Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lincoln LS a 4 door V-8 powered rear wheel drive sedan with IRS.

The LS suffered from poor marketing and low power when compared to it's competition. Since it's initial release, sales have been steadily dropping and word is that Ford will bring a replacement based on the Volvo S-80 platform, with front wheel and optional all wheel drive.

When it first arrived the LS had 252 hp from a 3.9 L V-8 that was shared with the Thunderbird and Jaguar S Type. Later the horsepower in the Lincoln and Thunderbird rose to 283 hp. The problem was Cadillac's new CTS and Chrysler's 300 were both available with much more power, closer to 350-400 hp. Now for Jaguar, Ford added a sueprcharger and this 4.0 l V-8 puts out 390 hp.

The LS pictured above has a 4.6 supercharged V-8 and was built by Ford Engineers to race in the One Lap of America race. So it's apparent that the chassis will accept the larger V-8 and more power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the My Ford Dreams site, especially when the author is frank and open about whats wrong with Ford and how it could be made right. We both like Ford a lot, but we also know (and acknowledge) that many things need serious improvement.

As I've said before in my own blogs, the LS is IMHO one of the more serious failures of Ford over the past few years... not only as an unrealized competitive statement (it's a great car) but as an example of lack of continuous improvement, succession planning, and even as a failure from the enthusiasts point of view. What started out as a great car went exactly nowhere, what started out as practically inventing the G35/CTS type of class went nowhere and fell quickly behind (both of those compatetitors aren't any different architecturally, but competitively are far ahead).

FYI, the 4.6-powered LS built for the event was a failure... suffering from overheating issues. This does surprise me, since LS mules have been running around as next-gen Mustang prototypes for years (not only as what actually ended up as the 2005 Mustang, but the false start that occured before that). The team should have been able to find one that was available. It was nonetheless a great effort, and it's also nice to see that Ford still has engineers who want to attend such events - and do it with an appropriately unique car. This may well have been their own attempt to get some interest in the LS going again... a car which from all indications appears doomed.

In any case, the problem with putting a 4.6 into a production LS is that the engine won't go into the car under assembly line conditions - the original designers (incredibly) failed to account for this possibility. The engine fits fine: the distance between the frame rails is wider than an SN95 Mustang (I've measured them side by side myself), but it won't go in from underneath. This fact alone is probably fairly high on the list of factors that doom the car in the long term - without a 4.6 the car is saddled with an orphan engine (the 3.9) that is built solely for this car (the Thunderbird already having been cancelled) and is a contributor to Ford's high costs.

The 2005 Mustang originally started on this architecture and was then dumbed-down. A strut-based LS was first built in the late nineties to explore potential Mustang architectures - I had an interesting (but frustrating) conversation with Tom Scarpello in approx '98 about this car and was then lucky enough to encounter one in Ford's "mule junkyard" in Dearborn a few years later. That "junkyard" used to be in an open parking lot - it wasn't secured and was located right next door to a popular restaurant where any number of Ford engineers could usually be found winding down at the end of the day. Both were favorite spots of mine when I used to be in Dearborn frequently on totally unrelated business trips - during which I always took a drive past various Ford sites to see what was happening (a topic for another long blog someday).

The 2005 Mustang only resembles the LS in general dimensional terms - the front frame rails are actually very different (put both cars on lifts sometime and take a close look at them). The Mustang is probably a a lot better structurally (standards have changed considerably since the DEW platform was designed), it's wider underneath, and it's considerably simpler to build (of course it's also taken a major step backwards architecturally because of the antique strut design). The main goals of the Mustang rework from the LS architecture were to significantly reduce cost, and secondarily to allow more room in the engine compartment for engines above the 4.6.

This suggests an idea - why not take this Mustang architecture and send it back to a DEW successor? Many benefits here, including commonality, flexibility (perhaps even sending back an SLA suspension to the Mustang?). The resulting car would be downmarket from the current LS (which costs too much anyway), and would make a fine competitor to the enormously successful Infiniti G35. The resulting platform would be a bit larger than the G35 (which would be appropriate for the Lincoln), and would compete with both the G35 (using the new Duratec 3.5) as well as the M35/45 (using an upmarket 4.6 or it's future variants). And the 300C - a car which is IMHO just too large and bulky to be of interst to a real enthusiast.

Oh well, now we're talking about my own "Ford Dreams"... I fear the LS will end up on a Ford Five Hundred chassis, leaving Ford Motor Company without a rear-wheel drive enthusiasts product.