Lincoln Gets Serious About Limousines: Interview with Roy Radakovich

Posted on September 1, 1988 by LCT Interview


Speaking to a gathering of coachbuilders in Las Vegas last November, Lincoln/Mercury engineer Roy Radakovich reflected on Lincoln’s rise to popularity in the limousine industry over the past several years. Radakovich noted that Lincoln takes pride in the growing acceptance of the Town Car by the limousine industry, and said that the manufacturer has no immediate plans to downsize or change the model in any way that would make it less suitable for limousine conversion.

For 1989, Radakovich explained that the Town Car will remain much like the ‘88 model. At the same time, he suggested that Lincoln did have a number of dramatic ideas for the Town Car on the drawing board but that they were not likely to appear sooner than 1990.

Meanwhile, the 1989 model has arrived and it is basically the same in appearance and performance as last year’s version. You want new exterior colors? You can choose from seven of them. Itching for a new interior motif? How about trying one of two new upholstery colors to go along with this year’s enhanced interior woodgrain accents?!

As before, the Town Car can be ordered with a 100 amp alternator, dual exhaust system, and a Trailer Towing Package that brings beefier suspension, heavy-duty rear brakes, upgraded U-joints, and automatic load leveling as well as several other heavy-duty refinements. The Town Car also retains its six-year/60,000 mile warranty.

In 1990, however, there is good reason to expect a restyled and redesigned Town Car, Although the ‘90 model is expected to retain its large-sedan size and interior seating capacity, tapered body panels will give the car an updated aerodynamic look similar to the Lincoln Continental or the Ford Taurus.

Beneath the surface, however, the ‘90 Town Car is expected to retain its five-liter power plant, four-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel-drive powertrain. This fall, according to Radakovich, Lincoln plans to develop an engineering team to gather ideas from the limousine industry and recommend additional improvements,

“The 1990 model might present a few minor challenges for coachbuilders,” says Radakovich. “but it shouldn’t be a real problem for anyone. For example, they will have to retain the taper of the new body panels, but we don’t think the ‘90 model will create any serious problems.”

On the contrary, coachbuilders are likely to welcome an updated base unit if it yields a new-look limousine that excites and stimulates the market.

As 1989 model information was released, Roy Radakovich discussed present and future changes in the Town Car with Limousine & Chauffeur.

L&C: How does Lincoln feel about its emergence in the limousine industry over the past few years?

Radakovich: Great’ It reflects that the limousine industry, just like the retail industry, is recognizing Lincoln’s superior quality and value.

L&C: How would you compare the Town Car with the competition?

Radakovich: The Lincoln Town Car is obviously the choice for limousine conversions as evidenced by the Town Car’s dominance in the marketplace. Town Car increased from a 10 percent market share five years ago to over 60 percent today.

L&C: What changes are planned for the Town Car in 1990?

Radakovich: For 1990 we will introduce an all new Town Car which, in our opinion, will give us greater opportunities in the limousine industry.

L&C: How does limousine conversion affect the Lincoln manufacturer’s warranty?

Radakovich: Components that are not modified and that are not affected by the modification are fully covered by the new vehicle warranty that is currently in place.

L&C: How would you describe the general level of quality and safety in stretch limousines?

Radakovich: We do not have the capacity at this time to determine the quality of each coachbuilder’s workmanship.

L&C: Would you like to see construction standards introduced in the coach building industry?

Radakovich: Some standardization would be appropriate (i.e. limit lengths and weights to assure that the components of a vehicle meet safety and transportation requirements.)

L&C: What trends do you foresee in automotive design?

Radakovich: Some of the things I expect are increased space utilization, higher technology powertrains, and improved comfort and convenience items.    

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