Lincoln's 1941 lineup consisted of three model groups: the Series 16H 1941 Lincoln Zephyr, the Continental coupe and cabriolet (now bearing appropriate badges), and the 138-inch-wheelbase Series 168H Custom sedan and limousine. The last were meant to carry on the coachbuilt tradition of the now-discontinued K-series, but they were pure Zephyr at heart.
Zephyr became Lincoln’s sole model line for 1941,
following the demise of the coachbuilt K-series of 1940.
Both had more arched rooflines and employed club coupe front doors and elongated rear doors built from regular four-door sedan panels. There wasn't much call for the Customs: only 355 sedans and 295 limos were completed for the model year.
The volume models got minor changes to bumpers, grilles, and headlamp rims. Parking lamps now sat atop the front fenders, where they doubled as turn signals, and the hood release was moved from the hood ornament to a control inside the car.
There were minor suspension tweaks, including longer, wider springs that gave slower ride motions. Convertibles acquired electrically powered top mechanisms, and a new deluxe radio with a foot switch for changing stations became available at extra cost.
Another new option was Borg-Warner overdrive, an alternative to the two-speed Columbia rear axle offered since 1936. A very few cars were built with both units, including the Custom that won the 1941 Gilmore Economy Run (a similarly equipped standard Zephyr was also entered).
Lincoln began a long decline in both sales and market share in 1941. Much of this has been blamed on the V-12, but there were other, more significant factors. For one thing, Lincoln had a weaker dealer network than its main rivals (Ford dealers sold Zephyrs in some parts of the country), a situation that wouldn't be rectified until Lincoln-Mercury Division was formed at the close of World War II.
Also, many medium-price makes had caught up with the Zephyr by now, fielding newer, more appealing models. Buick, Oldsmobile, DeSoto, Chrysler, even Hudson all notched sales gains for 1941, most at the Zephyr's expense.
But the real problem was Cadillac, which shrewdly dropped its middle-class LaSalle this year in favor of the similarly priced Series 61, offering true luxury-car prestige for less cash than a comparable Zephyr.
Also, Cadillac boasted more trim and body style choices, improved steering, new no-shift Hydra-Matic Drive, bold new styling, and a smoother, quieter, more powerful V-8.
With all this, Cadillac nearly doubled its model year output over the combined 1940 total, while Lincoln actually dropped by more than 2,500 units.
Check out the next section for details on the final years of the Lincoln Zephyr.
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