Ford seems to have spent much of the past 15 years trying to reinvent the Lincoln brand.

I think the New York unveiling of the Lincoln Continental concept marked probably the fourth attempt at a defining a new look for the marque as it tries to get away from the clunking image of the giant Lincoln Town Car.

The indestructible Town Car, which was built on a separate chassis, was the US limo of choice in the 1980s and 1990s. It was related to the Ford Crown Victoria, the mainstay New York cab for many years.

This was a Lincoln which was a world away from the ultra-modern, elegant and sharp-edged 1961 Continental which became infamous as the car in which President Kennedy was shot.

In 1999, Ford created the Premium Automotive Group as it moved heavily into buying up premium brands. Home-grown Lincoln found itself under the same corporate roof as Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin.

Indeed, the 1998 Jaguar S-Type was sister car to the Lincoln LS, a partnership that only highlighted the gap between what US and European engineers regarded as a premium quality platform.

Wolfgang Reitzle took over PAG in 1999. Earlier that year, he had walked out of BMW in the wake of the boardroom cull triggered by the debacle of Rover Group ownership.As the brains behind the Mini and Range Rover Mk3 (both of which were still in development at the time), Reitzle was clearly prescient about how the premium car market would develop.