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55 Year Barn Find: 1946 Lincoln-Zephyr V12

Today’s find may not be exactly as advertised. It’s an absolutely worthy car to review but the nomenclature may have some confusion about it. Located in Helana, Montana and sitting for 55 years is this 1946 Lincoln Club Coupe. It is available, here on Facebook Marketplace for $17,500. Thanks to Ikey H. for this great find.

Where things get confusing is the seller’s description of this Lincoln as a Zephyr. Research indicates that the Lincoln Zephyr was produced between 1936 and 1942. At war’s end, the 1946 Lincolns were essentially carryovers of the 1942 model but the Zephyr name had been dropped. It was used colloquially but not officially. That would mean this example is a Lincoln Club Coupe and not a Zephyr. As always, your informed comments on this matter are encouraged.

As is often the case with Facebook listings, the details are slim. This Lincoln is powered by either a 130 HP, 306 CI, V12 or a 120 HP 292 CI V12 unit. The 306 CI motor was used in ’42 and the earliest part of the ’46 model year before Lincoln reverted to the 292. Unfortunately, the seller neither discloses the engine’s particulars nor includes an accompanying image so I have inserted a mock-up from Wikiwand. The seller does state that this coupe “runs and drives“. As is typically found, there is a three-speed manual transmission in place.

The interior is an interesting study. The listing states, “with the restoration started you finish your way” which I suppose means the restoration started with the seats – they look great! There is no floor covering and the passenger door card is missing but the interior is at a good starting point. The elaborate instrument panel appears to be intact though the radio, which would be positioned high and in the center, is missing. The steering wheel could use some assistance too.

I would describe the exterior of this Lincoln as “edgy”. And I mean that with all due respect to this great marque. It has a combined ominous though serious vibe about it. In the early years, cars were identified by their unique grille work, or radiator shell, as the bodies were frequently produced by various coachbuilders. While not the case with this ’46 Lincoln, the grille is still distinctive in its forbearance – and it is in very nice condition, no knocked out teeth! The body of the car looks to be straight and aligned, the seller claims “virtually no rust“. The cleaned-up exterior images reveal the body’s condition, with some clarity, and there is nothing that springs forward giving an indication of anything problematic. While there is some finish burn-through on horizontal surfaces, the chrome and stainless still show as strong. Note the off-color fender skirts, they certainly stand out, primered perhaps?

This Lincoln Club Coupe is an impressive package of automotive existentialism – a far cry from where Lincoln is today. Of course, all car manufacturers are a far cry today from where they were 75 years ago – that’s to be expected – some have just evolved better than others. This Lincoln really deserves to be saved, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    this car looks like a great starting point for a fun restoration, though I’ve always thought the front end looks like Wallace (without Gromit). And I think the restoration has started with not only new vinyl but also the reattachment of a lot of the chrome, and thankfully a good wash!

    Like 7
    • bry593

      Wallace, that’s accurate enough. I’d say, “a face only a mother could love”.

      Like 3
  2. Howard A Member

    Can you imagine what an elegant car this must have been? Movie stars drove these. I thought the front styling was outlandish too, like the guy with the billiard balls in his mouth, but this car must have rolled like thunder, and on gravel roads too. Not much passed this car. I read, 1946 was the 1st year for overdrive, it was a popular option and I bet this car has it, and the seller may not even know. Someone sharp on Lincolns might know for sure. Restoration like this gonna cost you, but what an automobile, the best America had to offer.

    Like 15
    • Thayer

      The pull lever next to the steering column should be the overdrive control, but I have a 1942 Continental with it equipped, so I’m not sure about ’46 being the first year.

      Like 6
      • David Taylor

        If you are referring to the large, curved, black handle to the left of the steering wheel, THAT is the emergency brake! If I remember correctly (49) overdrive was achieved by pushing a small button on gear shift and slamming “foot feed” all the way to the floor.

        Like 1
  3. Mike

    If you go to the ad, you’ll see probably the largest fender skirts ever made for a production car. They’re huge!

    Like 4
  4. Steve R

    Fix any mechanical issue, make it safe, buff the paint and drive it. Not every car needs to be restored.

    Steve R

    Like 26
  5. Maestro1 Member

    Save it, give it what it needs, drive and enjoy it.

    Like 11
  6. William

    Would this be worth a six figure restoration, as far as an investment goes? My guess, no.

    Like 0
  7. Dual Jetfire

    Like every other car company, Lincoln came out with a cheaper version in the 30s, the Zephyr. The senior car was just a Lincoln. They sort of reversed this after the war. The senior car became the Lincoln Continental and the cheaper one was just a Lincoln, and are pretty rare, especially the coupe version. Lincoln had a trademark on the “ Continental” name, which essentially meant it had an exposed rear mounted spare. This is why Nash advertised its early 50s cars as having “continental styling,” rather than “being continental.”

    Yes, everything DOES come back to the 1954 Nash Ambassador Country Club Lemans, with continental styling and available Opti-Shades.

    On another note, no one groused that the Zephyr demeaned the Lincoln brand, like so many did with the Packard 120.

    Like 4
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      The Packard 120, and later it’s 6 cylinder version, provided the financial success that made it possible for the Packard Motor Car Company to survive the great depression and, along with WW2 defense contracts, to enter the 1950s as the most financially stable American independent automobile company.

      Contrary to what had been written about the company and it’s products, the “junior” Packards did just what they were supposed to do. In a nutshell, the demise of the company can be traced to a merger [Packard actually bought Studebaker] with Studebaker, who had been “cooking the books”. While Packard thought they were buying a car company that was turning a profit, Studebaker was in fact, losing money like crazy.

