Several car magazines recently have hinted that Lincoln may be considering a rear wheel drive platform using the new 2015 Mustang IRS and updated S197 chassis. Do they have inside information, or is this just speculation? Given Lincoln’s lackluster lineup, and the tremendous success of Cadillac with the CTS and ATS, we would find it hard to believe that Lincoln isn’t looking more closely at this idea. Especially given the low-investment (given the Mustang chassis) and the superb line of current engines – especially the EcoBoost series. These engines match and exceed anything that Cadillac can offer in the ATS, as well as BMW with the current 3-series.
We do find this ironic since Lincoln had such a product for several years, but didn’t know how to sell it and didn’t invest any significant money in updating it. The Lincoln LS was built on a state-of-the-art platform internally dubbed “DEW98″ which was also shared with the Jaguar S-Type and the Thunderbird (and was originally intended to be the basis for an all-new Mustang in the 2003 timeframe, until the bean counters decided it was too expensive). It featured a heavily aluminum-intensive suspension and crossmembers with double-A-arm coilovers at all four corners and would still be state-of-the-art today (Jaguar continues to use a slightly updated version of it). And it would also be an even competitor against the Nissan/Infiniti ”FM” platform, another state-of-the-art architecture used for the 370Z, G, M, FX, and EX lines.
We’ve put in many thousands of miles in various iterations of the LS over the years and we’ve found it to be a very competent and inspiring drive. There are still enthusiast groups dedicated to the car, with one enthusiast even offering a well-designed and tested supercharger kit for the car. Lincoln had cancelled its own plans for a factory supercharged V-8, with Brembo brakes and 6-speeed manual option (to be shared with the Thunderbird).
The entire idea of a new Lincoln rear wheel drive product is doubly ironic, because once the bean counters focused their beady little eyes on the LS platform they dumbed it down considerably to create the 2005 Mustang, losing the entire suspension (de-volving back to struts and a solid axle that only matched what the Camaro gave to the market all the way back in 1982!) and keeping only the middle of the floorpan and the gas tank. Even the trunk-mounted battery (part of a significant effort in the design of the LS to achieve a balanced chassis) was lost in the transition.
So here we are with a 201x Lincoln, based on the 2015 Mustang. So many years have been lost and so much progress could have been made. The new Lincoln would use the Mustang’s front strut design (slightly improved over the 2005-2014 Mustang) and the new 2015 IRS. The good news is that Lincoln could use the entire range of EcoBoost engines in it, perhaps topping out with the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V-6 – which to date the Mustang planners have refused to use (at least until Obama’s CAFE standards finally catch up with the Coyote 5-liter V-8). We can only dream about such a Lincoln, but probably for naught. Open questions are an all-wheel drive option and another variant of the chassis for a new Falcon.
But let’s go back in time to the days of the Lincoln LS. Browse our section on the LS, and read the following review we wrote in 1999 on a performance LS concept which debuted at SEMA. Think about what could have been back then, and with continuous improvement how much could have been accomplished by now.
Special Vehicle Concept Lincoln LS
Introduced: SEMA 1999 Status: Concept
Ford brought its own concept Lincoln LS to the show, featuring several important upgrades and improvements which may point the way to future LS options. This is also Ford’s first showing of a supercharged LS V-8 engine, although Ford’s Jaguar Division already has a supercharged version of this engine in production. We’d almost call this the “SVT” version of the LS: it’s styling is very restrained, yet fully functional. This is again a concept car, built to gauge public reaction.
