Posts from ‘Lincoln’
Through their logos, many automakers have created a dazzling world of wonder. In logo land, you’ll discover roman gods, prancing horses, and mystical beasts—as well as religious themes such as the Holy Trinity and the Christian Crusades. It’s a universe of stars and planets, ships and rockets, diamonds and domination. One emblem, which is simply a crooked letter, symbolizes a trustworthy handshake.
Disappointingly, such companies as Volkswagen (whose symbol is VW) and Ford (Ford) have refused to join in the fun. But many of the other logos have fascinating meanings. Let’s explore. . . .
The Acura logo plays with our minds a little. Most observers think the logo is a stylized letter A, for Acura, just like Honda’s logo is a stylized H for Honda. But according to Honda (Acura’s parent company), the image is a caliper, a design instrument used for measuring thickness.
The Alfa Romeo badge pays tribute to its home city, Milan, Italy. It features the city’s coat of arms, which symbolizes Milan’s two ruling families during medieval times. On the left is a red cross, a Christian symbol of heraldry that represents the right of a person to bear arms. On the right, a serpent devours a human being, interpreted by some as a Muslim—that is, the enemy of the Christians during the Crusades.
We Americans like our pickups. In fact, we like them so much that we purchased about two million midsize and large examples last year. But, it seems, we’re pretty picky about who we buy our pickups from. We’re open to buying our big trucks from Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram, and we’re pretty happy with the midsize trucks from Nissan (Frontier) and Toyota (Tacoma), but after that, things get murkier. Toyota and Nissan, for example, sell large pickups, but neither maker has met with anything like the sales success of Chevy or Ford.
Still, despite resolute shopper loyalty, a number of brands have tried to break into the pickup market with their own entries, mostly with disappointing results. Here’s a look at five of those trucks, all of which Consumer Guide regarded as decent vehicles but which failed to find meaningful showroom success.
Shortly after obtaining my driver’s license in the early 1970s, I rushed out and bought a ’64 Olds Cutlass coupe (for $50), at least in part so that I wouldn’t have to tool around in my Dad’s grandpa-green F85 sedan. Back then, driving a 4-door (or—heaven forbid—a station wagon) meant you were borrowing your parents’ car, and that was decidedly uncool. Absolutely no teenaged car guy I knew ever bought a 4-door with his own money.
Today, that’s no longer the case. Some of the hottest cars embraced by the younger generation are sedans (witness the Subaru WRX and Mitsu Evo), and there’s seemingly no stigma attached to having four convenient doors.
I’ve often wondered when that transformation took place. It was probably gradual, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it began with the BMW 530i introduced in 1975. In those dark and dismal days, this BMW made its mark by being a comparatively strong performer, and it quickly became the darling of the motoring mags. The fact that it was a sedan only added to its “Q-ship” mystique. And I begrudgingly had to admit that it was a pretty nice-looking car. At least for a (wince) 4-door.
April 1, 2013—Today, the Lincoln Motor Company announced that it is preparing to offer a groundbreaking connectivity/infotainment system on some 2015 Lincoln vehicles. Dubbed “MyLincoln SkyTouch,” the optional system uses next-generation head-up-display technology to deliver a full array of smartphone-app functionality to the fixed panoramic sunroof, as well as select apps to the vehicle’s windshield and center-stack touchscreen.
Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company’s executive vice president of Global Marketing, Sales and Service, and Lincoln, explained the need for Lincoln to offer the ambitious new feature. “We’re reinventing the Lincoln brand, and to do that, we need to take things to the next level,” he said. “We realized that to really stand out from the robust features of our class-leading SYNC/MyFord Touch systems, we had to obliterate the boundaries. We were struggling to define what that really meant, and then it hit us: Why not make the entire panoramic sunroof an interactive touchscreen?”
Conceived by Edsel Ford and designed by E. T. “Bob” Gregorie, the first Lincoln Continental appeared in 1939. It was shown for the first time in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Edsel was vacationing. Though just a design curiosity in 1939, it must have shocked the auto industry when the production version appeared in 1940 as a convertible and a fixed-roof club coupe. It’s puzzling that other auto companies didn’t introduce a “Continental” of their own in 1941. However, if they had, they might have looked like the renderings pictured here.
Like the Lincoln Continental, all of these cars received extensive body alterations in my drawings, including:
- sectional body strips (2″-3″) of sheetmetal removed from the center of the body and cowl
- mildly chopped tops
- lengthened hoods
- lengthened frames ahead of the cowls
- reworked front and rear fenders
- reworked or restyled grilles
- new trunks to accommodate the exterior-mounted “continental” spare tires
Ford’s Lincoln division, err . . . sorry—the Lincoln Motor Company—signaled its plans to enter the luxury compact SUV market at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show by unveiling the MKC Concept.
