While the discipline of concept car creation has not completely disappeared, it had been relegated in the past decade to creating production models dressed up as concept, sometimes only slightly, in order to prepare the public for the arrival of a certain model. But recent true concepts like the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR, and the Audi Skysphere shown at Pebble Beach this year, make up hopeful life faiths for the future of this art.
Yet another example of a true conceptual model is the Lincoln Anniversary Concept, which debuts this week amid a sea of vintage cars and supercars, and alongside the Lincoln Aviator Shinola Concept, at the sports classics show known as The Quail during Monterey Auto Week.
The first thing that is powerfully striking about the Lincoln Anniversary is that it is not an SUV, but a long and elegant passenger car, a type of vehicle that Lincoln does not make today. The second thing is that it is reminiscent of the impressive 2001 Lincoln MK9 concept, without being a copy of it, probably because both take inspiration from glorious coupes of the past such as the 1940 Lincoln Continental, and the 1956 Continental Mk II. Nothing like the bases of a good past in order to create the future.
The Lincoln Anniversary was created at the Lincoln Design Workshop in Dearborn based on a design created by students at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena in the state of California, one of the world’s leading automotive design schools, in response to Lincoln’s challenge to imagine what the brand’s vehicles would look like in 2040 and beyond.
Film students, illustrators, entertainment designers and animators participated in the challenge, creating a general story that goes beyond cars, showing a world of the future into which the four concepts created by automotive design students fit. Lincoln selected the Anniversary design to build the life-size model revealed at The Quail.
“ArtCenter is known for its excellent vehicle design and is in the heart of Hollywood,” said Jordan Meadows, Lincoln’s global strategic design specialist and assistant professor at ArtCenter. “More than just the vehicles themselves, we were looking for that great narrative development, that rich narrative. It is very important to understand the future ecosystem in which a concept vehicle will live.
Lincoln describes the Anniversary Concept as a four-passenger vehicle packed with digital technology that allows its occupants to connect with the present and the past. In fact, the story created for the Anniversary is that of a couple, Julianne and Greg, who in order to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, “set out to revisit some of the favorite places of their youth aboard their Lincoln. As they look back on the moments that bring them together and re-explore the path of their relationship, their Lincoln sedan can access digital images from the past and display their fond memories on the dash, “indicating that this is a fully autonomous car.
Although Lincoln did not talk about the powertrain that could move the Anniversary, he did explain that one of the conditions that the designs should meet was to fully cover the acronym CASE, which means that they should be: connected, autonomous, shared, and electrical (Connected, TOutonomous, Shared and ANDlectric).
Many of my colleagues will warn you not to expect a vehicle like the Anniversary at Lincoln dealers in the foreseeable future. For me that warning is unnecessary since the model poses a vision of 20 years in the future, and its ultra-futuristic appearance indicates this. For now, Lincoln should be persuaded to start making passenger cars again. The fact that they have shown a concept like Anniversary means that they are not completely closed to the idea, which is in itself the best news that this concept brings.