• Built by Regal Roadsters, Madison, WI • 6-liter, 600-hp Aston Martin/Cosworth V12 • 4-speed overdrive GM Hydramatic transmission • Original steel body, custom-built chassis • Independent front suspension, 4-wheel power disc brakes

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1939 Lincoln-Zephyr Coupe Custom
Years Produced:2011
Number Produced:One
Original List Price:Unknown
SCM Valuation:$200k–$300k
Tune Up Cost:$450 (estimated)
Chassis Number Location:Custom plate on the left frame rail
Club Info:Goodguys, National Street Rodd Association (NSRA), Lincoln-Zephyr Owners Club
Alternatives:Any high-dollar Lincoln-Zephyr custom rod
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 172, sold for $258,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Sam Pack Collection sale in Dallas, TX, on November 14–15, 2014.

The late ’30s Lincoln-Zephyr coupe is arguably one of the loveliest pre-war American closed cars. A timeless ’38 model starred in the movie “Speed To Spare” in 1948. New York’s Museum of Modern Art honored the Lincoln-Zephyr in the catalog for its seminal 1951 exhibition, “8 Automobiles,” calling it “the most successful streamlined car in America,” and a slinky, Art Deco Zephyr coupe was featured in “Curves of Steel” at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2007.

Designed by Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie, under the auspices of Edsel Ford, the sleek Zephyr 3-window was a stunner. An impossibly long hood concealed a flathead V12 — the only 12-cylinder in its class. A curvaceous cabin and a gorgeous waterfall roofline flowed into what was arguably the longest deck lid on a ’30s-era American car.

Building on the masterpiece

Considered strikingly beautiful in stock form, Lincoln-Zephyrs were seldom customized. That all changed when the irrepressible Terry Cook, founder of Lead East, the nostalgic ’50s car and music festival, created the definitive L-Z custom kemp. Cook bought his 1938 coupe under slightly less-than-honorable pretenses, assuring the seller that he wouldn’t hot-rod it. He immediately yanked the body and retained Ramsey Mosher to build a milestone custom that took 4½ years and 4,000-plus hours to construct.

The L-Z’s chassis was axed in favor of a sturdy 1978 Caprice wagon frame, and a stock Chevy 350 replaced the flathead V12. The steel shell was artfully sliced and diced, with a serious chop and other mods to accentuate its already swoopy shape. Hydraulics dropped the coupe into the weeds and Cook appropriately named it “Scrape.”

Sold sold sold

After features in many rodding magazines, Cook sold Scrape at an RM auction in Monterey in 2000 (ACC# 10273). The buyer was Robert E. Petersen, represented by yours truly. The price was a then-incredible $275,000. Pete and I thought it was the best-looking custom car of the 1990s, and simply one of the best ever. Cook was ecstatic until he learned that we had been prepared to go even higher.

Carl Bomstead summed up our sentiment well, writing about the car in Sports Car Market’s November 2000 issue: “[Scrape is] the most recognizable, and arguably the most attractive, custom car ever built.” It was easy to see it as a trend-setter.

Suitably inspired by Scrape, Mike Shiflet built a chopped Zephyr coupe with a modified Lincoln V12 and sold it at Barrett-Jackson in 2004 for an astounding $432,000 — more than a 300SL Gullwing in the same sale (ACC# 31999). Egged on by Terry Cook, Boyd Coddington built his take on an L-Z — a fastback 2-door sedan eponymously called “Lead Zephyr.” But some of the magic was gone. That car sold at the 2006 RM Monterey auction for $189,000 (ACC# 42800).

Bring a checkbook

Several other modified Zephyrs have popped up over the past few years, but none of them have come close to Sam Pack’s concept for a dramatic L-Z custom rod with all the mod cons.

Pack retained Regal Roadsters in Madison, WI, builders of 2-seat Thunderbird replicas, to put this car together. For an oh-so-low look without a cabin chop, the shop channeled a’39 Zephyr coupe body three inches over a completely custom frame. For a slammed silhouette, independent tubular A-arms in front are complemented by a four-link rear and Ride Pro fully adjustable air suspension.

Enormous Wilwood disc brakes (14-inch rotors in front; 12-inch rotors in the rear) and power rack-and-pinion steering are a few of this car’s impressive mechanicals. The pièce de résistance, in keeping with the Zephyr’s heritage, is a 6-liter Cosworth-developed DOHC V12, like the engine in an Aston-Martin Vanquish. It’s tuned for a claimed 600 hp, and it’s backed by a GM 4L60E four-speed Hydramatic with an Edge Racing heavy-duty torque converter. Out back is a nine-inch Ford rear end with Moser 4.30 gears and 31-spline axles. Inland Empire supplied the aluminum driveshaft, and the 2.5-inch stainless-steel exhaust system is fitted with Borla mufflers. Ka-ching!

Pack’s spare-no-expense build was finished in Carbon Gray Metallic, then clear-coated. Inside, soft red Wollsdorf leather, German wool carpeting and a wool broadcloth headliner combine to provide an elegant cabin that retains the original L-Z’s central console style binnacle, enhanced with a JL/Kenwood audio system, and fully integrated HVAC controls.

No item was overlooked, from the leather-wrapped steering wheel to modern Michelin Pilot P235/70ZR18 tires on 18×8 Colorado Custom billet aluminum wheels with hidden valve stems. The unique coupe even has an extensive operation and maintenance manual with every system detailed for its future owner.

Does it all add up?

I’d hesitate to guess this car’s construction bill, but surely the $258,000 winning bid was less than the build cost. And that’s the problem with contemporary high-zoot custom rods.

Executed to a fare-thee-well, this superb car is seriously drivable (you can see it perform on YouTube) and a beauty to behold. If you’ve always wanted a righteous Lincoln-Zephyr coupe, this was a turn-key proposition. But even if more than a quarter of a million dollars was spent on its build, something like this is just not a good place to spend beaucoup bucks, unless you’re like megadealer and primo collector Sam Pack and the money simply doesn’t matter.

Looking back, the Mike Shiflet $432,000 sale price at B-J seems to be an anomaly. Curiously, Terry Cook’s “Scrape” was resold in a subsequent 2013 Auctions America sale for just $66,000, when the Petersen Museum divested itself of some cars thought to be superfluous (ACC# 229954). Now that was a real bargain, but with its humble underpinnings, “Scrape” may no longer be a fair comparison.

This Zephyr Package is the new benchmark for custom pre-war Lincolns. I’d call it fairly sold, and comparatively well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.

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