By James B. Stewart April 13, 2012
This week, my column in The New York Times looks at how Ford is trying to revive the Lincoln brand. Here’s a quick summary of how I arrived at the idea.
Early this year, I had written a column about the constraints GM faced under government ownership. In reporting that piece, one of things a GM official told me was that Ford had poached one of Cadillac’s top designers, Max Wolff, and GM couldn’t match the offer. That piqued my interest. Then I heard Ford was relaunching the Lincoln brand and unveiling the MKZ, the first new Lincoln designed by Wolff, at the New York International Auto Show this week.
Lincoln has been the glaring exception to Ford’s rather amazing comeback. It’s been struggling for years, yet, as I pointed out in the column, it has a storied history.
My father drove Lincolns in their glory days of the 1960s. As a kid, I loved the model where the doors opened from the center pillar, although I was extremely disappointed that my father never listened to my pleas for a convertible. Compare that car (or the 1956 Continental Mark II Wolff used as inspiration) to the 1970s Lincoln Versailles and you get a pretty good idea how far Lincoln fell.
I was also struck that Ford created a new design studio for Wolff and promoted him at the auto show as the designer, like a fashion star. You haven’t seen that in Detroit for at least a generation.
So I saw the Lincoln revival as a bold strategic move with an interesting character at the center. I had fun going to some of the publicity events and meeting Wolff, who seems like a very cool guy. In its heyday, Detroit set world standards for design. Can Lincoln recapture the glory?
Read James B. Stewart’s full column here.
This entry was posted on Friday, April 13th, 2012 at 9:59 pm. It is filed under Behind the Story, industry news and tagged with Business Day, cars, common sense, ford, james b. stewart, journalism, lincoln, reporting, The NYT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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