Originally produced for the model year of 1936, aesthetically the Lincoln Zephyr contained design characteristics far ahead of its time. With its elegant contours and smooth aerodynamics, the Zephyr looks as if it could spout wings and slice through the clouds as it soars high into the stratosphere.
However back on Earth, the Zephyr quickly became Lincoln’s best selling car, even out-selling Lincoln’s K-series cars. Although only a few thousand were produced each year (from 1936-1942) the Zephyr made up approximately eighty percent of Lincoln’s total auto sales.
Only 2100 three window coupes, like Dave McGary’s, were produced in 1939. That is a fraction of the 21,000 Zephyrs made for that year. With so few made, it is extremely rare to find anyone willing to part with one.
Powered by a big V-12, the Zephyr was able to reach a top speed of 90 mph. Even though the body was constructed in a way that is was combined with the chassis, the overall weight of the car was surprisingly light. One new feature that was added to the Zephyr was an all-steel roof. The ’39 model differed from previous years due to the replacement of steel-line brakes with hydraulic brakes.
At first glance, most car enthusiasts of the late ’30s era probably didn’t notice the aesthetic differences between the 1939 Zephyr and the 1938 model. The new version improved the style of the Zephyr with new pressings for the hood, along with an elegant new hood ornament that was designed to unlatch the hood, front fenders, beautiful chrome side trim and newly designed headlamp lenses. To accentuate the newly designed grill, the front bumper was cut away in the center. Also, skirts were added to the rear wheel-wells for a more elegant look.
On exploring the interior of the ’39 model, the car enthusiast of the era discovered an enhanced dash that incorporated new gauges and wider trim than previous years. An added feature, as in Dave’s Zephyr, was leather seats and lining.
Had it not been for the inception of the new mid-range Mercury with a similar style, the Zephyr likely would have been a top seller in the auto industry in 1939. During World War II, Lincoln changed the name of the Zephyr to the Continental. After the war ended, Lincoln decided to leave the Zephyr name in the history books. It wasn’t until 2006 that Lincoln revisited using the Zephyr name. However, in 2007 the latest model was renamed the Lincoln MKZ.