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Concept Car of the Week: Lincoln Sentinel (1996)

Fri, 27 Dec 2013 00:00:00 -0800

After a decade of the rounded forms of bio-design, car manufacturers worldwide wondered what the next big trend would be. Ford's answer appeared in 1995 with the breathtaking GT90 that inaugurated the experimental 'Edge Design' era, defined by its use of precise edges, tight lines and sharp graphics. The following year, Lincoln unveiled an evolution of the same theme, this time on a luxurious flagship concept rather than an open supercar.

Just an inch shorter than the 1996 Town Car, the Sentinel was a four-door, full-fat rear-wheel drive sedan that reinterpreted classic Lincoln design traits. With its classic proportions using a high, linear belt line and crisp, simple bodysides, the Sentinel is immediately identifiable as a Lincoln. Purists will recognise a new interpretation of a 1940s-style Continental grille with its fine chrome bars set into the metallic black exterior. The elegant profile, punctuated by spartan use of chrome, is reminiscent of early 1960s models as are the rear suicide doors, clearly coming from the 1961 Continental.

However, it is not a retro design in any way. The piano black finish and flush glazing all add to the uncluttered look of the exterior. Sitting on large 20-inch brushed aluminum aero wheels, the Sentinel is very imposing, and almost too aggressive for a Lincoln.

This interpretation of Edge design was further evolved with the most successful model being the first generation Focus. Despite the fantastic vision expressed in its advanced design, Lincoln's production range did not enjoy the same level of innovative thinking and the brand fell into a decade of forgettable sedans, cheap beige plastics and depressing badge engineering.

Time told us that Ford's lack of interest for Lincoln was a big mistake. Many other brands picked up on its design theme including its main competitor over at GM, which cleverly evolved it into Cadillac's ‘Art and Science', still being used today.


First seen 1996 NAIAS
Advanced design director Tom Scott
Interior design Ghia
Length 5,537 mm
Engine Later fitted with 6-liter V12

Your author, Flavien Dachet, is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if isn't already in your bookmarks, certainly should be.


By Flavien Dachet