '56 and a '57, I have an eye for details of the vehicle. I soon realized that the car shown in the MKZ spot was not a real Continental. I'm pretty sure that the Mark II in the commercial is a 1:24th scale Franklin Mint model.

Here's what a real, full-size '56 Continental Mark II looks like:

This is the Mark II which I owned from 1992 to 1998. I also have several Mark II scale models including an old AMT promotional model made when the Continental Mark II was still in production. (posted 4/17/13, permalink)

Built By Mexicans, Inspected By Americans: If you haven't seen many Lincoln MKZs lately, there's a reason.

Ford has just stopped shipping Lincoln MKZ sedans from its Hermosillo, Mexico, plant to an assembly plant in Flat Rock, Mich., for quality inspections and repairs. Apparently the new models were plagued with start-up problems.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas said, "We had our own internal issues ... It took us awhile to get our own processes right."

In February, total Lincoln sales dropped 29% to 4,883 units - less than 60,000 units annually. That's a drop of almost 75% in less than 25 years. Lincoln's all-time peak sales year was 1990 with 231,660 vehicles sold. (posted 3/22/13, permalink)

Why Lincoln Is Dying: Once upon a time, Lincolns were stately cars. Even when the brand was in decline, Town Cars were smooth-riding vehicles with a limo-like look. That's why they were so popular with livery services.

Then Lincoln decided to stick the Town Car moniker on the livery version of its ugly MKT crossover. The MKT itself is a marketplace failure, averaging sales of less than 627 vehicles per month so far this year.

Now, in a further move of desperation, Lincoln is offering a livery version with a four-cylinder engine. That's like putting a Pinto engine in a '79 Williamsburg Edition TC.

Lincoln auto blog

As a brand, Lincoln is on its last legs, selling a less than 49,000 vehicles - spread over five different models - in the first seven months of 2012. Mercedes, BMW and Lexus sales were over double that amount (138,751, 135,114 and 102,548, respectively) during the same period. Lincoln was handily beaten by Cadillac (87,241), Acura (70,082), Audi (65,055) and Infiniti (54,678) from January to July. (posted 8/7/12, permalink)

Presidential Payback: In a 1999 article by William McElroy published in Continental Comments magazine, the story is told that President Harry Truman was refused a courtesy Cadillac for a planned Florida vacation. The dealership figured that Harry was going to lose the 1948 election, so why bother?

Ford Motor Company stepped up and provided automobiles to President Truman for his vacation as well as various campaign stops.

After Truman's surprise victory in the election, he "told his aide, John Steelman, to have all General Motors products removed from the White House garage. Ford was then asked to provide Lincoln convertibles for the inauguration ceremonies."

auto blog

Truman and VP Alben Barkley rode in a black 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan convertible to the swearing-in ceremony. Early in 1950, nine closed limousines were delivered to the White House, as well as a custom parade convertible which was later fitted with a Plexiglas bubble top. (posted 4/19/12, permalink)

Would You Buy Any Of These Vehicles? This online banner ad dramatically illustrates how unappealing the current Lincoln line-up is:

joe sherlock auto blog

I'm sure such a visual message was not the intent of the ad creator but - hey - ya gotta work with what ya got.

Yes, the MKZ concept, introduced at the Detroit Auto Show, is an improvement but I'll remain skeptical until I personally examine the production version.

Meanwhile, Lincoln has cut its dealers in U.S. metropolitan markets to 325, from more than 500. There is no longer a Lincoln dealer in Clark County (WA), where I live - which will make it more difficult for me to inspect the new model. (posted 1/11/12, permalink)

The Pyongyang Hillbillies: The idea of strapping a coffin to the roof of a 35 year-old Lincoln and parading it through town seems a bit redneck, no? There were several old '70s Lincolns in Kim Jong Il's funeral procession, including a 1975 or '76 black stretch limo which carried Kim's casket on its roof.

Check out the myriad J.C. Whitney accessories on the front end: chromed headlight covers, cheesy fog lights and odd side mirrors on the front fenders. (posted 1/3/12, permalink)

the view through the windshieldWill There Be A Lincoln Brand 10 Years From Now? Earlier this year, FoMoCo announced that it "is spending $1 billion in an effort to develop a new generation of vehicles for its struggling Lincoln brand." In November, the company debuted the 2013 version of the MKS flagship sedan, featuring a mildly facelifted exterior and an upgraded interior. Most automotive cognoscenti were unimpressed.

