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The Lincoln-Zephyr was the lower-priced line of mid-size Lincoln luxury cars from 1936 until 1942. The Lincoln-Zephyr and Mercury, introduced in 1939, bridged the wide gap between Ford's V-8 De Luxe line and the exclusive Lincoln K-series cars. This served a purpose similar to Cadillac's smaller LaSalle "companion car", the Chrysler Airstream, and Packard's entry level Packard One-Twenty.

Lincoln Zephyr V12 4-D Sedan 1938 2.jpg
Lincoln-Zephyr V-12 four-door sedan (1938)
ManufacturerLincoln (Ford)
AssemblyLincoln Assembly, Detroit, Michigan
Body and chassis
ClassMid-size luxury car
Body style4-door sedan
4-door convertible sedan
2-door sedan
2-door coupe
2-door convertible coupe
RelatedLincoln Continental
Engine267 cu in (4.4 L) flat-head 110 hp (82 kW) V12[1][2]
Transmission3-speed manual[2]
Wheelbase122–125 in (3,099–3,175 mm)[2]
Length202.5–210 in (5,144–5,334 mm)[2]
Height69 in (1,753 mm) [2]
SuccessorLincoln H-series

The car was conceived by Edsel Ford[3] and designed by Eugene Turenne Gregorie. The Zephyr's V-12 engine was unique in its class, with the LaSalle having a V8 and the Chrysler and Packard straight 8s.


Introduced on November 2, 1935,[3] as a 1936 model, the Lincoln-Zephyr was extremely modern with a low raked windscreen, integrated fenders, and streamlined aerodynamic design, which influenced the name "zephyr", derived from the Greek word zephyrus, or the god of the west wind. It was one of the first successful streamlined cars after the Chrysler Airflow's market resistance. In fact, the Lincoln-Zephyr actually had a lower coefficient of drag than the Airflow, due in part to the prow-like front grille on the Zephyr, reflecting the popularity of leisure speedboats like Chris-Craft. The Lincoln-Zephyr succeeded in reigniting sales at Lincoln dealerships in the late 1930s, and from 1941 model year, all Lincolns were Zephyr-based[4] and the Lincoln-Zephyr marque was phased out. Annual production for any year model was not large, but accounted for a large portion of the Lincoln brand's sales. In its first year, 15,000 were sold, accounting for 80% of Lincoln's total sales.

Production of all American cars halted in 1942 as the country entered World War II, with Lincoln producing the last Lincoln Zephyr on February 10.[5] After the war, most makers restarted production of their prewar lines, and Lincoln was no exception. The Zephyr name, however, was no longer used after 1942, with the cars simply called Lincolns.

The idea of a smaller and more modern luxury car to fill the gap in Lincoln's traditional lineup was revisited in the 1950 Lincoln Lido (The Lido was the same size as other two-door Lincolns, though[6]), 1977 Lincoln Versailles, 1982 Continental, and 2000 Lincoln LS. The Zephyr name was resurrected in 2006 for the car's spiritual successor, the Zephyr, which was quickly renamed the MKZ for 2007.



1942 Lincoln Zephyr coupe

The following were the Zephyr models for 1936 to 1940:

  • Lincoln-Zephyr V-12 (1936–1940)
    • For 1936, available as two-door sedan or four-door sedan, a locking glove box was standard.[7] Radio was optional. The turning radius was 22 feet (6.7 m).[8] For 1937 the 2-door Sedan was renamed Coupe-Sedan, a Coupe (3-Window) was added along with a formal Town-Limousine. For 1938 a Convertible Coupe and a Convertible Sedan was added. For 1940 the Coupe-Sedan was replaced by the Club Coupe, the Convertible Sedan was discontinued. Trunk space was increased in 1940.[9]
  • Lincoln-Zephyr Continental (1940) was the first time the name Continental appeared on a car from Lincoln, as a model under Lincoln-Zephyr rather than a separate model. They were partially hand-built since dies for machine-pressing were not constructed until 1941. Production started on December 13, 1939, with the Continental Cabriolet, from June 1940 also available as Continental Club Coupe. Just 350 Cabriolets and 54 Club Coupes were built.[10]

