Auto blogWed, 04 Dec 2013 10:00:00 EST
Judging by the success that many luxury automakers are currently experiencing in China, it's no surprise that Lincoln plans to take advantage of the situation by peddling its wares across the Pacific. Lincoln will open its first Chinese dealership next year, but potential buyers there won't be mucking through the same alphabet soup of car names found in American showrooms. USA Today reports that Ford's luxury car division could revert back to legacy names (like Continental and Zephyr) in China while keeping the MK_ names here in North America.
In speaking to Ford exec Jim Farley during the LA Auto Show, USA Today says that Lincoln could switch its naming structure as models are refreshed. Farley didn't confirm that the naming revamp would be a China-only decision, but article leaves little hope that American buyers will get to see the return of classic names anytime soon.
Why would Ford rehash old Lincoln names for China only? Buyers there seem to have a better historical associations with the nameplates than in the US. Chinese also still hold Lincoln in high regard, associating the marque with use by prominent government officials.
Ford is slowly but surely attempting to revitalize the Lincoln brand, with the new MKZ sedan pointing the way forward for the Blue Oval's struggling luxury division. Here at the LA Auto Show, Lincoln is showing the next new product that aims to give the brand new life, the 2015 MKC crossover.
The MKC is based on the trusty Ford Escape, but this is far more than just a rebadge job. Lincoln has used completely new sheetmetal here, with the brand's familiar split-wing grille front and center, and a classy, wraparound tailgate with super slim taillamps that span the width of the hatchback. It's one of the better applications of Lincoln's new design language we've seen thus far, and the end result is a taut-looking crossover that is at the same time both modern and luxurious-looking.
Further differentiating itself from the Escape, the MKC packs an all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, good for 275 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. (On the base end, Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 240 hp and 270 lb-ft is available.) The MKC also uses a new Continuously Controlled Damping adaptive suspension, and is available with both front- and all-wheel drive.
It used to be that if you wanted a luxury SUV, you had to go big. Just look at the first high-riders released by some of the major luxury automakers - Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX - and you'll see what we mean. But since 2009 the small premium crossover segment has grown a whopping 200 percent, so it's no surprise that each has followed up with smaller luxury crossovers. And this is the latest.
At the other end of the utility spectrum from the Navigator, the new Lincoln MKC is based on the Ford Escape (much as the old pseudo-premium Mercury Mariner was), but completely rebodied and luxed up to put it in another league. Although we're still not sold on Lincoln's family fascia, the grille treatment on the MKC is certainly one of the better variations on the theme to date. The Dart-like rear lights dominate the wrap-around tailgate, and the overall shape looks taut and upscale. The same can be said of the dynamically-designed interior, taking the concept revealed in Detroit earlier this year to production fairly seamlessly.
Power will come from a choice of EcoBoost four-cylinder engines with turbocharging and direct injection: a 2.0-liter with 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, or a slightly punchier new 2.3-liter with 275 hp and 300 lb-ft. Lincoln didn't disclose what transmission they'll be mated to, but did note that the MKC carries the brand's "signature" push-button gear shifter. It comes standard in front drive, but buyers who upgrade to all-wheel drive (or tick the right box) will also benefit from a new adaptive suspension Lincoln calls Continuously Controlled Damping. Other features include an approach-detection system that lights the car up and projects a Lincoln "welcome mat" on the pavement when you get close to the car, and a "bread-crumbing" feature that lets you track where your vehicle has been.
Ford's highly influential head of design, J Mays, has announced that he'll be retiring from his position after 33 years in the industry, 16 of which were at the Dearborn, MI-based company. Upon departure, he'll be succeeded as group vice president of design by Moray Callum. If that last name sounds familiar, yes, he's the brother of Jaguar's Ian Callum.
It's difficult to explain just how big of a role Mays had on not just Ford's design over the years, but on the entire industry. Before heading to Dearborn, Mays worked for Audi, BMW and then Volkswagen, where he was involved in concept cars that paved the way for design icons like the first-generation Audi TT and the Volkswagen New Beetle. As for his Ford resume, it's extensive.
Mays joined the company in 1997 as design director for Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Mazda, as well as the Premier Automotive Group (Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin). He was heavily involved in the Ford Fusion, Focus, Fiesta, Taurus, F-150 and Mustang, while also contributing to concept cars like the Atlas, Evos, 427, Forty-Nine, Shelby GR-1, Lincoln MKZ and the MKC.
When the Lincoln MKC Concept debuted back in January, it received fairly positive feedback from both Autoblog editors and readers alike, and this bodes well for the production version of the luxury crossover judging by these latest spy shots. Reader Ivan Lo captured a few pictures of some MKC prototypes driving around with minimal camouflage, which gives us our best look yet at the design of this new Escape-based Lincoln.
Based on the spy shots from back in May, we already knew that the production MKC would sport some real door handles, a little side cladding and bigger door mirrors, but these latest shots also show us that the rear quarter windows have been enlarged and the integrated dual exhaust outlets have been replaced by round pipes. This means that the MKC will retain the concept's narrow headlights and what is arguably Lincoln's best execution of its split-wing grille. Even better, the rear view confirms the stylish horizontal taillights will remain intact, as well as the Audi-like wraparound liftgate. Since the entire taillight assembly rises along with the liftgate, redundant lights were also added into the rear fascia.
