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American V12 In France: 1939 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe

Judging by the layer of barn fresh grime, this Lincoln has been in storage for a long time. Lincoln Zephyrs are not ultra-rare but you don’t see them very often. In France where this Zephyr is located, I’m sure they’re a rare commodity. If you are in the market for a Zephyr, it may not make financial sense to buy this and have it shipped back to the states, however, if it’s solid and rust-free it could be done. This car is located in Auriol France and is coming up for auction by Artcurial with no reserve in September as part of the Andre’ Trigano Collection. The auction estimate is 10-15k euros.


The Zephyr was made from 1936 until 1942 and was an entry-level Lincoln of sorts for buyers that didn’t want the larger Model K, which was a beautiful full size touring car. The Zephyr was offered in sedan, coupe, and convertible body styles. Several design changes were made through the relatively short 6-year run, I think the ’38-’41 Models are the most attractive. This car has been in storage for a long time and wears some sort of European license tag, suggesting it may have been in France most of its life. The body looks straight and the paint may clean up nicely.

All Zephyrs were powered by a V-12 that was derived from the Ford flathead V8. The engine displaces 267 cubic inches, made about 110 HP, and is bolted to a 3-speed manual. At some point, the intake manifold was removed but otherwise, it seems complete. It is not mentioned if the engine is frozen or not but I have my doubts. The louvers on the inner fenders are interesting and show the different efforts made to keep the V12 cool.

The inside is consistent with the exterior, dirty but mostly complete. With a ton of sweat equity, the interior will most likely clean up well. The dash in these cars are beautiful and simple with the center-mounted gauge and the shifter appearing from behind the dash. One good feature of the ’39 model is Hydraulic brakes, previous years had mechanical.

The speedometer itself is a work of art and gives the driver everything needed it one nice package with the fuel, temp, oil pressure and charging gauges integrated into the speedometer. Nothing is said about the history of the car other than it has been part of a museum collection. It will be interesting to see what happens to this car, likely it will be purchased and restored in Europe where the market is different for these cars.


  1. Avatar photo Jim Williams

    Just out of curiosity, are parts for this sort of thing available in Europe?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo local_sheriff

      Considering this is an 80year old vehicle that’s probably just as easy as locating parts for it in the US…! 😉

      There are several European vendors specializing in all sorts of vintage and antique US car parts – you just need to have deeper pockets not to say a lot of p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e as parcels don’t seem to move anywhere as quick in Europe as in the US…

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo ken tilly UK Member

        Hi Local. Here in UK the postal service is still excellent and I often receive parcels the day after I have ordered an item. Sometimes, if ordered before 9.00 a.m. it is with me the same day. I don’t know about the rest of Europe but the British postal service is one thing that they have got right!

        Like 5
      • Avatar photo local_sheriff

        Ken; I’m located across the pond North-East of you and here letter-size shipments will arrive swiftly when sent nationally.
        However when I’ve ordered items too large to fit in a mail box I’ve oftentimes waited weeks to receive my order, even when ordered from Central Europe. The Customs is another bottleneck where parcels can pile up for several days before they’re cleared.
        This can be quite frustrating as I track my US shipments and observe just how fast they move in comparison. Since I have a very reliable and quick connection in the US I’ve found it faster AND cheaper to order directly from US vendors

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo MikeH

        My experience has been the opposite. I routinely order parts from France and the UK. They almost always arrive in four days, sometimes three. Have the vendor mark the customs form “parts for an automobile more than 25 years old” and customs never looks at them.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        My 1934 SS1 Tourer “had” a DeSoto 270 cubic inch V8 in it. The original Standard 20 HP taxable engine that Jaguar used had been replaced by a previous owner.

        Last September, had one air shipped from the U.K. for about $850. The weight of the complete engine and crate under 600 pounds.

        I gave no idea what the movie or the meal was but I know I avoided a ton of handling costs had it been shipped by sea.

        Again…almost 600 lbs of engine, $850, not bad?

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo Ingo Sillus

        Well, I’m located in Germany with an american car repair shop. All parts which are available in the States are also available here through local dealers. But an old rig like this will even be a challange in it’s home country , I’ll guess. But if parts are available on i.e. eBay they are here sometimes within three days (!) . Sometimes maybe two weeks. Larger parts might take longer if they have to be surface shipped.

