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BORN AGAIN
Meet the Lincoln Motor Company

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Dec 9, 2012

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

2012 LAIAS
The Lincoln exhibit at the Los Angeles Auto Show (Sam VarnHagen)

First it was Lincoln the vampire hunter. Then Lincoln the Spielberg movie. And then TIME magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle just published what might be the 16,000th book on Lincoln. With all this popularity over the 16th president of the United States, Ford Motor Company wants a piece of the action for its Lincoln brand division. And so the big announcement came: Lincoln the car division is now the Lincoln Motor Company. With the name change comes other and more significant improvements. John Grafman reports. By John Grafman It’s about 8:30 a.m., and journalists are beginning to gather at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica just a few days after the opening of the 2012 L.A. Auto Show. I have agreed to brave traffic, slippery roads and possible falling rocks while traversing a rainy Topanga Canyon to attend this meeting at an hour where my most typical hazard is falling out of bed to hit the snooze on the alarm clock. I’m here at what some might consider an ungodly hour to meet up with Matt VanDyke, Director of Global Lincoln Brand. What I’m uncertain of is the reason for our breakfast rendezvous.

1-DSC_0655
1961 Lincoln Continental at the LA Auto Show (R Nakano)

While we grouse a little over the inconvenience, Matt is literally going the extra mile. He is everywhere he needs to be, from the West Coast, back to the East Coast, to Michigan, and points in-between. In all reality, we are lucky to steal a few hours of his time. By 9:00 a.m. a small group of local automotive media scribes, enough to partially fill two round tables, are eager to get the latest from Ford’s premium brand. With Matt seated right beside me, this is a much more personal expression on the future of the Lincoln brand, as opposed to something being regurgitated from a teleprompter. This is definitely a refreshing approach, and does signal that changes is afoot. As promised, Mr. VanDyke does indeed have news. But, before getting into that, we get an unexpected healthy dose of honesty. This doesn’t happen as often as one would think. In essence, Matt plainly states that Ford did take its eye off the ball, or should I say Lincoln for far too long. Really, it was as if no one was at the reins of the company, and the lack of true responsibility coupled with a lack of accountability was really a recipe for disaster. Like an illness, one first must be able to identify the problem in order to get on the road to recovery.

2012 LAIAS
1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II built for Elizabeth Taylor (VarnHagen)

Fortunately, Matt and the team at The Blue Oval decided enough was enough. So, as of this morning the brand is being renamed. Officially, it is now the Lincoln Motor Company (Jefferson Automotive, Reagan Motors, or Clinton Motor Company were not up for consideration). With the name change comes other and more significant improvements. First, and foremost, the product will improve. This starts with a dedicated design team, separate from the Ford designers. New technology will be launched on the Lincoln cars, and will be later adopted by Ford products. Expect to find a new, personal approach at dealers, and at after-sales interaction. Dealerships are in the process of being remodeled, and even the sales techniques are changing. The brand will be advertising in areas that it never did before. The Lincoln Date Night is just one of the techniques being implemented to let customers really discover what makes these cars special. You could almost call the experience sexy.

Lincoln is Coming to China
Ford announced it would bring the Lincoln brand to China (Lincoln Motor Company)

Going further, Matt explains that like it or not, Lincoln Motor Company has to appeal beyond its demographic base average of 65 year old buyers. So, the company will be focusing its design, sales, and service on those in the 35-55 year old age range. Does this mean new and hipper cars? You bet it does. The very attractive MKZ is the first of four new vehicles that will be breathing new life into Lincoln. The company isn’t on it’s deathbed, nor does Ford want to see that happen. So, every effort is being made to revamp the brand. VanDyke is taking the necessary step to make this happen. With a background at Lexus, he knows what a luxury brand is supposed to be. Don’t expect this to become a performance brand, such as Cadillac. Lincoln is carving out its own identity. If the first steps are any indication, it looks like the company is on the right path by breaking away from being bound to Ford. What do we expect to see at LMC? Don’t be surprised to once again see a special, bygone quality and style, and maybe a return to romance between the car and the driver. Yes, maybe even freedom! Perhaps the Lincoln is a fitting name for the brand after-all. For more information about the Lincoln Motor Company, go to www.lincoln.com

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