Lincoln Black Label – Top Level Trim Does Not Make a Flagship

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I have to admit that I’m rooting for Lincoln.  I used to work there and the Lincolns were “my” cars – Lincoln Continental Town Car, Lincoln Continental Town Coupe (yep, there was a Town Coupe in 1981), (eh hem, the Granada/Monarch-based Lincoln Versailles dubbed the “Mini Mark”), the Fox-based Lincoln Continental, and the Lincoln Continental Mark VI Coupe and Mark VI 4-door.

1978 Bill Blass Mark VRemember the Designer Marks  The Mark was special because it had the Designer Series models – the big seller was the nautical themed Bill Blass.  Three other designers were the elegant Cartier, the fashionable Givenchy and the low take-rate Pucci edition.  Over time, some of these names would float between the Mark and the Town Car.  There was even a Signature Series added as a range topper.  The designers faded away when the more functional Mark VII came along in 1984 with its LSC model – Luxury Sports Coupe.

Lincoln Black Label Modern HeritageBlack Label to be Lincoln Flagships  At this year’s Pebble Beach automotive weekend, Lincoln announced its new top of the line – the Black Label editions.  There will be four versions of the Black Label but only three were shown at Pebble Beach.  Jim Farley, Ford’s Group Vice President of Global Marketing and head of Lincoln Motor Company says these are the flagship cars of the brand.  Unfortunately, Lincoln’s flagships were completely upstaged later in the day when Cadillac showed its Elmiraj concept coupe at Clint Eastwood’s Tahama Golf Resort.  The Elmiraj was the talk of the town and Black Label became an asterisk.

The ultra-premium Black Label is a combination of product upgrades – primarily to the interior – and special customer service efforts like a personal concierge – to make the Black Label client feel that the premium they undoubtedly will spend is worth it.

The three Black Label trims are:  Indulgence (evoking chocolate with tastefully executed brown tones), Center Stage (very dramatic with red highlights and headliner – targeted at Lincoln’s Chinese target market), and Modern Heritage (a white themed interior that evokes the bright white interiors of the 1960s).

Lincoln Black Label Concept BoardEuro Top Trim Packages Can be Customized  So Lincoln is aping BMW Individual, Mercedes-Benz Designo, Range Rover Autobiography individualization packages.  With the European packages, much of the content can be selected piece-by-piece.  With Black Label the packages are fixed with tightly defined content.  The Europeans allow you to mix and match components as long as you are willing to pay and wait a couple of months for your vehicle.  The Lincolns will be in dealer stock and, frankly, that reduces their exclusivity.

At the very least, the Black Label packages need better names than Indulgence, Center Stage and Modern Heritage.  Who wants to be admit to being “Indulgent” or want to be “Center Stage” and isn’t “Modern Heritage” an oxymoron?  I would opt for names with personality (However, American personalities would not necessarily translate into Chinese, so maybe there would be different names for the trims in different markets).

Black Label Could Use Lincoln Names from the Past  On the other hand, Lincoln has names from its past that might work better – Center Stage could be “Premier”, Modern Heritage could be “Cosmopolitan”, Indulgence could be “Continental” (but probably is a name too recently seen on Lincolns).

Black Label does not a flagship make.  As Cadillac has realized, to be a real luxury car manufacturer, you need a car above the terribly named MK cars – above the MKS and MKZ.  There needs to be a car with presence and with specifications worthy of being called a flagship.

This article has 1 comment

  1. KING RICHARD 10/10/2013, 1:13 pm:

    RECALL LEXUS @ ITS INCEPTION IN 1990 . THEN , THEY HAD ONLY THE LS400 . THEY THEN – TO QUICKLY ADD A SECOND CAR – TOOK THE LOWLY LITTLE CAMRY AND “UPGRADED” IN MUCH THE SAME WAY AS U DESCRIBE THE BLACK LABEL TREATMENT !!!! STILL A CAMRY – THOUGH NICE VERSION ! ONE OF MY CARS IS A METALLIC RED , 2007 LINCOLN TOWN CAR . THERE’S NOTHING IN THE LINCOLN LINE TO REPLACE IT WITH . ALL THE “MK” THINGS ARE REALLY MERCURYS !!!1 THE TRUCKS ARE NICE – IF U WNAT A TRUCK ??

    U CAN’T BE A LUXURY CAR BRAND – ESPECIALLY AND AMERICAN LUX BRAND WITHOUT A BIG FLAGSHIP !! AND A CONVERTIBLE VERSION TOO …

    FORD SHOULD FIGURE THAT OUT BEFORE LINCOLN BECOMES A SUBSIDIZED BRANCH OF THE COMAPNY ..

    NOW, I’M FULL AWARE OF THE CRIMINAL GOVERNMENT’S DICTATES – LIKE CAFE – ON FORD INTERFERRING IN ITS ABILITY TO MAKE WHAT THE MARKET WANTS ..

    BUT , FORD HAS TO MAN-UP , SUCK UP , AND LAWYER – UP AND BEAT THIS UNCONSTITUTIONAL , CRIMINALLY INFESTED GOV BULLSHIT DOWN LIKE THE RABID RAT IT IS .

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