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Old 12-20-2004, 06:16   #1 (permalink)
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US:Lincoln teams with Orange County Choppers for unique vehicle

Lincoln teams with Orange County Choppers for unique vehicle

By John Porretto / AP Auto Writer

Even before customers get a chance to drive Lincoln's new full-size pickup, they'll get an idea of what the vehicle might look like on two wheels.

Lincoln, Ford Motor Co.'s luxury brand, has hired custom motorcycle builders Orange County Choppers to create a unique bike inspired by the all-new Lincoln Mark LT pickup.

Lincoln will use the bike at auto shows and other events next year to promote the truck, which is scheduled to reach showrooms in February. Also that month, the bike's development will be featured in a couple of episodes of the Discovery Channel's "American Chopper," which documents the work of Orange County Choppers and principals Paul Teutel Sr. and son Paul Jr.

In an interview late last week, Paul Jr. said the Lincoln bike took about three weeks to build and embodies the richness of the vehicle. It features chrome Lincoln emblems on each side of the gas tank as well as elsewhere on the bike.

"We're finishing it now," he said. "We went with the maroon color and a lot of chrome. It's kind of tough to build a bike that looks like a truck, so we made it beefy. This is probably the classiest looking bike we've built, and we've done some radical stuff."

Lincoln spokeswoman Thomais Zaremba said the brand approached the Teutels because of the popularity of the show and the quality of their work. She wouldn't disclose financial aspects of the arrangement but said "they'll be a great buzz factor for us."

"They generate excitement everywhere they go," she said.

Last week, the Teutels toured the plant in suburban Detroit where Ford will build the truck beginning in late January.

"I'm confident the bike will reveal the true essence of the truck," Paul Jr. said.

Lifted largely by sales of its Navigator and Aviator sport utility vehicles, Lincoln's sales rose 5.9 percent in 2003 _ the only one of Ford's domestic brands to post a year-over-year increase, according to Autodata Corp.

But faced with increasing competition, Lincoln's business through November was down 12.2 percent from last year.

Starting early next year, Lincoln will introduce five new products over four years, including the Mark LT and an entry-level sedan called the Zephyr.

The Mark LT will start at about $40,000.

Orange County Choppers, located in Rock Tavern, N.Y, was founded in 1999, an offshoot of a steel fabrication business started by Paul Teutel Sr. The business builds about 150 custom bikes a year.
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