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The Lincoln Continental’s last stand

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Reports have surfaced that the Lincoln Continental may be phased out once the current generation ends. Is this it for the grand American sedan?

In high school my friend had a 1975 Buick Riviera. It was a boat. Actually, more barge-like. The land barge was difficult to drive and even harder to park, and while it had seen better days, there was still a lingering sense of grandeur to it. You still felt like a king on the road, even when you weren’t sure the car would last the journey.

While at one time the personal luxury car was the ultimate sign of accomplishment, it has been given the backseat with the rise of SUVs and cross overs. Luxury brands have devoted their resources to putting luxury into SUVs and with the probable demise of the Lincoln Continental, it could be the last we see of the big American sedan. And that would be a shame.

Not enough McConaugheys

The current generation Lincoln Continental debuted in 2017 as a replacement for Lincoln’s MKS. It became the longest wheelbase Lincoln produced since the late 70s and boasted the most powerful engines ever put in a Lincoln. Most importantly, it had all the trimmings and features you’d come to expect in luxury.

Just look at the car, it’s gorgeous.

But it’s not selling. There are just not enough Americans ponying up the cash for it. Sales figures for the Continental are pretty dire for 2018. So far there have been 1573 sold. In 2017, the first full year of the current generation, Lincoln sold 12,012. When compared to other large luxury sedans, it’s not bad, but perhaps for the same parent company that ships 2400 F-150s per day, those numbers aren’t exactly meeting expectations.

Here are some figures for competitor brands and their large luxury sedans alongside the Continental:

Mercedes Benz S-Class: 15,888
Cadillac XTS: 16,275
Lincoln Continental: 12,012
Cadillac CT6: 10,542
BMW 7-Series: 9276
Genesis G90: 4398

To an outsider and non-beancounter, those numbers look pretty good. Selling better than the BMW 7-Series, and more than doubling the fledging Genesis brand. But perhaps to Lincoln, those numbers just aren’t good enough, especially in comparison to its GM counterpart, the Cadillac XTS (although selling a little better than the CT6).

We live in an SUV world

These numbers, of course, pale in comparison to the number of SUVs sold in the US last year. For Lincoln, the literal silver lining is that their Navigator is seeing a rise in buyers. With 2351 units sold for January and February of 2018, the year looks promising. Lincoln isn’t done with new SUVs either, with the announcement that they are bringing back the Aviator nameplate.

Where does this leave the Continental?

It leaves it in uncertainty. For those like myself who love their sedans big and beautiful (and local), it’s another sad indictment of the dying segment. Brand perception doesn’t help Lincoln either, unfortunately. With the widespread appeal of European names in the luxury market, there is a tendency to believe that a big sedan with the words Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi are better than ones named Lincoln or Cadillac (they are not).

With the money you end up paying (you’d pay double for an S-Class, and let’s be honest, it’s not worth twice the money), you can’t go past the value of an American made luxury sedan. And doesn’t just feel good to buy an affordable Lincoln instead of overpaying for an Audi?

But that’s just me, a dying breed whose love for the luxury automobile is best described as low to the ground, beautifully sculpted and tech’d up, and proudly saying “Made in Detroit” (okay, technically made in Flat Rock, but close enough).

Automotive

Rare Ferrari GTO sells for record $70 million

How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams?

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How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams? What about a one-of-a-kind beauty that you see driving past your prestige dealer? How about a rare 1963 Ferrari GTO?

If you are Dave MacNeil, the answer to the latter, is USD $70 million. MacNeil, who is the CEO of automotive weather guard company WeatherTech, shelled out the record amount for a rare Ferrari.

It is no ordinary rare Ferrari of course. While already limited to 39 builds, this particular one, chassis number 4153 GT, is special. The car won the 1964 Tour de France motor race and finished fourth at Le Mans in 1963.

Records Broken

The $70 million paid by MacNeil eclipses the previous record for the Ferrari GTO. In 2013, a GTO was sold for a then record $53 million.

The Ferrari GTO is powered by a 3.0-litre V12 engine and is one of only 39 built between 1962-1964.

MacNeil joins an exclusive group of GTO owners that include Ralph Lauren and Walmart heir Rob Walton.

How much is too much?

When you are in the same tax bracket as the Ralph Laurens and Walmarts of the world, perhaps there really isn’t a price that is too much for a prized automobile. It is truly rarefied air when the cars in your collection exceed seven digits a piece. For the rest of us, it seems utterly ridiculous of course. Collectors however, do see the worth of these incredibly rare vehicles.

How would you rather spend $70 million? I would definitely buy an expensive sports car, but one for considerably less.

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Camaro coming to Australia as an automatic only

The Chevrolet Camaro is officially coming to Australia this year as an import from Holden Special Vehicles. Excitement may have been tempered slightly with its expected high price, and its auto-only option.

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With the demise of local manufacturing, Australian buyers looking for grunt outside of expensive European options have flocked to the Ford Mustang. Almost 10,000 ‘Stangs were sold last year, which is enough proof that, while Australians don’t make affordable muscle cars anymore, they still want to buy them.

Holden, without a flagship V8 for the first time in decades, is turning to its parent company GM for a much needed boost. Holden’s performance arm, Holden Special Vehicles, announced earlier that the Chevy Camaro, in its 2SS trim, will be made available this year.

Good News and Bad News

That’s definitely the good news portion of it. While the thrill of locally made, hotted-up Commodores have been put to bed, the Camaro is more than a worthy successor. HSV have announced the specs for the 2SS for Australia, proving that it’ll pack quite the punch to satisfy the cravings of auto enthusiasts and muscle car fans.

The Australian 2SS Camaros will come with a 6.2-litre Gen 5 LT1 V8, packing 454hp (339kW) and 455 ft-lb of torque (617Nm). It will have Brembo brakes, a bi-modal exhaust, tons of technology and a variety of colour options.

So what is bad news here? Well, the Camaros have started arriving in Australia in your factory standard left-hand drive version. They are being converted to right-hand drive by HSV, which will add a hefty bump to the price tag. While no official numbers have been released just yet, speculation is that the price will come in around USD$60,400 (AUD$80,000). That’s almost $20k more than made-for-Australia Mustangs. HSV says they will be looking to keep numbers at 1,000 units a year, well below that of Ford’s current Mustang sales.

Another sticking point for performance enthusiasts is that the Australian Camaros will be available with an automatic transmission only. I know that probably stings, so I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Equipped with paddle shifters, it’ll be mated to an 8-speed auto transmission, which means the Camaro will be based on the outgoing 2018 model, and not the new 2019.

Still a Winner

Time will tell how the factory-backed Camaro will do. European performance cars have done pretty well with automatic transmissions, so it shouldn’t really hurt that much. While on the pricey side, the Camaro will still be far more affordable than an Audi RS or BMW M-series. It is a just a shame that this particular car, one that is aimed at filling in some lofty Commodore shoes, comes a little shackled from the get-go.

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