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Bradford Wernle
Automotive News
June 9, 2014 - 12:01 am ET
David Woodhouse, Lincoln's new design director, has big dreams for Ford's storied luxury marque.

Woodhouse, 45, who replaced Max Wolff late last year in an unannounced move, has a long resume working for luxury brands such as Rolls-Royce, Cadillac and Land Rover. Wolff remains with Lincoln as head of exterior design, according to Moray Callum, Ford global design chief.

Woodhouse did a prior stint at Lincoln early in the last decade. The native of Worcestershire, England, worked under former Lincoln design chief Gerry McGovern when Lincoln was part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group of luxury brands. Woodhouse spent the last five years directing Ford's Ingeni strategic design studio in London and also spent eight years at Ford's strategic studio in Irvine, Calif.

Woodhouse is an avid gearhead and loves collecting and restoring vintage racecars. He also loves racing them, having won several podium positions at the Goodwood Revival vintage races in England.

Woodhouse talked with Staff Reporter Bradford Wernle about his vision for Lincoln's design future.

Q: Lincoln has had a lot of changes in design direction. What can you do to bring stability?

A: Obviously, we have a lot of ambition for Lincoln without the distractions of PAG. I think you can see it from investments the company is making. We've got a lot to do. We want to bolster and strengthen the team. I was involved in Mini, Rolls-Royce and Range Rover at critical times in the rebirth of those brands. I've lived and worked in the strategic field for a considerable length of time. It's all about setting the right strategy and the right DNA.


Lincoln doesn't have a performance sub-brand like Mercedes-Benz AMG or BMW M. Does that limit what you can do?

I'm not sure performance in such an obvious target for this brand. Whatever we do should be emotional and connect with people in different ways than our competitors. The default mode is sport.


Lincoln has pitched itself as an understated brand for people in search of an alternative to aggressive, macho designs coming from some of the German brands and Cadillac. Is that philosophy working?

I think we have to set ourselves apart. We are a warmer, more inviting, more human brand. That is where we need to be more in the future.


Can you develop proper Lincoln designs using the front-wheel-drive proportions of the Ford vehicles they're derived from?

We're always seeking the best proportions, the best balance of cars. Some of the mechanical architectures are a positive to us. We're leveraging what this organization can provide to Lincoln.


David Woodhouse worked on the Lincoln Concept C, unveiled at the 2009 Detroit show.


What will Max Wolff be doing? Is there any difference between your vision and Max's?

We have a very similar mindset, appreciation and understanding. Max seems to be a happy guy and comfortable. I'm very happy to deal with the longer term, more strategic aspects. He has an important role leading the exterior design team.


How does it feel coming back to Lincoln?

I'm reminded of the potential of the brand. It's a survivor and one of the few iconic American brands. As a designer, you're always looking for opportunities. I think the potential of this brand is just enormous. I think it's a great challenge and a really exciting time.


Historically, Lincoln has been known for presidential limousines and large luxury sedans. How do you translate that into a modern context?

You can't just be tied to what the brand was in the past. You can be informed by it but not driven by it. We have an amazing history of beautiful, elegant and gorgeous [cars]. You have to find some goodness in that you can contemporize and find a connection with. We're not going to come out with some massive land yacht that evokes the Continentals of the early '70s. The brands that are very good at this find the touch points. They find their heritage in a relevance that works.


Any historic Lincolns you admire especially?

The '56 and '57 Continental is just an epic, an icon. I adore that car.


The term "luxury" is used rather loosely. What does it mean for Lincoln?

The future of luxury is about providing surprise. We've got to find points of surprise that will just astound people.

http://www.autonews.com/article/20140609/OEM03/306099998/ambition-drives-lincolns-design?cciid=email-autonews-weekly&r=6778I4196356B9Z
 

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oH NO...Woodhouse worked on the Lincoln Concept C ... :facepalm: That are bad news... I hope Lincoln design dont turn to that way.

And now i'm clear the rasons to move Max Wolff to a lesser position: he is not confortable with an executive management role. He want to design and nothing more. The burocreacy is for others...
 

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oH NO...Woodhouse worked on the Lincoln Concept C ... :facepalm: That are bad news... I hope Lincoln design dont turn to that way.

And now i'm clear the rasons to move Max Wolff to a lesser position: he is not confortable with an executive management role. He want to design and nothing more. The burocreacy is for others...
What killed the C concept for me anyway was the ridiculously low shoulders. Someone here maybe 2b2 did a chop a long time ago where he raised them similar to how they are on the MKS and it looked 1000x times better.
 

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nice to see that Max and him have a similar mindset and understanding, yeah it seem that Max wanted to focus more on the design part of the job instead of the more strategic job. I would like to see more designs from him!
 

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I liked the Concept C because I could see how this design could evolve to an actual production model. The idea is similar to what the 1930's Briggs-Zephyr concept looked like vs the production Zephyr.

It's nice to hear David Woodhouse worked with Gerry McGovern. The Mk9 Concept, Continental Concept and Navicross all had that standout high-end look of what a Lincoln should be. Very sad that none of these concepts made it to production. Maybe now inspiration can be drawn from those designs.
 

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oH NO...Woodhouse worked on the Lincoln Concept C ... :facepalm: That are bad news... I hope Lincoln design dont turn to that way...
agree since I soooo hate(d) the "Abomination"
(it mentioned in previous threads...
+ just DW's involvement in PAG is worrisome to me)


...And now i'm clear the reasons to move Max Wolff to a lesser position: he is not confortable with an executive management role. He want to design and nothing more. The burocreacy is for others...
I wondered about that too

I had some experience in having a job in a new position in a new 'division' in a quite-bureaucratic company
where
the "execs" had no idea what was needed or appropriate...

...if I "knew-then", I definitely would've avoided any management duties/rôle - only masochists need apply!!!!!!!!

&
since
imho Max is a GENIUS,
hope they give him free-rein with exterior styling AND consider ANYthing he says about ProductPlanning

seriously Agree, Lincoln needs to pick a direction and STICK with it (tho of course "refinement" leading to gradual thematic changes must be included - imho)


What killed the C concept for me anyway was the ridiculously low shoulders. Someone here maybe 2b2 did a chop a long time ago where he raised them similar to how they are on the MKS and it looked 1000x times better.
actually, Timmm did a couple or more of those. :thumb: (check the Design Section)
I might have based one on one of his - don't remember
 

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Well, it's nice to know his favorite car is the Continental Mark II. He must have good tastes!

The C Concept was elegant and very unique. It's too bad it didn't go into production.

I may like this guy after all!
 
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