At one point I considered leaving the roof off, adding a radically sloped and chopped Duval style windshield frame and lift-off padded Carson top. But I savored the sensual architecture of the rear half of the roof and long sweeping body that runs about a football field in length before it finally gets to the decklid seam. That is the major styling feature of the car, and it absolutely dictated leaving the car as a coupe. I figured what the heck, perhaps some day I'd make fiberglass molds off the body and make this car in glass so I could build a DECO RIDES Zephyr convertible.
We filled-in the rear window with sheetmetal and I drew the exact backlight opening I wanted. Emulating the original Lincoln Zephyr shape, it was just far smaller. Ramsey hand fabricated the interior window bezels for the back glass and windshield, another masterful challenge in metal bending most people never consider or notice. The peak in the decklid subtly dragged up between the rear windows and the beautiful small body reveal over the windows I previously mentioned are examples of Ram gracefully "romancing" the sheetmetal. Those were his ideas. Ram also had a heavy hand in designing the contour of the side window opening.
When the car was in primer, I had a nagging problem with the rearmost 14 inches of the side window opening when viewed from the direct profile. Others couldn't see it, but to me it was a flashing red light and blaring Claxon horn in my head shouting "Wrong...wrong!" Don "The Egyptian" Boeke told me chances were any possible "wrongness" would disappear when the car was painted a darker tone than light primer. Fortunately, he was right.
Stock Lincoln Zephyrs have the hinges at the front of the door. The ugly protruding door hinges were tossed in the trash and Ram designed a slick, hideaway adjustable hinge setup, switching them to suicide doors. Mosher also dovetailed the stock stainless steel spear running along the beltline so it snuggled up to the Bob Drake rear view side mirrors. On the underside of the base of these mirrors Ram hid a 1/4-inch microswitch that just peeks out. Grab the "Swan Neck" mirror and secretly touch the hidden microswitch with the tip of your index finger and a Ball's electric actuator "ka-zunks" the door open. It can also be actuated remotely. Ball's Bear Claw latches keep the suicide doors closed, and Ball's deadbolts make sure thay stay closed, such as in an impact. Think about it, that's why they call them "suicide" doors. If they open at speed it is a religious experience. The safety deadbolts are operated electrically but have a manual knob on the inside of the door in the event of a power failure. After experiencing a fire in a previous custom, you know you want to be able to get out of the car, especially when it's equipped with windows that are slimmer than one's rather robust waistline.
If you know Lincoln Zephyrs, you know the bottom of the '39 door wrapped over a "hidden" running board. Actually this was the last year for running boards on Zephyrs. Knowing we were going to pancake the car dictated removing that piece of sheetmetal from the bottom of the door so it would not scrape the ground when the door opened and closed. Ram artfully fabricated new rockers to run from fender to fender and molded them in place. This produces a very supple, almost sensual flow of sheetmetal. It reminds me of the sexy way the side of a woman's body sneaks out to wrap over her hips. The leading edge of the door was rounded, and everything that could possibly be molded in (gas cap, etc.) was. I wanted to mold the doors, trunk and hood closed, but Ram said no.
People ask me if we stretched the car. During the grafting of the '40-41 nose between the front fenders, Ram moved the "beak" forward and stretched the hood one inch. The rear fenders were extended six inches by simply continuing the top fender line and rolling it under for a nice radiused tip. This resulted in a 17-foot long zephyr, seven inches longer than stock. Another subtle body line styling change I incorporated into the design was to sweep a very gentle arc upward on the bottom of the body, starting at the rear axle centerline and moving up to the tip of the rear fender. Prior to that it was somewhat flat and straight, and I felt it needed a little "swoop".
The taillights has us perplexed for years. We knew they were not '41 Studebaker and nobody knew what they came from. Finally we found out.They are rare '41 Hudson. And I had a spare pair and broke one of the glass lenses when I reached for a high shelf in my garage for something else. Damn! If anyone out there has ONE '41 Hudson taillight lens for sale, call Terry at 908 876 9100. Please.
For the rear bumper we used a Kaiser/Fraser license plate guard that I instructed Ramsey chop and narrow. I had Ram cut exhaust holes in the nipples of the Dagmars. When I described to Ram how I wanted the bumper to embrace and fit into the rear of the body, I told him to imagine the body was made of butter. Heat the bumper up with a hair dryer and just squish it into the back of the body. I got the idea by looking at the way Frank Livingston's rear bumper snuggled up to the body of his Paul Bragg-built Merc in CA. There is a very strong Westergard influence here. This subtle round-rod edged opening and bumper may just be the piece de resistance of the entire car. The back third of the car from the rear window aft, is my favorite part of the Lincoln Zephyr. The shape of the decklid, with rounded corners, is pure sex and Bob Gregory is to be again congratulated on designing such a slick automobile. It just may be one of the best designed cars in history. All we did was hack it and whack it.