Look for seven new or redesigned Lincolns to come in the next three years, says the Detroit Free Press. It took a long time for the brand to disintegrate as badly as it has, so don’t expect a turnaround tomorrow.
Last fall, we mentioned some hopeful signs (here and here) for new product development at Lincoln. Everyone wonders what the new line will look like and whether it will be able to challenge Cadillac and Lexus in the luxury market. What they need to do is revive the Continental.
Hard to believe, but the last truly great Continental was the Mark II, made in 1956. A beautiful example (right) just appeared on Hemmings. I remember driving one of these (owned by a friend of my father’s) as a young man, and it was, well, perfect.
After the 1960-’63 Continentals, the brand just lost its way, and we got enormous baroque barges like the 1977 Continental Town Car, below right.
On Sunday Ford announced it would reduce its 500 Lincoln dealerships to 325, not by “forcing anyone out,” but by setting “higher standards.” (That’s not forcing them out?) The company is requiring dealers to:
- offer free car washes and loaners
- provide dedicated Lincoln sales and service staff (in dealerships paired with Ford stores)
- make at least 30 percent of their used offerings certified pre-owned vehicles
- use only “Lincoln”—not “Mercury,” which was dumped last December by Ford—in their signage.
Well, gosh, those don’t seem to be unreasonable demands. If dealers can’t meet them by October 2011, Ford wants their franchises back. The company must absolutely reduce dealer numbers to help the remainder survive.
But the most pressing need is new product, and until that arrives, the present and future dealers will continue to struggle. One dealer confidently says, “They are making sure that Lincoln is going to be successful. They have people now (at Ford) who are waking up every day and just thinking about Lincoln.”
Do you think Ford will follow through on reviving the Lincoln line? Check out its current offerings at the Lincoln website.