Edited by Tim Howley from information supplied by William E. Kortsch, 1942 Lincoln historian.
1942 Lincolns arrived in showrooms on September 30, 1941 and were continued in production through February 1, 1942. In keeping with the industry’s trend to a bolder, more massive front end look and extreme art deco styling, Lincoln introduced an extremely horizontal front end theme for 1942 and an instrument panel not unlike that of the 1942 Cadillac. The broad shouldered frontal treatment, huskier fenders and stronger trim all around gave the 1942 Lincoln-Zephyr, Custom and Lincoln Continental a heftier look than the two previous years while retaining the basic 1940-41 unitized body /frame. The car was also slightly lower, wider and longer than 1940-41.
Overall width was increased approximately 4.5 inches due to wider tread and wider fenders. The overall length was increased approximately seven inches because of the step-out for the lower grille assembly and projected design of the rear. The car was one inch lower made possible by the use of longer and lower springs and lower camber. 15-inch wheels further contributed to the lower profile. The new radiator grille had a catwalk lower section and stainless steel horizontal strips in both the upper and lower sections. This was the first time that the Lincoln-Zephyr had a horizontal bar grille theme since 1938. The left and right sides of the grille were separated by a narrow three row vertical bar with the numeral “12” recessed at the top. The bottom of this recess was highlighted with red paint. On the exterior ends of the lower grille there were three narrow “cat’s whiskers” as accent pieces.
The name “Lincoln-Zephyr” appears nowhere on the car, and this was the last year that the Lincoln-Zephyr was designated as such.
Larger new front and rear bumpers and bumper guards with large built-in gravel deflectors were used, replacing the very fine line bumpers of previous years. The hood ornament was a distinctive departure from 1941. Also, the Lincoln coat of arms emblem was used for the first time. The word “Lincoln” was mounted on the front of the hood directly below the coat of arms. The word “Lincoln” was recessed in block letters into a rectangular chromed bar. The recessed letters were filled with red paint. The Lincoln-Zephyr hood sides carried two long, wide chromed, pot metal strips with a “12” sandwiched between them. The Lincoln Continental carried only the words “Lincoln Continental” in red trimmed script towards the back of the hood sides. Headlight rims were restyled with built-in parking lights and turn signal indicators. The license plate was now recessed in the center of the front bumper. Nearly all body panels were new except the doors on the Lincoln Continental. Rocker panels were incorporated underneath the doors to insure perfect sealing of the bottoms of the doors on the Lincoln-Zephyr and Custom, but not the Lincoln Continental. There was new design stainless steel belt molding on the body sides of the Lincoln-Zephyr and Custom with an attractive flair at the rear of the body. There was new treatment of stainless steel moldings running along the bottom of the body below the doors from the front to the rear fenders. New stainless steel trim moldings were placed above the window reveals extending from the front to the rear. Push buttons were now standard on all body types, replacing pull type door handles. Outside door handles were now available as special equipment only.
New hub caps, larger in size, covered the entire wheel hub and carried the name “Lincoln” recessed in block letters painted red into a rectangular bar mounted on the hubcaps. New rear fender skirts where much easier to remove and reinstall than on previous models.
There were six new body colors furnished in rich baked on enamel. They were Chetwin Beige, Andover Green, Victoria Maroon, Suwanee Green, Bristol Blue, Black, and Darian Blue and Sheldon Gray which were metallic colors.
The instrument panel was completely redesigned so that the speedometer and clock were large round pods of equal size flanking the radio grille. The gauges were placed to the left of the speedometer and the name “Lincoln” was placed to the right of the clock on the glove box lid. The glove box door was illuminated at night to balance the lighted gauges. This light also illuminated the inside of the glove box. On Lincolns equipped with Liquamatic the glove box emblem read “Liquamatic” instead of Lincoln. The Lincoln- Zephyr and Lincoln Custom one -piece instrument panel had a raised section in the middle to give it depth. The instrument panel was finished in a mahogany burl grain as were the window garnish moldings. Burled walnut grain was repeated on the back of the front seat. Most other trim pieces were finished in mahogany metallic. Lincoln- Zephyr instrument controls were finished in chrome with ivory plastic knobs.
