Glassy Eyed: 1937 Lincoln Zephyr

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While it’s easy to remember the Chrysler Airflow as the first mass produced car to make a low drag coefficient an actual talking point, the Lincoln Zephyr wasn’t exactly a slouch when it came to slicing through the wind. In fact, I’d even venture to say it’s a prettier car than the Airflow that looks great in both stock and customized form. Check out this barn-fresh example here on craigslist in Seattle for $14,999.

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One of my favorite features of the Zephyr are those glassed-in headlights, a design more common with European-market examples. Why didn’t U.S. manufacturers embrace these elegant glass lenses – was it due to frequent breakage? It’s a shame, as this is one of the most handsome front ends in the business. The seller doesn’t know much about this particular example, only that it ran when parked years ago.

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The Zephyr was a sales success for Lincoln, and it’s not hard to see why. Simple, elegant controls; comfortable seating; and a gorgeous shape that could make even the most humble driver feel like a million bucks. And while it doesn’t have quite the same meaning as it does today, an eight cylinder with a manual shift transmission just makes this Zephyr seem like the ultimate Q-ship of the 30s, built for long expanses of highway travel.

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Despite their beauty and relative scarcity today, you don’t have to spend huge money to own a classic like the Zephyr. This one looks extra appealing due to its clean, rust-free body and impressive cosmetic condition (for the age). To me, the Zephyr always feels like a car on the cusp of being worth bigger money, but I haven’t seen them take off yet. Are cars like this 8-cylinder sedan poised for a price increase?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Jeff, I don’t get the “8 cylinder” bit. Unless the car has been modified — not unlikely — or the seller just looked at the big flattie under the hood and thought “hmmmmm…Ford….V8…” it’s a V-12!

    All Zephyrs of this era had twelve cylinders. At least until owners had engine troubles (or wanted to go faster) and installed something else.

  2. Stang1968

    While car is on Seattle CL, it’s actually located in Coeur d’ alene Idaho.

    • M/K

      that would explain the idaho plates

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Looks like a great opportunity for someone to have a classic driver. No shots from the rear, maybe that is the back glass on the rear passenger floor? Anyway, seems like a reasonable place to start, appears to be very solid.

  3. Joe Muzy

    Wish they would have shown a picture of the engine. The 12 cylinder engine was the original power plant so if they changed to an eight hard to tell what they put in it.

  4. jeff6599

    Why did the writer choose to call it a V8 instead of a V12. What info did he have available or was it just a lack of knowledge and a guess?

  5. M/K

    Doe’s the seller know the car or not?

  6. JimmyinTEXAS

    Take it easy on the owner/poster, and read the ad. He didn’t mention the engine…

    • M/K

      says eight cylinder with manual transmission then goes on to say dont have same appeal but it does say “eight cylinder engine”

      • JimmyinTEXAS

        The CL ad doesn’t mention the ad. I have socks older than the Barn Finds writer, so he must have been dreaming about the engine being an 8 cylinder, You ask if the seller knew or not! Maybe he doesn’t and that would be why he didn’t mention it in the ad.
        Just in case you can’t click the link to the CL ad I will copy it here for you….
        “I have a rare 1937 Lincoln Zephyr in for sale. Rust free, barn fresh with a clear Idaho title. Ran when parked. Call
        show contact info
        for Information.”

      • grant

        It’s listed as an 8 cylinder in the craigslist ad. It’s in the details part to the side of the ad copy.

    • Peter

      JimmyinTEXAS,

      With all the respect that’s due, you should “take it easy on the owner/poster, and read the ad…” because, as Grant noted, below:

      “It’s listed as an 8 cylinder in the craigslist ad. It’s in the details part to the side of the ad copy.”

      And then you go on toBASH BF poster “Jeff Lavery,” who DID read the ad, with THIS?:

      “I have socks older than the Barn Finds writer, so he must have been dreaming about the engine being an 8 cylinder….”

      Man, you need to take your OWN ADVICE, and READ the ******* ad, bro.
      The devil’s in the details…and the details need to be READ.

      Oh, wait…you’re from TEXAS–I get it. Nevermind….

      • JimmyinTEXAS

        Nice comment Peter, Thanks.
        After it was kindly pointed out to me by grant. I did look again at the ad and saw it listed as an 8 in the ad. I was on my way to thank grant for pointing it out to me and noticed how out raged you became. SO I have come to apologize to M/K and grant and wish you well with your anger management therapy.

