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Posts filed under ‘Lincoln’

Embarrassing Flirtations:
The Lincoln Mark VIII

February 13, 2013 by Matt

Lincoln Mark VIII White

While I have a broad “base” of interest in cars in general, the spotlight of my attention is usually only focused on one car at a time—a focus that frequently wanders. During the years when my automotive taste was more malleable than at present, there were many cars I was into for a short period of time, which interest I look back on, now that I know better, with a degree of regret.

One of those is the car featured in this post, the 1993-1998 Lincoln Mark VIII. A large “personal coupe” intended to compete with the likes of the Cadillac Eldorado and Lexus SC400, it featured swoopy, futuristic styling draped over a RWD chassis powered by a 280 hp, 4.6l V8.

Lincoln Mark VIII White Green Rear Back Taillights LSC

My interest in the Mark VIII was piqued by one thumbnail-sized photograph in one of my grandmother’s Consumer Reports annual “Car Reviews” issues. The slight blurriness and angle of the picture combined to distort the Lincoln’s proportions just enough that it appeared to have a sportier long-nose/short-deck visual layout. To me, at the time, in that image, it looked purposeful, powerful, desirable… And given the fact that it was new and rather expensive, I never really saw enough of them on the road to right the ship, as it were, and convince me that maybe the photo my fascination was based on hadn’t been the most accurately descriptive of the car’s looks.

Lincoln Mark VIII Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

In reality, the Mark VIII really wasn’t such a bad car, but it was the last of a dying breed, an obsolescent, overstyled dinosaur and a example of how American luxury automakers in general were (and to a degree, still are) flailing about in the marketplace, trying to sell a distinctively American approach to a buying public rapidly becoming disenchanted with the traditional luxury car = land yacht equation. Its modern engine notwithstanding, the Mark VIII’s blobby design and overwrought interior were signs that Lincoln didn’t “get it,” and it disappeared from the automaker’s lineup within 5 years, to date the last of their personal coupes.

During the period of contact between my car interest and the Mark VIII, in my mid-teens, I probably knew better, but as mentioned, that one photograph, combined with my enthusiasm for GTs and big coupes in general, provided the tinder for a brief spark of desire.

Image credits:,,

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing cars we used to be fans of, but have since reconsidered our enthusiasm. Read the other installments here:

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The Lincoln Mark VIII

New Lincoln MKZ Concept: Staying the Course

January 11, 2012 by Matt

Lincoln MKZ Concept Red

In a recent editorial for Jalopnik, Matt Hardigree offers an insightful take on the new Lincoln MKZ concept, unveiled at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. Here’s the takeaway quote:

So long as Ford continues to build upscale, cheaper cars on the same platform, why buy an MKZ when you can spend less money and get an equally attractive 2013 Ford Fusion? What’s the compelling case for Lincoln?

There is none. Almost none of Lincoln’s arguments were about product. They were about image. The didn’t even commit to building this car because that would mean talking definitively about Lincoln’s future.

Late last September I wrote a post in which I brainstormed a few paths to Lincoln’s revival. Unfortunately, as the Jalopnik post points out and the MKZ concept itself gives evidence for, it seems the automaker has decided to double down on the style-over-substance-based, badge-engineered-Ford approach.

Lincoln MKZ Concept Red

It’s difficult to understand how parent company Ford could have any reasonable expectation that this strategy would lead to Lincoln’s success. All evidence points otherwise: The automaker has used the same product planning and marketing strategy for years, and has experienced a decline in sales to the point where the brand is barely afloat. In one magazine comparison test after another, the cars generated by this approach have been utterly trounced by the competition, building a negative brand perception in enthusiasts’ minds which eventually trickles out into the larger car-buying population. And just across the way, Cadillac, which had adhered to a remarkably similar image-based marketing game plan for years, has experienced a near-miraculous reinvention by focusing more attention on the dynamics and details of their cars than on creating some kind of illusory image in a would-be buyer’s mind about “the kind of man/woman who drives a Lincoln.” It would be charmingly archaic if it weren’t pitched with a straight face.

The evidence is all around that the “new” product development scheme has little chance of success. At this point, it’s difficult not to think Ford deliberately wants to kill Lincoln.

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The Way Forward for Lincoln

September 27, 2011 by Matt

Old Lincoln Car Ad

Autoblog relays a report that Lincoln is planning to move away from their traditional “waterfall grille” styling cue. It had been something of a nominal addition, tacked on for years without any real context, but lately, with the ’07-present MK-generation of cars, it’s become more integrated into the cars’ overall design themes. I can’t say I’m sad to see it go—it’s the sort of brand-defining design feature that can easily completely overwhelm the front end, and so elaborate that it can make designers feel absolutely cornered aesthetically, with no way to design around the monstrosity that must live on the car’s nose. It’ll be interesting to see which direction the stylists take next.

Of course, the same could be said about the brand in general. Lincoln has been floundering for years, with no clear direction from their parent company Ford, dabbling with a few different approaches but never really committing to any. And now that their sister marque Mercury is dead, all eyes are on Lincoln as the last remaining Ford sub-brand. Will they find their way and survive? Or will they be euthanized as well, leaving Ford standing alone?

Assuming Lincoln is worth saving, let’s consider a few potential paths:

  1. Go Euro. Also known as “the Cadillac path.” Lincoln could decide that American tastes have fundamentally veered away from the traditional American soft, cushy luxoboat, and opt to completely ape their European competitors. They could make all their platforms RWD (with AWD as an option), offer stickshifts and focus on balance, quality and handling. They might even consider adding a wagon and giving it a funky name like “Avant” or “Touring.” At this point, Lincoln would be late to the party, as even the Japanese competition (Lexus, Infiniti) is chasing BMW and Mercedes. Cadillac distinguishes themselves with great whacking American pushrod V8 power and knife-edged design; it’s difficult to envision how Lincoln could make themselves stand out if they chose such a route. Besides, they’ve already dabbed their toe in that product development philosophy with the unloved ’00-’06 LS V6 and V8, so they might be a bit leery of tacking that direction again. Still, in the case of the LS, I maintain the flaw lay not in the concept, but in its lackluster execution and the lack of conviction behind it. So “going Euro” is still a viable option.
  2. Pull an Audi. I have in mind Audi of the early ’80s, when they spearheaded an innovative and promising technology (quattro AWD) and built their cars and brand around it. Audi became, for all intents and purposes, “the AWD automaker” and fastened lesser distinctives, such as beautifully tasteful styling, to that primary brand-defining attribute. By hitching its wagon to some up-and-coming technology, Lincoln could become “the _____ luxury automaker” going forward. It would give the company a characteristic to rally around and help elevate the brand’s profile in an overcrowded market segment.
  3. Double down. With luxury automakers like Cadillac and Buick abandoning the traditional definition of the American luxury car like rats on a sinking ship, Lincoln could wager the ship is still salvageable, and attempt to establish a niche as the last refuge of the American land barge. Granted, they’d have to update the type’s image somewhat for the 21st century (read: more efficiency), but the theoretical potential does exist for the big boulevard cruiser to experience a resurgence in the marketplace. It’s a long shot, but perhaps that’s the way to point Lincoln’s tiller.

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