When Lincoln built a BMW fighter.
The Lincoln LS was the best luxury sports sedan to come from a Detroit automaker in years, perhaps ever. Launched for the 2000 model year, the LS was a rear-wheel-drive, midsize sedan with a standard V6 (and optional V8) and a 50:50 weight distribution. In fact, it rode on the same platform that underpinned the Jaguar S-Type and later, the reborn Ford Thunderbird.
It's important to remember Jaguar was owned by Ford during this time, part of the Blue Oval's "Premiere Automotive Group" which also included Aston Martin, Land Rover, Volvo, Mercury, and Lincoln. The latter two returned to Ford's control in 2002 and the group itself was dismantled completely by 2010 as Ford sold off those brands because it desperately needed the cash.
As for the LS, Lincoln clearly aimed for it to be a BMW 5 Series rival. It was even styled by a German-born designer who applied a functional, no-nonsense exterior design, much like BMWs at the time (prior to the Bangle era, of course).
The intention here was to help redefine the Lincoln brand by ditching its "old man car" image, much like crosstown rival Cadillac had begun doing a few years before. Its athletic and somewhat conservative appearance worked well and because of the RWD platform, things like short front overhangs and a short rear deck were possible. The interior layout was actually quite similar to that of the Jaguar S-Type, but it worked. The large gauges and straightforward dashboard design offended no one and, equally important, conveyed a sense of sportiness. More traditional luxury elements included leather upholstery and wood accents.
Base models were powered by a 3.0-liter V6 with 210 horsepower and 205 lb-ft of torque, while the optional 3.9-liter V8 produced 252 hp and 267 lb-ft. A five-speed manual was available for V6 models but V8s came only with a five-speed automatic. The independent double-wishbone front and rear suspensions provided overall solid handling and a comfortable ride.
The immediate response to the LS was excellent, even winning Motor Trend's Car of the Year for 2000. A 2003 facelift brought some minor exterior changes and improved engines, among other things.
A few more changes happened for its final model year in 2006, but by that time Ford was beginning to face financial difficulties. Instead of a proper RWD LS successor, the Ford Fusion-based Lincoln Zephyr (later the Lincoln MKZ) took its place.
Today, Lincoln is ditching the sedan business entirely to focus on SUVs and crossovers, and that's kind of a shame given its long history with sedans. Fortunately, there are still plenty of used Lincoln LS examples out there, though in varying states of condition and mileage.
This 2004 LS, up for sale by Sweet Dreams Texas, is fully loaded, has V8 power, and just 71,360 miles on the clock. The dealer claims it runs and drives well and its overall good condition is the result of being garaged for several years. The asking price is only $6,950. The Lincoln LS may not have been the best BMW fighter, but it was, by far, the best sedan Lincoln had ever made at the time.