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Friday, April 29, 2005


Lincoln Wants To Be Somebody

When I read this post from Paul Eisenstein this morning, I spit up my coffee. In Paul's article, he covers statements from Paul Horbury, chief designer for Lincoln:

'I would hope we could make a change like they did at Cadillac,' which has been transformed from a stodgy, sinking brand into one of the market's hottest marques, said Horbury. 'We have to get something on the road that is desirable to the sort of youthful luxury buyers who drive market trends,' added Horbury, who has been trying to pump new life into Ford styling since assuming the North American post last year.

Cough, cough. I encourage you to go to the Lincoln website this am and peruse their product offering. Two weak car entries and three trucks. Like it or not, Cadillac has world class vehicle dynamics and performance in some of its new vehicles - that's how they separated themselves from Lincoln. That's the difference! A luxury buyer wants to know that the vehicle they are buying has some high level of excellence....somewhere. Styling is a small part of that package. Styling, we used to say, is a differentiator, not the required level of entry. Powertrain, handling and package are the requirements to compete with true luxury buyers.

Lincoln's problems have a lot more to do with their basic product platforms. Ride, handling, powertrain...etc. In comparison reviews, the products are routinely left out or savaged by the press. That's not a styling problem. Look at the Thunderbird...press/people were wowed by the styling. Consumers stood in line for months. Turns out the car was less than adequate in other areas. Now, the car is DOA. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see Lincoln I could buy...uniquely styled with a powertrain that says, "this is as good as anything out there." We need a Lincoln that can go head to head with the M series from BMW or the S series from Audi. Then...we will know Lincoln has arrived. Making large SUVs with chrome is easy. Take an F150, put rear seats in it and slap in a nice sound system and some opera windows/gaudy trim. Lee Iacocca was the king of rapid 1 year makeovers. But a luxury brand this does not make.

Perhaps the Zephyr will rival Cadillac? Let's hope so, we need 2 strong domestic luxury brands to compete with the folks from Germany and Japan (and now...even Korea).

I just stumbled upon your blog and agree with what you have to say in regards to Lincoln. I have a question for you. Are you familiar with the Australian Ford Falcon/Fairmont range? It's a rear wheel drive full size platform using a combination of inline 6's and Modular V-8's. This car has an independant rear suspension that can handle high horsepower and from what I've read online is competing well with Holden (GM Australia) and even fairing well with European premium brands.

My second question is this, do you think it may be wise for Ford/Lincoln to use this platform to create a direct competitor for the Cadilacs? A supercharged 5.4L V-8 putting out 388 hp with a select shift auto and IRS. If they were brought here as Lincolns and loaded with options it may balance the cost of converting to Left Hand Drive? I have pictures and links to see this car on my blog www.myforddreams.blogspot.com or you can go to www.ford.com.au
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