2003 Lincoln Town Car Unveiled At Henry Ford's Fairlane Estate.
By: Editor

Ford Motor Company Chief Operating Officer Nick Scheele and newly appointed Lincoln Mercury President Brian Kelley tonight unveiled the 2003 Lincoln Town Car – the first of three all-new or significantly freshened Lincoln models that will debut this summer – at Fairlane, the historic Henry Ford estate on the Rouge River.

The Town Car’s design, package and functional attributes all are improved:

  • The exterior design is more formal, trunk stowage is improved, the cabin is quieter and more refined, and it has a wealth of new comfort and convenience features.
  • A new frame, steering, brakes and front suspension significantly improve ride and handling.
  • The new frame and new features such as dual-stage front airbags are expected to help Town Car earn quadruple five-star ratings in U.S. government crash tests.

    “The Town Car has been Lincoln’s bedrock,” Scheele says. “Its abiding strength, together with the success of the Navigator and LS in attracting a new and broad range of customers to the brand, has given the company the confidence to invest in a long-term growth strategy for Lincoln.”

    Town Car customers are extremely loyal – almost 60 percent are repeat buyers; 65 percent of them say they don’t even consider another vehicle. This record complements Lincoln’s newer products. Nearly 70 percent of LS customers and 60 percent of Navigator customers are new to the Lincoln brand.

    “The new Town Car marks the beginning of a major product initiative for Lincoln,” says Kelley. “In addition to the new Town Car, the 2003 model year will see the launch of the all-new Lincoln Aviator and a major step forward in the comfort, refinement and sophistication of the Navigator.”

    More to Come
    The 2003 Lincoln Navigator will be unveiled at the 2002 Los Angeles Auto Show in early January, and the all-new 2003 Lincoln Aviator, a mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle, will be unveiled at the 2002 New York Auto Show in late March. Both vehicles, together with Town Car, will be available in Lincoln showrooms in summer 2002. Pricing for all three will be announced closer to launch.

    The Los Angeles Auto Show also will see the debut of a new Lincoln Continental concept car that will advance the design philosophy introduced by last year’s Lincoln MK 9 concept to its purest, most refined expression.

    The 2003 Lincoln Town Car
    Lincoln’s goals for the new Town Car were to enhance the qualities that define Town Car – smoothness, quietness, comfort and abundant storage and trunk space – and instill new-found precision in the car’s dynamics.

    “Town Car has defined full-size luxury for years,” says Al Kammerer, Lincoln product development director. “Our goal for the new Town Car was to exceed the expectations of its large and enthusiastic customer base.”

    The long-term involvement of nearly two-dozen loyal Town Car customers drawn from the ranks of active and retired Ford Motor Company employees helped guide the process. The Town Car “executives,” as they came to be called, met with the engineering team and marketers eight times during a two-year period to share their points of view on the design of the car, its performance and feature content. “Our Town Car executives know exactly what they like about the car and where it can be improved, and they helped hold our feet to the fire to deliver the changes that mattered most to them,” says Jeff Ziegler, Town Car chief program engineer.

    Some of the features or design changes that were added in response to their input include:

  • The return of the stand-up hood ornament (useful as a parking aid)
  • A secondary digital speedometer in the instrument cluster that can be programmed for English or metric units (for improved visibility and to help drivers who travel between Canada and the United States)
  • A 44 percent increase in total interior stowage, including a larger glove compartment and better cup holders
  • Dual-zone climate control, and standard heated seats (certain models)

    Another Town Car forte – its class-leading trunk – has been redesigned for more useable space and easier loading and unloading of cargo.

    For 2003, the Town Car will be offered in Cartier, Signature, and Executive series, as well as long wheelbase Cartier L and Executive L models. The Cartier models, which are the ultimate Town Cars, are expected to account for 20 percent of sales. The extremely well appointed Signature is expected to account for 55 percent of sales. The Executive series, which is popular with commercial customers, including livery and limousine companies, is expected to account for 25 percent of sales.

    The new Lincoln Town Car will be built in Wixom, Mich.

