Lincoln’s current naming convention has been causing quite a stir since it was first revealed in 2006 on the MKS concept, confusing both journalists and most importantly buyers. Actually, as evidenced by a YouTube video referenced at the bottom of this article, Peter Horbury (designer extraordinaire and head of Lincoln styling for many years) himself appeared unsettled at the dealers’ introduction of the original Lincoln MKX crossover, referring to it as the “Mark X” before correcting himself.
Still, there may now be a silver-lining on the horizon for fans of the old naming convention!
USA Today reports that the Lincoln Motor Company is assessing the potential of its former nameplates in the light of its plan to expand on the Chinese luxury market. Indeed, while executives and analysts across the industry have soon established that the American luxury buyer prefers the more stylish alphanumerical, acronym-based nameplates, his Chinese counterpart is still very sensitive to the “Old World” charm of actual names.
Lincoln’s most famous nameplates are of course the Continental series and its companion Mark series which have helped shape the brand’s identity in the 1940s and again between the 1970s and 1990s. While to Americans these names may evoke the best of Lincoln as much as a long gone era of unapologetic highway cruisers, Jim Farley (FoMoCo’s Vice-President of Global Marketing) explains that in China they still carry very positive images of presidents and celebrities.
Actually, the Continental name (as well as the less-praised Versailles) would perfectly match the general habits of the Chinese luxury buyer, who remains very sensitive to European, Old World luxury: French and British luxury brands (in apparel and automobiles alike) enjoy record sales in the World’s strongest expanding market.
Unfortunately, Mr. Farley doesn’t seem to imply the American buyer may benefit at all from this new marketing strategy. In fairness, this phenomenon is not limited to Lincolns: while the German and Japanese luxury have always used alphanumerical combinations, many have joined the movement over the years. Cadillac toyed for years with nameplates such as the ETC (Eldorado Touring Coupe) and DTS/STS (DeVille/Seville Touring Sedan)before they replaced the traditional nameplates we’re used to today. Very recently, Korean manufacturer Kia also broke from its standard naming convention when it released its first full-size luxury sedan, the K9/K900 (its mid-size companion, the Cadenza, retains for now its actual name).
Still, this is quite a change from the old, no-compromise stance adopted until now by Lincoln and FoMoCo executives and comes for some (including myself) as a chance that someday we may get these “legacy” nameplates back.
- Will Lincoln’s confusing car names ever change? (usatoday.com)
- 2007 Lincoln MKX and MKZ, by Peter Horbury (youtube.com)