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Where Is Ford taking the Lincoln Motor Company?

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  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,747
    I think that's probably correct for a lot of vehicles. There is no huge difference in quality, performance or features like there was 20 years ago in the $40k - $80k arena.
  • edward53edward53 Posts: 111
    One of the comments noted that all cars are the "same" underneath, and luxury buyers were simply buying the brand.

    Well, those of us who love engineering and cars know that not all cars are the same underneath. That quote sounds like something a marketing guy would make. That's the trouble with Lincoln . It has let the marketing guys make decisions instead of the engineering guys. Believe it or not ,but those of us who buy premium items are not interested in premium vehicles that share 95% of its content with a lesser priced vehicle. If any thing, the value would be to buy the lesser priced vehicle as the 5% in extras that one pays at least 6k extra for on a pseudo premium vehicle will eventually be available in the less costly vehicle.
  • edward53edward53 Posts: 111
    Well engineering wise ,I would take the any Lincoln from the mid 1950's to 1970 over any thing produced since then. The Lincoln of these years had a uni-body construction as around 1970 Ford produced Lincolns with the body on frame production to save cost. Body on framed Panther platform continued until the last Towncar. The uni-body Continentals were better handlers because of a stiffer frame that the uni-body offered that those Lincolns that came after them. There was even a irs designed for the 1961 Continental but Ford would not ok it because Ford thought that the car would have to priced at the Cadillac Fleetwood 60 special range if it was equipped with an irs.

    Not many people know it, but Ford also had an irs designed for its 1966 Mustang. In fact. that irs design was purchased from Ford by an aftermarket customizer who installs it on vintage Mustangs of that era. They say that this irs can also be installed on the present Mustang.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,747
    You're overestimating the market appeal of performance. If you take 10 potential buyers willing to spend $50K on a vehicle, 9 of them are looking at style, comfort, features and brand prestige - not 0-60, skidpad, slalom and braking times.

    Caddy invested a fortune in the ATS and CTS including the V variations. And from an engineering standpoint they're good - maybe really good. But the market for such a vehicle like the CTS-V is so small that it's difficult to justify for a brand trying to rebuild itself. It's great for bragging rights though.

    Look at Lexus - the ES and RX are the biggest sellers and probably the least expensive due to platform sharing. Same for the SRX at Caddy. These are the products that generate the profits and foot traffic that allow you to do the one-offs and high performance vehicles.

    That's what Lincoln appears to be doing - slow and methodically. Tear down, then rebuild the dealership experience. Use existing platforms to make small to midsized sedans and crossovers that are differentiated enough to justify the added cost (MKZ is about 80% there but still needs tweaks. MkC should hit the ground running).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Exactly. If you give most buyers tons of sound-proofing and acoustic trickery and lots of gadgets, they could care less about the powertrain and chassis engineering, especially American car buyers. What, after all, is a Cadillac Escalade underneath?

    Even IRS would have been a waste of money on the early Mustangs. IRS only matters under certain specific conditions and romping on the gas pedal isn't one of them.

    Certainly some of the ultra high performance automakers sell on engineering, like Porsche and Ferrari, but even there, many drivers never take advantage of the cars' capabilities.

    Aside from going into custom coachbuilding, I'm not sure how Lincoln could differentiate itself from a Cadillac or a Lexus, or compete against them.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,980
    I quit believing in "premium" vehicles back in the 50s when I noticed that Chevys had "Body by Fisher" sill plates just like my daddy's "fancy" '53 Buick Special.

    And so did Caddys.

    I bet your 95% number is low.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Reminds me of the marketing for "luxury homes".

    What are "luxury homes" exactly?

    Turns out that in most cases it means wood floors instead of carpeting, polished nickel plumbing fixtures rather than brass, more rooms, more landscaping, etc.

    But the drywall is still drywall, and concrete is still concrete--it's just more of everything and better quality items tacked onto what is essentially a tract home made all-fancy.

    Now if this "luxury home" had unique construction, plaster walls, exotic wood trim throughout, leaded glass, state of the art solar power and a creek running through the living room---well then, that's more like actual "luxury".

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,345
    edited August 2013
    Or these days, the same cardboard and tyvek.

    I'd say the true premium car (ie: not a platform mate) experience is differentiated more, they really aren't the same inside or "underneath". Maybe Ford needs something more exclusive to give Lincoln cred. Lexus doesn't gain cred from the ES, it just boosts profits by selling to realtors and oldsters.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,747
    "Lexus doesn't gain cred from the ES, it just boosts profits by selling to realtors and oldsters. "

    Exactly. Which one pays the bills - cred or profits?

