1942 was a tough year to introduce a new model, as the advent of WWII led to the cessation of all passenger automobile production. When Lincoln resumed production in 1946, what had been a bold restyling of the Zephyr model in 1942 was already starting to look dated. The front end retained the massive appearance it had established before the war, with the headlights still flanked by the parking and turn-signal lights.

Pent-up consumer demand for new cars did not require immediate styling changes post-war. However, the previously-used 305-c.i. version of the V12 had proved to have cylinder walls that were often too thin, so early in 1946 the bore was reduced, returning the displacement to 292-c.i. and horsepower to 120, 125 in 1947.

In 1948, Lincoln stylists were furiously working to bring out a new line of post-war models, so their offerings that year were merely warmed-over versions of the 1946-47 cars. The more contemporary-styled Cosmopolitan, with modern independent suspension and a V8 engine, appeared in 1949.

The name Zephyr had disappeared forever with the advent of WWII; the Continental name disappeared in 1949 and would be revived in the mid-1950s with the introduction of the Mark II. The elegant car pictured here, called, simply, a Lincoln convertible coupe, was the last V12 model produced by the manufacturer.

So "classic" was the styling of the '40s Continentals that by 1954 an organization was founded to promote their survival. Few if any other cars can claim such a following so soon after going out of production.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1948 Lincoln V12
Years Produced:1947-48
Number Produced:6,470 (all Lincolns 1948)
Original List Price:$3,142
SCM Valuation:$875
Tune Up Cost:$50
Distributor Caps:$50
Chassis Number Location:Right side of cowl, top of clutch housing and transmission case
Engine Number Location:Same as chassis number, on top of transmission housing
Club Info:Lincoln Zephyr Owners Club, c/o Bob and Margo Mead, Membership director, LZOC, PO Box 422-1, Hazel Green, AL 35750-0422
Alternatives:Chrysler Town & Country convertible, 1947 Cadillac Series 62 convertible
Investment Grade:B

This car sold for $28,080, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson West Palm Beach auction, April 10-13, 2003.

Out of favor for many years, due to their styling (heavy compared to the earlier Zephyr), and mechanicals (a primitive pre-war designed suspension and stodgy performance from the V12), it was just a decade ago that they began to be appreciated for what they are-an interesting footnote to automotive history.

This car was purchased for $35,200 by the immediate past owner at The Auction, in Las Vegas, on April 21, 2002. (SCM, 7/2002). While it was in his ownership, he repaired the radio, the under-seat heaters, the lighters and the courtesy lights. The overdrive unit did not work, and no attempt was made to fix it. The owner also purchased a Lincoln spotlight and correct rearview mirrors, which were never installed but sold with the car. He also purchased an original owners manual and advertisements on eBay. He explained, “I had a year full of true gearhead fun finding stuff that had to do with the car. . I contacted the Henry Ford Museum and got the original build sheet (it was black, with red leather interior, but all the other bits [radio, heater, antenna] were original). I got into deep chats with folks on the Lincoln and Zephyr Owners Club Web site on subjects like ‘what were the original tools in August, 1948?’ and generally, experienced the Zen of Zephyrs.”

The seller, an SCM subscriber, further explains, “I loved the car. It was perfect for what I wanted out of it, which was a driver/occasional vehicle that was different, with emphasis on design. It won an AACA Senior First in 1988, and the car was invited to the Greenwich (CT) Concours in 2002: We went and had huge fun, and got a lot of nice comments. I drove the car for a year, and it worked perfectly-a lot of fun, high degree of attention-getting, easy to drive around town and, in fact, on the highway, despite the absence of overdrive. I sold it mostly because it was time to move on. . My daughter Liz, who turned 16 while I had it, got a similar kick out of driving it.”

The cost of ownership was not light, however. He spent $5,000 in repairs. The net loss after one year of ownership, before transportation, storage and auction fees for the sale, works out to about $12,000. Expensive? Yes, but I doubt if there are many new cars selling around the $35,000 or $40,000 mark that cost less for ownership in their first year, and none I can think of would garner an invitation to a major concours, turn as many heads, have a top that goes down or be propelled by a V12 powerplant.

The classic buy-high-and-sell-low equation is not all that is at work here. Most cars tend to sell within a price range, and the buy and sell figures represent both ends of the scale on this particular car. Our previous owner here paid what he needed to for what he wanted, had his fun, and was willing to take what he could get when it was time to move on. Classic cars can be expensive, and you have to pay to play.

But what price fun? In this case, the net loss on the financial side is only one part of the ownership equation. I’m sure if you ask the seller, and his daughter, if the year with the car was worth what it cost them, they’d smile and nod yes.-Dave Kinney

(Historic data courtesy of Jim Raymond at Classic Lincolns, www.classiclincolns.com)

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