- 3.9 L 32V Supercharged – “Turbodyne Electronic”
- 5-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift
- Eibach suspension kit: suspension lowered 1″, performance sway bars
- Magna flow low-back pressure mufflers and chrome exhaust tips
- 3:58 axle ratio with limited slip and traction control
- Custom brake package including cross-drilled rotors
- Seat Crafters two-tone leather seating surfaces with perforated inserts and color-coordinated piping
- Distinctive wood shift level
- Superior Dash burled walnut wood trim accents
- Nokia hands-free phone system with automatic 911 call-up
- Clarion – Multimedia Windows-based system
- Voice Activated audio – 9 speakers and 400 watts
- Navigation System – GPS Satellite database communication system
- Monochromatic paint
- Razzi Lincoln LS ground effects kit (according to the literature. However, Razzi didn’t build this kit – I believe Ford did in-house)
- HRE Type 543 multi-spoke 3-piece allow wheels: front 18×8 and rear 18×9
- Pirelli P-Zero tires: front 245/40R18 and rear 275/35R18
- Custom mesh grill
- Tinted windows
Customization of the vehicle is achieved using components from a variety of equipment manufacturers:
|Exhaust||Magna Flow / Grand Prix|
|Powertrain development||SVC / Eaton Supercharger|
|Interior trim||Seat Crafters / Superior Dash|
|Electronic equipment||Clarion Nokia|
|Design execution||SVC / Razzi|
There isn’t much happening in the news with the Lincoln LS these days… Ford royally blew it when they cancelled their only platform which was technically a competitor to the Nissan FM platform (used by the 370Z and the Infiniti G and M).
But what we have to report is that a wrong-way driver in a Lincoln LS doing as much as 100 MPH outside of Seattle. And many scared drivers over an 17-mile stretch of I-5! Blame it on a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. Catch the original report on KVAL here.
It’s a darn good thing she wasn’t driving this particular Lincoln LS: 100 would have been just off idle!
We’ve been writing about the Lincoln LS and admiring it since it first came out in 2000. As we’ve said many times before, this was a triumph of engineering by Ford and Jaguar, and it’s essentially Ford’s own version of the versatile Nissan/Infiniti “FM” platform. Highly aluminum intensive, weight saving all around, and designed from the start to underpin a variety of cars ranging form a state of the art Mustang all the way up to a svelte and sophisticated Lincoln Continental.
Alas, Ford blew it here, the dealers didn’t know how to sell it, the quality (like all Fords of that age) was poor, Little Billy Ford sliced and diced it’s planned enhancements, and in the end it failed. And, BTW, it’s also exactly what Lincoln needs right now.
But like a lot of great Fords, it has a second and extended life with enthusiasts. Some of us are more or less “normal”, and some others are not. Below, behold, a most definite “not”. This is certainly the only Lincoln LS with a 5.4 liter DOHC “modular” engine. And one big monster honking turbo.
We wish we had more details… but just look under that hood and admire the person who built this one. It’s the pure definition of “Hot Rod Lincoln”. We’ll never see anything like this again from Lincoln, much less Ford. Given the sad state of Lincoln’s plans, it’d be a major miracle to see another rear wheel drive chassis… and even if we do it’ll probably have an EcoBoost 4 and a battery pack. Yes from now we’ll look at this LS, and others, and say “those were the days”.
Very interesting article in the Detroit News today: http://detnews.com/article/20110606/AUTO01/106060342/1148/GM-refocusing-product-line. If you are a GM fan, read it closely as well as the follow-on article (with many more details): http://detnews.com/article/20110606/AUTO01/106060339/1148/GM-refocusing-product-line/Akerson’s-battle-plan-for-GM.
Good reading, but it’s Akerson’s remark about Lincoln that caught our eye: “They are trying like hell to resurrect Lincoln. Well, I might as well tell you, you might as well sprinkle holy water. It’s over“.
How true it is, and how sad it is. Lincoln has a line of dressed-up Fords, offering only a slightly better cut of leather and wood to differentiate them. We’ve see the same exact same badge engineering from Lincoln for too many years. Only the departed Lincoln LS was exclusive to Lincoln (although its DEW-98 platform shared with the Thunderbird and Jaguar). The platform engineering was world-class, but the sales team failed dearly. This should have been done right, although arguably the Ford of that time didn’t know how.
You have only to look at the enormous success of the Cadillac CTS for the justification of a rear wheel drive Lincoln. Or the undoubtedly similar success of the upcoming ATS, which will also supply a small and light basis for the next Camaro.
