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1936-1948 Lincoln Zephyr

1940 Lincoln Zephyr

The 1940 Lincoln Zephyr faced another sibling rival that year, only this was more a rival for class than customers. It was, of course, the exquisitely styled Continental, which had originated in 1938-1939 as a Zephyr-based custom built for the company president.

Edsel had taken the car to Florida on his annual winter vacation, and it garnered more than 200 enthusiastic inquiries about when it would be offered for sale.

1941 Lincoln Zephyr front view
The all-new 1940 bodyshell received minor styling
refinements, as shown on this superb 1941 club coupe.

The production Continental arrived barely a year later. It was longer than the Zephyr and, because of the considerable body leading involved, heavier, so its handling was never quite up to Zephyr's. Nevertheless, the Continental completely stole the show with its masterful styling.

Which is too bad, because the 1940 Series 06H was the best Zephyr yet. Though it looked much like the 1939, it boasted a brand-new unit body/chassis without running boards, which allowed the bodysides to move outward for a corresponding gain in seat width.

Other improvements included sealed-beam headlamps, larger windows, a bigger trunk with the spare on the floor where it belonged, and a more conventional dash sans console, with column-mount gearshift and the large combination instrument dial placed directly ahead of the steering wheel.

The main mechanical change was a bore increase for the V-12, which brought displacement up to 292 cid and horsepower to 120. The convertible sedan was dropped and a smart new semi-fastback five-seat club coupe replaced the fastback sedan-coupe.

Model year production again inched upward, reaching 21,765 units. That included 700 two-door Zephyr convertibles, twice the number of open Continentals built this year, though the number of survivors is just the opposite today.

Interestingly, the 1940 Continental carried only Zephyr script, as the model was originally intended as simply a limited-production offering in the Zephyr line. Few people at Ford ever dreamed it would be a star in its own right.

Also this year, Brunn offered special Town Limousine and Town Car coachwork for the Zephyr chassis, the latter with open chauffeur's compartment. Both had smaller tails and more squared-up rooflines, which seemed incongruous with the aerodynamic Zephyr styling.

Only about 10 of these cars were built through 1941, most delivered to members of the Ford family or company executives.

To learn about the 1941 Lincoln Zephyr, see the next section.

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