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Lincoln Zephyr, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKX
#413 of 4409 Lincoln & Mr. Fields & Mr. Nance
Jul 12, 2006 (12:55 pm)
James J. Nance...the last President of Packard, had to overcome a company that had become complacent and/or moribund, revamp his factories, his products, energise his dealer network (in anticipation of increased sales), bring out new products, and find a way to keep sales consistent enough to finance expansion and future automobiles and engineering features. To that end he replaced executives, brought in new talent, spent $18Mn for an automated engine plant, planned a V8 & V12, spent $7Mn to equip a new auto-body and assembly line, replaced past advertising accounts with new ideas and fresh blood, plus flogging the product in many new venues (as TV was then) and reaching new customers. Packard had planned to GO BACK up-market as much as it had also planned to spread their product base, either acquiring or merging with another firm.
Ford Motor would have surpassed GM as the premiere American Auto Manufacturer had it not lost almost 8% of its market-share and retained its traditional 25.7% share from 1998. The Nasser gamble would then have appeared to be a masterstroke. Of course, Ford acquired MORE capacity and more brands during the Nasser Era. So conversely Ford Motor should have roughly one third of the U.S. market today instead of less than 20%, its lowest since 1927. Lincoln receiving fewer investment dollars than many other divisions and products since then. The change in fortunes, losing one quarter of its market, certainly bad news.
Packard routinely spent $31-$60 per vehicle between 1946-1954 on future engineering, (sometimes more than Cadillac)---roughly 6% of the purchase price at the time. Ford Motor today spends, similarly, 6.5% of its capital on R & D., about $300 per car---still one third to a quarter what they spend on Health Care per car! When VWAG upgraded its product line in the 1990's under Dr. Piech, VWAG's R & D spending increased to above 8% of capital expenditures---the improvements later showing up in the next generation of cars allowing VWAG to hold its position, and gain (in the case of Audi) many new customers. Precisely the same strategy used by Toyota and Honda when they were trying to crack the American market.
When Nance took on Packard, having come from Hotpoint, Packard sold 146,441 cars in 1948-9, and 106,040 in 1950, and another 100,312 in 1951 with the all new 23rd & 24th Series cars. Nance planned on volumes of 120,000 cars to 150,000 cars for the future. Thus he made his capital investments based upon that...only to see Packard plummet in the market due to many circumstances. In 1952 when Packard was planning its V8 & V12 motors, Lincoln sold 27,271 cars while at the same time it launched the Mark II Division planning and design under William Clay Ford Sr. Some of Lincolns lowest production years came at a time when Lincoln and Ford Motor decided to heavily invest in Lincoln for its future.
Mr. Fields today is working from a similar situation, both in terms of Mr. Nance at Packard---Lincoln only recently having passed Cadillac only to fall precipitously in the market-place; and William Clay Ford at Continental and Lincoln, wanting to revive the brand at a time when Lincoln sales were declining and very small. Work on the '52 Lincoln had often been done by executives 'moon-lighting' at home in order to preserve the brand from extinction at the hands of Earnest Breech in 1949-51. Now Mr. Fields is tasked with "saving" Lincoln, thus it falls under his rubric. So he is, without doubt, taking the path the James J. Nance of Packard did: closing "inefficient" factories, discarding old ways and means of doing things, shaking up the rank and file, planning for a future based on LXY,CXY units---hoping his numbers will be borne out and further attrition not needed. Coming from IBM to run an auto unit, he is not unike James J. Nance coming from GE's Hotpoint at the behest of Corporate Treasurer Hugh Ferry at Packard to run Packard Motor, only this time Mr. Fields unlike Nance, was hired by a member of the Ford family, (Nance also asked by HF II to run a division of the company after Packard failed!) Wanting indeed to repeat the 80% market pennetration now enjoyed in 2006 by Ford-Brasil within its position against other makes, after having nearly quit Brasil in 1998!, for almost any of the brands he takes on.
Mr. Fields is "skeptical" of moving Lincoln beyond the lower priced segment of the Premium Market. Zephyr acting very much like the old Zephyr in the 1930's, and also the 120 for Packard---the now successful entry-level car. Yet he should take note that one of the prime reasons why Packard sales plummeted, wreaking havoc on well laid plans of Mr. Nance, was that Packard had failed both the restart production of its premium cars after 1946 (selling the dies to Russia), and not balancing off its lower priced models with very high premium priced and exclusive models to compete above Lincoln, Cadillac and Imperial. The public expectation of what Packard was, against what it became sank the confidence of future buyers. James Ward writes in his treatise on Packard: "Packard did not so much as fall from great heights as to see other automkers climb up to them and offer the consumer the same comforts, in a larger range of models for a few hundred dollars less. Packards became less distinctive, and progressively cost them what was left of their reputation." Packard had become a competitor for Buick. And that is the risk Mr. Fields takes with Lincoln---making the cars less distinctive from the average fair or Hyundais.