When the last Lincoln V-12 (Model K) had been delivered on January 24, 1940,[11] the Lincoln Motor Company was soon to be transformed into Lincoln Division, effective on May 1, 1940,[12] and for 1941 model year the Lincoln-Zephyr was no longer a separate marque. All 1941 models were Lincolns and the Zephyr-based Lincoln Custom replaced both the large Lincoln K-series cars and the Lincoln-Zephyr Town-Limousine. It also had full instrumentation.[13]

The following Lincoln-Zephyr heritage models were sold under Lincoln marque after Lincoln and were merged for the 1941 model year:

When Lincoln resumed production after World War II the Zephyr name was dropped[16] and the cars sold without a proper model name, known just by their body styles - Sedan, Club Coupe, or Convertible Coupe - during the 1946-1948 model years.[17] For identification purposes, they are typically referred to as the H-Series, while the approach of offering a luxuriously equipped vehicle in a smaller size was ceded to the all-new Mercury in 1938.


Lincoln-Zephyr V12 engine

The Zephyr was designed by John Tjaarda (1897–1962), who was fascinated with airplanes, resulting in unibody construction[citation needed] relatively light and rigid for its size and a drag coefficient of 0.45. Weight was 3,350 lb (1,520 kg).

The Zephyr was powered by a small 75° V12 engine[2] developed from Ford's Flathead V8 and unrelated to the larger K-series Lincoln V12 engines. The valve-in-block flathead engine was quite compact, allowing a low hood. But like the V8 Fords of the era, the Zephyr V12 often suffered from hot spots due to exhaust passages through the cylinder block. In addition, the earliest Zephyrs suffered from poor oil pressure, resulting in upgrades to the oil pump.

The 1936 to 1939 models were 267 in³ (4.4 L) with hydraulic lifters added in 1938. The 1940 and 1941 cars used an enlarged 292-in³ (4.8-L) engine, while 1942 and early 1946 models used a 306-in³ (5.0-L), but lower compression ratio because of the iron heads. Late 1946 to 1948 Lincolns based on the Zephyr used a 292-in³ engine.

The original engine had 110 hp (82 kW) and gave the car a top speed of 90 miles per hour (140 km/h). Suspension was Henry Ford-era transverse springs front and rear, with dead axle front and torque tube rear, already quite outdated when the car was introduced.[citation needed] Brakes were cable-activated for 1936 to 1938; 1939 and onwards were hydraulic. The Zephyr was the first Ford product to have an all-steel roof, except the late 1931 Model AA truck.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1936_Lincoln/1936_Lincoln_Zephyr_Folder". Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kimes, Beverly (1996). standard catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. Krause publications. ISBN 0-87341-428-4.
  3. ^ a b Dammann, Wagner & Cars of Lincoln-Mercury, p. 155
  4. ^ Dammann, Wagner & Cars of Lincoln-Mercury, p. 206
  5. ^ Dammann, Wagner & Cars of Lincoln-Mercury, p. 216
  6. ^ Dammann, Wagner & Cars of Lincoln-Mercury, p. 246
  7. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1936_Lincoln/1936_Lincoln_Zephyr_Folder". Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1940_Lincoln/1940_Lincoln_Zephyr_Brochure_1". Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  10. ^ Dammann, George H.; Wagner James K. (1987). The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury. Crestline Publishing Co. pp. 203–204. ISBN 0-912612-26-6.
  11. ^ Dammann, Wagner & Cars of Lincoln-Mercury, p. 205
  12. ^ Dammann, Wagner & Cars of Lincoln-Mercury, p. 199
  13. ^ "Directory Index: Lincoln/1941_Lincoln/1941_Lincoln_Zephyr_Brochure". Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  14. ^ Dammann, George H.; Wagner James K. (1987). The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury. Crestline Publishing Co. p. 199. ISBN 0-912612-26-6.
  15. ^ Dammann, Wagner & Cars of Lincoln-Mercury, p. 214
  16. ^ Dammann, Wagner & Cars of Lincoln-Mercury, pp. 223–224
  17. ^ Dammann, George H.; Wagner James K. (1987). The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury. Crestline Publishing Co. pp. 223–224. ISBN 0-912612-26-6.

Further readingEdit

  • Bonsall, Thomas. The Lincoln motorcar, Sixty Years of Excellence.
  • David L. Lewis (2005). 100 Years of Ford. Publications International. ISBN 0-7853-7988-6.
  • Dammann, George H.; Wagner, James K. (1987). The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury. Crestline Publishings. ISBN 0-912612-26-6.

External linksEdit