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Ten Questions With Earl Lucas, Lincoln chief exterior designer

Driving.ca logo Driving.ca 2017-02-16 David Booth

Ebony magazine describes Earl Lucas as “the brother who revived the Taurus,” a task that he says not only rendered Ford’s family sedan relevant again but also propelled him into the position he holds today as Lincoln’s head of exterior design. Lucas, says Ebony, realized he too could put some revitalizing “sizzle” in an otherwise unprepossessing mid-sized sedan — an ability he may have garnered by designing mondo blinged-out jet interiors, including, he swears, an entire collection of gold-plated titanium spoons, for the Sultan of Brunei. A lower roofline, some larger wheels and a much sleeker design later, Ford’s long-ignored family sedan had been made exciting again. 

That success led to an international assignment, which led to Lucas’ recent appointment as chief exterior designer for Ford’s struggling luxury brand, Lincoln. It appears that Lucas’ ability to shepherd exciting designs is already reaping rewards for Lincoln with the Continental garnering rave reviews and accolades. “Lincoln is a premium brand, and there’s a greater expectation of what it should be. This new Lincoln DNA is going to live up to expectations,” says Lucas. Ford certainly hopes so; it’s hoping to triple Lincoln production over the next four years. Here, then, is a little more on the man who hopes to “seduce” consumers “into falling in love” with the “quiet luxury” of Lincoln: 

1) Automotive design is …

Rolling sculpture that speaks to the inner most wants of the customer. Automotive design is a fashion statement that is on display for an on-looking world — showing the customers taste level and what the customer imagines himself to be. 

Earl Lucas, head of exterior design at Lincoln, at the 2017 Canadian International Auto Show. © Clayton Seams, Driving Earl Lucas, head of exterior design at Lincoln, at the 2017 Canadian International Auto Show.

2) The car that inspired me to become an automotive designer was …

The Mach 5 from the Speed Racer cartoon. As a kid I was fascinated by shapes and gadgets. The Mach 5’s extra devices were cool because they could get Speed out of any dangerous situation. I think those cartoons had a big influence on lots of car designers. I mean, what’s better than a single button that can get you out of any jam. 

3) My first car was …

A white 1988 Dodge Omni. It was originally bought for my sister but eventually handed down to me. I like to think I’ve come a long way from that little Omni. 

4) The first automobile I designed (professionally) was…

The Lincoln Navigator, but I only got to do interior parts and details. 

5) My favorite Lincoln design is…

The 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II. But I am also in love with the 1984 Lincoln Continental, because my grandfather owned one and it is the lasting memories of my man who I loved and respected very much. I knew as soon as that big boat was in the driveway that my granddad was home. 

6) If I could put my name on any competitor’s product it would be …

Jaguar’s F-type. It’s all about the proportions. It’s not their design language or even what the F-Type means to the brand that intrigues me. It’s just that they got the proportions just right. 

7) My ideal three-car garage would be… 

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429, 1963 Buick Riviera, 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint 1600 GT.

8) The biggest surprise I ever got from the public reaction to one of my designs was …

Stopping at a car wash and one of the attendants knew that I worked on the car I was driving. Thrilling, but odd nonetheless. 

9) The Continental has been such a success that it will …

Continue the legacy and heritage of a famous flagship nameplate, as well our goal to seduce more people into the Lincoln brand. 

10) I wish the Continental had been …

Sooner to market because of the importance of the nameplate to our brand.

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