“. . . This roadster was built to emulate what type of high-end elegant vehicle would have rolled off the assembly line in Detroit if Edsel Ford had control of the company in 1932.”

-Michael Tarquinio

Michael Tarquinio Answers The Question, “What If The Lincoln Zephyr Had Debuted In 1932?”

Much like its eventual parent, the Ford Motor Company, Henry Leland’s Lincoln Motor Company (founded in 1915) targeted its vehicles to a higher-income market—and it’s likely owing to this that Henry Ford would turn out to be the marque’s life preserver when he acquired the post-bankruptcy automobile maker after it’d produced a mere 150 cars in the span of seven years. As history will surely attest, under Ford’s direction and control, Lincoln found its stride. But it was not all Henry’s doing, not by a long shot.

As the Model T was wearing out its public welcome after a near 20-year run with no major design changes, under the direction of Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, the Lincoln models sold very well, considering the times. It seems that Edsel saw the full potential in the Lincoln line. Unfortunately, despite even being president of Ford Motor Company, his biggest opposition was his father. Had this not been the case, who knows what direction Edsel would’ve traveled with his own design ideas, of which he had plenty, not to mention his own style of practicing business—with Ford and Lincoln.

Rather than speculate, Michael Tarquinio took his philosophy regarding those “what ifs?” and applied them to what he believes would’ve been Edsel’s coming-out model with his newly developed Lincoln Zephyr line in 1932 (it wasn’t until 1936 that the first Zephyr hit showroom floors). As you’ll see, this modern interpretation has its FoMoCo deviations, namely that aluminum-headed Olds J2 (hey, Leland was originally a Cadillac man, so what?).

But this car’s a hot rod, not a period-correct resto, as Michael explains: “This original-steel Ford roadster was purchased in 1966 by Johnny Parks (former NSRA York event coordinator) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When completed, the ’32 roadster toured on the World of Wheels circuit and made many trips to NSRA National events. In 1972, Parks became ill and the roadster body was far too impractical for travel. A two-door sedan was dropped on the original ’rails and the roadster shell was put in storage in the parts loft of a local body shop. Parks subsequently died and the car spent the next 36 years in the rafters until it was purchased by me in 2008.

“The new chassis, manufactured by SO-CAL Speed Shop, features a solid stainless steel drilled axle, all stainless and chrome suspension/steering components, and their Functional Fakes finned Buick-style brakes. The engine originates from a ’57 Oldsmobile—a 371ci OHV with the J2 Tri-power option—rebuilt by Ross Racing of Niles, Ohio. Amenities include ultrarare polished aluminum heads, 6x2 intake, roller rockers, hydraulic lifters, stainless valves, and forged pistons. Carburetion comprises six Stromberg 97s plumbed by Vintage Speed of Vero Beach, Florida. A one-off custom drilled and polished motor mount was designed to cradle the engine in the chassis. Additionally, custom headers, stainless exhaust, a Tremec TKO 500 five-speed transmission, and a Winters Performance early Ford-style, polished banjo rearend completes the driveline.

“The original body was meticulously redone to concourse standards by Mark Gissendaner of GIS Automotive in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania. GIS not only did the body and paintwork, they are also responsible for the design aspects as well as the mockup and final assembly of the roadster. The color, developed by PPG, is a custom variation of the original Ford Washington Blue.

“The interior is covered in English Connolly Oxblood full grain leather on top of German square-weave carpet. Custom aluminum trim was fitted and chromed to highlight the hand-fabricated interior door panels and door tops. A ’47 Lincoln steering wheel was cut down to a 16-inch diameter and recast in translucent maroon. Classic Instruments created a unique one-off gauge to complement the custom Lincoln Zephyr dash, while Motorhead Design produced custom Zephyr emblems used throughout the car.