      Like 2
  8. HC Member

    Isnt this the same type Lincoln that Betty Davis drove in Whatever happened to Baby Jane? Maybe that was a 1941. What an amazing find!

    Like 0
    • Ed B.

      The car in the movie was a Lincoln Continental (1946 to 1948). Same grille as on this coupe.

      Like 2
      • David Taylor

        I bought a 1947 Lincoln Continental in early 1969. Desperately needed a new paint job, new exhaust system, new tires, but didn’t cost much and ran like a spotted ape. Joined the army in May 69. Drove to all military assignments after basic training. Sold it in Houston 1970 on my way to Vietnam. Got twice as much as I originally paid for it. Oh, how I wish I still had that car!

        Like 2
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        David Taylor,

        Are you familiar with a very long, thin U.S. Navy building located in the Carderock, Maryland, area, along the Potomac River?

        If not, check this out:

        Like 0
  9. Woody

    Pic of the engine in seller’s ad. Didn’t see any door handles in the pictures???

    Like 0
    • Terry J Thomas

      They are a small push button.Way ahead of there time there!

      Like 4
  10. christopher gush

    Certainly grand in their presence. Having owned a 48 Club coupe and now a 46 Lincoln sedan with their wonderful access “suicide” doors, they are fun drivers and this one is a great candidate to simply mechanically refresh and just drive. A caution to prospective buyers is the 12 cylinder could be prone to oil burning, so… if you have a mosquito problem in your neighborhood, jump on board, but make sure you depart from home quickly…. the villagers may get angry.

    Like 1
  11. Terry J Thomas

    I’m the owner of this car. The car was first thought to be a Lincoln Zephyr,found out later the Zephyr stopped production in 1942.The car is an h series Lincoln Club Coupe.From the pictures you can see it was an extraordinary barn find in dry Montana climate.I have gotten the car back to a drivable condition. the V-12 runs great. Too many cars,this one has to go. Offered @ $17500 or best offer.

    Like 9
    • grant

      This is a really neat car, Terry. Financially out of my league, like most of the cars on this site but I take great joy in it’s existence. Good luck on the sale.

      Like 0
      • Terry J Thomas

        Thanks Grant ! It really is a cool car, just a lot of neat things they did back then.

        Like 0
  12. David Brassfield

    Moonshine Runner!
    Nice barn find!

    Like 0
  13. Pugsy

    Wow, and I thought my 41 New Yorker was ugly…..

    Like 1
  14. robert lewis

    nice car,cool use of the fomoco body components-looks like business-coupe roof &rear window,you can see Mercury style tail-lites,one piece front window looks nice…..cool car

    Like 0
  15. Paolo

    Good candidate for a Cadillac engine swap. Forget the V12, it’s a PITA.

    Like 1
    • wizzy

      My ’48 had an Olds engine in it. A common swap back in the late ’40’s early ’50;s for this car, as was the Caddie.

      Like 1
  16. HC Member

    Theres only one company really left that do a complete engine rebuild on old Lincolns and Cadillacs left and although they do everything its in the $5000-6000 range

    Like 0
  17. Mountainwoodie

    I’ve always been torn about the design of these. I prefer the Continental , yet whenever I see one of these I am strangely drawn to it. I can’t figure it out. Even on the ’46 Continental I think the chrome front is way too busy, heavy etc. The hump back nature of these is like a ’46 Ford Sedan that has been stretched in some alternate universe. yet….yet…..

    Looks like someone went the naughahyde route in the Sixties with the seats. In any event, it is an imposing vehicle and with enough money and time someday it will look awesome.

    Like 0
  18. Hekler

    It seems like I get terribly excited and soil my undies every time I think of the 1954 Nash Ambassador Country Club Lemans, with continental styling and available Opti-Shades.

    Like 0
  19. Kenn

    David Taylor, the overdrive lever is the small one immediately to the left of the steering column – about 2 inches away. Looks to be pulled out. Most folks on this site probably knew what the emergency brake lever was. (Now called a parking brake on our modern cars, due I guess to the dual hydraulic lines cars have today.)

    Like 1
  20. Ron Greene

    I’m shorten the person selling the 1946 Lincoln is not intentionally miss leading anyone. The 1946 Lincoln isn’t a Zephyr. There is no such thing as a 1946 Lincoln Zephyr. It’s a Lincoln, but NOT a Zephyr. The name Zephyr was only used by Lincoln from 1936 through 1941. Yes, it why used 50 years later. However, we’re talking and entirely different universe when it comes to cars. An actual Zephyr is very discernible by its grills, known as butterfly grills. I know all this to be true, because I own a 1940 Lincoln Zephyr.

    Like 0
    • Terry

      I bought the Lincoln at an estate sale. It was advertised as a Zephyr. I agree its a Lincoln, Not a Zephyr, found that out after a little research. Still a really cool car !!! Bought it to be a taildragger style car, just to nice to cut up !!

      Like 0
  21. HC Member

    Lincoln Continentals in 1946-48.were basically same models as pre war cars were. What a great car. Barnfinds did have a 1937 Zephr with a 429 stuffed inside of it. These 2 cars were compatible with swaps on drivetrains I would think. Lincoln added the 4 extra cylinder for the V12s to eliminate overhearing problems the V8s had in larger cars like tgis Lincoln. With that said how many options do you have to update brakes and master cylinders? Discs in front and keeping drums in back?

    Like 0

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