2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype Got More Than 15 Minutes of Fame After Its Owner Passed Away

2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype 8 photos
Photo: Mecum
2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype
Prototypes and concept cars have a short-lived career. They have their 15 minutes of fame from the moment when they are officially unveiled and then… where do they go to die? A garage, the crusher, or a car museum. That is where they usually end up. But not this one. This 2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype was in the possession of its own designer for more than a decade until he passed away.
Every so often, the concept cars and prototypes are the sacrificial lamb in the development of a production car. If that car actually ever enters production. There are times when they begin as concept cars, and the projects end up on the desk of a CEO who does not green-light them, and that is where the story stop before it even begins. A bottleneck that sends them either on the production route or to the trash bin.

However, the trash bin is not part of the life of this 2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype Convertible. It started out in life as a “What if?” kind of project. Lincoln's chief of design, Marek Reichman, asked himself: what if Lincoln offered its own version of the Ford Thunderbird? And this is how the Lincoln Mark X Prototype Convertible came to life.

The designer of the prototype, James Powers, went for somewhat of a minimalist style, ditching all the pompous designs of the brand. Powers had worked for Ford during the late 1950s and early 1960s as one of the head of design Elwood Engel's apprentices, and he was on the team that designed the Ford Thunderbird at the time.

Engel was the one who shifted from the extra crowded styling. In 2002, when Ford came up with an updated Thunderbird, Powers was not happy about the way it looked. So he took on his own project: the Lincoln Mark X, proportioned around the new Thunderbird platform, the DEW98. That is exactly why the Mark X featured the same overall dimensions and powertrain.

2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype
Photo: Mecum
The prototype was unveiled at the 2004 North American Automobile Show in Detroit and presented as Lincoln's reply to the Ford Thunderbird Convertible. It was more of a test, with Lincoln checking to see the people's reaction. Would the market receive a Thunderbird rival with open arms?

The prototype is powered by a 3.9-liter V8 engine, which generates 280 horsepower, managed by a five-speed automatic transmission. It was a powertrain that it shared with the Ford Thunderbird, then in production since 2002.

Painted in metallic grey over cream leather upholstery, this prototype does look out of this world. It has a power hardtop with a large glass panel for great visibility back there. Meanwhile, the turn signals are integrated into the side mirrors, which is quite common at the moment, but not back then.

It rides on 18-inch polished alloy wheels with power disc brakes at all corners, providing the stopping power. It is also equipped with fog lights, and there is a dual exhaust back there, integrated into the rear bumper.

The cabin of the prototype sports a two-tone multifunction steering wheel sitting on a tilt steering column, a color screen with navigation, cruise control, power windows, and locks.

The design stage was supervised by Lincoln's Chief of Design, Marek Reichman, during a very flourishing period for Ford. The carmaker was rolling out motorized blockbusters with the speed of a shooting machine gun.

2004 Lincoln Mark X Prototype
Photo: Mecum
The two-seat Thunderbird, the Ford GT, and the Shelby Cobra concept were awing the crowds everywhere they went at that time. The Mark X had to battle them all and leave them in a cloud of dust. It had everything to do it. The looks that would have been the start of a revolution in car design, the engine, the output. Everything. And yet, that is all that it ever remained: a prototype.

Now, as strange as it may seem, the model is auctioned off during an event organized by Mecum, set to take place at Glendale between March 5 and 9. The listing points out that there might be features on the vehicle that do not work at all. We are dealing, after all, with a two-decade car that hasn't driven much through all these years.

The surviving prototype has been recently treated to a new battery because the old one must have run out of energy after the car sat in one place for so long. A flushed fuel system and the installation of power four-disc brakes have been carried out recently.

The vehicle has gone under the hammer before. On August 12, 2010, it was auctioned off by Ford Motor Company, along with several other concept cars. Its designer, James Powers, was present at the event and bid on the car he had designed. The model has been residing in his collection in Pasadena, California, since. James Powers passed away on March 11, 2023.
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