    The design of the 2003 Town Car is an evolution of today’s car, but the hood, fenders and quarter panels have been reshaped to lend the car a more formal appearance. Up front, a new chromed Lincoln signature grille stands more upright and is flanked by quad-beam halogen headlamps that are 60 percent brighter than last year’s dual-beam design. High intensity discharge headlamps, which generate twice the light of conventional halogen bulbs, are optional on Cartier models and standard on the Cartier L. Both Cartier models feature halogen driving lights integrated into the front fascia below the bumper. A stand-up Lincoln star hood ornament returns on all models.

    At the rear of the car, the fascia, taillamps and the chrome license plate surround have been massaged to present a clean, uncluttered appearance. There are 11 rich, exterior colors, as well as three available two-tone color combinations.

    All Town Car models are now fitted with standard 17-by-7-inch “Euroflange” aluminum wheels, which replace last year’s standard 16-inch aluminum wheels. Euroflange wheels have a distinctively clean appearance because the wheel balancing weights are mounted out of sight on the inside rim. Executive and Signature series cars have a 14-spoke design. Cartier models are fitted with a nine-spoke chrome-finished wheel.

    The interior of the Town Car mixes traditional and contemporary elements to create a warm, inviting atmosphere. The soft-touch instrument panel and doors are subtly grained with a milled pebble texture and are available in three palettes: a two-tone light parchment and espresso finish, a light stone and gray combination or monochromatic black.

    The upper and lower reaches of the instrument panel and doors are divided by panels of burl walnut appliqué with subtle accents finished in low luster satin nickel. A distinctive new element is a simple, yet elegant analog clock with chrome chaplets mounted above the climate and audio controls.

    A combination wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard on Signature and Cartier models. The seats in the Signature and Cartier series are trimmed in soft, supple premium leather, and the carpet and mats are a plush, yet durable 20-ounce Shiva pile. The Cartier seats and mats have unique embroidered logos. The headliner and roof pillars are trimmed in an attractive textured fabric.

    Interior Package
    The interior volume of the Town Car is unchanged at 132.9 cubic feet, but a 1.5-inch increase in front seat travel and a host of other design changes to the seats, dashboard and door trim panels improve overall comfort and usable stowage space.

    Town Car’s front seat hip room of 57.3 inches and legroom of 45.8 inches are superior to the Cadillac DeVille and Lexus LS430. The sheer spaciousness of the Town Car, in combination with an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, power lumbar support, standard power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals and a tilt steering column allow almost any person to find a supremely comfortable driving position. The outboard front passenger seat (the three-passenger front seats are split 40/20/40) also features the extended seat travel, eight-way power adjustment and power lumbar support.

    Front seat stowage includes:

  • A new center armrest storage bin that is hinged on both sides to allow easy access by the driver and the front seat passenger
  • New pouches built into the leading edge of the driver and passenger seat cushions
  • Covered bins with padded, hinged lids built into the front door armrests
  • A map sleeve built into the driver’s sun visor
  • A 20 percent larger glovebox
  • Sturdy, redesigned cupholders that now fold out from the leading edge of the center seat
  • A larger ashtray that slides out of the instrument panel

    Rear seat stowage includes large, atlas-sized map pockets built into the front seat backs, two cup holders located in the rear seat armrest and door-mounted ashtrays. A reshaping of the front seatbacks provides an additional 10 millimeters, or nearly half an inch, of knee room for rear seat passenger comfort.

    The Cartier L and Executive L models, which ride on a six-inch longer wheelbase than standard Town Cars, boast more rear seat legroom than any other regular production car or truck on the road today – a total of 47 inches. The long wheel base cars are not “stretched” versions of the standard cars. The frame side rails are fabricated as a one-piece unit, and the roof, body sides and doors are unique stampings. The rear glass fills the door and is 17 percent larger than the previous long wheelbase Town Car for improved visibility.

    The overall utility of Town Car’s best-in-class 20.6-cubic foot trunk is significantly improved. Specifically:

  • The relocation of the mini-spare tire to the right-hand wheel well has freed up a large parcel shelf behind the rear seat backs.
  • On Cartier models, the deep well in the center of the trunk is now fitted with a removable covered bin ideal for stowing grocery bags, a First Aid Kit and other items.
  • The decklid opening is 7.8 inches wider and the liftover height is slightly lower.

