- The Washington Times - Friday, May 10, 2002

It's not easy to own a 1942 three-window Lincoln Zephyr coupe since only 1,236 were manufactured.

With the introduction of the relatively inexpensive Zephyr back in 1936 Lincoln managed not only to survive the Great Depression but also to thrive.

Business prospects were rosy in 1941 when Lincoln designers working on the 1942 model lowered the height of the 1942 Zephyr. They also added a few pounds, bringing the weight up to 3,730 pounds. They gave the car longer and higher fenders. Altogether, the 1942 Lincoln Zephyr was a significant styling and engineering departure from earlier models.

Unfortunately, World War II got in the way of what promised to be a good sales year. All 1942 civilian car production came to a halt in February leaving Lincoln with a total production figure for the 1942 model year of 6,547 cars and that included all models.

One of those exclusive Lincolns was a three-window Zephyr coupe with optional electric windshield wipers, an overdrive and a leather interior. It had a base price of $1,735.

The history of this particular Zephyr is unknown. However, it must have led a sheltered life since the car was advertised in 1994 as a rust-free original.

Bernie and Carolyn Wolfson were in the market for such a car ever since she had seen, years before, a similar Zephyr with the same swoopy lines.

When the Wolfsons saw the relatively rare model offered for sale with a correct rebuilt 305-cubic-inch V-12 engine and then discovered it was a war-shortened 1942 model as well, they had to investigate.

Lady Luck was smiling on Mr. Wolfson when he called a California friend to inquire if he were near the location of the advertised car. Not only was the Lincoln in the same community, it was right around the corner.

The Wolfsons flew to California in 1994 to inspect the at the time 52-year-old car and, because it appeared to be rust free and was coated in primer, they bought it.

After a trucking firm was contracted for a door-to-door delivery, the Wolfsons went home to Maryland.

Soon thereafter, the truck driver telephoned the Wolfsons at 10 p.m. on a Saturday to say his big truck couldn't traverse their small residential lane. His suggestion was, "Come get your car from this "Park-N-Ride" where he was parked.

At that late weekend hour a roll-back truck was scrounged to bring the long-suffering Zephyr home on its 125-inch wheelbase.

During the next few months Mr. Wolfson completely disassembled his Lincoln Zephyr.

Besides 1942 being the briefest production run for all American automobiles, the 1942 Lincolns were distinctive in a myriad of ways, which make nightmares for those involved in restoration.

The two-tier horizontal bar grille with nine bars in the upper grille and seven in the lower, wider grille is a 1942 exclusive. Three chrome bars extend beyond the grille on either side to visually enhance the width.

The LONG deck lid is deceptive in that the ultimate trunk space is 5¼ feet front to rear with usable space much less.

The 7.00x15-inch spare tire is mounted horizontally below a shelf to make the usable cargo area flat. Of course, the chrome trunk hinges are exposed on either side of the ridge running the length of the lid both as a styling statement and for strengthening the wide expanse of steel.

As for the 14-karat gold-plated trim that had to be restored, Mr. Wolfson had to contend with the usual gold knob below the hood ornament, the Lincoln crest and the 1942 exclusive "12" emblem on the sides of the engine hood.

Mr. Wolfson took care to make the details correct from wood graining to gold plating.

"I don't think we could have put it together without the help of the folks in the Zephyr club," Mr. Wolfson concedes.

Club members were helpful when it came to positioning the amber fog lamps.

The carpeting, leather and vinyl on the interior all share the same camel color.

Mr. Wolfson says that after the 1942 Lincolns were built that all the excess steering wheels were sold for what years later was the 1948 Tucker. He traded a parts car for a pristine steering wheel that had been destined for a Tucker had that make been successful.

For all the years Lincoln offered a V-12 engine, only in 1942 was it bored out to 305 cubic inches with a horsepower rating of 130. Mr. Wolfson reports that only about 10 percent of the 1942 Zephyr coupes were equipped with side-facing opera seats.

He found a friendly Lincoln owner whose car was so equipped. After borrowing the hardware, including the hinges, he had it duplicated, once in a mirror image. Then with new opera seats manufactured, he had them installed in the cozy area behind the front seat.

Although the headliner is the same color as the leather seats, it is vinyl, Mr. Wolfson explains. Vinyl is better to withstand the heat without sagging as leather would do.

Even though the original V-12 engine had been rebuilt, seven critical internal measurements were slightly off enough that the engine chewed itself to death in short order. Fortunately, Mr. Wolfson was able to locate an authentic replacement. Each cylinder head on the V-12 is molded with Z-E-P-H-Y-R in raised letters, which is another 1942-only hallmark.

Restoration of this remarkable Lincoln was completed in 2001 and the few antique auto shows in which it has been entered have proven victorious. The odometer registers almost 63,000 miles, averaging slightly more than 1,000 miles a year since it was new.

While the speedometer is set to register speeds up to 120 miles per hour, Mr. Wolfson said, "I'm afraid to try it in a 60-year-old car."


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