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Lincoln gives Town Car buyers more room for luggage

Lincoln's new products
Lincoln will unveil a wide range of vehicles at auto shows in Los Angeles, Detroit and New York.

  • Re-engineered 2003 Navigator sport-utility and Continental concept car: Los Angeles, January

  • Re-engineered 2003 Town Car: Detroit, January

  • 2003 Aviator, a mid-sized sport-utility: New York, March

  • Restyled 2003 LS: Timetable not announced

  • Lincoln's flagship sedan has been re-engineered for the 2003 model year to make the car more appealing to senior citizens and limousine drivers.

    The 2003 Town Car receives a stiffer frame that improves the ride, better brakes and steering, more horsepower and torque and a larger, reconfigured trunk.

    Sales begin next summer. The car will be on display at Detroit's North American International Auto Show in January.

    Lincoln spokesman Jim Cain said the automaker enlisted a group of Town Car owners - current and retired Ford employees - to recommend changes for the 2003 model. Other suggestions came from limousine drivers. Both groups said they wanted more usable trunk space.

    The solution was to move the mini spare tire to the right side of the trunk, where it now is positioned vertically. This freed up a large area behind the rear seat.

    Lincoln also restyled the rear fenders and trunk lid to create an opening that is 7.8 inches wider and slightly lower than that on the 2002 Town Car.

    Automatic trunk lid

    A new feature on Cartier models is a trunk lid that can be raised or lowered at the push of a button. Other Town Car models are equipped with a self-locking trunk lid for the first time.

    Other changes for 2003 include:

  • Structural changes to the frame, which have increased torsional rigidity 24 percent and resistance to vertical bending 20 percent, resulting in a more solid ride.

  • A new dual-rate brake booster, which assists emergency braking. The booster automatically supplies full braking power even if the driver does not apply enough braking power to engage the antilock brakes.

  • Rack-and-pinion steering, which replaces the recirculating ball system. One of the benefits is a weight savings of 22.5 pounds.

  • A 4.6-liter V-8, which produces 235 hp and 275 pounds-feet of torque, an increase of 15 hp and 10 pounds-feet of torque.

  • Thicker insulation added to the wheelhouses, roof, pillars and doors, which reduces interior noise.

  • Restyled front fenders, hood and grille; high-intensity discharge headlamps, standard on the Cartier L and optional on the Cartier; and 17-inch wheels, standard on all models, up from 16-inch wheels.

    The 2003 Town Car is trimmed on the interior with a satin nickel finish instead of glossy chrome. Mike Crowley, Lincoln group brand manager, said the more muted nickel finish is now part of the Lincoln look and will turn up on all subsequent products.

    Slipping sales

    Ten-month sales for the Town Car totaled 57,385, compared with 70,178 for the year-ago period. The average age of a Town Car buyer is 70.

    Lincoln plans to sell about 70,000 Town Cars in 2002, Crowley said. Sixty-five percent of Town Car sales are expected to be retail units, he said.

    Lincoln will continue to offer the Town Car Cartier L and Executive L models. Both models are stretched six inches, providing additional legroom for rear seat passengers. The Executive L is available only to the limousine business.

    Rick Brisson, Town Car brand manager, said the Cartier L accounts for about 3,600 sales annually, with an equal number for the Executive L.

    The price difference between the standard Cartier sedan and the Cartier L is $4,510 for the 2002 model. Prices for the 2003 model have not been announced.

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