    If you just want cred and technical respect then be prepared to spend a lot of money without much hope of short or medium term profits. (see Cadillac).

    If you want to make profit then you go after the volume sellers that can be done with minimal investment and try to differentiate yourself with style or features or service.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,345
    It all depends on engineering. Ze Germans can have many platforms and still make money, because those platforms are usually pretty good. Toyolex has done a better job over time of not making the ES an obvious Toyota. Nothing wrong with platform sharing, it just has to be done right. Some domestic makers have had severe problems with this.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,747
    Agreed, and Lincoln is moving towards Lexus like differentiation rather than what they've done in the past. The Germans use their platforms worldwide which allows them to amortize the platform costs over a larger volume. This is why it's important for Lincoln to go global to add necessary volume.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,341
    All true, but I wouldn't consider a Lincoln because I like the styling of Ford vehicles more. Lincolns looked much more upscale than Fords in the '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s, but much less so today, in my opinion.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,275
    edited August 2013
    I dunno, seems to me that postwar Lincoln pretty much has been a story of Ford trying to do lux on the cheap with a few exceptions. Right after WWII the Continental was carried over from before. In 49 it seemed to get closer to Mercury and only a true car nut can tell a 53/54 from a Merc without getting up close. They appended some fins and a vertical headlight front end for 55-57. They were more like an Olds 98 through this point than a Caddy, the exception being the very limited production MkII models. The 58-60 models weren't eye candy, but they were luxo-barges. The 61 restyle is a classic in what it achieved for them, but I can't help thinking the fact that the Kennedy family was big on Lincolns back then added to its sales appeal because I thought it actually looked more luxury when they enlarged and updated it somewhere around the mid 60's. In the 70's Lincolns seem to get a bit ungainly and went back to seemingly being attractive mostly to Ford loyalists. After that, except for some of the Mk's, I thought the trajectory began a permanent downhill descent with sales becoming dominated by Town Car fleet sales to rental companies and livery limo firms (and honestly, that was mainly due to Lincoln retaining body on frame rwd which was easier to chop up and extend the chassis). After the 79 Panther downsizing I think this is proven by many well healed Ford fans buying up Mercury Grand Marquis that were essentially a Lincoln in their upper trim level at a much better price. So I guess my opinion is that I don't understand all the talk about Lincoln regaining it's luxury status because I don't think it had it outside of livery use for most of the postwar period, and even when it did it seemed to be more of a regional northeast thing than a national one.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    If I were Ford i'd ditch the Lincoln name and market it with a new LUX nameplate. I'd aim it at the E class Benz for starters.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,341
    I see post WWII Lincolns through the '70s somewhat differently. Yes, there were some years during that period when Lincolns were close to the top model Mercurys, but they were always considered the nearest competitors to Cadillacs.

    Packard was having difficulties, and the mid-priced Clipper models diluted its luxury status. Imperials were always low volume, and were never a threat to Lincoln's status as America's second best selling luxury brand, except for 1957, maybe. Some may have seen the Buick Roadmasters and Electras as competitors to the Cadillac 62 Series, or whatever the entry level Cadillac was called, but in GM's carefully calibrated line-up, even the most luxurious Buicks didn't carry quite the prestige of Cadillacs. Some people who could well afford a Cadillac chose to drive a Buick, just because they didn't want to appear showy, but that supports the notion that Buicks were below Cadillac, in terms of prestige.

    It could be argued that Lincolns were close to Mercurys some years, just as one could say that Chryslers were close to DeSotos, until that brand's demise, and then close to Dodge Polaras/Monacos. There was overlap, for sure, because only GM could afford the degree of engine and transmission differentiations that distinguished Oldsmobiles from Buicks from Cadillacs. Still, in 1962 and 1963 Lincoln was the only Ford Motor Company brand to offer a modern short stroke, high compression V8 and Hydra-Matic.

    I think that there was usually more differentiation between Lincoln and Mercury than between Chrysler/Imperial and Desoto/Dodge.

    One reason for Lincoln's status as the #2 luxury marque may have been that until about the mid-'70s Mercedes and BMWs were a minor factor. In fact, in terms of imports, in the late '40s through the '50s, more or less, Jaguar sedans were probably the most popular luxury alternatives to the domestics. I don't have the numbers to compare Jaguar sales with Mercedes, but I think that's right. Regardless, European luxury cars were niche players. That's because American buyers equated size, boulevard rides, chrome and bordello interiors with luxury. The European cars were too small and understated, and rode too firmly for most North American buyers.

