Lincoln had a big, fancy, upscale lounge-looking display at the Detroit Auto Show this week that screamed "We're not a dead brand yet!" but their lineup says "We could use some fresh ideas!" Why not go with one of the weirdest cars ever to wear a Lincoln badge?
Yes, that car you're looking at is a Lincoln. Not a Citroën, not an Audi, but a Lincoln. The luxury division of Ford, the one that got famous making big, stylish sedans and coupes once made a Kammback spaceship in the 1980s. This is the Lincoln Quicksilver Ghia Concept.
And now you can own it too if you really want.
(Welcome to Long Lost Concept Cars, a new semi-regular series on Fridays where we highlight amazing concepts from years past that never made it to production — but maybe should have.)
The Quicksilver Ghia concept doesn't look like any Lincoln before or since because it was designed in a faraway land called Europe. Specifically, in Italy, by the firm Carrozzeria Ghia, which at the time of the Quicksilver's debut in the 1980s was a division of Ford itself.
Ghia has a long history of designing and/or building interesting cars for the Ford family, including Lincoln. They built the Lincoln Futura in 1955, which Adam West famously later painted black so he could use it to fight crime. Lots of top-model Fords have worn the Ghia badge over the years as well.
This teardrop-shaped, ultra-aerodynamic Quicksilver Ghia debuted in Europe and proved so popular that it was used in auto shows for years in the 1980s. It didn't result in any production Lincolns — let alone Fords in general — but its retro-futuristic looks still stand out today.
Also, now you can buy it. This particular Quicksilver Ghia is going up for auction at Mecum fairly soon; they expect it will fetch somewhere between $60,000 and $75,000, if not more. It's generally quite rare for concept cars to go to auction, especially ones that run.
Oh yeah. This baby is an actual, working car.
What was it? A five-door wagon that used the Kammback (or Kammtail) design that had become popular for its aerodynamic qualities in the 60s and 70s, the Quicksilver Ghia was developed for the 1983 Geneva Auto Show. (Of course it was Geneva. This may have caused a riot in Detroit.) It proved to be so popular, so ahead of its time, that it ran the global auto show circuit until 1986.
What were the specs? The Ghia was actually based on the chassis of a British AC 3000ME sports car that had been lengthened by nearly a foot, according to Mecum. It was driven by the ancient, ubiquitous 2.8-liter Cologne V6 — which did a terrible job of being an engine in all sorts of neat cars — with an unspecified amount of power mated to a five-speed manual.
What else made it special? Besides the Lincoln badge? Well, as Hooniverse noted this week, that design resulted in a super-low .30 coefficient of drag, making it more aerodynamic than a Lexus LFA. It's mid-engined, too; the motor and transmission were placed just ahead of the rear axle for superior weight distribution.
What did it look like on the inside? Maybe not as out there as some crazy early 1980s European cars, but still very unique. The doors and seats are covered in the same cloth, and the shifter is gated. Check out those steering wheel buttons too! Ahead of its time. It sure didn't look like the inside of any other 1983 Lincoln.
Did it actually run? Indeed it did, which isn't always the case with concept cars.
Was it ever planned for production? It doesn't seem that it was. Here's what Autoweek said about the car:
This design ultimately did not lead to a production car from any of the Ford Motor Company brands, an opportunity missed perhaps, but other automakers seized upon the packaging this concept presented. Today the design still seems relatively fresh (compared to some other concepts from the 1980s) and it's still hard to believe that it predates the debut of the Taurus by three years. Aside from the position of the engine, there wasn't really anything prohibitively expensive from a production standpoint about this car, or anything that presented unsolvable engineering issues.
Should it have been produced? I don't know. Maybe? What it it had been? What if this had become the new flagship car for Lincoln? At the time, they were still producing those horrendous neo-Baroque monstrosities while Mercedes-Benz and BMW were at work redefining luxury and performance for a younger generation of Americans.
Maybe the Quicksilver could have set Lincoln on a different path, one with high technology and avant garde design. Of course, this was an American car company in the 1980s, so it's hard to fathom that they would have ever gone with anything this radical.
It probably wouldn't have worked. But it's fun to think about.