The 5 Worst Luxo-Barges, And Were They All Lincolns?
Okay, haters, as it turns out, the worst examples of "luxobarge" are not all Lincolns. Not to be an apologist for the brand started by Henry M. Leland (who also founded Cadillac) in 1917; Lincoln has definitely had its share of missteps and stupid ideas. But there are worse things out there than the 1958 Lincoln Premiere. Shut up, yes there are, I absolutely love the ’58-’60 Lincolns and I won’t hear your whining about how oversized, overstyled and underhwelming they were. There’s a ’59 Lincoln in my dreamfleet, and there’s no ’59 Cadillac, and that should tell you something.
If nothing else, it should tell you that I’m uniquely qualified to pick out the worst and most ridiculous luxury cars in automotive history. I have looked into the grinning grilles of the most wretched examples of excess vomited forth by the pens of American designers, and found beauty. What you really want to find are the big, sloppy land yachts that even I can’t bring myself to love.
(That’s actually not true. I love these monsters as well, in a way. Even if they are stupid, ridiculous wastes of sheet metal.)
Continue reading for the full story.
Mohs Ostenatienne Opera Sedan
Okay, to be fair, Bruce Baldwin Mohs only built one of these things. But the fact that it was one of the first cars to jump to mind when the subject of ridiculously awful luxobarges came up should tell you something.
To be fair, Bruce Mohs only built one of these things. But he had plans to make more.
Additionally, Mohs planned to build more, so he gets points for intent. Built in 1967, the Ostentatienne Opera was Mohs’ attempt to…well, it’s not entirely certain what Mohs, who owned a seaplane service company in Madison, WI, intended.
This 20-foot long car is built on an International truck chassis, and seats just four people, who enter through a single clamshell-style door at the rear of the car. The Ostentatienne Opera has a sumptuous cabin, and the unique rear door allows for massive side-impact protection beams and a pillarless cantilevered roof.
There’s an aeronautical-inspired central walkway, a refrigerator and genuine walnut trim on the dash. Mohs also offered as many personalization options as Rolls-Royce’s bespoke division.
Considering the 304-cubic-inch V8’s 250 horsepower, the 6,100-pound Ostentatienne Opera has some trouble getting out of its own way. Actually, as I write about it, it’s starting to make sense to me. We’d better move on.
Lincoln gets points for successfully predicting the trend of luxury pickup trucks, but loses them all for creating the least-useful pickup since the 1936 Chevrolet Standard Coupe Pick-Up.
The Blackwood couldn't haul large loads, and since the "trunk" was also carpeted, it couldn't haul messy ones either.
Introduced in 2001, the Blackwood grafted the droopy front end of the Navigator SUV onto an F-Series pickup (not hard, since they shared underpinnings back then) and then added a strange, undersized and inconvenient "trunk" at the rear instead of regular pickup bed.
Framed with faux wood (the "black wood" of its name) the trunk was spacious but accessible only by a pair of tiny swinging doors in lieu of a tailgate, and a power-operated solid tonneau cover that wasn’t removable and only opened to about 45 degrees.
The Blackwood couldn’t haul large loads, and since the "trunk" was also carpeted, it couldn’t haul messy ones either. In fact, it was kind of like carrying cargo in the box that a flatscreen TV came in.
Couple that with the efficiency you’d expect from a 5.4 liter V-8 hauling around a full-frame pickup truck packed full of heavy luxury items, and the Blackwood was a phenomenal swing and miss.
Read our full review here.
CMC Classic Tiffany
Now, I know that neoclassics have their fans, and the Excalibur that started the trend in the 1960s wasn’t a bad vehicle for what it was. The picture of 1980s excess, neoclassics combine 1930s styling cues with modern drivetrains and are largely extinct today. There was some genuine luxury to be found in the class, with Excalibur and Clenet hand-building cars and doing some of their own coachwork.
And then there’s the Classic Motor Carriages Classic Tiffany. Using what’s obviously the center section of a contemporary Mercury Cougar, the Classic Tiffany was so cringe-inducing that Tiffany & Co. pressured CMC to change the name. Dual sidemounted spares, a slumping chrome radiator grille, light pods mounted too high and a truncated rear end all added up to a styling trainwreck, even compared to other neoclassics.
In 1975, Rolls-Royce got it wrong. The Camargue was the company’s flagship, designed by Pininfarina and built by Mulliner Park Ward, and when it hit the streets it was the most expensive new car in the world. Unfortunately, it didn’t look as handsome as the Corniche, whose underpinnings it shared.
The awkward, blocky styling coupled with financial woes that resulted in a healthy amount of parts-bin sharing, gave it a downmarket feel. Worst of all, the Camargue was intended as a replacement for the Corniche, but was instead thrust into a role as a halo car positioned above it, even though there wasn’t anything to set it apart. The worst thing a luxury car can do is not live up to its six-figure price tag.
Zimmer produced the Golden Spirit, which was about on par with the Classic Tiffany, but I’ve already dumped on neoclassics. No, where Zimmer really outdid itself was with the Quicksilver. While it may seem at first to be too small to be considered a "luxobarge," bear in mind that this little beastie is riding on a Fiero chassis.
A body kit stretched the nose, and the rear received a massive chrome bumper reminiscent of a 1970s Lincoln and a hump that seemed like it was meant to suggest a cross between a continental spare and a boattail, while being neither. The completely reskinned Fiero lost its neat proportions, though the Quicksilver’s windshield and engine covers hinted at its origins.
The interior was effectively a wood panel slapped on the stock dash, and the additional weight taxed the 2.8 liter V6’s power. Compact it may have been, but the Quicksilver was definitely a barge—and the price tag nudged $50,000, so it was an expensive boat anchor as well.