Styling highlights of this upscale small SUV include sculpted bodylines, flared-out fenders covering 20-inch wheels, a large panoramic sunroof, and a nicely done rendition of Lincoln’s signature “split-wing” grille. An extra-wide clamshell liftgate (which completely encompasses its slim horizontal taillight panel) is another interesting design feature—and a departure from the Ford Escape SUV with which the production MKC will share a basic platform.
Inside is a push-button gear selector, lots of high-end leather, and natural “open-pore” wood trim infused with metallic flake. Lincoln didn’t mention what was under the hood of the MKC Concept, but we’d wager that Ford’s EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder will be the production MKC’s standard powerplant.
The premium compact SUV market is one of the fastest-growing segments around, so it makes sense for Lincoln to have a presence there. With the MKC, Lincoln will compete against such vehicles as the Acura RDX, BMW X1, and Range Rover Evoque. No word yet on when the production MKC might arrive, but we would expect it to launch as a 2014 model.
Presumably, if you’re shopping for a used car, dollar value is a priority for you. Not that value isn’t a priority for most car shoppers, new or used, but used-car folks tend to ratchet things up a notch.
I get that. My wife and I have purchased more one- to two-year-old cars than we have new ones. Generally, we have sought out premium rides that, for whatever reason, have depreciated far faster than other cars in the same class.
Some cars simply aren’t worth seeking out used. Acura’s excellent RDX, for example, retains a stunning 71 percent of its retail value after 24 months. The Lexus RX 350 retains a mind-boggling 80 percent of its value over the same period of time. Those numbers are crazy, and they make buying a new RDX or RX much more attractive.
What we’re looking at here is a list of arguably cool luxury rides that, after two years in use, have depreciated to such an extent that they are now compelling buys. Whereas the aforementioned Acura held on to more than 70 percent of its value, we’re seeking out cars that are going for 50 percent or less. Worth noting is that after 24 months, most of these cars still have another two to three years of warranty remaining in force.
The Batmobile didn’t originate in a secret research center of Wayne Industries, but instead began in the styling studios of Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury Division. The Caped Crusader’s vehicle actually started life as the Lincoln Futura concept car.
A true child of the Fifties, Futura had jetfighter-inspired styling, with fins and a Plexiglas canopy. Even though the Plexiglas roof panels of the 1954-55 Ford Skyliner and Mercury Sun Valley had baked their occupants, stylists still believed that bubble-top cars were the future. Ghia coachbuilders of Italy turned Lincoln’s design into metal. Unlike some show cars that have to be pushed on stage, the Futura actually ran.
The Ghia-built body rode on a modified 1953 Lincoln frame complete with a 317.5-cid Lincoln V8. Although Lincoln claimed 330 horsepower for the Futura, it’s not known if they made any modifications to the stock 205-hp mill.
Car makers can get lazy. Sometimes a marketing executive will look at a product line and think, “Hey, there’s a hole I can plug!” Of course, it’s never quite that simple. Filling a gap in the lineup, done the right way, can mean years of development and marketing. So what happens if there isn’t enough time—or money—to fully develop a new model?
The answer to that question in the cases below was pretty simple: Throw a new grille and a couple of new badges on an existing product. Please don’t confuse these sadly tragic cases of subterfuge with what was once called badge engineering. We all know that the old Buick Regal was also the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. In those cases, however, the cars in question were designed and developed together. Somehow, that feels less cynical.
No, these “ghost cars,” as I am calling them, were meant to deceive—quick remedies cobbled up by desperate brand managers looking to catch a hot trend. In each case discussed here, sales were pretty thin, which proves that you can cheat the system but you can’t really cheat it by much.
1998-1999 Dodge Raider
Perhaps it’s my absurdist bent or fondness for underdogs, but Tom Appel’s recent blog on good-looking “middle-age” coupes somehow got me thinking about stylish sedans. No such thing, you say? Then allow me to present seven fab four-doors that can turn heads anywhere. Not only that, but each is a bona fide collectible automobile. (See magazine of the same name. Better yet, subscribe. It helps pay the freight around here.)
Note that we’re covering only the “post sedan” body style (fixed center roof pillars), which most always outsells all others where there’s a choice and is arguably the toughest to make sexy. We’ve purposely excluded the glamour-puss post-free hardtop sedans of old, as well as custom-coachbuilt designs. Note, too, that we’ve limited selections to the 1930-70 era, mainly to give us an excuse for considering newer models some other time.
1936-37 Cord 810/812 Beverly and Westchester (see photo above)