Mere incremental improvements are not enough to save this brand. Today's Lincolns have no real identity - they are perceived as tarted-up Fords. Lack of uniqueness is just one potentially-lethal problem for Lincoln. The other is that it is no longer perceived as a true luxury brand.

Once upon a time in the American automobile market, there was an entity known as "the mid-priced field." Neither entry-level nor luxury, these vehicles offered something more upscale than the "low-priced three" (Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth) but at a price far below luxury cars. Brands in the mid-priced pack included such now-extinct brands as Clipper, DeSoto, Edsel, Kaiser, Mercury, Pontiac and Oldsmobile as well as still-breathing offerings Buick and Dodge.

When introduced in 1939 as Ford's first foray into the mid-priced field, Mercury was priced about 50% higher than a Ford. The Lincoln Zephyr was priced 50% higher than Mercury. About 2.5 Fords were sold for every Merc. Mercury outsold Lincoln by roughly 3 to 1 in 1939. The Merc was priced in between Oldsmobile and Buick.

In the postwar era, FoMoCo prices began to converge. A 1950 Mercury cost about 30% more than a Ford. A Lincoln cost about 35% more than a Mercury. In 1950, there were about 4 Fords sold for every Mercury and 10 Mercuries sold for every Lincoln.

4-dr. sedan >>>

By the 1970s, a full-size Mercury was priced only 10% higher that an equivalent Ford. Mercury was being squeezed out of existence. The same thing was happening to Plymouth as Dodge brand moved downscale. The mid-priced field was evaporating. Meanwhile new competition in the luxury field appeared produces significant sales: Mercedes in the 1970s, BMW in the 1980s and Lexus in the '90s. And in this decade, Audi.

In the last decade or two, America's upscale brands began filling the gap left by the mid-priced field. And the term "entry-level luxury" (ELL) was born.

Consider this: in 1936, the lowest priced Cadillac sold for three times as much as a mere Chevrolet. By 1976, a four-door Caddy Calais cost only twice as much as an entry-level four-door Chevy Bel Air. Today, a Cadillac CTS will cost you about 50% more than an Impala. A Lincoln MKS carries roughly the same premium over a Ford Taurus. Meanwhile, the entry-level luxury field is becoming even more crowded with brands like Toyota's Avalon Limited, Genesis from Hyundai, Acura, Infiniti, etc.

Recent brand surveys have shown that Mercedes and BMW hold top ranks in the category of automotive luxury cars, followed by Jaguar, Lexus and Audi. Cadillac, Lincoln and Acura received far lower scores. Many auto buffs have trouble believing this. They should keep in mind that, if such a survey was taken in 1939, Packard would probably been the most desirable luxury car. Today's forty-something or fifty-something luxury car buyer probably doesn't know what a Packard is and vaguely remembers Cadillac and Lincoln as something his/her grandfather used to lust after. The he/she pulls out an iPhone to find the nearest Bimmer store.

Within the ELL field, many BMW 3-Series models carry higher transaction prices than those alleged 'flagship' MKS or CTS models. Lexus, Audi and Mercedes offer vehicles from ELL to six-figure flagship models. These foreign brands either did not exist or were an insignificant factor in the U.S. luxury vehicle market 40 years ago. While Lincoln and Cadillac are openly advertised with discounts off sticker, most foreign luxury cars offer little in the way of discounts. They don't need to.

Despite widespread discounting, Lincoln sales have declined almost 60% in the last decade. Cadillac sales have dropped almost 50%. Who's getting these lost sales? Mostly BMW, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes, it would seem. Lincoln is becoming the new Mercury.

If ELL World isn't crowded enough, Buick has renewed its aspirations of returning as a upper-end player with the LaCrosse GL concept - a luxurified LaCrosse, which debuted at the LA Auto Show last month.

In 2011, there were 24 Fords sold for every Lincoln. The small MKZ sedan and Edge-based MKX crossover average 2,000 units per month each in customer deliveries. The remaining Lincoln models - MKS, MKT and Navigator - sell at mostly three-digit monthly volume levels. At such low quantities, it is doubt that any of these models are sustainable from either a profit or return on investment standpoint.

Just as Mercury was squeezed out of existence by a shifting, compressing and increasingly-competitive market, Lincoln now faces the same danger. While Cadillac presently outsells Lincoln by almost 2-1, gven current trends (and with Buick nipping at its heels), Cadillac should be plenty worried too. (posted 12/2/11, permalink)

Store Reduction: Ford Motor Co. has announced that it plans to cut its Lincoln dealership count to about 325 from the current 434 in big metro areas.

