Here's What Automakers Would Build If They Loved Their Customers

If automakers built what we wanted, and not what they think we need, then some of these cars might just come to fruition.

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Lincoln

Those madmen–not to be confused with Mad Men–actually did it, and they are going to reap the rewards. Last week, if there was any discussion happening anywhere regarding Lincoln’s outstanding but decidedly underappreciated Continental, it probably concerned the vehicle’s imminent termination without replacement. Today, however, the big sedan is the belle of the hot-topic ball, courtesy of an utterly inspired decision to fit suicide, er, “coach” doors to the thing. This year, there will be just 80 examples of the stretched-and-revamped Conti built. Surely they will all disappear into the private collections of wealthy Lincoln dealers and fanatics.

Had Ford elected to stop there, it could be written off as a simple albeit brilliant and cost-effective publicity stunt. Next year, however, the coach-door Continental will be available on an unlimited basis–and if the Powers That Be within the Blue Oval give the nod, a rear-wheel-drive large sedan will assume the storied nameplate some time in the next few years, complete with standard-equipment coach doors in all trim levels. That, as the kids say, will be “lit.”

While the appeal of a suicide-door Lincoln with twin-turbo power and the Revel Ultima audio system is trivially easy for at least some of us to understand, the reasoning behind its creation is less so. The alert reader will recall that Lincoln’s competitors at Cadillac just announced the culling of their CT6 sedan, up to and including the “Blackwing”-powered CT6-V so prominently featured in this season of Ray Donovan. Could this be nothing but an outrageously irreverent middle finger directed at the Standard of the World, the corporate equivalent of your younger brother eating ice cream in front of you after you’ve had your own cone taken away?

I’d like to think that there is more to it than old-school cross-town Detroit ego-slinging involved. I would like to think that the coach-door, coach-built Continental is the direct product of Lincoln’s willingness to listen to the actual desires of its customers and change direction where both appropriate and possible. The buyers wanted old-school doors on the car, and now they’re going to have the option. Simple as that.

What if every automaker felt that way? What if they indulged the most outrageous, indefensible, and non-progressive desires their customers could express? In other words, what if they gave us what we wanted instead of what they thought we should have? I’ve brainstormed a few logical consequences of such a situation below; feel free to add your own in the Facebook comments. None of these should require any more effort than the special-edition Continental–which is to say that each would be possible but not necessarily easy.

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Ford

Let’s start with Ford, since they obviously have a process in place by which to humor some insanity on our part. How about a slightly lowered SuperCab F-150, with the Raptor/Limited-spec 3.5-liter Ecoboost powertrain spinning just the rear wheels and a no-frills XL-style interior, for a $29,999 street price? Such a vehicle would run a low 13-second quarter-mile. In price, performance, and likely buyer demographics, it would be the natural successor of the LX 5.0 Fox Mustang. Sure, it would eat into sales of the real Mustang, but it would also get a new generation of buyers behind the wheel of what is arguably America’s most competently designed and executed vehicle. Call it the “Nite” if you must.

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Chevrolet

Chevrolet could match Ford’s “Nite” with a 6.2-liter Silverado street rod–or they could pump up the volume by parts-binning a two-liter turbo Cruze complete with stick shift and track-tuned suspension for that same $29,999 price point. There is no doubt in my mind that the GM Performance engineers could match the Civic Type R’s performance for less money. It would also look considerably less, ah, Pokemon.

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Honda

Honda, meanwhile, should do the reasonable thing and offer the Civic Type R as a coupe and sedan, sans the worst aesthetic excesses of the existing hatch. While we’re at it, how about a 3.7-liter stick-shift Ridgeline, just so all the old-school Honda fanatics have something to drive while their K-swapped Fits are in the shop?

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DW BURNETT

Having whetted our appetites for power with the outstanding 2019 Miata, perhaps Mazda could do the next reasonable thing and stuff the new turbo mill from the higher trim levels of the Mazda6 in there. Such a car would beat the old Honda S2000 in pretty much all respects, while also poking a finger in the eye of the entry-level German sporting convertibles.

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BMW

Speaking of Germans… It is an absolute crime for BMW not to offer Alpina variants of the 3- and 5-series for American-market consumption. There is plenty of historical precedent for doing so. Also worthwhile: real bargain-basement varieties of the 2-Series for the purists out there. I’m talking vinyl upholstery, steel wheels, and window cranks. The price target is $24,995. It’s worth doing even if BMW loses money on each one. Think of it as a relatively inexpensive way to get the next generation of buyers behind the wheel.

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DW BURNETT

All I can ask from Mercedes-Benz would be a similarly stripped-down version of the E-Class, complete with a manual transmission. Call it the Heritage model. It won’t linger in showrooms, particularly if it’s cheap. The purpose isn’t to make money; it’s to keep people out of a Genesis G70.

From Genesis themselves, I’d like to see a proper tufted-cloth interior in the G90, complete with more rear-seat features. And bring those nifty copper accents from the G80 sport down to the G70, if you’re not already planning on it. Kia, meanwhile, should build an Avalon-spec Cadenza for the luxury fans. I’m not saying it should be called Cadenza Brougham, but I am also not not saying it, if you catch my drift.

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Cadillac

Last but not least, I’d like to return to Cadillac. My suggestion/plea would be: run a final year of CT6 production with a proper V8. Doesn’t need to be twin-turbo. Offer some vintage interior fabrics and materials. Remove all CT6 badges and call it what it was always meant to be called: Sedan de Ville. While you’re at it, make the CTS the Calais and the ATS the Cimarron because that would be just hilarious and it might actually wake up the buyers.

My always-sensible readers will no doubt raise legitimate and qualified objections to each one of these ridiculous ideas. All I can offer in response is that far more money has been wasted by each of these automakers on far more reasonable-sounding plans that ended up being utter and complete failures. There is no sense in pursuing more half-baked half-measures. Let’s give the people what they want. While there’s still time, and while there’s still budget. We all have the rest of our lives to design, build, and drive bland C-RAV-FE-QUIN-SCAPES, don’t we? Why not go out in a blaze of glory? If we are going to commit corporate suicide, shouldn’t we have doors to match?

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