Lincoln Blackwood concept at Frankfurt Auto Show

FRANKFURT, 14 September, 1999 – The Lincoln Blackwood concept vehicle, making its first European appearance at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show, is the result of a brand combining detailed knowledge of its customers with non-traditional thinking to create a brand new product niche.

Inspired by the runaway success of its Navigator sport utility vehicle, Lincoln decided to further explore the idea of combining the comfort of an American luxury sedan with the versatility of a sport utility vehicle.

The outcome was the Lincoln Blackwood, the ‘ultimate utility vehicle.’ The four-door, four-passenger Blackwood debuted in December 1998 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Response to the wood-clad luxury utility vehicle was so strong Ford has decided to put it into production.

"The popularity of the Lincoln Navigator and the continuing evolution of American sport utility vehicles led to the development of this luxury utility concept," said J Mays, Ford Vice President of Design. "Our ability to take this concept quickly to market after the overwhelmingly positive public response to it shows how flexible our product development process has become."

The Lincoln Blackwood’s appearance at Frankfurt is for more than novelty value. According to Mays, the processes that led to its successful development are being used by Ford Motor Company on a global basis to extend the character of its brands and could result in even more concepts that create their own niches in future.

Powered by a 5.4-litre V8 engine and riding on 19-inch solid-cast polished aluminium wheels and P286R60-19 tires, Lincoln Blackwood has a truly unique appearance. At the rear of the four door cabin is a fully enclosed pickup bed covered with more than 6 square meters of wenge, a dark, dense striated wood from central Africa.

A brushed aluminium strip defines each band of wood, adding to the overall luxury look. The use of the wood is designed as a modern twist on traditional American ‘woody,’ which used different-coloured wood strips between larger wood bands, according to Mays.

The wenge wood is sealed with a clear epoxy to protect it from the elements and highlight the natural beauty of the grain. The combination of the rich, dark-coloured wood and black, lacquer-finished sheet metal was the inspiration for the Blackwood's name.

The hard top of the rear pick-up bed opens hydraulically to a 45-degree angle, operated by the key fob. Once the cover is lifted, the rear double-door gate can be opened to the sides – giving access to the well-lit, aluminium-finished interior of the 1422mm trunk. Two adjacent compartments serve as additional storage space for smaller objects.

Blackwood’s interior is based on the Lincoln Navigator’s, with the addition of wenge wood accents on the steering wheel and instrument panel. A global positioning system is integrated into the floor-mounted centre console. The four bucket seats are trimmed in black Connolly leather.

A version of this uniquely American luxury vehicle concept will go into production at Ford Motor Company's Kansas City Assembly Plant late next year.