Zephyr blows, but not from west

LINCOLN used to be a revered luxury brand in the US until 1948 when production ground to a halt.

The sleekly-styled coupes and sedans were something very special, starting life in November, 1935 as Lincoln Zephyr, and 130,000 were built before WWII stopped the Detroit production line in 1942.

They were beautifully styled cars, from the pen of Dutch-born Tom Tjaarda, and were powered by a 4.4-litre V-12 engine.

Its Chrysler and Packard rivals could only muster eight cylinders and looked positively stodgy by comparison.

They came back after the end of the war and another 42,000 were made until 1948 — but they were just plain Lincolns, sans the Zephyr part of the once-hallowed name.

However, all is not lost: The Zephyr is making a comeback, perhaps in a veiled dig at dear old Donald Trump.

He, with his Make America Great Again plans, had hoped to build more things in the US and to stop importing from China.

So, guess where the Lincoln Zephyr of 2022 is made?

It’s a good-looking sedan, though there’s no V-12 under the bonnet, and it seems it will be an all-electric car. 

Also, there’s not a snowball’s chance on hell of getting one in the US, with Lincoln China saying it will be marketed domestically — with no plans to send any to the former Trumpland (or current  Sleepy Joe Country).

Sedan sales are steadily dropping in the US, as they are in Australia, as the bulk of buyers move to SUVs.

Electric vehicles, too, are not major movers in either country.

But luxury sedans are very much in favour in China.


There’s talk that the car might have plug-in hybrid power, but China is embracing electric power in a big way, and it seems likely the handsome new Lincoln Zephyr will be of the switch-on variety.

Right now, the Chinese are just smiling.

The car is packed with futuristic technology, including a dashboard full of infotainment screens, a new welcome feature that activates a series of lights and function-specific buttons with key icons displayed on the console.

Lincoln describes the ‘coast-to-coast’ widescreen as being made up of three individual units, and will feature a new human-machine interface called Constellation. 

It re-configures the screens with one of three themes – Normal, Sport and Zen – which they say are based on variations of the night sky.

The bank of screens will include ‘intuitive technologies and effortless experiences designed to reduce the digital stress consumers face every day,’ the makers say.

The original Lincoln Zephyr could be had in a choice of four-door sedan, four-door convertible sedan, two-door sedan, two-door coupe and two-door convertible coupe body styles. 

Each was powered by a ‘lazy’ 82kW 4.4-litre V12 engine.

The 1936 model had an awkward boot which quickly became known as the ‘Winchester Mystery House Trunk’ after a seven-storey mansion in San Jose, California, built by Sarah Winchester, widow of firearms magnate William Winchester. 

She changed her mind almost daily, so the home contains numerous oddities, among them stairs that go nowhere and doors that open on to walls. 

It is a designated California historical landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

You opened the boot to get to the spare wheel, but access to luggage space was from inside the car via a fold-down rear seatback. (Tata’s Nano had that too.)

By 1937 that problem was corrected with a swing-out tyre bracket. 

Still, its positive attributes, aerodynamic styling and affordable pricing, made it a winner in its time and a sought-after classic in later years. 

And despite its change of domicile, it’s good to see the name doing a phoenix after all these years.




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