Friday, June 19, 2009

The Crisp, Edgy Lincoln Navicross Concept

When two of your three brands are damaged, concern for your company’s long term viability is warranted. Though the Ford brand itself has taken its lumps, Ford’s truck line up and a new fleet of cars has made Ford desirable again. Were that true for the company’s Mercury and Lincoln brands.

Mercury, in particular, has little reason for continuance for one simple reason: not a single model is anything but a rebadged Ford. Unfortunately, the same can be said for Lincoln as the Navigator, MKZ, and MKS are copies of Ford models. But in the case of Lincoln, at least Ford took some care to lux out these “near luxury” models.

The tide for Ford appears to be turning thanks to the sell of of three premium brands: Aston Martin, Jaguar, and LandRover. Jaguar, in particular, represented a financial black hole as FoMoCo poured billions of dollars into the brand while neglecting Mercury and Lincoln.

Though Mercury is still without solid evidence that it should survive for the long term, Lincoln is finally making a case for its survival. Indeed, sales are up and with the all-new MKS making its debut in Summer 2008, Lincoln may finally have a model worthy enough to take on Cadillac.

The concept Navicross made its debut at the 2003 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and helped usher in the 2006 MKS concept which also was first unveiled in Detroit.

You may not like the looks of the Navicross or wonder how the vehicle will fit in with Ford’s plans for Lincoln, but rest assured that this vehicle or something like it will probably come to fruition. Now that Ford management has its sense back and has tossed its three money losing premium brands, attention can be given to back Lincoln.

Note the rear hinge for the rear doors — this vehicle evokes the “suicide door” theme of the mid-1960s era Continental. The truck compartment is interesting, somewhat like a hatch with a rear seat that folds flat.

The interior colors are a bit over the top for my tastes, but the center stack is clean looking — do you see the console area for the front passenger? This trend I believe will explode over the next few years as full-fledged entertainment and internet systems become standard on most vehicles.

Kudos for the Lincoln design team for creating the Navicross, a crossover sedan of sorts. Lincoln needs new and fresh material to attract buyers and the Navicross could be the right step in that direction.

Lincoln Premiere

1956 Lincoln Premiere coupe

Lincoln Premiere 1956

The Lincoln Premiere was a luxury car sold by Ford Motor Company's Lincoln-Mercury division. It was produced in both 2 and 4 door versions both seating 6 people. A limousine version was also offered, which had the same wheelbase as the sedan but its cabin extended further back, allowing for more space for rear passengers, plus a division window. The Premiere was sold in the 1956 to 1960 model years, inclusive, and was positioned below the company's Continental and above the Capri. The vehicle featured a 6.0 L V8 and was approximately 223" (5664 mm) long. The vehicle weighed 4357 lb (1976.3 kg) and had a price tag of approximately $4,600 in 1956, which equals roughly $31,730 in 2005 dollars.

The Premiere was known for its stylish exterior, high-grade interior and some unique features. For example, when equipped with optional "factory air conditioning," the vents were located overhead, much like those in an aircraft. The cool air was directed to the roof via a pair of clear plastic ducts visible through the rear window at each side, connecting upward from the rear package tray.

Lincoln Futura

1955 Lincoln Futura Concept

The Lincoln Futura was a concept car designed by the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company. It was built by Ghia entirely by hand in Italy at a cost of $250,000 and displayed on the auto show circuit in 1955.

Futura's styling was extravagantly impractical even by the standards of the '50s, with a double, clear-plastic canopy top, exaggerated hooded headlight pods, and very large, outward-canted tailfins at both ends of the vehicle. Nevertheless, the Futura had a complete powertrain and was fully operable in contrast to many show cars then and now. Its original color was white, and was one of the first Pearlescent color treatments, using ground pearl to achieve the paint effect. The Futura was powered by a 368 cubic inch Lincoln engine and powertrain; the chassis was that of a Lincoln Mark II.

The Futura was a success as a show car, garnering a great deal of favorable publicity for Ford. It was released as a model kit and a toy, and in a much more subdued form its headlight and tailfin motifs would appear on production Lincolns for 1956 and 1957. It even played a prominent part in a movie, 1959's It Started with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford. For the movie, it was painted red, as the pearlescent finish did not photograph well.

After that, though, the car would logically have been forgotten and perhaps destroyed, as most show cars of that time were. However, it was somehow sold into the hands of George Barris, one of the great auto customizers. As the car was never titled and was therefore uninsurable, it was parked behind Barris' shop where it sat idle for several years and was allowed to deteriorate.

In 1966 Barris was requested to design a theme car for the Batman television series, Barris then contracted stylist Dean Jeffries to build a car for the show. Jeffries worked on the design and initial fabrication for the Batmobile, using a 1959 Cadillac, but when the studio wanted the car faster than he could deliver, he turned it back to George Barris.[1] With the short notice, Barris thought the Futura might work well, and using Jeffries initial car, decided that its unusual winged shape would be an ideal starting point for the Batmobile. Barris hired Bill Cushenberry to do the metal modifications to the car.