  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    These were definitely powered by V-12s. A (late) member of our club had a ’38. I was kind of interested in it when it was time to turn over the care-taking to someone else. The owner’s son got a bunch of C-cans and locked his dad’s collection away. I sure hope that he airs them out every week; those C-cans are horrible for condensation…..

    • Alan (Michigan)

      That’s a sad story, geomechs.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Hi geomechs, I never heard of a C-can, can you explain? Thanks, Mike.

      • Jay M

        C-can=Sea Can or shipping container.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi guys. Jay got it right, just a short term for steel shipping container. You see them popping up all over the country, like abandoned cars during the gas crunch. Lots of colors and names like Hamfong, and Hu Long Wang, or Yu Tinky Pu. I’d like to find one like the one in Lethal Weapon, full of money and a Mercedes. Well, I could sell the Mercedes and use all that money to finish all my projects.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Thank you!

  8. Dennis M

    Those streamlined glass headlamp covers were not quite so unusual. Take a look at ’37.’38, ’39 Fords.

  9. charlie Member

    And the Mopars had them too – early federal requirement for sealed beams doomed them

  10. M/K

    no apology necessary on this end, we all miss things at times. if our feelings get hurt when wrong then we shouldn’t put our $.02 in because none of is are all knowing and all wise. but thanks anyhow

  11. jeff6599

    Well, I’m probably just an old hard headed SOB but I enjoy this column and enjoy professionalism. A writer doesn’t have to know it all, for sure. But someone is making an income off this and that makes them a pro in this field. All pros must verify facts one way or the other, on line, books, friends, reference material. There are monthlies out there that seem to never make a mistake due to the processes they follow to assure against them. I’d sure like to know that since this is a column about a highly technical product that everything printed is correct so I don’t have to check. Proofread, check, correct.
    Sorry for firing off. I hope there is a least some logic coming through.

  12. JimmyinTEXAS

    I have learned a lot over the years reading these Post about cars I love and cars I have never see or heard of. One thing I have recently learned is that I should make sure of my facts before posting.
    Thanks to all.

  13. M/K

    sometimes the pro’s are wrong too. its helps to triple and quadruple check the facts because of this issue. and as we all know sometimes facts are subject to change. i do enjoy the discussions(debates?) on this site,seems to be more knowledge lurking around the readership, thanks for a great site folks

  14. Jeff6599

    That said, MK, most facts are constant such as a 409 always being a 409, an eight cylinder engine always having eight cylinders and gravity being 32.174 ft/second squared. On the other hand, the exact distance to the moon always varies. And this Lincoln Zephyr appears to have been a moonshot

  15. M/K

    since we’re taking it that far off then i’ll just say at one time scientific fact was a flat earth with a sun revolving around it.

  16. jeff6599

    You’ve got it buddy!

  17. charlie Member

    And it very well could have a V8 transplant, since the V12’s had problems, cooling being one, although there is a great story about a Ford dealer buying 3 engines and putting them in trucks, and driving to Detroit to convince Ford to put them into trucks. So many were replaced by V8’s of various makes. But you would think a seller could open the hood and count the spark plugs

  18. Joe Muzy

    You would think the seller would do that Charlie. Just like some don’t even wash them. If you’re they would make it look good to get top dollar.

  19. Woodie Man

    I’m handing out chill pills…one for you….one for you…two for you

  20. JimmyinTEXAS

    I’v looked at this car so many times it is starting to grow on me… I’ve contacted a couple of my friends(yes I know that seems strange, but they are strange too) and we are thinking about trying to buy this thing. I just hung up the phone talking to the owner. He has had the car almost twenty five years and now that he has had his second or third kid he has determined he isn’t so interested in finishing the project. He has done some brake work, and had a new gas tank built. Oh and it does have a Ford flat-head V8 in it. He said the former owner told him the V12 was replaced in the late 40s or early 50s. It has been off the road for a few years and he didn’t drain the gas so he is afraid to try to start it, but sounded like he drove it pretty regularly. Car sounds like it in decent shape and could be a nice weekend crusier with just a few weekends of work.

  21. Trickie Dickie Member

    Well,there you have it. Now we all know. I am going to take a nap now.

  22. rick hutchinson

    Looking for a 69 lin.con

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