When Alan Mulally took the reins as CEO of Ford Motor Company in 2006, one of his goals was to shed all of the disparate brands then under the corporate umbrella with the exception of the blue oval. Over the next four years he did exactly that with one exception, Lincoln. While Lincoln wasn’t sold off or shuttered as Mercury was, neither did it get a whole lot of love either within the company or from customers. But as Mulally prepared to retire a few years ago, the groundwork was being laid for a Lincoln revival led by the return of the Continental nameplate. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend quality time in both the capacious back seat as well as behind the wheel of a Continental.
The Continental we see today was not always meant to be this way. It replaces the unloved MKS which itself was something of a replacement for the defunct prior generation Continental. The MKS was among the numerous Ford Motor Company large vehicle products that utilized the Volvo-designed P2 platform. When the time came to replace it, the plan was always to shift to an enlarged version the latest C/D platform that also supports the Fusion, MKZ, Edge and MKX. However, back in 2011 as Ford was preparing to launch the new Fusion and MKZ we began to see spy photos of development mules for the new MKS. They featured Lincoln’s split-bow-wave grille that never really caught on with customers.
In 2014, Ford decided it needed more separation between Lincoln and the house brand and a more distinct design team was established, led by David Woodhouse. Somewhere along the line, the decision was made to discard the entire Lincoln design language that had been established by the 2007 MKR concept. The sedan that would ultimately revive the Continental badge went off in an entirely different direction in keeping with the brand’s new “quiet luxury” ethos. Rather than attempt to compete head on with Cadillac with something radical, Lincoln went more traditional.