Lincoln  - MK9
Apr 11, 2001 - The Lincoln MK 9 coupe concept, unveiled today in New York, points to the design direction of future Lincoln vehicles and according to Lincoln, is a statement of the brand's "American Luxury" signature.
"The Lincoln MK 9 displays a timeless elegance borne of the design's inherent simplicity and visual logic, while its overall exuberance is unmistakably American," says Lincoln Design Director Gerry McGovern. "During the next several years, Lincoln will build on the design direction evident in the MK 9 through new concept and production vehicles."
The concept features dramatic proportions and stance, combined with an overall restraint in execution. The car has a short nose/long tail stance, with the cabin set well back from the front wheels. The interior is designed to be indulgent and comfortable - all characteristics that define "American Luxury."
One of concepts most striking features is the chrome-accented upper shoulder line that runs the length of the vehicle, sweeping down to define the edges of the front and rear fascias. Gloss black paint highlights the smooth sweep of the bodyside surfaces, and highlights the chrome details.
The face of the MK 9 incorporates an evolution of a Lincoln signature grille flanked by twin xenon gas discharge headlamps. The turn signal indicators are integrated into each lamp unit. The front end on the MK9 seems a little conservative however alongside the concept sketches, which have a more individual and angular theme.
The elegant and sophisticated appearance of the MK 9's front fenders and hood are enhanced by functional air vents. Each prominent fender outlet is part of a ring frame that traces the sill and door aperture to enhance structural integrity. The ring frames also act as mounting surfaces for the machined aluminum door hinges, which provide excellent articulation to improve ingress and egress. The lower sections of the ring frames are exposed as a design element, to provide a mechanical detail which contrasts with the simple bodyside.
The aluminum door handles are flush-mounted to the door skin and present themselves to the driver and passenger by remote control.
The twin rectangular dual exhaust outlets are shaped to complement the horizontal emphasis of the red LED tail lamps. The 22-inch alloy wheels are fitted with P275/45/R22 Continental tires in front and P295/40/R22 tires in the rear.
Inside the MK 9, a combination of Dark Cherry Red and Marlboro Red leathers with accents of polished metal create a luxurious lounge environment. Dark Cherry saddle leather is used for the flooring, and white leather is used for the headliner.
The front seats - which are cantilevered off the center console to improve passenger foot space - take their design influence from the Eames Lounge Chair, a mid-20th Century American classic. There are visual connections between exterior and interior, such as the body-colored seat shells and the horizontal chrome finishers.
The symmetrical dashboard is clean and simple, and has more of a 'retro' feeling than the exterior of the vehicle. The etched glass instruments are crafted with jewel-like quality and illuminated indirectly.
The MK9's controls are a combination of advanced digital and analog interfaces. Navigation and telematics information is displayed on a reconfigurable screen in the center console that is operated by retractable controls that sit flush when not in use. The transmission selection is by an electronic, column-mounted paddle shifter.
The center and roof consoles have dimmable electro-luminescent light panels behind translucent metallic surfaces. Individual spotlights mounted in the headliner use fiber-optic technology.
The Lincoln MK 9 is the first tangible expression of the new values and philosophy that will guide Lincoln's growth in North America, and eventually, in Europe and other markets around the world, says Mark Hutchins, president of Lincoln Mercury.
"Regardless of which markets the vehicles are sold in or when, Lincolns should be recognized for timeless design, indulgent comfort and effortless performance. But as they evolve, Lincolns always will be distinctively and unabashedly American", Hutchins says.
The creation of a design philosophy to define American Luxury is being driven by an international team of designers headed by Jerry McGovern, who joined Lincoln Mercury in 1999 from Rover Group, where he was Design Director for Land Rover vehicles.
"Lincoln has given me an incredible opportunity to hand-select a team of the best young designers from all over the world to explore the brand's heritage and build a design philosophy around the tangible and emotional qualities that define America and American Luxury," McGovern says.
"We have a holistic view of product design that is different from a traditional automotive approach," McGovern adds. "Lincoln Design and our show properties like the MK 9 are about defining and embracing a philosophy to guide every step of the product development process."
Lincoln achieved great commercial success in the past with full-size cars such as the Lincoln Town Car. The '90s, however, saw a fundamental shift in Lincoln's product range and customer appeal, which is one of the drivers behind the adoption of a new design philosophy.
The Town Car and other traditional Lincolns primarily appealled to affluent consumers who favored large, conservatively styled vehicles. But the Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicle and the Lincoln LS sport sedan are attracting a new customer base. Fully 60 percent of Navigator customers and nearly 70 percent of LS customers had never owned a Lincoln before, and most are in their early 50s, compared with well over 60 for Town Car.
"Many of our Lincoln Navigator and LS customers represent a generation that is the most affluent in history," says Lincoln Mercury General Marketing Manager Jim Rogers. "They have extremely high standards and expectations for every product they buy, and different ideas about luxury than other generations."
