Earl Lucas: The man designing Lincoln’s most iconic cars

BY Preta Peace Namasaba January 9, 2024 12:47 AM EDT
Lincoln Navigator
Earl Lucas is the Chief Exterior Designer at Lincoln. Photo Credit: JeffCars.blogspot

Earl Lucas is the Chief Exterior Designer for Lincoln, the luxury vehicle division of the $158 billion automobile manufacturer Ford. Throughout his career, Lucas has helped acquire over 150 automotive design patents.

In 1999, Lucas joined Ford as a Senior Designer on the Ford F-150 interior design team. He leveraged his experience designing luxury aircraft interiors to rejuvenate the struggling Lincoln design. In his first professional job, Lucas designed the interior parts and details of The Lincoln Navigator.

Lucas also aided in the design of popular nameplates such as the 2000 Lincoln Navigator, the 2003 Ford F150, and the 2007 Lincoln MKX. The Navigator continues to be one of the highest-selling Lincolns in North America and the rest of the world, earning the title of “cash cow” for the auto maker.

Lucas grew up in Dallas, Texas, along way from the Chicago and Louisville, Kentucky where his creative idea are brought to life nowadays. But his family aided and encouraged his dreams since he was a 3-year-old who drew cars. His mother bought him a drawing table when he was around 10 so that he would have a designated place to draw and paint. She was also an interior designer and incentivized Lucas’ out-of-the-box and abstract thoughts. Together with reading a lot of comics, Lucas was able to grow his creativity.

“I chose transportation design because as a kid I dreamed about what ifs and how it could be all the time. Cars are cool things and I liked the idea of my shapes assisting people,” he has said

Although his passion for drawing and creating shapes was encouraged, Lucas had never imagined automotive design as a plausible career option. A visit to the College for Creative showed him that he could make a comfortable living out of art. He pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in transportation design. Lucas was then exposed to the best design professionals in the auto industry and had the opportunity to work with some of them.

Lucas worked designing car interiors for Lear Corporation following his graduation. He then moved on to Reese Design, a small design firm where he designed airplane interiors for the Sultan of Brunei. The planes were decorated with gold, platinum and other precious jewels. Lucas was able to incorporate his other passion for jewelry making into his assignments.

About his philosophy of design, Lucas explains:

All colors and textures can work together but it is the proportion of elements that makes one product better or more noticeable. Designers have the task of using the ordinary things around us and make them extraordinary by learning from the heritage of the past and moving forward to the present. All of this is done for the sole purpose of creating products that connect with the customer on a much deeper level than simply style.

He redesigned Ford’s flagship sedan, the 2010 Taurus, into a sleek and exciting commercial hit for Ford. He turned the car previously known as the Ford Five Hundred from one built strictly for car rental agencies to one with extensive appeal. He consequently spent three years on an International Service Contract designing products and projects for India, South America and China.

“I try to reflect the personality of the brand. In the case of Lincoln, our cars embody effortless luxury. We think of our car as a friend. We convey that through form, shape, color and texture,” he said about his role in conceptualizing Lincoln’s luxury brand.

As Chief Exterior Designer for Lincoln, Lucas is the highest-ranking Black car designer in the history of Ford Motor Company. He is an expert at engineering quiet luxury with precise and subtle attention to detail. His Lincoln Navigator was the winner of the 2018 North America International Auto Show Truck of the Year.

Having become a renowned name in the automotive industry, Lucas is now looking to produce an innovative and affordable automobile that utilizes cutting-edge green technology. He also remains committed to the triple bottom line and is concerned with where manufacturers extract their natural resources.

Currently, he is leading Lincoln’s transition to electric zero-emissions vehicles by mid-decade.