Lincoln revealed Thursday during Monterey Car Week its vision for future EVs — while commemorating its centennial year — with the debut of the Lincoln Model L 100 concept, an autonomous, battery-electric grand tourer that pays homage to the brand’s first luxury vehicle, the 1922 Model L.
The futuristic and massive concept has an aerodynamic, low-slung body that features a sweeping glass roof that opens and reverse-hinged doors that lift to bestow a “sense of ceremony” and provides the “Lincoln Embrace,” the company said. Taking that “Lincoln Embrace” theme even further, the Ford luxury brand notes that the wheel covers use lighting and sensors to “communicate motion, battery life and human presence.”
The vehicle’s exterior “cool, open-air blue” shade mixes metallic paint and frosted acrylic. This futuristic design sprinkles in some 1920s art deco touches like the hood ornament as well as a Kammback, or K-tail, rear end that slopes down and then abruptly cuts off for improved aerodynamics to complete the look.
Inside, the cabin is trimmed with recycled suede fabric in amethyst. The configurable cabin is one of the more eye-popping features, in which the front seats flip to face passengers in the rear seats, and “an interactive, center console chessboard” is placed where one might expect a steering wheel. The console features “a jewel-inspired chess piece controller that captures light and depth by redefining the vehicle controls inside the cabin,” according to the company.
Lincoln also said the car will have a “digital floor” but did not elaborate on what that means beyond that it combines interior lighting to “transport passengers to the sanctuary of tomorrow.”
Outlandish concepts like the Lincoln Model L 100 are often couched as design or research exercises that allow a company to explore what its future portfolio might look like. For Lincoln, it’s a process that will likely be used to determine interest in certain features or designs as it pushes forward with plans to fully electrify half of its offerings by 2050.
The Lincoln Model L is also part of an emerging trend among recently revealed concepts that hints where the entire industry is headed. Several American automakers, a list that includes Lincoln, have released concept cars this year that recall the nostalgia of the early 20th century.
Chrysler revealed at the New York Auto Show in April a Chrysler Airflow crossover concept named after the original Chrysler Airflow, which chief design officer Ralph Gilles called a “catastrophic failure” of the mid-1930s. Chrysler said the concept can travel up to 400 miles on a single charge and comes with fast-charging functionality as well as a long list of technologies, including the automaker’s STLA AutoDrive system, which it is developing with BMW to feature Level 3 automated driving capabilities.
Then there’s Cadillac InnerSpace, the electric, autonomous concept that debuted earlier this year and draws inspiration from the two-passenger runabouts the brand manufactured in 1902. The concept features a two-seat loveseat, wraparound digital screen and built-in ottoman but no pedals or steering wheel.
The Lincoln Model L 100 takes a similar trek down memory lane even as it pushes forward a sleek and forward-looking design.
The main inspiration for the concept is the 1922 Model L, a vehicle designed by Lincoln and Cadillac founder Henry Leland. The Model L spent one year in production before Ford purchased the bankrupt the company in 1922. The 81-horsepower V8 Model L had a 10-year run before being replaced in 1930 by the Lincoln Model K.
The question is, of course, will Lincoln take a few bits and pieces from this concept or go all in? While the reverse-hinged doors and glass roof that can open might get the most commentary, the fact that it is a low-slung grand tourer deserves more attention.
Today, Lincoln only sells crossovers and SUVs in the United States. Its last sedan, the Continental, was phased out in the U.S. in 2020. Much of Lincoln’s attention these days is China, which may mean this grand tourer concept — or something like it — will head overseas while a vehicle inspired by the Lincoln Star Concept crossover that debuted this spring is launched in the U.S.