Or further east to Nissan, where the “FM” platform has spawned the entire Infiniti line of cars, as well as the 370Z. There may not be a more successful platform in the entire world. Costs are shared across many models, paying the engineering bill as well as the products costs of extensive aluminum components.
It’s exactly what Lincoln could have had. The DEW-98 was intended to underpin the Mustang, as well as a larger sedan (Continental?). And plans were in the works for a smaller version to build a BMW 3-sized competitor. A planned update to the platform could have taken the platform to the next step by reducing it’s already-reasonable weight and making provision for different lengths and widths. Exactly the same benefits that the ATS, CTS, and FM realize.
And instead Lincoln has nothing of note, other than a dated, heavy and slightly worked-over Volvo chassis.
It’s been a while since we posted anything about our favorite Lincoln: the Lincoln LS. Since Ford cancelled their most advanced rear wheel drive chassis ever, there hasn’t been much to post. However, we’re watching the news and this item caught our eye.
As our readers know, it was originally Ford’s intention to use the DEW98 platform (underpinning the LS, Thunderbird, and Jaguar S-Type) for an all-new Mustang. This aluminum-intensive platform features short/long arm coilovers at all 4 corners. It is Ford’s own analogy to the famous Nissan/Infiniti FM platform. The main problem with the platform was cost: all the forged and cast aluminum pieces (including all three crossmembers) were expensive to build. Never mind that other manufacturers do it en masse, and use their luxury brands to pay the expenses for less-expensive mainstream cars, Ford wasn’t capable of doing this. So there was a tremendous loss of potential when this platform was cancelled. And now in 2011, it’s exactly what Lincoln is missing.
Another problem was that Ford’s own 4.6 liter engines were too wide to go into the platform from below – normal manufacturing method. That question could have been resolved, but anybody wishing to build one on their own would have to drop it in from the top. And that speaks to a long-time interest of ours: if Ford couldn’t build an “SVT Lincoln LS” why not do it ourselves? A Cobra-based 4.6 liter DOHC V-8 and 6-speed transmission would approximate what Ford could have built and didn’t (Ford engineers privately built one example with a SOHC 4.6 and raced it in the Car & Driver One Lap of America series).
So we’ve been waiting for somebody to do this one their own… and someone finally did. Sort of. Instead of a proper Ford engine, they used a ubiquitous Chevy V-8. Hence, a “Lincoln LS1″.
You can follow the forum thread here, although as forum threads too-often do this one quickly devolved into ford-vs-chevy nonsense: http://www.lincolnvscadillac.com/showthread.php?t=71103.
While we’re on the “swap” today, here’s what we’re looking for next. A Lincoln LS with a 4.6 V-8. Yes, we know Ford engineers built one years ago for the One Lap of America event - in fact we watched it closely. And we’ve personally seen a Lincoln LS mule for the S197 (2005) Mustang in Ford’s former ”mule car holding yard” next to a TGIF in Dearborn.
But we want to see a “civilian” do it. And then we want to know how to do it ourselves. This one is a natural. Questions abound: can the electronics of a Lincoln LS be integrated with those of an S197 Mustang and 3-valve (or 4-valve) V-8?
Regular readers will know that we have been a big fan of the Lincoln LS since it’s inception. We’ve blogged about it for years, shown versions Lincoln had planned to produce and didn’t, and complained loud and long when Lincoln made the mistake of cancelling it and substituting the overweight Volvo-based replacement “MKS”. Ford’s decision to dumb down the LS chassis for the S197 Mustang instead of following thru on the original plan to use a shortened LS platform finally killed off the LS, as well as the Thunderbird platform-mate. The LS was the last chance for a true driving enthusiast product from Lincoln: one that Lincoln desperately needs in the current decade!
If you’re a fan of the LS, then hopefully you have been following the engineering and tuning work of the aptly named “Quik LS” in Austin, Texas USA. “Quick” is not the right word: besides attaining 408 HP at the wheels, with no internal mods (and nothing broken), the builder is now ready to sell kits so that you can have your own supercharged LS. The kit and it’s tuning are extremely well thought-out and the prototype has been running on the street (and track) for 2 1/2 years.