The top 130 metro markets hold about 85% of the U.S. luxury market. Lincoln now has about 1,100 U.S. dealers, including ones in smaller markets.

Lincoln's star has fallen greatly in the last 15 years and the numbers back it up. One example: Ford's overall 2010 U.S. sales were 22 times more than Lincoln sales, compared with Toyota's overall U.S. sales being 8 times more than Lexus sales.

Lincoln is requiring all its dealers to upgrade their service levels, operations and signage by year's end.

Undoubtedly, some will decide it's not worth the investment/effort and will exit the Lincoln segment of the retail auto business. (posted 2/8/11, permalink)

What Are They Smoking Over At Lincoln? In a recent review posted at The Truth About Cars, Michael Karesh wrote, "The logic behind the Lincoln MKZ (formerly the Zephyr) is clear enough: if Toyota can get away with making a Lexus out of a Camry, why can't Ford do the same with a Fusion?"

Here's what got me - the MKZ Karesh tested stickered at $41,000. Are you kidding?! Forty-one grand for a tarted-up little Ford Fusion?! The Lexus ES sells well - priced in the forties - because, as one commenter put it, "Lexus spent plenty of money to truly differentiate it from the (Toyota) Camry it's based on."

For the older members of my exalted readership, I would point out that the MKZ is to the Fusion as the Lincoln Versailles was to the Ford Granada. Were the beloved Mr. Rogers still alive, he would surely have asked his young audience, "Can you say 'trim job'?"

Another TTAC poster wrote, "For $41K I would, without hesitation buy a Hyundai Genesis which is better in every way than the MKZ except for the wonderful Sync system. Heck, for $38K you could pick up a 2009 Genesis with a 375 horsepower V8." Indeed.

'Lincoln: What A Luxury Car Should Be' is becoming a bigger stretch than Gabourey Sidibe in a pair of size 8 ski pants.

Meanwhile, Lincoln is ditching its long-neglected Town Car. You'll find a very nice review of the soon-to-be late, great big Lincoln here. It's no sports car but it is what it is. And that's not so bad, in my view. Chacun à son goût, as they say in France, the better sections of Haiti and certain parts of Canada.

Like Jack Baruth and many of his TTAC commenters, I'm a Town Car fan. I once bought a '79 Williamsburg Edition as a joke. It was a comfortable and pleasing Interstate cruiser, so we kept it for almost three years.

My teenage kids used the trunk of our rental TC as a fort during a visit to Philadelphia in 1984.

auto blog

I rented Town Cars many times in the '80s and '90s. These days, whenever we fly out of Portland, we leave our personal cars at home and use a car service, usually riding in a sedate and roomy Town Car L. It's a stress-free and enjoyable ride and, based on the prices charged for long-term airport parking, is a cheaper alternative for long trips.

I might have considered buying a TC if ... (more >>>)

Lap Of Luxury: Edmunds presents some interesting data on automobiles, comparing 2009 sales (through November) versus 1999. While total vehicle sales declined 45% (9,373,349 from 16,893,538), luxury brands saw a drop of only 19% or so. Cadillac and Lincoln took big hits but most foreign luxury brands generally fared pretty decently:

1999 sales
2009 sales
1999 sales
2009 sales

BMW and Audi have done well, probably at Mercedes' expense. Lexus sales have remained relatively flat. Both Lincoln and Cadillac have declined substantially; ten years ago they duked it out with Lexus for first place, now they are relatively minor players. Jaguar is at the bottom of the list, suffering a sales slide of almost 70% over the decade. (posted 1/4/10, permalink)

Headline Of The Week is from Justin Berkowitz at MetaCars; 'Lincoln Changes Company Name to MKL, VP Mark Fields Now Called MKF'.

Excerpts: "The Mark series cars were always the most successful, interesting Lincolns. As a contrast, Lincolns with real names have negative customer associations: Towncars are just big taxis. The Navigator hasn't been cool since the Escalade came out. The Continental was once popular, but then Kennedy got shot in one," MKF explained.

