Driven 2013 Lincoln MKZ

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Driven: 2013 Lincoln MKZ

Jan 24, 2013

The 1920s and ’30s were the original glory days for this city by the sea, a playground for well-to-do holidaymakers. Lincoln was a favorite of that same crowd. Both Miami Beach and Lincoln embraced the modern design zeitgeist, Miami Beach with its many Art Deco buildings and Lincoln with its streamlined Zephyr followed by its instant-classic Continental. In the decades that followed, however, both Miami Beach and Lincoln lost their cachet.

Each, in its own way, became a warren of the unglamorous elderly.

Unlike automobiles, which are restyled every few years, buildings usually are stuck with their original design — and in an area that’s economically downtrodden, it’s not worth knocking down old buildings to replace them with new ones. Miami Beach was in that preservative limbo for years, until some visionaries realized that its Art Deco buildings had been out of style for so long that they actually were back in.

Most notable among those visionaries was Barbara Capitman, who founded the Miami Design Preservation League. In 1979, the organization was able to establish the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District — the first twentieth-century district in the National Register of Historic Places. With a new appreciation for the city’s architecture, Miami Beach’s renaissance began. The transformation has been dramatic. Old buildings have been restored to their original grandeur, and new ones have joined them.

An international crowd of beautiful jet-setters has colonized the revitalized Miami Beach and turned it once again into a playground of the fabulous, and those who wish to be.

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Today, Lincoln’s stewards dream of a similar reinvention for their brand. They would like nothing more than to see Lincoln reestablish the position in the luxury-car pantheon that it held during the first Miami Beach heyday. Unlike Miami Beach, however, Lincoln cannot get there with designs of the past.

Yet the brand is hoping for a design-driven renaissance, with dramatic new styling that starts with this car, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ.

We don’t want to look back and dwell on the past, says Lincoln design director Max Wolff — although he does acknowledge that the MKZ team had Ford designer Moray Callum’s ’61 Continental in the studio. Wolff contends that the MKZ is pretty much a clean sheet. Importantly, the MKZ bears no likeness to the car on which it’s based, the 2013 Ford Fusion, a vehicle that makes a design statement of its own. All body panels are specific to the MKZ, as is all the glass.

Lincoln has been struggling with its so-called split-wing grille, and here the designers seem to have finally gotten it right. The front end is distinctive, as is the rear with its full-width taillights, which will become a Lincoln signature item. The sleek profile makes the Lincoln look longer, and it does indeed stretch an additional 2.4 inches compared with the Ford.

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