The steering wheel was finished in ivory plastic to harmonize with the control knobs. The horn ring was now a full circle instead of a half circle. The horn button was a new design for 1942.
The Lincoln Continental carried the general instrument panel design of the Lincoln-Zephyr, but the panel was flat and painted the body color instead of being dimensional and finished in a burled walnut grain. The Lincoln-Zephyr convertible instrument panel was painted body color. Interior accents in the Lincoln Continental and Custom were gold plated or finished with a gold macoid lacquer, not chrome plated like in the Lincoln-Zephyr. Automatic choke, vacuum window lifts, and folding arm rest in the rear of the coupe all were standard equipment on the Lincoln Continental and Custom. Lincoln-Zephyr convertibles also had hydraulic window lifts.
The Lincoln-Zephyr standard interior on closed cars was Heather Blue Broadcloth or choice of two cords— Novelty weave tan cord or Blue and taupe mixed cord. There was also a custom interior with four shadow stripe broadcloth upholstery combinations in blue, tan, maroon or green. This was for seats, seat backs and sidewalls up to the belt line. Headlining, upper doors and package shelf were in contrasting colors of broadcloth, except tan, which was tan throughout. The Lincoln-Zephyr convertible interior was available in all leather seats in green, tan, blue or black or leather bolsters with cord inserts, all in the same four colors. Optional was any cord with black leather. The Lincoln Custom interiors were blue, green or tan point stripe broadcloth, or mixed red cord, or could be custom ordered. The Lincoln Continental Cabriolet interior was available in green, black, blue, red or tan leather or any of these leather colors in combination with blue cord with blue leather, green cord with green leather, or tan cord with tan leather or red leather. 1942 was the first year that whip cord was used on the headlining of the Continental Coupe in lieu of broadcloth when the vehicle was ordered without a full leather interior. Top material for both the Continental and Zephyr convertible was canvas in black or tan.
For 1942 the engine was bored out .062” to the 2.937” maximum resulting in a displacement increase from 292 cid to 305 cid. This was done to achieve competitive performance and to compensate for the increased weight of the vehicle. Many makes went to cast iron pistons for 1942. Lincoln continued to use cast alloy steel pistons. (The car on this page is Bob and Jean DiCarlo’s 1942 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet which won a Ford Motor Co. Trophy at t h e 1 9 9 9 E a s t e r n National Meet at the Nevele Grande Resort & Country Club in El l e n v i l l e , New York. In the background of the top and bottom photo is the resort’s ski lift. Bob bought the car fully restored. He does not know the car’s history or its condition before restoration.)
Horsepower went up from 120 to 130, but compression ratio went down from 7.2:1 to 7.01. The reason for the reduction in the compression ratio was the return from aluminum heads to cast iron which resulted in higher operating temperatures. To further improve cooling the radiator core was made two inches wider. The cylinder block bore increase resulted in a high rate of block rejections, so early in the 1946 model run Lincoln returned to the 292 bore. Other engine changes were an increased rod bearing diameter, a new flexible flywheel (except in Liquamatic equipped cars) which smoothed out engine vibration, increase in carburetor jet size, redesigned intake manifolding and a large side-mounted oil bath air cleaner for better breathing. The vacuum brake for the distributor was now taken off at the carburetor base instead of the intake header which tended to reduce engine roughness on deceleration.
As mentioned earlier, the wheels were reduced in diameter from 16 inches to 15 inches. This resulted in a one-inch reduction in the car’s height. Front tread went from 56.5” to 59”. The length of the front spring went from 44 1/2” to 45 1/4”. The sway and torsion bar was made heavier and longer to accommodate the increased tread and spring length. The axle ratio went down from 4.44:1 to 4.22:1 except on cars equipped with Liquamatic drive. The overall length of the 125” Lincoln-Zephyr was 217”—an increase of 7.8”. The overall width went from 73.38” to 77.82”.