    I agree with you regarding Lincoln's down hill trajectory since the '80s. The Navigator was an exception for a brief period.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,275
    "through the '50s, more or less, Jaguar sedans were probably the most popular luxury alternatives to the domestics"

    That's a very good point and one that I'd forgotten about (that's one of the things I like about these forums - they stir up your memory once in awhile!). Might have actually even been true into the first part of the 60's. People forget that Jaguar sent a lot of sedans over here back then. In fact, I may be mistaken, but I think some went by "Mk" in their name similar to the famous Lincoln coupes.

    As for Lincoln's, if I had to pick a postwar one, it would probably be a mid sixties model, or one of the 70's Mk coupes, but I readily admit that it's just my personal preferences.

    I agree on Packard and think they just nose-dived right after WWII. I did like the looks of the 55/56 upscale coupes though (inside and outside).
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,208
    I want my place so well built, it'll be the only place still standing after a disaster when the rest of the 'hood is flattened. Given the money, my place will be built like a 1930s powerhouse. I don't trust those cardboard and Tyvek McMansions to stand up to a strong wind storm let alone a hurricane. My modest 1955-era NE Philly Airlite seems to be built way better than any of those 5,000 sq. ft. monstrosities being built in the exurbs.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,208
    I had a very nice 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis LS that I dubbed "the poor man's Town Car." It was so nice, a valet parking attendant mistook it for a Lincoln. My current Grand Marquis is so decontented and has such a low-rent looking interior it seems more like a taxi with leather seats.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,341
    edited August 2013
    I think the newly restyled '51 Packards were really nice, and reasonably competitive, but it was too little, too late. I believe the mechanicals remained essentially the same as the earlier post-war Packards, but the styling was more mainstream and competitive than the predecessor platform.

    Yeah, Jaguar sedans/saloons offered understated elegance, a ride/handling dynamic that was years ahead of Detroit's luxury entries, space efficiency,
    good performance when they ran right, and much better fuel economy than the domestic counterparts. Straight line performance was competitive with the domestics, albeit with less torque, which required higher revs. I believe that most Jaguar sedans from the '40s and '50s were equipped with 4-speed manuals. Combined with the smooth revving OHC I-6, Jaguars delivered
    competitive 0-60 times, and better acceleration at higher speeds than Cadillac and Lincoln.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,345
    edited August 2013
    It might be cheaper to buy a vintage building and renovate it - replacement costs for old houses must be unimaginable, and some materials irreplaceable. Even my grandmother's typical early 60s rambler seems to be a notch above modern tract housing, especially the stuff I saw in the south (my friend's house in GA was probably stapled together, he claims many houses there are teardowns after 25-30 years). It's embarrassing compared to the housing I have experienced in Germany and Switzerland.

    Interesting tangent in this thread about Jaguar, too. If one reads car magazines from the early 50s, Jag is all over them - the classy styling and for-the-time remarkable engines won them some fans, even with British electrics. But MB would no doubt poach a few of those buyers by the time the 60s were in full swing. I don't know if they were competing with Lincoln or Caddy yet , rather they were the cars bought by engineers, professors, and similar. The 70s would see the flight to foreign prestige brands.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    Jaguars and Lincolns seem to have something in common in the late 50s and 60s----they were both very fussy. The iconic 4-door "Kennedy" Lincolns have a reputation for being cantankerous, and the Jaguars, of course, required a very close eye on maintenance and adjustment.

    I think the average Cadillac owner was not used to being that meticulous, nor cared to be. After all, an expensive car like a Cadillac was not supposed to 'break'.

    Unlike the Jaguar owner, who no doubt had the patience for the car, I think a typical 50s or 60s Cadillac owner would ditch a troublesome car in a red hot minute.

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  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    You seem to imply once again, Allen, that Cadillac is not making a profit. They are. Each month they sell nearly three times the vehicles that Lincoln does, and that in an overcrowded extremely competitive market.

    And what makes you think the additional investment Ford has been making in Lincoln lately is profitable? Lincoln sales are DOWN from 2012, not to mention down from years previous to that. They don't yet seem to get that in order to be something other than the American Acura, they have to do more than Acura does.

