Introduced in November 1935 as a 1936 model, the Lincoln-Zephyr
was extremely modern with a low raked windscreen, integrated fenders, and streamlined aerodynamic design.
It is noted for being one of the first successful streamlined cars after the the tall and gawky looking Chrysler Airflow market failure. The Airflow was actually more aerodynamic than the lower wider sleeker looking Lincoln-Zephyr. The Lincoln-Zephyr was extremely successful in reigniting sales at Lincoln dealerships in the late 1930s, spawning the Continental line that would replace the aging K-series by the end of the decade. By 1941, Lincoln-Zephyr, Continental, and the Zephyr-based Custom line were the only models offered at Lincoln dealerships.
Production of all American cars halted in 1942 as the country entered World War II, with Lincoln producing the last Lincoln-Zephyr on January 31. After the war, most makers restarted production of their pre-war lines, and Lincoln was no exception. The Zephyr name, however, was no longer used after 1942, with the cars simply called Lincolns.
Designed by John Tjaarda
(1897-1962), who was fascinated with airplanes, with a Cx of 0.45, the body was monocoque construction and very rigid, but surprisingly light for its size. The first model had a weight of 3,350 lb (1,520 kg).
The Zephyr was powered by a small 75° V12 engine developed from Ford's Flathead V8 and unrelated to the previous Lincoln V12 engines. The side-valve engine was quite compact, especially compared to the tall L-head Lincoln 12, allowing a low hood. But its V8 roots, with enormous hot spot due to exhaust passages through the cylinder block would prove troubling, with cylinder warping, water leakage, excessive oil burning, bearing and crankshaft problems becoming common. Lincoln worked hard to solve most of these problems during the first year of production, with less than absolute success, and eventually introduced iron heads in 42, which cured the recurring problem of burnt head gaskets.
The 1936 to 1939 models were 267 in³ (4.4 L) with hydraulic lifters added in 1938. 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 (4.8 L).
The original engine had 110 hp (82 kW) and gave the car a top speed of 90 miles per hour (145 km/h). Suspension was by Henry Ford's beloved transverse springs front and rear, with dead axle front and torque tube rear, already seen as outdated when the car was introduced. 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.
1936 Lincoln Zephyr
1936 Lincoln Zephyr Ad
1937 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe
1937 Lincoln Zephyr Sedan
1938 Lincoln Zephyr 3-window Coupe
1938 Lincoln Zephyr Convertible
1939 Lincoln Zephyr Sedan
1940 Lincoln Zephyr Convertible Coupe
1941 Lincoln Zephyr 3-window Coupe
1942 Lincoln Zephyr Convertible Coupe
1938 Lincoln Ad
And a badge-engineered clone:
1939 Mercury Convertible Coupe
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