Redesigning the Lincoln
Lincoln's 2013 MKZ, a redesign of the classic luxury brand. (Lincoln)
(CBS News) There were only 444 Lincoln Continental Mark IIs built for model year 1957. With the then-princely sticker price of $10,500, it was the most expensive car built in the United States. Proud owners included President Eisenhower, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor. Hers was in a color to match her distinctive eyes.
The luster of the Lincoln brand has faded over time, a trend - Dean Reynolds tells us - the folks at Ford very much want to reverse:
It has been the preferred means of conveyance for plutocrats, potentates and presidents.
From Douglas Fairbanks to Elvis Presley, Dean Martin to Pablo Picasso. It was made, the ads said, for "the privileged world of those who enjoy America's most distinguished motor car."
Author John Steinbeck wrote that no other car "so satisfied my soul." Bank robber Clyde Barrow had one, though it's not known if he actually paid for it.
Its creators wanted the most luxurious ride, with the most beautiful styling of anything on four wheels - something that went well with country clubs, fine wines and beautiful people.
There was even an edition name for designer Emilio Pucci: "The first Pucci fashion with an engine," he said.
The Lincoln Motor Company was founded by Henry Leland in 1920, named for Abraham Lincoln - Leland's hero and the man for whom he cast his first vote in 1864.
By 1922, though, Leland had sold Lincoln to Henry Ford, who entrusted his son Edsel with the task of turning Lincoln into something special.
It's a story Edsel Ford II knows well.
"I think quite frankly, Edsel wanted this so Edsel could make a mark on the industry, because his father was, you know, the president of the company - he was still the boss of the company," said Edsel Ford II. "And Edsel, I believe, is trying to find his way, trying to find something that he could do. And I think Lincoln provided just that special opportunity. And it did!"
But critics of later models said class gave way to kitsch. Daring was replaced by dull. The company seemed to build little but the limousine of choice - low-mileage vehicles you didn't so much park as dock.
Sales, which had topped out at 200,000 in 1990, dropped to 85,000 last year, as its competitor Cadillac cruised by.
"We took our foot off the accelerator," Edsel Ford II said. "That happens sometimes, but, you know, that's that. And today is today."
And today, one of the biggest problems for the brand is that the average age of a Lincoln owner is 65.
"We need to attract some younger people to the brand," said automotive designer Max Wolff. "And I think this car will be a great place to start."
"Somebody other than Medicare recipients?" asked Reynolds.
"Yes, probably," he replied.
Ford has reportedly given its Lincoln division a billion dollars to make that happen, and has hired Wolff, whose previous employer was Cadilliac.
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