    Like the expense or not, I imagine Cadillac has looked at the top three or four luxury brands and realized that their formulas all include niche models. Whether it makes common sense or not, it is a formula that has worked well for BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Lexus. Every last one makes a plethora of models, many of which overlap with one another, and some that sell so few copies it doesn't seem to make sense to market them. Yet they do. And they keep dominating the class. Those with fewer models (Acura, Infiniti, Volvo, Lincoln) struggle.
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,747
    Nearly 3 times? 15K to 7K is nowhere close to 3 times (July sales). Lincoln has decided to keep prices and ATPs high and incentives low and take more profit on fewer sales rather than throw cash on the hood to inflate the sales numbers.

    Considering a new platform can cost several billion (and Caddy has at least 3 of those recently), it should be obvious how using a higher volume shared platform that costs a fraction of that would make it possible for Lincoln to be more profitable on half the sales volume.

    Ford's deliberate approach isn't sexy but it's much more financially sound, especially considering GM's recent financial problems.

    They understand they have to do more than Acura. But they're doing it on a long term plan within a budget - something impatient people can't understand. But what's the rush? Ford can afford to take its time to get Lincoln turned around.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    So, the bottom line continues to be you don't get it. Cadillac will get to BMW status much more quickly--if it ever does--with their profligate and irresponsible spending.

    Lincoln is looking at 10+ years to do it. What can the other luxury brands that are spending so darn much more money do in those 10 years? How in this competitive market will a currently laughable brand like Lincoln do with "rational" amounts of investment? Probably not so well, when so many brands are willing to invest so much more.

    GM's recent financial troubles are behind them for the moment. They are, like Ford, profitable. This was a company slated to die, and it didn't. GM at least understands that a perceived premium brand or two will add tons more to the bottom line. The profits on a Cadillac are many times that on a Chevy. Of course this could change in an instant. The same profits could be true for Ford if they begin to understand the importance of Lincoln to their long-term bottom line.

    Thankfully, Ford is doing some wonderful things with the Ford brand. But Lincoln could be a great help in this competitive market. So far there is no Lincoln plan to realistically return it to its former glory (and profits).
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    Oh, and what is this BS about Lincoln not throwing cash on the hood? Are you serious?
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,747
    The mks only has 0% plus $1k incentives. If they wanted sales volume they could get it with $3k-$5k incentives. Or with lower msrps. Lincoln is keeping prices relatively high and incentives fairly low, going for more profit on lower volume. I also think they're still trying to force out more dealers.

    Caddy can build a better BMW but they won't win BMW buyers. Lincoln has a far better chance to win Lexus customers.

    I know you don't agree so we'll just have to wait and see over the next 3 years or so. I predict Lincoln will catch caddy in sales in 4 years or less, and do it without breaking the bank.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,341
    "Caddy can build a better BMW but they won't win BMW buyers. Lincoln has a far better chance to win Lexus customers."

    You state that as if it were a fact. On what do you base it?
  • akirbyakirby Posts: 7,747
    Common sense. 80% of 1-series owners thought their cars were FWD. They're buying a BMW for the name and the prestige that comes with it, not for the pure performance. And no Cadillac or Lincoln will give them that anytime soon. So while it's a nice engineering feat, building a car that outperforms BMW won't result in many conquest sales.
  • gregg_vwgregg_vw Posts: 2,423
    You fail to mention all the other incentives that Lincoln uses.

    Bottom line, you have also been saying for years to give Lincoln three or four years. What makes you think that all of a sudden Lincoln will be competitive with Cadillac in another 3 years? Cadillac and all the others are not sitting still and won't. Lincoln seems to be one of the few, like Acura, that not does not have a ton of new models in the pipeline.

    The MKC may help matters a bit, but we'll see. All the new MKZ has done is keep sales from sinking even further this year. After a month or so of good sales that were generated by its long delay, it is no longer tearing up the sales charts. The MKC will likely further depress MKX sales.

    Yes, Lincoln knows that they could generate more MKS sales by troweling on incentives. But the car is already damaged goods in the market. Why push more of them with a lower price, and add even worse resale than it already has to the equation? Especially when Lincoln would likely generate no more revenue from such a plan.

    I don't care for Cadillacs, but I recognize they have had some success with turning around a bad reputation and a worse line-up. They use their "three or four years" to generate iron that can appeal to both Lexus buyers (e.g., XTS, SRX) and enthusiasts. Of course it is costing a boatload of money. But they are getting somewhere. Lincoln has yet, after many years of half-hearted attempts, to stop its inexorable sales decline.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,990
    The interesting thing about BMW is that it doesn't necessarily excel at anything--it just does more things better than any other competitor. So building a better BMW may be more of a challenge than we might suppose, as the challenger would have to be better in a dozen different ways at the same time.

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