DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford's lagging Lincoln line, searching for a return to relevance, is dusting off the old Continental model name that had its heyday in the "Mad Men" era and was favored by President John F. Kennedy.
Lincoln will present a new Continental sedan at the New York International Auto Show this week as another new direction for a brand that's been seeking redemption for decades. The Continental concept features a "new face," with a rectangular chrome grille replacing one that evoked eagle's wings and alienated some buyers, said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas.
The Continental is trimmed in large slabs of chrome and has a silhouette that sweeps back to sleek LED taillamps. The rear seat features a champagne bottle holder and a pop-up touch-screen tablet.
The sedan is Ford's latest attempt to reverse a 59 percent sales slide since Lincoln's 1990 peak. Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields is investing $2.5 billion on four new Lincoln models, including the Continental, which arrives in showrooms next year.
"Lincoln Continental is an iconic name," said John Wolkonowicz, an automotive historian. "It conjures up pictures of Jack and Jackie Kennedy in Camelot."
The Continental is part of a parade of luxury cars debuting this week at the New York show. General Motors' Cadillac will also unveil a flagship sedan, the CT6, while Toyota's Lexus line will introduce a new version of its top-selling RX sport utility vehicle. Mercedes-Benz will take the wraps off its own SUV, the GLE, which replaces the ML-Class.