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1938 Lincoln-Zephyr convertible coupe
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
SuccessorLincoln Lido
ClassEntry luxury car
RelatedLincoln Continental
ManualsService Manual

Lincoln-Zephyr was a brand name for the lower priced line of luxury cars in the Lincoln line. Lincoln-Zephyr and Mercury bridged the wide gap between Ford's DeLuxe line and the exclusive Lincoln K-series cars. This served a purpose similar to Cadillac's smaller LaSalle "companion car".


Introduced in November 1935 as a 1936 model, the Lincoln-Zephyr was extremely modern with a low raked windscreen, integrated fenders, and aerodynamic design. It is noted for being one of the first successful streamlined cars after the Chrysler Airflow. 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.

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, 1977 Lincoln Versailles, 1982 Lincoln Continental, and 2000 Lincoln LS. The Zephyr name itself was resurrected for the car's spiritual successor in 2006, though this modern Zephyr was quickly renamed MKZ for 2007.


1937 Lincoln-Zephyr HB 4-door sedan

The Lincoln-Zephyr was first available as a two-door or four-door sedan. A three-window coupe was added in 1937, followed by a convertible coupe and sedan in 1938, and a club coupe starting in 1940.

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.


The Zephyr was powered by a small 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 would prove troubling, with bearing and crankshaft problems becoming common.

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). 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). 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).

Suspension was transverse springs front and 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.


See also


  • Bonsall, Thomas. The Lincoln motorcar, sixty Years of Excellence. 
  • David L. Lewis (2005). 100 Years of Ford. Publications International. ISBN 0-7853-7988-6. 

External links