The future of the slow-selling Lincoln Continental couldn’t be more hazy, but a new report claims the brand is preparing a last-ditch effort to revive interest in the flagship sedan. How does Lincoln plan to reverse a sales slide amid an industry addicted to crossovers?
Yes, the novel layout once favored by luxury American automakers — and returned to prominence with the iconic 1961-1969 Continentals — could make a comeback.
That’s what Lincoln dealers who attended the National Automobile Dealers Association meeting in Las Vegas last weekend told Automotive News. According to multiple dealers, Lincoln brass showed off a photo of a Continental with rear-hinged rear doors. And it wasn’t just catnip, either.
The same dealers say Lincoln is committed to building the model, part of an effort to show it isn’t completely opposed to the idea of cars.
After Ford Motor Company’s recent truck- and SUV-heavy product announcements, anyone would be forgiven for thinking both Ford and Lincoln had no time for cars. Multiple reports suggest Ford plans to get rid of the Fusion, and with it, the Lincoln MKZ and Continental. The flagship sedan, which bowed in 2016, rides on a modified Fusion platform and was intended to resurrect some of the brand’s past glamor. It also provided, via its grille, a new design template for the brand.
Still, as tempting as all of this door action sounds, the existing model really isn’t performing well with the buying public. A Hail Mary product pass isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but this latest report carries a big grain of salt even in the minds of classic Lincoln aficionados.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley, wouldn’t talk about the Continental’s future, or about cars in general.
“I’m not going to comment on that right now,” he said. “We have two new utilities coming in the next couple years and we’re going to learn a lot through those launches. You know, we’re always adjusting our product lineup.”
It isn’t known whether dealers attending the NADA conference were shown a modified version of the existing CD4-based Continental (which seems unlikely) or a wholly new model, possibly underpinned by the modular CD6 platform bound for the next-generation Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator. Last we heard, that platform was SUV-only.
If Lincoln were to try again to rekindle interest in the model through suicide doors, it wouldn’t just have fond memories of Kennedy-era Continentals to bank on. Rolls Royce’s Phantom and Ghost models brought the doors back from oblivion, with consumers now associating the layout with truly high-end motor cars. (Strange — few people mention the 1967-’71 Thunderbird sedan when discussing suicide doors.)
Lincoln Continental sales fell 29.7 percent in the U.S. last month, with sales over the first two months of 2018 down 30 percent.
a version of this article first appeared on The Truth About Cars