If no top-line model is offered or intimated, a notch above Town Car, in addition to retaining its traditional model, the public perception of what Lincoln is will permanently shift away from where it was---with declining sales. All that will be left will be a shadow of its former self, making it difficult for Lincoln to regain its pre-eminent position, much less sell the volumes that Mr. Fields anticipates and is now planning for. Zephyr is a great start, but now must come the icing on the cake: a Lincoln layer cake...far beyond Mark S. It will take about $500 per car from Ford Motor's spending to do it, not unlike what WCF Sr. had in 1952-55. Otherwise Mr. Fields will be leaving things to chance, or rather, 'Nance.
(sources: ibid, Ward; Standford; 'The Packard, 1942-1962' Nathaniel T. Dawes, A.S Barnes & Co, NY & London, 1975; 'The Lincoln MotorCar, Sixty Years of Excellence' Thomas E. Bonsall, Bookman Publishing, Baltimore 1981)
#414 of 4409 What he said.....
Jul 12, 2006 (5:49 pm)
See, douglasr nails it, because Lincoln is an aspirational brand. And what gives the entry level buyer of the Zephyr a desire to own it, is that up the line at Lincoln, is a much more expensive and gorgeous performing model, that someday they want to own. Owning a Zephyr gets them in the club, and they can say, "I own a Lincoln".
But, if there is no flagship to aspire to, why do I want a Zephyr? Why do I want a 3 series if there is only a 3 series? So, if the Town Car is cancelled, there is no semblance of a flagship left! I mean, it's not much of a flagship anymore, but it at least has a presence, it's nice looking and big. Still has some cache. Moronic not to make a nice Lincoln. If they're not going to bring something out, they should cancel the Zephyr.
#415 of 4409 Re: What he said...about what he said... [nvbanker]
Jul 12, 2006 (8:30 pm)
" If they're not going to bring something out, they should cancel the Zephyr. "
They DID. They're bringing out the MK Z or MKZ whatever.
Well they will be bringing out a 'flagship' real soon now. Trouble is, it'll be flying the flag of it's mother country, Sweden, rather than Old Glory. Oh well, in a day when the Toyota Sienna is more "Made in AMerica" than the Ford Mustang, the phrase "What're ya gonna do?" waxes philosophic.
Again I remind that I've seen the FF (future flagship) of Lincoln and it ain't the MK S or MKS, whatever. There's a bigger croc lurking in the Lincoln garage. It's superb looking, in a MKSS sorta way. Whaat'ya bet they call it the MK C or MKC whatever. I get to take another look pretty soon thanks to a Marketing Research company that apparently has a too-short list of Luxo-Sedan owners. I am looking forward to it. Can't say nothin more tho ... :>)
Lastly, the other evening at dusk, I was rollin thru a small town near here when I was attracted by a real PRESENCE on the road. A car was coming toward me that demanded attention. It was a black 1960 or 61 suicide door Lincoln Continental. Man that is one bad-ass beautiful car. Looks great comin or goin. Nicely chromed (as opposed to the '07 Navigator) and stylish. If ONLY the "Brains" at Lincoln had gone further with the Continental concept. If ONLY they would reconsider doing so. That would be a Lincoln for a Zephyr owner to aspire to.
#416 of 4409 Re: What he said...about what he said... [heyjewel]
Jul 13, 2006 (8:59 am)
Again I remind that I've seen the FF (future flagship) of Lincoln and it ain't the MK S or MKS, whatever. There's a bigger croc lurking in the Lincoln garage
Automotive News said that vehicle (D or E386) was cancelled.
#417 of 4409 Re: What he said...about what he said... [ehaase]
Jul 13, 2006 (11:55 am)
Yes, it has been reported several times that the flagship proposal was killed. Based on the Volvo (like the MKS), it just didn't work.