Barris went on to build five duplicates for the show circuit, three of which are covered with a felt-like finish. For the filming of the Batman Series, Barris replaced the Lincoln frame and engine with 1966 Ford Galaxie parts.

External links:

A very comprehensive Futura page

George Barris interview

Original Batmobile at Barris' own website

Volo Auto Museum Hollywood collection page

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Speed Camera's Appearing On U.S. Roads

Coming Soon to a Freeway Near You?

by Craig Howie | AOL Autos [Source]

You may already have seen an ominous looking radar and camera perched atop a traffic light in your neighborhood. And almost all drivers have seen a patrol car cruising a freeway looking for speeders, or a law-enforcement officer standing at the side of a road wielding a radar gun. But most have yet to see a freeway speed camera, which are common in Europe but currently are operated in just two U.S. states. Opponents and backers of speed cameras both suggest that eventually speed cameras will become the norm on US freeways. But just how likely is a nationwide roll-out? And what factors stand in the way? We take a look.

Sponsoring Legislation In Maryland

Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley, signed into law on May 19 Senate Bill 277, allowing the use of speed cameras in highway work zones and within a half-mile radius of schools, which means that they can be placed on freeways under these conditions. Maryland is only the second state behind Arizona to codify the use of freeway speed cameras into law. Hawaii piloted a program but dropped it, and similar programs near San Jose, Calif., and in southern Florida were dismantled after they were found to be operating outside of state law. Maryland's law takes effect from Oct. 1.

Sean Adamec, the governor's spokesman, responded to our inquiries.

"Maryland is in a unique position," Adamec said. "A pilot program in Montgomery shows it worked; it lowered incidences of fatalities, crashing and speeding and made neighborhoods safer. It's safer for kids, road workers and it's been shown to work based on evidence. The point of them isn't to raise money but to catch speeders and that in turn makes neighborhoods safer.

"We wouldn't propose any tax on motorists traveling at safe speeds. If it was revenue rising we would've done it years ago, [but cameras] slow people down so they don't need to levy so many fines. Of course there is a financial impact to make roads safer with less fatalities, but in the end you can't put a price on the life of a child."

Fighting Legislation In Arizona

Sam Crump, an Arizona assemblyman who is opposed to the speed cameras and has backed legislation to have them removed from the state's freeways in 2010, says the main backing for speed cameras within Arizona has come from "senior citizens groups," but there has been a surprising agreement between his core conservative followers and college students over privacy concerns.

"It's been the subject of some debate since we introduced it and some legislators have been surprised by the controversy," Crump said. "We expect it to come up for a vote in the next couple weeks. If it fails, we'll say more power to the people. But every time [a freeway speed-camera initiative] has been up for a vote in any place it has failed."

Arizona's former governor, Janet Napolitano, predicted Arizona's freeway camera system would generate $90 million in profit for the state in 2009, and $34 million for the private company that runs it. Crump, however says the system's total profit has been in the range of "$20 to $25 million a year," which leads him to suggest that speed camera detractors who say it's only a device to make money could be wrong.

"I caution people that it really is technology in the hands of Big Brother," Crump said. "We've got 70 or so [freeway speed cameras] right now, and they're looking at [a total of] 200."

Safety At Issue

Russ Rader, at the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, says that, outside of freeways, speed cameras are used in 48 communities nationwide, including in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, and Washington DC. The group's research shows that photo enforcement "works to slow drivers down. Cameras do what police officers can't -- enforce speed limit laws 24/7. Speeding is a major safety problem on our roads. It contributes to one-third of all crash deaths."

The IIHS found that speed cameras "can substantially reduce speeding on a wide range of roadway types. Six months after implementation of speed cameras on residential streets and school zones in Montgomery County, Maryland, in 2007, the proportion of drivers exceeding speed limits by more than 10 mph declined by about 70 percent. Implementation of a 9-month pilot program using fixed speed cameras on a busy urban freeway in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2006 was associated with up to a 95 percent decrease in the odds that drivers would travel more than 10 mph above the posted 65 mph speed limit."

"The main argument opponents use against camera enforcement is that it can be a cash cow for local governments," Rader said. "If you don't like the idea of sending revenue to your local government, don't break the law. It's hardly unreasonable to expect drivers to stay within 10 mph of the speed limit. I have an elementary school in my neighborhood, which is bisected by a major commuter road where drivers regularly speed like banshees. I want those drivers ticketed. Period. There aren't enough police officers to do that everywhere."

Nationwide Rollout?'s Richard Diamond, an opponent of speed cameras, says it's hard at times to weigh which "side" -- opponents of the cameras, or their detractors -- is "winning."

