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Monday, October 31, 2011

American Swagger

Over the past few years Ford has become a proud American institution.  While all the other American car manufacturers were taking government hand-outs, Ford was bootstrapping itself back to profitability.  By selling off Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Volvo, Ford found the capital and focused resources to improve quality across the board.  It also killed off the Mercury sub-brand which existed only to create carbon copies of Ford branded cars.  The Focus and Fiesta are considered cool by those in the know and the Ford Evos concept is a glimpse at what's to come.  However, there's still a fly in the Ford ointment, Lincoln.

In a past life, Lincoln was touted as "What a Luxury Car Should be."  It was the choice car of people like President John F, Kennedy and "The King of Cool," Dean Martin.  Entourage creator Doug Ellin chose a '65 Continental for the opening sequence of his show which was seen by millions weekly and has become notorious for car porn like Aston Martin DB9s, a Ferrari Superamerica, and a Saleen S7 just to name a few.  Ford signed John Slattery of Mad Men, a show about 1960s advertisement agencies in New York City, to star in its new Lincoln commercials.  If it hasn't become clear yet, old Lincolns are just damn cool.  What other car manufacturer had the cajones to make a convertible that seated four and had rear suicide door?

Lincolns were a breed apart and people felt something special when driving them.  That can't be said today.  Looking through the Lincoln catalog, it becomes painfully evident that there's nothing unique or special about the alphabet soup of M's and K's.  Apart from the mind numbing naming nomenclature, Lincoln has picked up right where Mercury left off.  Every car in the line-up is a badge engineered bodge job of a blue collar Ford.  Lincoln's most obvious competition would be in the crosstown rivals at Cadillac.  While their showroom seems to tell a similar story, they do have an ace up their sleeve in the CTS, which happens to be one of their best sellers.  Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't see a rear-wheel drive four door sedan in the Chevy portfolio.

Looking across the pond, almost every company in the Pacific has a mainstream brand as well as a luxury marque.  Toyota has Lexus, Honda has Acura, and Nissan has Infiniti.  Additionally, every brand has at least one model that is completely different than its mainstream parent.  Taken a step further, Nissan and Toyota are heavily populated by front drive drivetrains while the more affluent enjoy the added handling benefits of rear wheel drive.

After writing this, I must confess something to you the reader.  This wasn't a methodically researched piece.  It's a rant and was thrown together after a quick inception period.  It was hard to clarify and expound on many thoughts I had because, frankly, Lincoln hasn't made a desirable car in my lifetime.  The fact that they haven't elicited any kind of emotion in over two decades may be the most telling aspect of their mediocre existence.

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