    A power trunk pull-down, which securely latches the trunk with minimal effort, is standard on all Town Cars. Cartier models are fitted with a convenient full-power trunk lid that can be opened or closed using the key fob.

    Comfort and Convenience
    Beyond the sheer luxury of space, Town Car provides an impressive array of standard and optional features to make driving or riding comfortable, convenient and refreshing.

    Among the features standard on all models:

  • A new dual-zone climate control system that allows the front seat passengers to select different temperature and fan settings
  • Center console-mounted heat and air conditioning vents for rear seat passengers
  • Remote keyless entry system, illuminated entry with theater lighting and driver’s door-mounted keyless entry keypad
  • Steering wheel-mounted speed control and redundant climate and audio controls
  • Headlamps that automatically turn on at dusk and when the wipers are activated

    Signature and Cartier models also include a memory system that recalls the seating, mirror and adjustable pedal settings for two drivers, as well as heated front seats and windshield wipers that automatically turn on when they sense precipitation. A glass power-sliding moonroof is optional.

    A rear seat amenities package is standard on both the Cartier L and Executive L. The package offers an even more comprehensive array of comfort and convenience features including redundant audio and climate controls mounted in the armrest, two additional powerpoints, an ashtray and cigar lighter in each door and a redundant control to adjust the fore and aft position of the front passenger seat. Heated rear seats are included on the Cartier L.

    Entertainment and Information
    For 2003, Town Car continues to offer an extensive array of entertainment and information systems. The standard audio system for Signature and Cartier models is a 145-watt Alpine dual media AM/FM stereo system with cassette and single disc CD player and four Audiophile speakers, plus an eight-inch subwoofer. A trunk-mounted six-disc changer is optional. The sound system in Executive models includes an AM/FM receiver, as well as cassette and single CD players.

    The Lincoln Vehicle Communication System (VCS), a telematics system first offered on the 2002 Town Car, is available on all series. Lincoln VCS is a mobile wireless communication system built around a fully transportable Motorola digital/analog Timeport phone and Sprint PCS services. It combines safety and security features with voice-activated calling and hands-free functionality.

    Lincoln VCS includes features such as automatic air bag activation notification, occupant-initiated emergency assistance, roadside assistance, hands-free dialing, route guidance, and personal information services (news, sports and stock updates).

    All models are equipped with an overhead console that includes controls for optional equipment, including Lincoln VCS and the moonroof, as well as standard features such as the Homelink™ universal garage door opener, a digital compass and map lights.

    Town Car’s Electronic Message Center is located in the vehicle’s main instrument cluster. It displays average fuel economy, distance to empty, oil life, engine temperature and various fluid levels.

    Driving Dynamics
    The foundation of the Town Car – a full-perimeter steel frame – has been significantly upgraded and are designed to improve crash performance and raise the vehicle’s ride, handling and steering dynamics to a higher level. Braking, powertrain performance and NVH also are improved.

    New Frame:
    The front frame rails are now fully boxed sections of hydroformed steel, which is lighter, stronger and more uniform than the welded steel channels of the old frame. The new rails, which are filled with structural foam in key locations, are designed to help improve offset crash performance.

    Key frame crossmembers also are all new. The critical number two crossmember, which serves as a mounting surface for the steering rack, engine mounts and the suspension’s lower control arms, is now a solid cast aluminum piece. This strong, lightweight crossmember provides more precise mounting surface and better alignment tolerances than the old welded steel crossmember.

    The steel number three crossmember, which ties the frame together behind the A-pillar, is a more robust design that improves the frame’s resistance to torsion and bending forces.

    This new member is designed to help manage side impact crash forces by transferring energy across the frame structure into the opposite rail. All told, the frame’s torsional rigidity has been increased by 24 percent and its resistance to vertical bending has been improved by 20 percent.