Follow the thread here: http://www.lincolnvscadillac.com/showthread.php?t=13357&page=32
And be sure to take note of the Torsen LSD he managed to fit into his car! That kind of attention to detail is what makes this a great piece of work.
This project has been running for well over a year and extensive tuning has taken place. Follow the link in the title above to see how the car is coming along. Th eintent is to offer a kit….. although when that will be done is anybody’s guess. He is currently running about 350 HP to the wheel, and 360 torque.
QuickLS built the supercharged LS that Ford should have built. As you may know (and as I’ve repeated in past posts on the Lincoln LS), Ford engineered one and then cancelled it. It would have been an option in the LS and T-Bird.
2007.02.28: We’ve written many times before about the unfortunate fate of the Lincoln LS, but of course with the end of production last year it is now too late. The car is gone, but enthusiast clubs remain. Following are two sites of interest:
- Lincoln Luxury Sport Owner’s Club: http://www.llsoc.com/
- Lincoln vs. Cadillac forum: Supercharged LS thread
Ford Motor Company blew it here. The LS had great potential – most of it unrealized. The engineers did a great job, technically state-of-the-art. All aluminum suspension and crossmembers, double A-arms all around. A very sophisticated and expensive build process. The platform was also used for the Thunderbird and Jag S-Type (where it is still in use, and being enhanced for the upcoming replacement) and was originally supposed to be used for the new Mustang – where it’s high volume would have brought costs down across the board. Instead, we got the dumbed-down S197 Mustang. The original design allowed for stretching the platform too.
But, as is usual in Ford Motor Company there wasn’t any serious follow-up (planned updates of a sport suspension and supercharged engine with manual transmission were cancelled) and the dealers blew it as well. The dealers didn’t understand what they, much less the benefits to driving enthusiasts of a well-balanced rear-wheel drive car with sporting suspension tuning. Lincoln product planners also failed by letting the car lanquish.
The LS (“DEW-98″” platform could have been Ford’s own ”FM” platform (the codename of the extremely successful Nissan/Infiniti “Front-Mid” platform that flexibly underpins the 350Z, G, and M products). How many years will have to go by before we again see a flexible and sophisticated rear wheel drive platform from Ford Motor Company?
- The upcoming Australian Falcon replacement might or might not count – it depends on North American production plans and not on North American import plans. It would have to be built here, in quantity, and used underneath at least three products to generate mainstream numbers and economy of scale.
- The S197 Mustang certainly doesn’t count - it’s dumbed-down stone-age suspension ruins any applicability for sophisticated products. Yes, the basic platform was used under the MKR and Interceptor concepts, but you’ll also notice that a double A-arm front suspension as well as an independent rear was added (a typical Ford after-the-fact band-aid approach). Both were inherently a part of DEW-98 platform – designed in from the very start.
We also have to wonder how the Lincoln dealers will explain the benefits to potential buyers of the upcoming twin-turbo V-6 AWD MKS. We’d hate to be in a position where we had to try to sell that against the STS or the newly reworked CTS. Cadillac has it’s act together, and their products get better and better thru constant refinement. Cadillac had lost their way for several years, but recovered and are better than ever. Can Lincoln do the same?
AutoWeek reports that Ford Motor Company has upped the maximum customer rebate on the Lincoln LS sedan to $4,000 to $8,000 (from $3,000 to $4,000). Lincoln certainly doesn’t want lots full of LSs as they had with Aviators.
Another sad chapter on the death of Lincoln as a unique brand.
The LS was over-priced for the market – the IS and GS had gotten well ahead of it. However, at $8K off list, it would be very competitive.
Next problem is the depreciation… what would this car be worth in a year or two? Would any dealers be takers in a trade-in? Trade-in would not be pretty.
Reference: my DEW-98/LS section: http://www.DrivingEnthusiast.net/sec-ford/FMC-cars/platform-dew98/lincoln_ls/default.htm
Look for DEW updates to this section coming in the next few weeks, including further T-Bird material and a new Jag S-Type section.