Collected And Neglected: 1938 Lincoln Zephyr V12

left front

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The Zephyr was Lincoln’s mid-sized luxury car. It filled the gap between the Ford Deluxe and the Lincoln K-Series. This Lincoln is listed on eBay  in Tampa, Florida with no reserve. The auction ends next Sunday and bidding is just over $2000 at this time. This Zephyr was restored many years ago and has been in a private collection. It is complete and original but will need some work.

inside front right

The interior looks really nice and original. The locking glove box was one of the many standard luxury features. The shifter for the 3 speed transmission had been moved from the floor, but wasn’t yet column mounted.


There is a large area on the trunk where the paint has pealed that is going to need attention.


The flathead 12 looks complete. The engine turns, but it has not been started. That’s a 267 CID 110 HP. The 12 cylinders were more for smoothness than power. These 12 cylinder flatheads have a unique sound and run so smoothly when properly tuned.


There’s no sign of rust underneath. That’s a two speed rearend.

right rear

This Zephyr is beautiful from every angle. One would certainly want to repair the trunk lid but otherwise it looks like it could be a nice driver. The mechanical and electrical systems could be more challenging. After so many years the brake and fuel systems will need lots of attention, no doubt. Could you imagine taking this on for a daily driver? Would you make any changes?

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  1. Joe

    I grew up (in the 70s) in the back seat of a 39 sedan. We went to car shows and runs every weekend. It was the best that anyone could imagine. Dad still has the 39 as well as a 37 coupe.

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  2. Rick

    Peeled. Paint has peeled. Bells have pealed. And I like the Columbia 2 speed rear end.

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  3. Mark

    This was my 1939 Zephyr, with 52,000 original miles, that I bought in 1977.
    When the Mercury Zephyr was introduced in 1978, my car was in the showroom for a couple of weeks, showing the “old and the new” Zephyr.
    It had the V-12, 2 speed rear end.
    Had a locking steering column!!!

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    • Woodie Man

      That comparison is just plain sad. As Americans we should be ashamed that we produced such crap in the Seventies like the Fairmont/Zephr……..just embarassing. Like polyester and leisure suits.

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      • Brad

        On the other hand… if we’d just kept producing gorgeous vehicles non-stop all these years, I wonder if we could truly appreciate the looks and quality of the antiques today.

        Maybe we needed a Dodge K-car to remind us how wonderful a ’41 barrel back Town and Country was. Perhaps suffering the indignity of driving a Chevy Vega is the price we pay for letting the ’59 Impala convertible slip through our collective fingers.

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  4. Fred W.

    I had the same hair and mustache in ’78 (no hair at all now). The new Zephyr pales in comparison to the old- a rebadged Fairmont.

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  5. Alan (Michigan)

    Yea well, call me the curmudgeon.

    I like the car generally, but there are several things which give me pause. IMO, that isn’t the paint which peeled on the back of the car, it is what was underneath. A skim-coat of body filler, perhaps?

    I just have to say that the word “restored” here seems to be rather ambitiously assigned. What happened many years ago was a fairly inexpensive bondo, paint and seat-covers job. When someone is in too much of a hurry to mask-off the spare tire to paint the rim, I get a feeling about the rest of the work.

    The photos are pretty good, compared to what many sellers use, so “mcl23aren” does not seem to be hiding the reality. But it is not necessarily shown outright, either. No close-ups of the lower doors, and those would tell a lot about the car. What I do see are bubbles under the paint in many places on the Lincoln. I’d venture a guess that many pounds of body filler was used prior to the cheap red spray job. An attempt to strip to metal for a decent coat of paint might uncover a body with a ton of perforation or distortions. Not for the timid!

    Take a look at the photo with the nose mascot a little above the center of the frame. Focus in on the body sections between and below the grille halves. While you are there, note that the two grille pieces are significantly different in execution!
    I wonder how long it would take, and how expensive the hunt might get, in a search for the missing top trim piece on the right side of the hood? (Never mind locating a nice match for either side of the grille….)

    The interior… The driver’s door panel is probably original, because it looks it. The rest may be “original Style”, but it is hardly wearing the same finish and materials as when it left the assembly line.

    With some work, this could be made into a driver, but: Don’t get caught out in the rain. Looks like water has run across the dash below the windshield, and streamed down the right side near the door frame!

    David Sez: “There’s no sign of rust underneath.” Oh. Um, we must have a different concept of exactly what rust is….?

    I like the year, make, and model. But this is exactly the kind of car which one cannot wax nostalgic over, or view through rose-tinted glasses.

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    • John H. from CT

      Alan (Michigan), What a great commentary and great observations. Sufficient to temper anyone who gets over emotional on this specific Lincoln.

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    • Shawn

      You obviously didn’t look at all of the hundreds of close up pictures of the car and are just looking at the main pictures in the auction.

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      • Alan (Michigan)

        Yep. Somehow my browser did not pick up all that was available to look at. What I see with many more views shown just serves to further my opinion. This car was never properly “restored” It was treated to a large dose of body filler, and an inexpensive paint job. The shortcomings of prior work are now readily apparent, Underneath the red on this car are many areas of pretty severe tinworm activity.
        Strip off the paint, and what will be exposed will not be pretty to view, or easy to fix.

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  6. Doc

    Killer car!

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  7. 70 king

    those Zephyr’s are beautiful cars.

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  8. Paul B

    Beautiful, though they have a reputation for overheating. Not powerful, but as David says, smooth. And power isn’t everything. Alan brings up a series of legitimate concerns about a car that could be at once constantly alluring and impossibly aggravating — and expensive — once you discovered its problems. These are some of the most gorgeous, splendidly proportioned cars ever built. Raise a glass to Edsel Ford, but by all means be careful and do a thorough PPI before plunking down cash for this particular example. At least know what you are getting into, so you can enjoy it.

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