Lincoln – Almost Worth The Money
For a while now I’ve had my eyes on Lincoln as they have made a phenomenal turnaround in terms of their products. The new Lincoln Continental and Navigator are no doubt beautiful, both inside and out.
Even their entry level models look good when they pass by. So, what’s my beef with Lincoln? Well, it’s not so much with Lincoln as it is with Ford – Lincoln Motors parent company.
Ford And Lincoln – A Match Made In War
Sometimes people get up-in-arms when I bring up Ford but I think their rise and fall and even their future are great case studies. So buckle your seat belt because we are going to take a little trip down memory lane.
Well, because in order to understand the point I’m going to make at the end of this rant, it’s important to understand what Ford brings to the table.
Ford – An American Icon
Apple pie, baseball, and Ford are all synonymous with Americana. When Henry Ford released the Model T it was aimed at providing a car for every American. Ambitious, innovative, and of course revolutionary. You might argue that Ford paved the way for mass manufacturing in America. And in 1914 Ford even made factory wages $5 dollars a day, which at the time was a huge ass deal.
Ford also has some of the most iconic models in history under its belt. The Model T in 1908, the F series trucks in 1948, the Thunderbird in 54′, the Mustang in 64′, and the GT40 MK II’s that dominated the 1966 Le Mans in one of the most badass stories of racing history.
The company is the second largest U.S. auto manufacturer and the 5th largest in the world. Once on the verge of bankruptcy, Ford made a novel comeback to profitability and in 2018 was listed number 11 on the Fortune 500 list.
What I am saying is that Ford has a storied history of successful and iconic cars under its namesake. And they did the same thing with Lincoln.
Lincoln Motor Company – Defining Luxury
Lincoln was founded in 1917 and while the history is somewhat intertwined with the now-defunct Mercury brand, Lincoln Motor Co is credited with creating the personal luxury car segment in 1940 when the Continental went into mass production.
What you might not know is that Lincoln was actually financed with a contract to produce Liberty V12 aircraft engines. In 1920 Lincoln introduced its first automobile, the “Model L”, which had a V8 that was engineered utilizing the technology yielded from the V12 production.
After the first World War came to an end in 1918 Lincoln struggled with adapting to non-military production. By the early ’20s, Model-L production was notoriously slow and some consumers were forced to wait for over a year to receive their order. In short – shit wasn’t good and that made them ripe for Ford to buy them out, which they did in 1922.
For almost its entire life, Lincoln has competed directly with Cadillac although you might not know it because you see far more Cadillac’s than you do Lincolns. Maybe it’s just the Cadillac’s are more distinctive looking, who knows?
Can Lincoln Keep Their Steam?
Despite the fact that Lincoln sales have been slowly on the rise over the last five years, the company doesn’t have a very respectable market share. And that is because Lincoln has come up short on a few key areas that other luxury automakers have figured out. But are these enough to keep them rolling on their growth trajectory?
But remember, corporate America is notoriously stupid.
Lack Of Performance
One common tactic used by luxury brands to renegotiate their image is to introduce performance trims alongside a flagship performance offering. The strategy works surprisingly well, especially in an environment where automotive performance is becoming more valued by consumers.
Audi has the R8, Lexus made the LFA, Acura has the NSX, Mercedes Benz has rolled out the SLS and AMG GTS, BMW has the 8-series coupe, and even Cadillac with its CTS V. Lincoln has…the Navigator? Even in the luxury SUV space there are plenty of serious performers.
In short, they are bringing jack shit to the table. Despite a clear gap in the US market for a badass luxury supercar that can compete with the Germans, Lincoln hasn’t budged.
But why? Ford has the skeleton of the amazing Ford GT laying around and plenty of engine tech, especially with the new 5.0 Coyote platform. All that is just begging to be wrapped up in a luxury coupe with the newly designed Lincoln grill.
But no, they don’t even make performance trims. They don’t even have a coupe in their line-up. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake.
Attention To Detail
Lincoln suffers from being too closely aligned with Ford in its manufacturing. They share too many internal components and in the luxury segment it all boils down to the little things. This is what Bentley has pegged down to a science.
Leather-wrapped doors, heavy buttons, and high-quality trim components are what make luxury cars appealing. When you step into an MKZ and it looks like a slightly nicer Ford Focus you start to feel a little cheated.
Lincoln has finally refined their exterior styling, now its time to get better quality components and tighten up the product offering in the cabin.
Every luxury automaker has something they do that’s unique. Cadillac does the vertical exterior lights to match their heritage. Audi has Quattro all-wheel-drive, BMW has the famous in-line six, Mercedes is known for its interiors, and even Lexus for its reliability. Everyone has a little niche they kind of target.
Even if it’s not what I mentioned above it’s something.
But what is Lincolns?
Well, it’s basically becoming their grill. But you can’t rely on that alone because even their product line is as a basic as a white girl drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Seriously, Lincoln has a lineup that looks like the board room is from 1955. Four SUVs and two sedans.
Honestly, what are they thinking?
You don’t want a Navigator? Here is a slightly smaller Navigator. You don’t want a slightly smaller Navigator? Here is a small Navigator. Why aren’t you buying these cars?
Lack Of Trim Options
Most luxury makers have some entry-level trims that scale up with the price. Not so with Lincoln. You get a handful of engine options and interior “themes”. That’s what I want is a “theme”. There has to be a balance here between Porsche’s absurdly nickel-and-dime options list and Lincoln’s…”themes”.
What they are really missing is a sport trim, which EVERY luxury automaker has. BMW has M, Cadillac has V, Mercedes has AMG, and Audi has Audi Sport. Lincoln can’t even get Ford to send them over a V8. What a crock of shit.
And the V6 platform they use isn’t really that bad, but it’s not great either. The 3.5-Liter Twin-turbocharged V6 lays down a respectable 450-hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. But only the best trim in the Navigator gets this motor and it’s not exactly fuel efficient either, which is the whole point of downsizing into a forced induction six-cylinder.
Luxury Sedan Competition
If you are going to compete in the space of luxury sedans you have to come prepared to fight. This is where Lincoln has all the right components but Ford just can’t seem to understand its competition.
When you get into big luxury sedans like the incredible Audi S8 or Mercedes S550 you can’t show up with a 400-hp saloon that has plastic trim. Ford needs to stuff a 5.0 under the hood and give the Continental a real budget for competition in the space. Otherwise, there are a ton of better sport sedans that are luxurious for less money on the market.
Even it’s primary competitor, Cadillac, understands this concept and has developed one of the most incredible luxury sport sedans of all time. Ford has all the right fixings just not the right ideas and it’s really unfortunate.
It’s uncertain what will become of Lincoln. They could go one of two ways I think. One, will be a total revamp of the brand and introduction of new models that includes coupes, sport trims, and higher-end components. The other is the same way that Mercury went.
For now, Lincoln seems to be making massive improvements in their products and I think they can easily bounce back to become a formidable player in the luxury space.
And honestly, I hope they do. I have a thing for Lincoln despite how it might seem. I would like to see the underdog rise up the ranks and grab some more of that sweet market share. It’s high time America shows that it can compete in the high-end space.