        Like 0
  2. Avatar photo Joey

    Know of 2 in Bloomfield, New Mexico. Wrecking yard. I have pictures.
    In Grants, New Mexico now. Headin to West Virginia

    Like 1
  3. Avatar photo William Shields

    The speedo is in kms. It must have been an European import from the beginning.
    It would be interesting to know its history.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

      William Shields,

      It appears all of the American cars in the collection were sold new in Europe, and have KPH speedometers, including that beautiful 1937 Packard.

      Like 1
  4. Avatar photo ken tilly UK Member

    As you say Scott, the dash is a work of art. In the day time it is beautiful but at night it is absolutely unbelievable. I used to drive my RHD model at night just to be able to enjoy the dashboard illuminations. I sold it to a connection of mine who still owns it, along with 8 other Lincoln Zephyr’s, one of which is a 1937 RHD.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

      Ken Tilly UK,

      Back in the late 1980s I was visiting one of the larger vintage car dealerships in London, when I saw a very nice Zephyr coupe parked outside. It was RHD and a slightly off Turquoise color. Is that your car? I think I still have photos of it somewhere.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo ken tilly UK Member

        Hi Bill. No, my convertible was red on the upper surface and off white on the lower. Ford never made a 2 door coupe, only a 2 door convertible, which was actually made by “Car Bodies” a company that Ford bought out after they had built the Mk 1 Zephyr Six convertible. As far as I know they never built a Mk 3 or a Mk 4 convert, only London black cabs.

        Like 0
  5. Avatar photo ken tilly UK Member

    The 1937 is also a coupe.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo ken tilly UK Member

      Hi again Bill. Please excuse my stupidity re the above comment. I was describing my 1959 Ford Zephyr Six convert built in UK and got mixed up with the Lincoln Zephyr. That’s the biggest reason that I miss the EDIT option.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

        No problem, I figured that out, and I also miss the edit.

        Like 0
  6. Avatar photo William Dolan

    Am I the only one to notice the trip odometer says “666” Buyer Beware….

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo james m conway

      That was the first thing that stood out to me also. I’m not one to believe in voodoo.

      Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Bob C.

    I think The Green Hornet used to drive one of these in the old theatrical serials. I remember it made a buzzing sound while in motion.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo WILLIAM BABYAK

      Yes, this was the original “Black Beauty”, as piloted by Kato.

      Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Will Fox

    No worries if this car will appreciate; THAT’S a given. No question it needs to be fully restored! And an export model to boot? Worth every dime a buyer can put into it!

    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo Ian

    It’s story must be really interesting…..it survived WW2..and the restrictions and shortages after and 80+ years later still here..albeit needing some attention

    Like 6
  10. Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member

    Check out the cars in this collection that is being sold next month, a VERY impressive collection of original, unrestored cars. My favorite is a 1937 Packard Eight, with a custom club sedan [no windows in the rear 1/4 areas], and a division window. Speedometer shows it’s a KPH car, likely sold new in southern France, hence it was not in the occupied area and was saved.

    Here is the link for the Packard: https://www.artcurial.com/en/lot-1937-packard-120-berline-separation-chauffeur-no-reserve-4014-161

    It appears that all of the American cars in the collection were sold new in Europe. I would love to have the Panhard PL17, but it would cost me more to ship it to the US than it will probably sell for.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Don P

      There is some rusty gold there. Glad I don’t have a rich uncle with a shipping container business.

      Like 2
  11. Avatar photo Roy Blankenship

    From Remulac…a small town in France…

    Like 3
  12. Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member


    Sounds like a cone headed comment to me. Am I the only one who gets this?

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Roy Blankenship

      I am happy YOU got it!

      Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Gary Hicks

    I’m not exactly sure what fees are today, but some years ago, I sort of blundered my way into the container shipping business, and I was paying $450.00 to ship from Long Beach, Ca., to Guam, plus drey fees both sides, which was $175 each. The “cans” were 45′ and no weight limit exporting or importing autos. I just thought I’d throw that in, as I was enjoying all your conversations. Thought I was sort of a car “buff,” until following you fellas on Barnfinds, and realizing how much I really didn’t know!

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Stevieg

      I’m with you Gary. I learn something every day I come onto this site. That is one of the many reasons I love this site.

      Like 0

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