According to Mike Gemer’s records 273 1942 Lincolns were equipped with Liquamatic Drive, a combination of liquid fly wheel, a special semi-automatic transmission and automatic overdrive eliminating 75% of ordinary driving motion. Liquamatic drive was a $ 189 option developed in a crash program to compete with GM Hydra-Matic and Chrysler’s Fluid Drive. Supposedly 744 Mercurys were Liquamatic equipped. The Liquamatics were so troublesome that virtually all were replaced at no cost to the owner with standard transmissions. To the best of our knowledge only one Liquamatic unit survives, and that one is not in a car.
Standard equipment included rear fender skirts, turn indicators front and rear, and electric clock. On Lincoln Continental Cabriolets a beveled edge, glare resistant outside mirror was also standard equipment. Options were Liquamatic Drive or Automatic Overdrive, new Adjust-OMatic Radio with foot control and touch bar tuning, automatic dash mounted pushbutton vacuum actuated radio antenna, hot air or hot water/heater defroster, custom made seat covers, new spot light, road lamp, outside rear view mirrors, visor vanity mirror, electric windshield wipers, license plate frames, stainless steel wheel bands, rear bumper center guards and gas tank locking cap. Automatic choke was standard on Lincoln Continentals and Lincoln Customs, optional on Lincoln-Zephyrs. Vacuum actuated window lifts were standard on L i n c o l n Continentals and Customs, optional on Lincoln-Zephyrs.
It is unknown how many 1942 Lincolns survive. The 2000 Lincoln & Continental Owners Club Directory lists 21 Lincoln Continental Cabriolets and 39 Lincoln Continental Coupes, three Lincoln-Zephyr coupes and four Lincoln- Zephyr sedans. The only 1942 Lincoln-Zephyr convertible listed belongs to Mike Gerner in Minnesota. Gerner probably has the world’s largest collection of 1942 Lincolns, five. While no Lincoln Customs are listed in the LCOC Directory, two are listed in the Lincoln-Zephyr Owners Club Directory. This directory also lists one Brunn Town Car, 13 three-window coupes including two in LCOC, five club coupes including the one in LCOC, 13 sedans including the three in LCOC and five convertible coupes including Mike Gerner’s. An educated guess is that less than half the 1942 Lincoln Continentals extant are in LCOC and only a fraction of the Lincoln-Zephyr s extant are in LCOC. An obvious question is why is the survival rate of the 1942 Lincoln Continentals so much higher than the Lincoln-Zephyrs when so many more Lincoln-Zephyrs were built? The probable answer is that Lincoln-Zephyrs, 1940-1948 were sacrificed to restore the Lincoln Continentals and still are being sacrificed to restore them. The Lincoln-Zephyr was not a car that was saved until the Lincoln-Zephyr Owners Club was founded in the ‘60s.)
Only 6,545 Lincolns were produced for the 1942 model year, making it the lowest production of all the low production 1942 makes except the Crosley.
Events of the Year 1942
1942 was not exactly a happy year. On January 2 the Japanese landed in Manila eventually forcing the surrender of the American-Filipino forces at Batan Corregidor. Meanwhile Jimmy Doolittle and his airman raided Japanese coastal cities. U.S. Army and Navy forces attacked Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands in August and later in the year won a decisive battle at Midway. Halfway around the world allied forces invaded North Africa and began bombing Italy.
Everything from food, clothing and raw industrial materials to candy bars and chewing gum was rationed. If you had a new 1941 or 1942 car you couldn’t drive it very far because gasoline was rationed. Air raid blackout drills were practiced everywhere, and on the west coast there was almost a panic that the Japanese would launch another surprise attack. The French luxury liner “Normandie” burned February 9 at her pier in New York. 491 people were killed in Boston’s Cocoanut Grove fire on November 28. Nevada’s six-weeks-residence divorce decree was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on December 21.
Bing Crosby’s White Christmas became the most popular song of the year and the decade when it was introduced in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn. Other popular songs of the year were Lamplighter’s Serenade, Paper Doll, That Old Black Magic and You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To. Motion pictures of 1942 included Mrs. Miniver with Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon, The Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper and Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney. On January 16 Carole Lombard was killed in an airplane crash while returning home from a bond drive. Husband Clark Gable was devastated, but eventually went back on the set to complete Somewhere I’ll Find You with Lana Turner, a movie with sad overtones of Gable’s misfortune.