DETROIT – Having opened six dealerships in China since the beginning of November and planning to open two more in the coming weeks, Ford’s Lincoln brand sees vast opportunities in what promises to be the world’s largest luxury vehicle market.

And even though Lincoln is just getting started there, the brand has something many premium makers lack: a rich history of celebrities and American presidents as customers.

After conducting extensive one-on-one interviews with wealthy consumers in China, Kumar Galhotra is optimistic because a strong brand history carries a lot of weight in the country.

“They think of Lincoln as presidential,” says the Ford vice president who became president of Lincoln in September. The brand’s Black Label upscale trim package now being offered in the U.S. is being marketed in China instead under the Presidential moniker.

Luxury customers there think of Lincoln “as a vehicle of celebrities. They mentioned Marilyn Monroe and her Lincoln and Frank Sinatra and his Lincoln,” Galhotra says.

For now, the showrooms in China are offering only the all-new products, the MKZ sedan and MKC CUV. The next-generation MKX CUV eventually will be available, too. By 2016, those vehicles are expected to be among five new products offered there.

Lincoln won’t disclose sales numbers in China, but the brand reports enthusiastic response from shoppers. The first three stores are located in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.

Succeeding in China requires an embrace of the culture and an understanding that a Lincoln showroom in the U.S. cannot merely be moved across the pond, Galhotra says.

“In China, going to a Lincoln dealership is an experience. People bring their whole family – grandma, grandpa – so that has to be tailored to that culture,” he tells journalists at a media event here highlighting Lincoln’s new 10-year partnership with Harman’s premium loudspeaker brand, Revel, to deliver the quality and precision of a high-end home audio system inside the vehicle.

Future Lincolns, including the next MKX, will offer Revel audio systems with either 13 or 19 speakers, and an executive for the automaker says he expects 50% of customers to opt for it. On current Lincolns, such as the MKZ, MKC and Navigator, THX is the premium audio option.