A Lasting Legacy – 1940 Lincoln Zephyr Convertible

- in Cars

In 1922 the Lincoln Motor Company was not the luxury brand it is today. They found themselves in financial trouble and eventually bankruptcy. Henry Ford purchased the struggling company for $8 million.

A decade later, with Edsel Ford in control of the Lincoln line and the recent purchase of Briggs Manufacturing Company, which included some forward-thinking aerodynamic designs originally penned by John Tjaarda, Lincoln was poised to step into the luxury market. Edsel put a young designer named Eugene Gregorie as the head of the design division, and shortly after that, the Lincoln Zephyr was born.

The Zephyr line debuted in 1936 and was positioned against the Chrysler Airflow and the Cadillac LaSalle in the brand-new aerodynamic art deco design wars. By 1940 an estimated 100,000 Zephyrs were on the road. The advertising at the time touted the new 120ph 292 cubic inch V12, new hydraulic brakes, and “Panorama Windshield” as main sales features. The Zephyr was sold as the car you’d want if you were traveling across the country in style and luxury.

1940 Lincoln Zephyr convertible front right
Seventy-five years later, Courtney Springer was watching TV when he saw a Zephyr Coupe in the background. That chance viewing started a seven-year journey that resulted in the car you see on these pages. Soon after seeing his first Zephyr, Springer set up a search on Hemmings for a Zephyr and, for three years, proceeded to weed through any that were for sale while looking for the right one.

Springer wasn’t new to vintage cars when he took on the Zephyr. They’re something that runs in his blood. His grandfather was the auto parts guy for the local NAPA and owned the local Hudson dealer in a rural Nebraska town. He restored five Model Ts and Model As, a passion that was passed down to Courtney’s father and brother.

1940 Lincoln Zephyr right side
Springer says of his grandfather, “My best memories were summers spent in rural Nebraska with Grandma. Grandpa passed when I was young, and I would go to Nebraska and spend summers with Grandma. I would go out to the old dirt floor barn and spend hours with the old car collection. As I grew older and obtained a driver’s license, my Grandma invited me to drive the 23 touring car. My Uncle had to work several days to resurrect the 1976 restoration, bringing it back to running order. I spent the summer driving the rural Nebraska town.”

1940 Lincoln Zephyr rear right
When the truck driver was delivering the Zephyr onto the busy road in front of Springer’s place, he was in a hurry, and unfortunately, the driver’s door was damaged. Unfortunate at the time, but that damage helped make the car what it is today. Springer drove the Zephyr as is for a while until one day, the V12 lost oil pressure.

Faced with tearing down the engine, Springer decided to have the door repaired since the car would be off the road anyways. Tallant’s Hot Rod Shop was called on to handle the door repair, and when they got into the job, they realized just how nice the 40’s body was. The decision was made to do a complete repaint on the car, changing the color to black in the process.

1940 Lincoln Zephyr V12 engine
While the car was at Tallant’s shop, Springer and his friend Darren Crozier rebuilt the engine at home, adding an Edelbrock twin carb intake. It went pretty smoothly, but they had to modify the intake to allow a draw between the two carbs. A mild upgrade to the 292 V12, but one that gives it a little more go on the road. After the engine rebuild, Springer would stop by from time to time and work on some of the car’s mechanicals. Although it was a complete car, many parts were in just bad enough condition that replacements were sought out.

Two different Zephyr parts houses were called upon over four years of collecting parts for the project. There were 700 convertibles made in 1940, so there weren’t a ton of parts available, but eventually, everything needed was found. It’s estimated that only a couple dozen of the 40 convertibles are on the road today.

1940 Lincoln Zephyr interior
Courtney’s current collection includes his grandfather’s original cars as well as a fully restored 40 Lincoln Zephyr convertible, a 48 GMC truck, a 63 C-10 Truck StepSide and a 74 Corvette Convertible to name just a few.

Courtney Springers classic car collection

More Lincoln Zephyr stories:
1939 Lincoln Zephyr V12 Coupe
Dumped – Benny Gatt’s 1939 Lincoln Zephyr

Facebook Comments

You may also like