#418 of 4409 Re: What he said...about what he said... [ehaase]
Jul 13, 2006 (12:10 pm)
"Again I remind that I've seen the FF (future flagship) of Lincoln and it ain't the MK S or MKS, whatever. There's a bigger croc lurking in the Lincoln garage"
Don't you mean "crock" As in "Lincoln's future is apparently a crock of..." ?
#419 of 4409 Re: What he said...about what he said... [scootertrash]
Jul 13, 2006 (5:39 pm)
"Don't you mean "crock"
Gee, scooter - when you put it that way, it sounds very negative!
#420 of 4409 The Ghost of Nance Past
Jul 13, 2006 (6:26 pm)
...James J. Nance ran Packard as best he knew how, and at the end of the day Packard died; HF II hired him to run the MEL Division and it died too.
...Mr. Fields may not yet prove himself to be the 'Ghost of Nance Past', but the march of Lincoln at the moment proves that there remains a disconnect between the executives making the decisions and the market-place. The Ask Dr Z's campaign is an in-your-face slap at Bill Ford---while WCF tauts safety and environmental issues, Zetsche talks about cars. What is lacking at Lincoln, is the voice to save it, and the people to back it up. Mr. Fields may well feel that he is right---as most people believe that they are right from the start, till proven otherwise---but the reality remains that no product or future announcements have been made with respect to Lincoln, either the fate of Town Car, or its replacement. The public will not long wait for that either.
The team at Ford may think they are doing the right thing, but from where I sit, all I see is opportunity missed---and one should never miss out on what does not know---and Mr. Fields appears not to know a great deal when it comes to Lincoln. It is clear that there remains a great majority of Americans wishing for greater cars from Lincoln, who do not wish to buy Lexus, Hyundai, or what-have-you.
Just remember, (ohh not really, for few people know about it), the Packard Predictor, styled by Dick Teague under Bill Schmidt at Packard for 1957. The still-born car gave 14 other cars ideas, Edsel and 1958 Lincoln, not to mention 1963 Corvette and Pontiac, included. The kind of car that Lincoln needs to create today---something Mr. Horbury's Mark S tried to do as the 'poor-man's-Aston'. We can't forget that the current Town Car was borne of an Aston-Martin Show Car from 1995-96. Yet the type of car that Predictor was for Packard, is the kind of car that Lincoln needs now. Not to mention an evocative vehicle from times past.
Let us not forget, that while Fields is fielding his ideas, Ford Motor long before had the where-with-all to build great cars, and still can. Let us hope that Mr. Nance' fate does not befall Lincoln and Mr. Fields.
#421 of 4409 Re: What he said...about what he said... [scootertrash]
Jul 14, 2006 (6:40 am)
"Don't you mean "crock" As in "Lincoln's future is apparently a crock of..." ?
Pretty cute, scoot.
I didn't want to say 'Gator' cause they already got one of those.
Some say it's cancelled, but ANT says they're working on a TC replacement. I figure that's what I've seen. And will see again today, unless I miss my guess. I'm quite interested in what they'll be showing now, as compared with last year and a half ago. Since it'll prolly be adjusted based on these focus groups, I have my doubts it'll be any 'better' from my point of view. My bet is the 'sportier' of the two will be gone and there'll be one model left. Hope they have an interior to look at this time. Last time it was balsa wood and putty. But that still looked better than the Caddy interior:>)
I'll be signing an NDA so won't be able to post much but you all will see the fruits in a mere, what, 2 or 3 years!.
If I walk in there and see a version of the Continental Concept, I'll start saving my pennies. Else, I doubt there's a Lincoln in my future what with the LS gone, the Navigator pimped-out for young Snoop-Doggs with braces, the MK X looking like a Gremlin with an AMC Spirit grille, the MK Z with it's blue-hair set D-L driving experience and made in Mexico production plate. Oh well. Had a Mark VIII, a Getrag LS and an '04 Gator. Nice run, Lincoln, but as George Harrison said before he passed "All things must Pass".
Onward to view the MK FF or MK F'd whatever.
#422 of 4409 Re: What he said...about what he said... [heyjewel]
Jul 14, 2006 (7:42 am)
Lincoln's and Ford's REAL problem is not what concept car you're looking at, it's the fact that after a year and a half, they have made nothing more than additional clay models.
Meanwhile, their Lincoln division is dying like an arm with a tournequette on it. Go or get off the pot.
On an different note: Did anyone see today's interview with Carlos Ghosn? It sounds like he hinted Ford was interested in hooking up with him or Nissan/Renault. I hope that means Billy knows he's in over his head.