"Most recently, Lincoln has renamed virtually all of its models MK-something. The Zephyr became the MKZ, the Aviator became the MKX, the Blackwood became the Mark LT, and the Ford Taurus became the MKS." (posted 12/7/09, permalink)

Recipe For Failure: In 2006, there were 619 Lincoln-Mercury dealerships nationwide. At the beginning of 2009, the number had dwindled down to just 357.

How does one achieve such marvelous efficiencies? Simple. Choke off product development money. Decimate the product line. Move both brands downscale. Start rumors about discontinuing one of the brands. Stir lightly.

Sit back, let everything percolate and wait for the inevitable. (posted 11/1/09, permalink)

Thanks For Nuttin': Just as Rush Limbaugh was punked by the NFL last week, I was taken in by Lincoln.

A few weeks ago, I received a mailing from Ford Motor Company to "attend a star-studded event at your local Lincoln dealer ... on Thursday, October 15. And when you complete a test-drive, a $20 donation will be made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure by your Lincoln Dealer. This will be THE event of the season. Make sure you attend."

Food and drink were promised.

I called the local Lincoln dealer - Dick Hanna Motors in Vancouver - and was assured by a salesman that they were having an event - beginning "at 6:00 pm ... no, wait ... 5:00 pm." We arrived at 5:40 pm. There was not a single Lincoln in the showroom - only Subarus - and no one knew anything about any Lincoln event.

"We have no 2010 Lincolns on the premises ... because Lincoln sales are so low," said Kamal Chaer, Lincoln-Mercury-Subaru Sales Manager. "We know nothing of such an event."

A wasted trip. I thought I could salvage the excursion by going across the street to look at the new Buicks but - alas - the former Buick-Nissan store now sells only Nissans. I could have walked next door to the Saturn dealer and yelled, "I smell death!" but that seemed mean-spirited. So I took my wife out to dinner instead.

We'll never buy anything from Dick Hanna - ever. Or Lincoln. Rush probably feels the same way about the NFL.

Update: After I complained to FoMoCo Media, I received this from Kate Pearce, Flex/MKT Marketing Manager: "On behalf of Lincoln, I want to sincerely apologize for your experience at Dick Hanna Motors during our Star Studded Evening event.

We ask all dealers to participate in events such as these and work to provide them with the tools necessary to create events you will enjoy. However, dealerships are not required to participate and we are sorry to hear that your experience did not live up to your, or our expectations."

I think Ms. Pearce's job title speaks volumes about the handling of the Lincoln brand. But at least she wrote back.

No response from that lying SOB Hanna. (posted 10/19/09, permalink)

Final Ride: The 2010 Lincoln MKT is apparently for those who think not all hearses should carry a Cadillac emblem. (posted 9/21/09, permalink)

Joe Sherlock car blogYour Mileage May Vary: With all the brouhaha about the triple-digit "gas" mileage attained by electric or mostly-electric vehicles (the yet-to-be-produced Volt's still-unproven 230 mpg claim, for example), I would like to point out that my old 1984 Lincoln Mark VII coupe used to regularly hit over 100 mpg on hills.

The record: 156 mpg on a long, steep stretch of Interstate 5 south of the Oregon-California border.

Unfortunately, on the uphill side of the same slope, the Lincoln's instant mileage display would read between three and five mpg. (posted 9/8/09, permalink)

Car Guys Needed In News Room: On Monday's 'Special Report With Bret Baier', Fox News' lead story was the GM/Chrysler crisis reported by Wendell Goler. During his comment "in 2009, Chrysler does not offer the kind of vehicles that the public wants", the screen showed a 14 year-old Ford promotional clip with a beige 1995 Lincoln Continental traveling along a scenic road. (posted 3/30/09, permalink)

Answering The Question Absolutely No One Asked: The Lincoln Concept C. When I saw it, my first thought was 'French clown car'. Needs some polka dots as an additional style accent. (posted 1/12/09, permalink)

Keeping Lincoln: In an article about Ford and GM possibly discontinuing some offerings, Edmunds' Bill Visnic wrote that "Lincoln doesn't work and hasn't since the 1960s."

I beg to differ. Look, I'm disappointed by what has happened to the once-mighty brand; I ditched our last Lincoln for something else. But for an auto writer to imply that Lincoln hasn't had a successful offering in 40 years ... well, that represents the pinnacle of ignorance.

Once upon a time ... (more >>>)

Luxiocrity: That would be mediocre luxury. And the term aptly applies to Lincoln's new top-o-the-line MKS sedan. While I had attended a 'sneak preview' presentation last year (see my 8-17-07 posting), I was interested in seeing what the production version would look and feel like.