"There are places where cameras are advancing, and places where they're retreating," said Diamond. "For politicians, the desire is on increase, but whether they can get away with it, that level has gone down."

He says lawmakers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Montana and Mississippi failed to get a freeway speed camera measure onto a ballot, but points to Maryland as an example of lawmakers' success. He says 13 states have specific laws banning freeway cameras, but he sees a natural progression from states using red-light cameras to using freeway speed cameras.

"The biggest issue opponents have is it creates a legal system where you're presumed guilty without a trial," Diamond said. "If a database says you're a criminal, you are. Once you let in the cameras it opens the door that this is OK."

He says protesting freeway speed cameras can be an arduous task.

"Somebody willing to go to the effort for 30 days and grab 20,000 signatures takes dedication."

Grassroots Activism

Todd Kandaris, at, says his Arizona-based group's campaign against freeway cameras started late in 2008 and his group's member numbers have swelled from 100 to about 1500. He says the group works to bring attention to the issue through protests and publicity stunts.

"Early on we concentrated on raising awareness and getting attention, [with] groups of people getting out there and protesting," said Kandaris. "We find that highway overpasses work well. Thousands [of motorists] go by in a given hour, and [it gets] lots of media attention. We demo'd in front of the manufacturer's headquarters. Earlier this year we introduced a citizen's initiative with the secretary of state, attempting to put the issue on the ballot, to let citizens vote on it in 2010."

He says the group must collect more than 150,000 signatures by July 2010 to place the issue on the statewide ballot, and is working with groups in Virginia, Louisiana, D.C., Texas and Ohio. "Cameras have never withstood a vote of the public, which tells you this is a device used by politicians and corporations to make money. It's not like we're a bunch of evil speeding people, we want traffic control as much as everyone else. We just think this is just a device to bilk money out of the public."

Legal Standpoint

Sherman Ellison, a California lawyer who fights regular speeding and traffic tickets, says that a key legal issue is the data-gathering system by which driver information is collected by companies and then distributed to law-enforcement agencies, who then issue the citation to the car's driver, or owner (which varies by state).

"If you were driving down the street and ran a red light and an officer pulled you over he'd write a ticket for failing to stop," Ellison said. "He would have visually observed [the offense] and you'd either plead or go to trial, where you'd be able to ask him for proof of that. In the photo context there is no officer, it's just a camera connected to a laptop, and that system sends that information to a company, whether that's Redflex or another, that sends data digitally to the contractor.

"The difficulty in this process is they will crop or enhance these photos or whatever they feel they have to do, for the determination of whether they broke the law. I demand that they prove this is a true and correct photograph and rarely they'll go through that process."

Redflex Responds

Cristine Weeks, a spokeswoman for Redflex, an Australian company headquartered near Phoenix that works in tandem with seven other vendors enforcing speed limits nationwide and operates Arizona's freeway speed-camera system, says several studies -- including those of the IIHS, Arizona State University and the Arizona Department of Transportation -- have demonstrated camera "efficacy and accident reductions."

She says the Redflex infrastructure was set up without any additional taxpayer funds and that the company contracts with various state and city departments in the same way as a waste-management company would. The company reported $88.2 million in revenue for its global operations in 2008 -- and an annual increase of 43 percent in U.S. traffic revenues from $44.3 million to $63.3 million -- and an operating profit of $10.6 million.

She says the company's data-gathering process involves analyzing digital still images as well as streaming video, and that the company performs a quality check of any images before sending them to law-enforcement officers, who review all of the evidence before authorizing any citation.

"Nothing is changed on the image. They are not 'Photoshopped,'" Weeks said. "It is impossible to 'shop in a light system. In the early days it was a question many wanted to know. [But] the agencies are walked through to see how the process works, and a violator can view their own video."

She says radars similar to mobile-police devices measure a motorist's time over distance and any breach of the speed limit results in a camera image of the front of the car, including the driver, and the car's rear license plate. She says although Arizona freeway drivers are not levied points on their license for any breach of the law, that as drivers are forced to pay more fines, they become "more aware" of their driving patterns, and modify their driving accordingly.

Monday, June 1, 2009



Black with Red leather interior, V12 purrs like a kitten, very solid car with all its parts, runs great, looks great. Automatic, AM radio, leather seats, leather trim.

1941 Lincoln Zephyr 4-Door Sedan

1941 Lincoln Zephyr 4-Door Sedan

Totally beautiful 1941 Lincoln Zephyr 4 door sedan with suicide doors, 282cid V12 engine and rated at 120hp. Car is mainly original. It has been painted and the front and rear seats have been re-upholstered with the same original material. Door panels and headliner are original. The original V12 engine has been rebuilt and it runs in perfect condition. The engine is barely audible at idle. The car has the original 3-speed manual transmission. It also has the original working radio and heater and the outside hood air vent. Original push-button door opener from the inside.