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Looking back on a century of design

It’s been 100 years since Henry Ford, in the aftermath of World War I, bought Lincoln Motor Company scrap. Ford put his son Edsel in charge of the automaker and challenged him to start a luxury car company that could compete with Cadillac, Packard, and Pierce-Arrow.

This meant, first, bringing in real automotive designers, building Ford’s first such division. The Model T, a longtime mainstay of Ford, is created by engineers and look it.

“For Lincoln, innovation and setting new standards for modernity have always been at the core of our design,” said Kemal Curic, a 20-year Ford veteran and its global director of design. Lincoln since 2014. “Since the founding of the company purchased from Henry Leland, Lincoln has always had the courage to introduce new designs”. These include a focus on leanness and openness.

These focal points have resulted in a number of vehicle designs that have had an impact not only on the brand but also on the industry.

1936 Lincoln Zephyr, 1939 Limo President Lincoln

“Some of the cars that changed America were the 1936 Zephyr and 388. ’36 for its aerodynamic looks and ’38 for its patented horizontal grille,’ says Lincoln archivist and historian Ted Ryan said. “Additionally, the 1939 Zephyr Continental, developed in 39 as a 1940 model – later known as the Lincoln Continental – created another icon that lasted for decades with the original spare tire exposed, and later that is handled by the spare tire rim. ”

Both Ryan and Curic also called out some other inspirational Lincoln models. These include the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept – later converted into a Batmobile by George Barris – and the 1961 Continental, famous for its inclined planes and suicide doors, plus its role as a presidential limousine. during the Kennedy era.

“These cars emphasize nature,” says Curic. “We wanted to relate that to Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs in his architecture. Wright loves his Lincolns. These proportions on the exterior have always been Lincoln hallmarks. “

1961 Lincoln Continental, Lincoln Futura Concept

Lesser known these are an example of what was, formerly, called a Hybrid: a vehicle with an American power plant and a European design.

“I am a huge fan of the 1955 Indianapolis Concept,” said Curic, a stunning jet-like vehicle that was last sold at auction. by RM Sotheby’s in 2013. “A commissioned car made in Italy is an American car in an Italian suit – an American spirit, but with a makeover by Carrozzeria Boano. It has awe-inspiring proportions and vibrant colors. It was something very unexpected for the brand. ”

1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Concept (Michael Furman with support from RM Sothebys)

Curiously, perhaps the most inspiring vehicle the brand has created over the past two decades is a chrome van.

“The one car that started out as an exception but changed the luxury SUV market was the Lincoln Navigator, introduced in 1998. We killed the big two-door Bronco in 1996, because we killed the big two-door Bronco in 1996,” says Ryan. Consumers need four doors. People are turning to sport utility vehicles, and in terms of a more premium luxury SUV, that has completely changed that market. “

No one could have predicted, at the time – when America was starting to have a bottomless appetite for huge premium SUVs – that just 25 years later, Lincoln would give up production of passenger cars entirely. calendar for the home market. But that is the case for now. The only vehicles the brand sells here are sports cars in four sizes: small (Corsair), Medium (Nautilus), big (Pilot) and extra large (Navigator.)

While higher profit margins and regulatory loopholes played a role in the guzzly rise of the guzzly SUV and the demise of more efficient cars, the Curic only recorded dominance. its to the market. “We focus on the customer,” he said. “We observe the market and tailor our services accordingly.”

Lincoln Navigator 1998, Lincoln Navigator 2018

Hopefully this market focus will soon include an electric avenue for the brand. The Corsair and Aviator are currently offered in plug-in hybrid variants with an electric range of more than 20 km. Lincoln does not offer an all-electric vehicle. However, the brand claims it focuses on electric vehicles as its inevitable future.

“We are embracing the electric revolution, the limitless opportunities we see with a flexible architecture that is not bound by convention,” said Curic, referring to the idea that the An electric car does not need to be tied to the traditional placement of components such as the engine, transmission, exhaust or fuel tank.

This retreat from customs, however, could also mean Lincoln’s abandonment of iconic signs and markings from the last century.

“The trick is to take full advantage of the flexible architecture, and not cling to the past too much,” says Curic. “A spiritual connection, a nod, a respect? It’s correct. But we have a really great opportunity – the most exciting time for all of us in the industry – in terms of reinventing the car. “

This automotive reproduction concept could include, in the future, an actual Lincoln car Again?

It may be. Why not?” Curic said. “We’re very excited about the next 100 years. Seeing, developing these limitless opportunities. We will continue to obsess about creating these vehicles that the world today. there will be tomorrow”.

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