Motor Week has just tested the 2009 MKS. The more I saw and heard on the PBS show, the less impressed I was. John Davis described the car as "Lincoln's new flagship." The test vehicle had "optional adaptive HID headlamps." What, you mean they're not standard on this alleged flagship? The car also featured keyless entry buttons on the door. That's sooooo 1980s ... my '84 Lincoln Mark VII had 'em. The MKS lets you revisit the '80s by pushing up your jacket sleeves, assuming a Kevin Baconesque Footloose stance and poking away at those buttons. (All of this assumes that you could remember your code. Or that your car could. My 1984's keyless entry system developed Alzheimer's and would periodically 'forget' my personal code. I finally made a Dymo label with the backup factory code on it and affixed it just below the front grille.)

Today's luxury and near-luxury cars use proximity sensors to open doors. Who wants to stand out in the rain pushing $#@&* buttons? MW complained about the car's "economy instrument cluster." Wow ... (more >>>)

No Faint Praise Here: Bill Visnic at Edmund's AutoObserver weighs in on the Lincoln MKS, noting that "the interior looks like Bette Midler's idea of hip. Notes to Lincoln: 1. Acura's already doing this better, and they can't sell it. 2. The terms "flagship" and "front-drive" still don't mix - just ask Acura." (posted 6/25/08, permalink)

Sad News: Charlie Ryan died on February 16, 2008. He created Hot Rod Lincoln - both the car and the song. While he was working on the car, Charlie was thinking about the song.

By the early 1950s, he had the lyrics worked out and began performing it. Charlie Ryan recorded 'Hot Rod Lincoln' in 1955; it was released as a single by Souvenir Records in 1957. It became a major hit in many regions of the United States. While traveling to perform, Charlie and his wife Ruthie often took the Hot Rod Lincoln on tour. Other car songs were written before Charlie's but 'Hot Rod Lincoln' was the first car song to become a major hit and make the Billboard top ten list.

I met Charlie several times and wrote about him here. He and his wife of 70 years, Ruthie, were two of the nicest people I ever met. Rest In Peace, Charlie. (posted 2/25/08, permalink)

Lincoln automobile blog

Lincoln Senility Watch: Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo rants about the Lincoln brand: "Lincoln marketers became charter members (along with Mercedes-Benz) of my 'No Auto Industry Executives Have Done Less With More' Club, a disgraced group of auto industry hacks who squandered every opportunity to do the Right Thing when it came to reviving and reinvigorating their brands."

He continues: "The new MKS? A tolerable effort, to be sure, but is it a game-changing Lincoln? Oh, hell no. The double-winged grille is nice and everything, but where's the rest of the car? How are the back and profile of the new MKS any different from any number of cars out there? I'll answer that one for you - they aren't. Ford is moving at a snail's pace in turning around Lincoln, and it isn't pretty. I haven't seen anything good enough to be a called a "Lincoln" yet. That means there's no drop dead, oh my God, that's a Lincoln! on the street yet."

Lorenzo summarizes, asking Ford to "please get a grip on what a Lincoln should look and feel like, because the MKS isn't it, and it's never going to be it, either. And finally, once you and your team finally understand what Lincoln is and should be all about, the marketing should be the easiest thing to figure out."

AutoWeek studied the MKS at the LA Auto Show and awarded it a 'Miss', noting that it "looks odd and ungainly" and is "too Altima/Sebring-like," AW closed with a parting pan: "And where are all those Lincoln cues we were told to look for?"

Lincoln automobile blog

Sigh. I've railed about the sheer incompetence at Ford's Lincoln Division so many times before, that I'm exhausted. I see no sign that there is any turnaround afoot. I suspect that, when Ford kills off the Mercury brand, they will simply slap Lincoln badges on a couple of additional Ford models to help fill Lincoln-Mercury showrooms, weakening the Lincoln brand even further. (posted 11/23/07, permalink)

Understate This! An Associated Press headline proclaims: 'Lincoln seeing a revival'. Yeah, well, when your sales have dropped as much as Lincoln, anything is seen as a revival. I mean, it's hard to go any lower, ya know. And, if you're trying to offer distinctive vehicles, what's the deal with making Common (a rapster) your spokesman? Isn't there a rap dude with the name Upscale? Or Original? Or Distinguished?

