McLaren Performance Technologies, carrying through on a strategy it announced a year ago, wants to kick start the stodgy reputation of Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln luxury brand by selling a high-powered aftermarket version of the LS sport sedan.

The special-edition Lincoln LSE will carry the “Powered by McLaren Engines” moniker when it goes on sale this summer through select dealers. McLaren President and CEO Steve Rossi introduces the muscular LSE at the New York auto show.

“There is no serious American sport sedan, and we're here to make it happen,” Rossi says.

While the LSE is first, Rossi hopes it won't be last, as he says McLaren can outfit high-performance versions of the portly Navigator SUV and the smaller Aviator SUV, which Lincoln delivers soon for the 2003 model year. “We want to be the Hot Rod Lincoln guys,” Rossi says in reference to the classic Commander Cody tune.

Rossi says he expects to sell 500 units in the first year.

For an extra $5,000, a factory LS can be re-suited with performance wheels and tires, and the factory-installed 3.9L V-8 (a fair engine in its own right) gets intake enhancements and low-restriction dual exhaust. In the fall, additional tweaks will be available, including brake and chassis upgrades, twin intercoolers and Eaton supercharger, for an extra 98 hp. Extensive body dressings also will be offered.

The price, which includes the intake, exhaust and wheel upgrades, is an extra $12,000, for a total transaction price of $49,750. Sounds high, but it will be priced competitively against high-powered offerings from BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz. A 6-speed Tremec manual gearbox also will be offered in the fall, for an extra $6,000.