1940 Lincoln-Zephyr Continental Cabriolet

Without hard evidence of Babe Ruth’s ownership, the extra $300,000 paid for this car represents a giant leap of faith

The Continental is acknowledged as the crowning achievement of Edsel Ford and the head of his design department at Ford, Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie. Like many great accomplishments, it was the creation of a gifted designer in a single, brilliant moment of insight.

In 1938, Edsel expressed an interest in a “special convertible coupe that was long, low and rakish.” Gregorie hit on the idea of using the Zephyr chassis for Edsel’s “special convertible” and in less than an hour sketched out the outline for the two-door, four-seat body over the outline of a Zephyr sedan. The design quickly gained Edsel’s enthusiastic approval, and work rushed ahead to complete the one-off in time for his vacation at his home in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Based on the 1939 Zephyr, the prototype was completed in less than six months and was the hit of the season when it appeared in Florida. Edsel phoned Gregorie and stated, “I’ve driven this car around Palm Beach, and I could sell a thousand of them right away.”

The story of this Lincoln-Zephyr Continental Cabriolet relates that it was given to Babe Ruth in 1940 by NY Yankees president Joe McCarthy. The two had a contentious relationship during Ruth’s years in New York. The car arrived in Canada during World War II owned by a New York sportswriter. He claimed that Ruth had been given several cars as gifts and had given the Continental to him.

Carl Bomstead

Carl Bomstead - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Carl has been writing for SCM for 19 years. His first article appeared in the February 1997 issue, and at least one of his articles has appeared in every issue since. When he’s not writing, he serves as a National Director for the Classic Car Club of America and tends to his extensive collection of automobilia. He has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for the past 20 years, and he also judges at Amelia Island and other major concours. An extensive number of collector cars have passed through his garage, and a 1947 Cadillac 62 Series convertible and a 1968 Intermeccanica Italia are current residents.

Posted in American