Maybe Lincoln should appoint the old man from Monty Python's Holy Grail as its spokesman: "I'm not dead yet. Actually, I'm getting better. I think I'll go for a walk."

Mark Fields, Ford's President of the Americas (a title once held by Eva Peron, I seem to recall), said that the company is trying to redefine Lincoln as a brand for those who appreciate understated luxury. "It's not the person who wants to shout, 'I made it,' but wants to celebrate that." Yeah, that understated luxury thing worked real well for Checker Motors when it tried to position black Marathons as a 'low key alternative' to the Cadillac 75, didn't it? (posted 11/19/07, permalink)

The Real Batmobile: You'll find the story of the Lincoln Futura, which was the basis for the 1960s television series Batmobile, posted here. (posted 11/12/07)

The Car That Saved Lincoln: While much has been written (by me and many others) about the current woes of the Lincoln automotive brand, there was a once a time when the marque was in truly grave danger of being discontinued. ... (more >>>)

Sherlock Lincoln car blog

Vision Impaired: At the recent Lincoln & Continental Owners Club awards banquet, the featured speaker was Tom Grill, Lincoln brand manager. We were shown a PowerPoint presentation about Lincoln's future. Words like Vision, Heritage and DNA were tossed about like small boats in the wake of Bill Ford's speeding yacht.

During the presentation, much was made of choosing future design cues from classic Lincolns of yore, including the split grille from the original Continental, bits from the Mark II and the '61-'65 slabsides. The Mark III was also mentioned as a source for a strong "shoulder line" and distinctive thick C-pillar. But then, the premise went off the rails - a slide of a '71 Lincoln sedan was shown, presenting it as a 'classic'. This unfortunate vehicle looks like the bastard child of a large Mercury and a Soviet command car. Yuck.

Knowing that such dog-n-pony shows are supposed to be upbeat and positive, I have no idea why the speaker then chose to name several models that will not contribute to Lincoln's future DNA because they are not deemed to be "authentic" Lincolns. This was painful, since many audience members own or have owned the very models mentioned. The implication was "your car is a loser." For example, the Lincoln Mark VII was dismissed because it was based on the Thunderbird platform. Whoever put together the presentation failed to realize that the 'classic' Lincoln Mark III was also T-Bird-derived. As was every Mark thereafter - IV through VIII.

Mr. Grill also informed us that the Lincoln Mark VIII was not authentic "because it was based on the Ford Probe platform." Who knew?! Jeez, doesn't anyone in Ford management have any product knowledge? Especially someone with the title of 'brand manager.' Maybe this helps explain how, in ten years, the Lincoln brand image has been decimated.

The presentation concluded with a "secret" (most if not all of the information had previously been posted online) teaser preview of the '09 flagship Lincoln MKS sedan to be introduced at the LA Show later this year. It will go on sale in May '08. (This car is rumored to be a front-wheel-drive V-6; AWD may be optional.)

I was unimpressed; to me, the thing looked like a pimped-out Lexus GS with Hyundai taillights. So much for Vision, Heritage and DNA.

Grill took no questions and left shortly after his talk concluded. (posted 8/17/07, permalink)

It's All My Fault: Over the past three-plus years, I've posted a lot of stuff for this blog - over three hundred thousand words, I'd guess. It's impossible for me to remember everything I've written but it's all posted in cyberspace and - thanks to Google - eminently findable.

Sherlock autoblogRecently, I received an e-mail from a 64 year-old Lincoln Town Car owner. He didn't like what I wrote about the Lincoln brand in 'The Decline of the Lincoln Automobile', written in January 2005 - a long time ago. Over 17 dog-years. Or 130 Internet years. In that essay, I commented "for the first time in 21 years, there will be no Lincoln vehicle in our garage. It's because none of their product offerings are of any interest to us."

Mr. Town Car Geezer was displeased, feeling that his choice of vehicles had been impugned, concluding his missive with "people like you are the reason America is going downhill."

Yeah, right.

If Lincoln's fortunes are tied to America's fortunes (a dubious assertion at best), Mr. Geezer should be calling for the arrest and prosecution of several FoMoCo execs as traitors, not me. They are, after all, the ones who cut future product money, spending needed development funds on moving Lincoln's operations from Michigan to California. And back again. They're the ones who decontented Lincolns over a 10-year period, turning a silk purse into a sow's ear. Oh, sorry. They don't call it a Sow's Ear anymore; Lincoln has re-designated it as 'MSE'.

