The Lincoln MK 9 coupe concept features optimized proportions and stance, combined with an overall restraint in execution. The interior is designed to be indulgent and comfortable - all characteristics that define "American Luxury."
"The Lincoln MK 9 displays a timeless elegance borne of the design’s inherent simplicity and visual logic, while its overall exuberance is unmistakably American," says Lincoln Design Director Gerry McGovern.
Inside the MK 9, a combination of Dark Cherry Red and Marlboro Red leathers with accents of polished metal create a luxurious lounge environment. The front seats - which are cantilevered off the center console to improve passenger foot space - take their design influence from the Eames Lounge Chair, a mid-20th Century American classic, which was designed for comfort.
The symmetrical dashboard is clean and simple. The etched glass instruments are crafted with jewel-like quality and illuminated indirectly. The MK9’s controls are a combination of advanced digital and analog interfaces. Navigation and telematics information is displayed on a reconfigurable screen in the center console that is operated by retractable controls that sit flush when not in use. The transmission selection is by an electronic, column-mounted paddle shifter.
The creation of a design philosophy to define American Luxury at Lincoln is being driven by an international team of designers headed by McGovern, who joined Lincoln Mercury in 1999 from Rover Group, where he was Design Director for Land Rover vehicles.
"Lincoln has given me an incredible opportunity to hand-select a team of the best young designers from all over the world to explore the brand’s heritage and build a design philosophy around the tangible and emotional qualities that define America and American Luxury," McGovern says.
"We have a holistic view of product design that is different from a traditional automotive approach," McGovern adds. "Lincoln Design and our show properties like the MK 9 are about defining and embracing a philosophy to guide every step of the product development process."
The Lincoln design team, which includes interior designers, modelers, materials experts and packaging engineers, began their work with an exploration of Lincoln’s heritage.
"Before we could define what Lincoln design should stand for in the future, we first had to understand its past," said McGovern. "In our exploration, we learned that two Lincoln coupes - the 1940 Continental and the 1956 Continental Mark II - followed by the iconic Continental sedans and convertibles of the 1960s, had tremendous cache and were incredible design statements. Interestingly, they all have design elements that are still appropriate in a modern context."
McGovern says the 1940 Continental - a car that architect Frank Lloyd Wright declared to be the most beautiful car in the world - is significant for its sheer elegance. The Continental, which was commissioned by Edsel Ford and designed by E.T. Gregorie, was the first vehicle honored for design excellence by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The Mark II was envisioned as the contemporary evolution of the original Continental. The Mark II established the classic hood, cabin and deck proportions of the modern luxury coupe and was an oasis of restraint in a market dominated by tail fins, chrome and exaggerated styling elements.
The 1961 Continental, which was designed by Elwood Engel, remains one of the most enduring automotive designs of all time. Its sheer body surfaces, unique center-opening doors, chrome-accented shoulder line and overall restraint established a signature look for Lincoln that was totally unique. Pablo Picasso owned a Continental from this era. 1960s-era Continentals still have tremendous visual impact and have been featured in several popular films, including "The Matrix."
"When a brand has such a strong design heritage as Lincoln, the challenge is to recognize the past without being held back by it," McGovern says. "Between the 1940s and the 1960s, Lincolns were about beautiful proportions, elegant sophistication and restraint. These are qualities we can realize in a modern context without being at all retrospective."