True style withstands the test of time, and that’s as true in automobiles as it is in art and fashion. Tastes change, times change – but elegance and style endure.
Such is the case with the Lincoln Zephyr, one of Ford Motor Co.’s most striking designs of the pre-World War II era. Svelte and streamlined, the Zephyr carried on Lincoln’s reputation for luxury and sophistication at a price point aimed at reaching a slightly broader audience.
At the upcoming Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction, April 16-18 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, one fortunate bidder will take home a custom 1941 Lincoln Zephyr that marries the style and elegance of the era with state-of-the-art technology to create an unforgettable build that will be a star of someone’s collection.
The name Zephyr was chosen as a nod to the diesel-powered Burlington Zephyr express train, a sleek streamliner that set a number of speed records back in the day. Like the train, the original Lincoln Zephyr passenger car had wonderful lines that were sleek, aerodynamic and elegant.
Unlike the train, however, the car didn’t feature the latest technology and performance capabilities. True, the first Lincoln Zephyrs had V12 power plants, but they were derived from the Ford Flathead and produced a mere 110 horsepower and a top speed of only about 90 miles per hour. The Zephyr’s suspension and braking systems were similarly rudimentary.
Taken as a whole, when new, the Zephyr was a gorgeous looker but not much of a performance car, even by the comparatively modest standards of the day.
Through the miracle of hot-rod technology, though, the Zephyr set to cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block at No Reserve maintains the great body style of the original while doing an extreme makeover inside and out to bring it thoroughly up to date.
Under the hood, the lackluster Lincoln V12 is gone, replaced by one of the most desirable powerplants of this generation, an 8-liter V10 engine out of a Dodge Viper. The Viper V10, which is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, delivers horsepower and torque in droves, turning the Zephyr from a tepid performer to a tremendous one that’s both fast and fun to drive. To keep all that power cool, the sleek all-steel body has functional side ports incorporated into the front fenders.
Naturally, quadrupling the power of the Zephyr means the suspension and brakes need to be significantly upgraded to handle 400+ horsepower, as well as optimizing handling and road manners. The builders spared no expense here, adding a custom chassis, with a fully polished Kugel front and rear independent suspension setup and rack & pinion steering. Power-assisted disc brakes make sure the hot-rod Lincoln stops quickly, too. The RideTech air suspension is fully programmed to adjust the ride height when the car starts.
As wonderful as the mechanical bits are, the design and craftsmanship that went into this Zephyr build are simply jaw-dropping. In 1941, the Zephyr was available in four body styles: Two coupes, a convertible and sedan. This build features the original steel three-window coupe body, which was chopped three inches. Also, the fenders were peaked, with headlights added from a 1938 Zephyr.
The advantage of using the laser-straight original steel body is that the colors selected for this Zephyr ‒ PPG Cabernet and Diamond White Pearl – beautifully accentuate the original art deco lines of the Zephyr. Subtle enhancements like the one-off Colorado Custom billet wheels with “Zephyr V10” center caps complete the look.
Inside, this Zephyr has been built with the same attention to detail and craftsmanship as the rest of the car. Built to be driven and enjoyed, it now features a host of luxury and comfort amenities, including 6-way power seats, tilt column, air conditioning, a custom sound system with DVD player, power windows, power trunk and a fully outfitted console.
Without question, this 1941 Lincoln Zephyr shows just what magic can be worked when combining a prewar classic with contemporary technology and the most rigorous standards of craftsmanship.
And it’s about to find a new owner at Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach.
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