On the other hand, if Mr. G. is implying that I have single-handedly wrecked the American economy by replacing our Lincoln with a non-U.S. automobile brand (which has a higher domestic content than most 'American' nameplates), I would point out that I once purchased a small manufacturing company with three employees and, in 11 short years, built it up to 73 employees - none were illegal immigrants. Over 98% of our raw and semi-finished material purchases were made in the USA. We were a net exporter, shipping our products all over the world and helping build the U.S. economy. At the time, my company car was a Lincoln Mark VII.

When our best-selling product was challenged by an Asian import from one of our competitors, we developed a better-looking, easier-to-manufacture design and found a way to produce it locally at a competitive price.

My manufacturing firm was in the upper quartile of its peers for profitability and, therefore, paid taxes. Lots of 'em. And supported the American economy.

What has Mr. Town Car Geezer ever done to prevent America "from going downhill"? (posted 6/29/07, permalink)

Did Male America Die 55 Years Ago? 1952 was the last year you could buy a V-8 Lincoln with a stick-shift. That was the last American luxury car built by carnivores for carnivores. You could have the trappings of wealth and still shift for yourself, proving that you were still a Real Man.

You see, the 1952 Lincoln was built by real men for real men. It was a solid, handsome car with clean, simple lines. It had a brand new body style and a brand new overhead-valve V-8 engine, too. It had a real stick-shift for real men to drive. "Waddya ya drivin', Bud?" "A stick-eight Lincoln, Chief. Want another beer?"

the voew through the windshield lincoln blog

In the good old days, there were Real Men. Cars were built by these real men who forged iron into crankshafts and bolted heavy-gauge steel panels together with meaty, calloused hands. Men who sweated buckets at work and quenched their thirst after work with buckets of beer ... (more >>>)

The End: Ford Motor Co. is closing its Wixom assembly plant on May 31. Once one of the auto maker's flagship factories, it opened in 1957 to produce the huge unibodied '58 Lincolns and Continentals. The factory also produced some Thunderbirds as well. And the T-Bird-derived Lincoln Marks. I've owned three cars which were produced at Wixom.


My wife and I toured the huge, impressive plant in 1995. Her '96 Diamond Anniversary Edition Continental was produced at Wixom.

Ford doesn't make Thunderbirds, Lincoln Marks or Continentals any more. As for the Lincoln brand itself, Peter DeLorenzo of AutoExtremist summed things up very well last year: "What has happened to Lincoln is one of the saddest travesties in the history of the automobile business. What was once a proud, sought-after luxury automobile that gave Cadillac all that it could handle in this market, Lincoln is now fading into the abyss and falling off consumer consideration lists left and right. ... Lincoln will be doomed to the trash heap of once-great American brands."

Farewell, Wixom. (posted 5/21/07, permalink)

At Buddy Greco's Nightclub in Palm Springs, folks from England were seated at the table next to us. Apparently, Buddy has a large following in the British jazz community. These folks mentioned that they always rent Lincoln Town Cars when they come to America but were disappointed with the one they got on this trip. Another nail in Lincoln's coffin. (posted 2/1/07, permalink)

Begins With 'L': Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally recently bought a Lexus but said it reflects only his admiration for Toyota and its luxury brand. Mulally claims he deeply admires the Japanese automaker for its manufacturing processes and product development strategy.

He called Toyota "the finest machine in the world, the finest production system in the world."

Here's my question: If Mulally doesn't buy Ford products, why should anyone else?

Note: The report cited claims Mulally bought a Lexus; other news reports state that he ordered one and later canceled it. Where does the truth lie? I dunno. But it would have been a lot better if he had never given the interview.

Or given it whilst seated behind the wheel of a Jaguar, Lincoln or Land Rover. Or even an F-Series pickup. (posted 1/5/07, permalink)

FoMoCo Desperation Move #237: Ford Motor Co. is now selling its luxury Lincoln brand through

The MKZ sedan, MKX crossover and new Navigator will each have their own product pages on the popular web site; prospective customers can initiate a purchase with just a single click.

John Henke, president of Planning Perspective Inc. and a professor of marketing at Oakland University, says, "This is patently absurd. The logic eludes me. This isn't something you can buy on the Web. You're going to want to test drive, to sit in it. The personal interface on a high-priced product is extremely important. You need the reassurance that the salesperson can give you."

