Wherefore art thou LS?

The legacy of Ford Motor Company’s luxury division is one of peaks and valleys, stunning achievements followed by mediocrity, and so on.

One of those peaks occurred not so long ago, coming at the end of the 20th century, in the form of a luxury-sport sedan called LS. It had a knockout design, inside and out, as well the mechanical bits to deliver on its athletic looks.

It appeared at the time that Lincoln was shaping up to be America’s premier luxury brand having even beat out Cadillac for the sales crown in 1998 and 2000.

2000 Lincoln LS

A little background
Founded in 1917, Lincoln Motor Company was named after the 16th president of the United States by founder Henry Leland who was a fan of the legendary leader. The company was purchased by FMC in 1922 and, after being fully consolidated into its parent company as a division in 1940, ultimately lost its “Motor Company” suffix over the next decade or so.

2001 Lincoln LSSome of the division’s greatest sales victories occurred towards the end of last century but since then have trended downward. In fact, Lincoln’s very survival is currently in doubt and hinges largely on the success of its latest model, the redesigned 2013 MKZ, according to comments from the company’s higher-ups.

To bolster their efforts, the Lincoln division rebranded itself with its old Lincoln Motor Company namesake in December 2012 to conjure images of better days and signify a greater level of autonomy from Ford. The company is in the beginning stages of a product renaissance; however, barring any models with big surprises, the future lineup continues to appear more directed at entry-level luxury competitors, such as Buick and Acura, as opposed to top-tier makes.

For the most part, that opinion is rooted in the fact that Lincoln does not have or plan to have a rear-wheel-drive offering, apart from their chrome-laden behemoth SUV the Navigator. I have read that, depending on certain factors, they may consider a Mustang-based vehicle but even then it would be years away and saddled with a stigma they are trying to shake; that is, too close of an association with their lesser blue oval cousin.

Apart from substantial dedication to the brand, Cadillac owes much of its current image and sales success to the RWD-based CTS which has not shared a platform with lesser brands, much less Chevrolet.

2001 Lincoln LS interiorI guess the main tragedy I see with the loss of the LS or lack of an LS-type vehicle from Lincoln is that it was RWD (having shared a platform with the Jaguar S-Type), and available with a V6 or V8 and manual transmission (V6 models only).

Incredibly, it was introduced a whopping three years before Cadillac’s CTS while the wreath and crest was still flailing, I mean, zigging with its Euro-sourced Catera.

I’ve not tried to hide the fact that I am most fond of General Motors products but the Lincoln LS is one of many non-GM products that I hold in high esteem. To that end, I introduce to you a piece of literature–more than 40 pages worth–on that luxury-sport sedan that I came across recently. It was compiled and published by Road & Track magazine some time in 1999 and provided as a supplement to one of their monthly issues (I cannot remember which, and there is no date on the supplement).

It doesn’t appear to have been paid advertisement but rather was labeled a “guide to the all-new Lincoln LS” when it came out (which, by the way, was originally to be called LS6/LS8, depending on cylinder count, but met with understandable resistance from Lexus–whose top model was already named LS400/LS430).

2001 Lincoln LSThe document, presented on the following pages as thumbnails (click to open the larger versions), took a tremendous amount of time to scan and clean up. My scanner doesn’t fit the full spread so each page was digitized and cleaned up individually, then electronically pieced back together. I hope it is enjoyed.

I used my FMC media credentials to procure additional pictures of the LS; however, their online archive only went back to 2001. Some of those pictures are shown on this page but there are many more, and larger versions, provided in the gallery, on the last page.

Continue to page 2, below.

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