Flathead Engines

Lincoln Zephyr V-12

I saw this car at the Tyrods Reunion in 2001. For me, it was the most impressive car there. The front grill looks basically like a 1937 Ford, but this is actually a Lincoln Zephyr. The engine is a V-12.

Cylinder head on a Lincoln Zephyr V12 Looking at the heads and manifold from above, the engine seems to go on forever. This is a bit of an illusion since it shouldn't be that much longer than a straight six, although the crank throws need to be wide enough for two cylinders rather than one. And a straight 8 engine should look as long or longer.

Top view of Lincoln Zephyr V12 engineI had seen one other Lincoln Zephyr in Amherst, New Hampshire, but didn't get any pictures. I did hear it running, and it reflected the high end market segment the Lincoln was aimed at: very smooth, very quiet idle. The engines, however, were classic hot rod material. The song "Hot Rod Lincoln" is about a Model A with a Lincoln Zephyr engine (the lyrics include "It's got 12 cylinders and uses them all"). This car was stock, and beautifully restored, but these are aluminum heads which I assume are aftermarket. It's not uncommon to find one or two V-12 cast iron heads at a swap meet, and I am constantly tempted to get one as wall art. The carburetor is a two barrel, but has the "LZ" marking for Lincoln Zephyr (the "Hot Rod Lincoln" had a 4 barrel carburetor. I guess finding dual intake manifolds for the V-12 was tough even back then, but they do occasionally show up on E-bay)

Oil level gauge for V12 by intake manifoldAnother luxury touch is the oil level gauge by the intake manifold, although someone said that the oil is always low -- the gauge just tells you how low. The rings back then probably didn't seal that well, and with twelve sets of rings, you'd get through a lot of oil.

Dash board of 1937 Lincoln Zephyr Enlargement of gauges

Of course the interior and dash board are very different from the 1937 Fords, but it's a strange layout: the dash just in front of the driver is blank (actually, it looks like there's a glove box on both sides of the dash), and the speedometer is in the center. I can't quite make out anything else, even in the enlarged view, but I think the temperature, fuel, oil pressure and charging indicator are on either side of the speedometer, and there's a radio beneath that.


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Last modified Saturday, April 20, 2002
All pictures taken by the author
Tom Teixeira