Yeah, John, I think it's nuts, too. (posted 11/20/06, permalink)

Lincoln Death Watch: TTAC's Ten Worst 2006 Vehicles included the Lincoln Mark LT pick-em-up truck.

Sajeev Mehta wrote, "Lincoln's badge engineered Ford F-150 is an unholy degradation of the world-famous Lincoln Mark nomenclature. While Brother Navigator sets the luxo-truck standard for wikkid beat boxes, wood-trimmed tillers, ventilated seats and power running boards, the LT went the adhesive-backed bling route, hit the showers and called it a day. From the richly textured but rock-hard interior plastics to the exterior's mega-dose of bottom-dollar spizzarkle, the Mark LT is a rolling testament to Dearborn's short-term, suicidal reliance on bean-counted engineering." (posted 11/13/06, permalink)

car blogDumb Spin: In an interview with the Detroit News, Ford's North American design chief, Peter Horbury says the Lincoln Zephyr's styling points to a fresh interpretation of the brand's heritage. "Lincoln has always been an antidote to Cadillac, with simpler cleaner shapes," Horbury contends, adding that the more memorable Lincolns of the '50s and '60s were distinguished by their discrete forms and lines. The Zephyr follows suit, he says, with a simple but elegant appearance.

What a Load-O-Crap. The Zephyr fails to offer the distinctive styling of the '61-'65 slab side Lincolns of yore. No Lincoln enthusiast I've met likes the bland little Zephyr. Most feel it's an insult to the marque.

In a thinly-veiled jibe at Cadillac's current sharp-angled designs, Horbury quips that "stealth design and funky facets" are not part of Lincoln's recipe. Lincoln's design philosophy, says the ex-Volvo designer, is a reflection of Americans' desire to avoid overt displays of opulence. "Lincoln does not need to be in your face."

Peter, you'd better shut your mouth and start creating noticeable designs that 'do' get in people's faces if you want Lincoln to play in Caddy's successful league. In October, 2.3 Cadillac cars were sold for every Lincoln. (posted 11/22/05, permalink)

Lincoln-Mercury Death Rattle? Ron Tonkin is a mega-dealer that sells almost every make of car from Honda to Ferrari at multiple locations in the Portland area.

Tonkin is the largest locally-owned dealer in the state of Oregon. Apparently, in mid-2004, Tonkin quit its Lincoln-Mercury franchise. A nearby Ford dealer has now been "appointed" as a Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealer. Tonkin's old L-M space is now Tonkin Kia!

In late January, I stopped by Tonkin L-M. The 'Lincoln' service center was handling Lincoln, Mercury and Kia. In the L-M showroom were a lone Lincoln Aviator, a solitary Mercury van and a 2003 Ford Thunderbird. (I sat in the T-Bird and, while there was adequate headroom, my eyes were staring directly at the sun visors. The windshield is cut much too low. Bad design. No wonder no one has been buying them.)

The fact that a very successful auto retailer decided to drop Lincoln and Mercury is very telling and does not bode well for these two brands.

Another ominous sign was the arrival last week of the Fall 2004 issue of Lincoln Owner Magazine. It had nothing about the 2005 models - except for some "cash back" discount coupons on the purchase of a new Lincoln. The newly-thinned (12-page) magazine featured previews of two 2006 models - the Lincoln LT pickup truck and the Lincoln Zephyr, a Mazda-6-based, Mexican-built sedan.

Also shown was a "historic" black-and-white shot of a very odd 1938 Zephyr with mirrored chrome in place of the glass headlights. Clearly not a production model - the person who chose this archival photo was obviously not an authority on old Lincolns. Usually, this magazine has a couple of small features about Mercury; not this one - the brand wasn't even mentioned.

In December of 2003, my wife received her first issue of Lincoln Owner Magazine. Included was a personal message from Darryl Hazel, President of Lincoln Mercury. It began: "We hope you enjoyed your first issue ... this summer." (She never received it.) The personal letter ended with a PS: "This is your last issue!" Go figure.

By the way, Lincoln Owner Magazine is not done in-house. It is outsourced to the custom publishing division of Time, Inc. (posted 11/8/04, permalink)

Additional postings about Lincoln automobiles can be found here.

copyright 2004-21 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


The facts presented on this website are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

Spelling, punctuation and syntax errors are cheerfully repaired when I find them; grudgingly fixed when you do.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of providing me with test vehicles cars to try and change my mind.

If I have slandered any people or corporations, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.