"The consumers driving the luxury market today - and the future customers building their careers now - are very design-aware," McGovern adds.
As evidence of the growing appetite of Americans and Europeans for design, McGovern points to the success of products such as Apple's notebook computers, Zero Halliburton cases (which are both American products) and the popularity of designer hotels, such as Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills.
"It is appropriate for Lincoln, as an American brand, to claim automotive design leadership because Americans have always been very receptive to innovative design," he continues. "The freedom of expression in America, and the youthful character and optimistic nature of Americans has produced truly influential designers and architects such as Charles Eames and Pierre Koenig. For the same reasons, America has always had great appeal to innovators from all over the world. People such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Eero Saarinen did some of their best work here."
The Lincoln design team, which includes interior designers, modelers, materials experts and packaging engineers, began their work with an exploration of Lincoln's heritage.
"Before we could define what Lincoln design should stand for in the future, we first had to understand its past," said McGovern. "In our exploration, we learned that two Lincoln coupes - the 1940 Continental and the 1956 Continental Mark II - followed by the iconic Continental sedans and convertibles of the 1960s, had tremendous caché and were incredible design statements. Interestingly, they all have design elements that are still appropriate in a modern context."
McGovern says the 1940 Continental - a car that architect Frank Lloyd Wright declared to be the most beautiful car in the world - is significant for its sheer elegance. The Continental, which was commissioned by Edsel Ford and designed by E.T. Gregorie, was the first vehicle honored for design excellence by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The Mark II, designed and built under the direction of William Clay Ford Sr., was envisioned as the contemporary evolution of the original Continental. The Mark II established the classic hood, cabin and deck proportions of the modern luxury coupe and was an oasis of restraint in a market dominated by tail fins, chrome and exaggerated styling elements.
The 1961 Continental, which was designed by Elwood Engel, remains one of the most enduring automotive designs of all time. Its sheer body surfaces, unique center-opening doors, chrome-accented shoulder line and overall restraint established a signature look for Lincoln that was totally unique. Pablo Picasso owned a Continental from this era. 1960s-era Continentals still have tremendous visual impact and have been featured in several popular films, including "The Matrix."
"When a brand has such a strong design heritage as Lincoln, the challenge is to recognize the past without being held back by it," McGovern says. "Between the 1940s and the 1960s, Lincolns were about beautiful proportions, elegant sophistication and restraint. These are qualities we can realize in a modern context without being at all retrospective."
Lincoln Design DNA
While classic Lincolns illustrate the qualities of elegant sophistication and restraint, several examples of contemporary furniture and industrial design also are inspiring the Lincoln design team.
"In our exploration, we asked ourselves what creates luxury and what gives great designs their longevity. Then we looked at the qualities of various pieces of design to help communicate our idea of American Luxury," McGovern says.
First and foremost, Lincoln's new design philosophy is contemporary, he says. "Often, when people think of contemporary architecture or modern furniture design, they think of something cold and austere. We will deliver designs that are contemporary, but also warm, inviting, indulgent and highly functional."
Few products combine all of these elements, but one excellent example McGovern points to is the Wally B yacht, a 106-foot sloop designed by Italian naval architects Luca Brenta Associates and built by Wally Yachts of Monaco. Luca Brenta and Lazzarini & Pickering of Rome collaborated on the interior design.
"The Wally B yacht is a thoroughly modern sailing vessel built with leading-edge technology and weight-saving materials, but its interior is still indulgently comfortable," he says.
Continuity and consistency also are important elements for Lincoln. "There are luxury brands that essentially build small, medium and large versions of the same product. This will not be our approach," McGovern says. "Our vehicles will have a high level of differentiation while being bound together by a common design DNA."
Exposed engineering is another feature the Lincoln team finds desirable, as exemplified by the Meda office chair, designed by Alberto Meda.
"Much of the structure and mechanisms of the Meda chair are left exposed because they are beautiful. We are going to strive for the same level of execution in Lincoln vehicles," says McGovern. "A hinge or a seat bracket must serve a function, but there is no reason why they cannot be both functional and beautiful."
The dimensionally compact but high performance Bang & Olufsen BeoSound sound system, with its glass doors that gently slide open with a wave of the hand, also provided inspiration for the design team. "The most sophisticated premium products have great precision, tactility and logic in their controls," according to McGovern.
A common feature of each of these products is that the sensual feeling of luxury is derived from the intrinsic quality of the materials and construction. "Luxury is not something that can be applied - it must be intrinsic," McGovern says. "A car's surfaces, its jewelry and materials - whether they are metal, wood, leather, plastic or fabric - must be appropriate to their job, beautifully rendered and expertly crafted."
Lincoln Design, together with Lincoln Product Development and Manufacturing, will be based in Dearborn, Mich. Designers and engineering teams will also be based at Lincoln Mercury headquarters in Irvine, Calif.
source: Ford Motor Company
Engine & performance:
Length: 5260 mm
Width: 1950 mm
Height: 1423 mm
Wheelbase: 3095 mm