    New Steering and Front Suspension:
    The new frame allowed Lincoln engineers to make major changes to the independent short- and long-arm front suspension to improve ride quality. They also replaced the older model’s recirculating ball steering gear with a new rack and pinion steering system that offers greater precision, less friction and weighs 22.5 pounds less.

    The new steering rack is a variable ratio design, which permits a faster ratio for responsiveness and maneuverability at low speeds and a slower ratio for highway travel, where smaller steering inputs are required. A new variable assist power steering pump complements the new rack. Steering efforts are low at parking lot speeds and efforts rise progressively with vehicle speed.

    The steering geometry has been squared up to improve turn in, overall steering feel and straight-ahead controllability. The scrub radius has been reduced from 60 millimeters to 10 millimeters and the kingpin offset has been reduced from 120 millimeters to 68 millimeters.

    Other steering changes include a new intermediate steering shaft design called a swing link, which helps reduce operating friction in the system by 24 percent. The steering knuckle is now cast aluminum for an additional five pound weight savings.

    The front suspension’s upper and lower control arms are a new, more robust design and the lower arm is now made of aluminum instead of steel. A new front stabilizer bar with “grippy” bushings helps reduce lateral compliance for crisp turn in with reduced body roll. In this design, a flat area is forged into the stabilizer bar at its mounting points to match an oval-shaped bushing. This prevents the stabilizer bar from twisting in its bushing under load, so forces build up quicker and the response rate is more linear.

    Load-leveling air springs and new monotube shock absorbers are used at all four corners of the car. Town Car’s monotube shocks work much more efficiently and are more tunable than the previous car’s twin tube shocks because the damping pistons have more than twice the effective working area. Heat dissipation also is improved because monotubes store their hydraulic fluid in a separate reservoir, instead of in the shock itself.

    Revised Rear Suspension:
    The Town Car’s live-axle rear suspension is located by upper and lower control arms and a lateral Watt’s linkage. The rear monotube dampers are mounted further outboard than the previous design to better manage the unsprung mass of the axle and reduce the transmission of road impacts into the car’s structure.

    This design change, coupled with a 14-millimeter increase in track width, is designed to keep the rear of the vehicle firmly planted during cornering on rough roads or washboard surfaces. The new rear stabilizer bar also uses “grippy” bushings.

    More Powerful Brakes:
    All 2003 Lincoln Town Cars are fitted with a four-wheel antilock disc brake system (ABS) and a new dual-rate brake booster that provides a “panic assist” in emergency situations. Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) is used to dynamically proportion braking forces front to rear. EBD effectively raises the threshold for ABS engagement by optimizing front-to-rear brake bias.

    Twin-piston calipers that are 16 percent stiffer than the previous design grip the Town Car’s 305 mm vented front rotors. Stiff rotors are less susceptible to brake roughness. The rear brakes use 295 mm vented rotors and single piston calipers.

    In a panic stop, the new brake booster automatically supplies full braking power even if the driver doesn’t initially apply enough pedal pressure to engage the anti-lock braking system.

    More Power, More Refinement:
    For 2003, all Lincoln Town Car models are powered by a 4.6-liter, single overhead cam V-8 engine with two valves per cylinder and dual exhaust that produces 235 horsepower at 4,750 rpm and 275 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. This represents an increase of 15 horsepower and 10 lb.-ft. of torque for the Signature and Executive series.

    The Town Car’s four-speed automatic transmission has been recalibrated to increase the speed of downshifts by 0.2 seconds to 0.3 seconds. The rear axle ratio is 3:27:1, and all models are fitted with a limited-slip differential. All-speed traction control, which uses the ABS system and throttle intervention to manage wheelspin, is standard on all models.

    Numerous design and detail changes were made to this proven powertrain to improve its refinement by reducing noise, vibration and harshness. Specifically:

  • New hydraulic engine mounts reduce the transfer of engine vibrations into the chassis.
  • A new cast-foam valley stuffer which fills the space between the cylinder banks and a new hood blanket mute engine noise.
  • The exhaust pipe hangers are now mounted to the frame rails instead of a crossmember for better isolation.
  • A new air intake and resonator improve airflow and reduce noise levels by two to three decibels from 3,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm.
  • A new variable-speed engine cooling fan is quieter overall than the previous two-speed fan.
  • A new scroll-type compressor for the climate control engages more smoothly and is quieter than the old design.

