Flathead Engines

Lincoln Zephyr V-12

Lincoln Zephyr with V-12 engine

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 Lincoln V-12

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.

Lincoln V-12 engine showing air cleaner and generator

I 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 original lyrics include "It's got twelve cylinders and uses them all", but later recordings of the song use eight instead of twelve). 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 on Lincoln V-12 intake manifold

Another 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.

Dashboard of 1937 Lincoln Zephyr: there are no instruments in front of the steering wheel. Closer view of instrument cluster in the center of the dash of 1937 Lincoln Zephyr

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.