Unfortunately, the low angle of these spy shots leaves us without a view of the interior, but based on its looks alone, the MKC is shaping up to be a promising vehicle for a brand that so badly needs some fresh metal.
Want to own a piece of American history? Perhaps you should consider 35th President John F. Kennedy's limousine, a stretched 1960 Lincoln Continental, or the last car he safely rode in before his assassination, a 1963 Lincoln Continental convertible. Both of them will be up for sale at the Camelot: Fifty Years after Dallas auction on October 24, a JFK 50th anniversary auction in Boston.
The black 1960 Continental was part of the presidential motorcade and is bulletproof. The body has been restored to the tune of about $35,000, according to RR Auctions, but the interior was left alone. That's okay, because the winning bidder will be able to enjoy lounging in the well-preserved seats and stepping on the original tan carpeting, just as President Kennedy did. The next owner can even play President, with a divider window, passenger air controls and a two-way telephone - if a chauffeur is hired, of course. The starting bid for the Continental is $25,000.
The other car is more historically relevant (but in this writer's eye, less beautiful), and commands a starting bid of $50,000. The white, convertible 1963 Continental was the last car President Kennedy rode in before his assassination in Dallas - with a notarized document by the car's owner at the time as proof. It was used to transport the President, his wife, Jacqeuline, and Texas governor John Connally "from a breakfast and speech at the Texas Hotel ballroom through the streets of Fort Worth to Carswell Air Force Base, where they boarded a short flight to Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963," according to RR Auctions. Lincoln specialist Baker Restoration in Connecticut restored the car, which included an engine replacement, body work and paint. Most of the interior, including the seats, are in original condition.
Fri, 30 Aug 2013 13:00:00 EST
Lincoln was never a brand known for making sports cars. In fact it hasn't offered anything with less than four doors since the demise of the Mark VIII, and that was hardly what you'd call "performance oriented". But that doesn't mean that Ford's luxury marque never toyed with the idea.
In 1955 Ford delivered a Lincoln chassis (along with a 200-horsepower V8 engine and four-speed automatic transmission) to Carrozzeria Boano, an Italian coachbuilder that had just branched off from Ghia the year before. The resulting orange coupe you see here was named after Indianapolis and was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show. And while its detailing may have been divisive, the overall shape certainly caught the eye.
The Detroit News is reporting that Ford will recall some 370,000 Crown Victoria (pictured), Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car vehicles from model years 2005 through 2011, for an issue regarding the lower intermediate steering shaft. 355,000 of the vehicles in question were sold in the US, with the other 15,000 sold in Canada.
The report indicates that corrosion of the lower intermediate steering shaft could cause a "loss of steering," presumably because of a partial or complete failure of the part. The report points out the dealers will inspect and replace the offending steering component for recalled cars, and may also secure a lower steering column bearing and replace the upper intermediate steering shaft as needed. The company is unaware of any reports of the faulty part causing any accidents or injuries.
Ford helpfully lists states in which corrosion is more likely to have taken place, mostly in the Snow Belt, as you might guess. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia are listed.
Lincoln is "not true luxury," according to Ford's design boss, J Mays. His statements come from a story in The Detroit News that saw candid language on the issues facing Ford's troubled premium brand. Notably, there's a need for a strong character, with Mays saying, "Every brand needs to have a DNA and a unique selling point and things in the vehicle that make you think, 'That's that particular brand.'"
With a range of rebadged Fords, it's not hard to see why that DNA is missing. Mays hinted that a full recovery for Lincoln will be a ten-year process, that's been kicked off with the MKZ sedan. While that car is still largely a Ford Fusion under its extremely pretty wrapper, it's the first Lincoln in some time to inject its own unique take both through the exterior styling and through interior features, such as the vertical, pushbutton gear selection.
Some analysts weren't so certain about Mays' 10-year estimate. Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics thinks it'll be more like 30 years before Lincoln can show a true return to form. The issue, as Hall explains it, is that, "luxury has a degree of exclusivity," that Lincoln just doesn't have. Michelle Krebs from Edmunds adds, "it's definitely a wanna-be luxury brand," comparing the troubled American brand with Infiniti and Acura, two other brands that have struggled to find their place in the luxury market.
With the posh surroundings of Monterey, CA during the Pebble Beach week as a backdrop, Lincoln has unveiled is new personalization and luxury service brand, called Lincoln Black Label. Following in the footsteps of programs like BMW Individual, Range Rover Autobiography, and many more, Black Label is strategic strike, aimed at upping Lincoln's brand cachet while luring new customers into the fold. Speaking about this at the Black Label's introduction in California Thursday, Jim Farley, Ford's executive vice president of Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln, told members of the media that "At Lincoln, our flagship is, you get to choose. That's our flagship."
While Black Label customers will benefit from concierge-like service from their dealers - both during the sale process and throughout ownership - the focus of the introduction is strongly focused on interior design.
Lincoln chose its current MKZ sedan and its MKC Concept crossover (seen in the inset image) as the debutants for Black Label treatment for good reason: the well-received MKC points the way forward for Lincoln styling as a whole, and the MKZ will be the first production vehicle to receive the option of the high-zoot interior design. We're told that eventually, Black Label treatment will be available for the full Lincoln lineup, but the MKZ will be the initial recipient, and not until late in 2014 according to the company's current projections.