    Other powertrain improvements include a 20 percent increase in engine oil capacity, which improves oil life, and a new returnless fuel delivery system for reduced emissions. Fuel economy certification is not complete, but performance is expected to equal the 2002 model’s performance of 17 miles per gallon city and 24 miles per gallon highway. Fuel tank capacity is 19 gallons.

    Quieter Cabin:
    In addition to the powertrain NVH actions, the team made several significant changes to the Town Car’s body structure to reduce noise intrusion into the cabin.

  • A new laminated instrument panel replaces the previous model’s single density design.
  • Thicker sound insulation is used in the wheelhouses, roof, body pillars and doors.
  • An aluminum floor pan doubler is bonded to the sheet metal in the front passenger footwell area to attenuate road noise.
  • A stronger steel instrument panel brace reduces steering column shake and eliminates squeaks and rattles.
  • New body and firewall seals reduce air leakage into the cabin by 20 percent.

    At idle, the interior sound level is only 36 decibels. At partial throttle, the Town Car’s speech articulation index, which measures a driver’s ability to follow a conversation with a rear seat passenger without turning his head, remains well above 90 percent up to 3,000 rpm in first gear (higher is better). At wide-open throttle, the articulation index remains above 80 percent up to about 4,000 rpm.

    While overall sound levels and loudness in the cabin are reduced, engineers have tuned the intake and exhaust systems to allow a strong fourth order engine note – the firing order sound of a powerful American V-8 – to come through under acceleration.

    Safety and Security
    The Town Car’s new frame, combined with new safety equipment, is expected to help the 2003 model achieve a quadruple five-star rating in the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests (for the driver and front seat passenger in front impacts and for the driver and rear seat passenger in side impacts). The current car is a double five-star in front impacts and a double four-star in side impacts.

    The 2001 Cadillac DeVille has a three-star driver and four-star passenger rating in the front, and a double four-star side crash rating.

    The 2003 Town Car will now be equipped with the Personal Safety System, one of the most comprehensive driver and front seat passenger restraint systems available. The system includes dual-stage front air bags (triggered by a crash severity sensor), front seat-mounted side air bags, and for the outboard seats, three-point safety belts with height-adjustable D-rings, belt pretensioners and energy management retractors. In addition, the BeltMinder™ system rings a chime to remind front seat occupants to buckle up.

    A new 5 mph front bumper system improves high-speed crash performance by providing additional crush space. Repair costs also should be lower because the system has fewer parts.

    Also new for 2003, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) anchors are integrated into the rear outboard seats to make securing a compatible child safety seat easier.

    Security features include Smartlock™, which prevents the doors from locking if the key is left in the ignition, the SecuriLock™ passive anti-theft system, which requires the use of a coded key to start the vehicle, a new perimeter alarm system and a new Extended Rear Park Assist obstacle detection system.

    The new park-assist system, which is standard on the Signature and Cartier series and optional on Executive models, triggers in-cabin audio and visual warnings if an obstacle is detected when reversing. The system uses a combination of two ultrasonic sensors and a hidden radar sensor to improve accuracy and expand the field of coverage to 15 feet. Older systems lack radar and use as many as four ultrasonic sensors, and tend to have a shorter range and may leave coverage gaps.

    The Lincoln Commitment
    All Lincoln Town Car customers receive the Lincoln Commitment, which is one of the most comprehensive customer care and warranty packages available.

    The Lincoln Commitment includes:

  • Four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty
  • Three-year or 36,000-mile complimentary maintenance (including wear and tear items)
  • Transportation Assistance
  • 24-hour Roadside Assistance
  • Emergency Travel Expense Reimbursement
  • Destination Assistance
  • Trip Planning Services
  • A Customer Assistance Center dedicated to Lincoln owners

    Extensive product information, including down-loadable product brochures, is available on Lincoln’s recently redesigned web site, http://www.Lincoln.com Visitors to the web site also can build their own Town Car and submit their specifications to dealers in their area for a price quote.