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1936-1948 Lincoln Zephyr

The Collectible Lincoln Zephyr

Despite its predictive design, high sales success, and obvious historical importance, the Lincoln Zephyr took many years to win acceptance as a collector car. Giving the collectible Lincoln Zephyr respect and, in fact, saving it from extinction was largely the doing of the Lincoln Zephyr Owners Club.

Before this group was founded in 1968, many Zephyrs were either scrapped by the uncaring and uninformed, or ended up as parts cars for restoration of a Continental, the Zephyr's more glamorous offspring that was one of the first cars of the 1940s to earn Classic status.

Once apparently fated for extinction, the Zephyr is recognized today as an eminently desirable car apart from the Continentals and is no longer an endangered species.

As you'd expect, the most readily available Zephyrs today are the ones that were most numerous to begin with: the four-door sedan of all years and the 1937-1941 three-passenger coupe. We're talking in relative terms, though, and "available" does not mean "low-priced" in this case.

A prewar sedan can easily bring more than $10,000 in show condition, a comparable postwar example more than $8,000. These figures reflect the high costs of restoring such a car nowadays as much as the Zephyr's popularity as a collectible.

The most sought-after single model is the 1939 convertible sedan, with the 1938 a close second. Only 763 of these flagships were built, of which only a half-dozen or so are known to survive today.

The 1938 convertible coupe is equally rare; again, only about six are still with us. In fact, the survival rate for Zephyr convertible coupes of all years is probably no more than 1 percent of original production, compared with about 50 percent for prewar open Continentals.

1939 Lincoln Zephyr convertible coupe rear view
The 1938 Lincoln Zephyr convertible coupe
is a rare find, indeed.

Sedan-coupes are also scarce, with only about one or two apparent survivors from each of the four model years. Surprisingly, a fair number of export models with right-hand drive still exist, and they've turned up all over the world. The British, in particular, had far more appreciation for the car than we Americans.

Another Zephyr rarity is the 1937-1938 Town Limousine. Interestingly, this model was listed by the factory for 1936, though it's questionable any were built that year. It also appears on the 1939-1940 charts, but no production figures are available.

The special Brunn-bodied Town Car is not shown in Ford records either, probably because it was a conversion of the standard sedan. However, the existence of one 1938 example indicates that it was built at a very early date.

A good many 1940-1941 models have survived, probably because they were first owned by company officials who recognized the significance of these extra special cars and gave them extra special care.

Zephyrs seldom change hands any more, due mainly to the relatively low number of survivors and their advancing age. When one is sold, it's usually done privately, though the cars are seen at auction. For this reason, it's difficult to peg prices firmly.

Parts availability for these cars has never been a serious problem, and there are Zephyr specialists scattered around the country, offering a variety of items. Of special note is Narragansett Reproductions (Woodville Road, P.O. Box 51, Wood River Junction, RI 02894), a mail order house that manufactures and sells wiring harnesses and restoration aids.

Various collectors have remanufactured small components on a limited basis, including steering wheels and assorted trim pieces. Engine parts are in good to excellent supply from a number of collector-car sources, but prices are high due to limited demand. There are currently about 3,000 Zephyr and Continental owners worldwide.

Find specifications for the Lincoln Zephyr in our final section.

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