The Lincoln Zephyr Could be a Rear-Wheel-Drive Replacement for the Lincoln MKZ
But could it actually be a coupe based on the Ford Mustangby Ciprian Florea, on LISTEN 05:15
Lincoln’s switch from alphanumeric nameplates to actual names could bring back the iconic Zephyr name in a couple of years. The badge is rumored to return in 2021 and word has it we could see it on the next-generation MKZ.
The Lincoln Zephyr could replace the MKZ
The Zephyr nameplate could make a comeback on the sedan that will replace the MKZ
According to Car and Driver, the Zephyr nameplate will make a comeback on the sedan that will replace the MKZ. The rumor is based on a trademark that Lincoln applied for the Zephyr moniker in 2016. The big news here is that the trademark application was filed for a new vehicle rather than being renewed for Lincoln’s previous submission. The nameplate was previously used in 2006 when the first-generation MKZ was introduced to replace the LS.
The modern Zephyr was unveiled in concept form in 2004 and put into production for the 2006 model year. However, Lincoln dropped the badge after only one year, renaming the sedan the MKZ for 2007. Now that all of Lincoln’s vehicles have actual names instead of alphanumeric nameplates, the MKZ needs to go as well. Lincoln recently replaced the MKC with the Corsair, while the Aviator stepped in to replace the MKT. The latter will remain on offer for fleet buyers, but it will be discontinued soon since it’s already ten years old.
The Lincoln Zephyr is an 80-year-old icon
The Zephyr nameplate dates back to 1936
Last used in 2006, the Zephyr badge is actually very old, as it dates back to the mid-1930s. In 1936, Lincoln introduced a lower-priced line of cars called Lincoln-Zephyr that bridged the gap between Ford’s V-8 De Luxe line and the more exclusive Lincoln K-Series. It was also an answer to Cadillac’s smaller LaSalle, the Chrysler Airstream, and Packard’s entry-level One-Twenty.
The sub-brand lasted for only five years, until 1940, but it was long enough to turn the Zephyr name into a legend. The Zephyr V-12 was the core model of the lineup, and it was initially available as a two-door and four-door sedan. A three-window coupe was added in 1937, while convertible coupes and sedans joined the lineup in 1938. In 1940, Lincoln launched the Zephyr Continental, which later became a nameplate of its own and Lincoln’s most iconic series.
The Lincoln-Zephyr brand was discontinued in 1940 when the Lincoln Motor Company was transformed into the Lincoln division, but the Zephyr remained in production with the Lincoln badge, but under different nameplates, including the Custom and Continental.
The Zephyr name returned from 1978 to 1983 on a Mercury model based on the Ford Fairmont. From 1950 to 1972, Ford of Britain built a sedan under the Zephyr name. It replaced the Pilot, and it was discontinued to make way for the Consul.
The Lincoln Zephyr could be a rear-wheel drive car
Lincoln might move it on the RWD unibody architecture that underpins the new Aviator
With the Ford Fusion on which the current MKZ is based set to go into the history books, the next-generation sedan will ride on new underpinnings. Word has it Lincoln might move it on the rear-wheel-drive unibody architecture that underpins the new Aviator SUV. This platform will likely underpin the next-generation Ford Mustang as well, so there is no reason why Lincoln couldn’t use it for a sedan.
Ford also announced that production of the Transit Connect van will be moved, starting in 2021, in Mexico, at the plant that currently builds the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ. This means that the next-gen MKZ, or the Zephyr, will be built alongside the larger Continental at the Flat Rock plant in Michigan, where the next-gen Mustang will be manufactured as well.
The Lincoln Zephyr could also be a coupe
Although it seems far-fetched, the Zephyr doesn’t have to be a replacement for the MKZ. Rumors of a Lincoln based on the Ford Mustang have been flying around for quite a few years, and a two-door vehicle would fit nicely in the company’s current lineup. The old Zephyr was also offered as a two-door coupe, so it would be out of line to see a modern iteration of the pre-WWII car. It would also make sense given Ford’s plans to move production of the next-gen Mustang on the same assembly line as the Continental. If this happens, the next-generation MKZ will get a different name. Lincoln has plenty of iconic nameplates to choose from for the MKZ, like the Custom, Capri, Premiere, and Town Car.
The Lincoln Zephyr could arrive in 2020
We should find out whether the Zephyr is a replacement for the MKZ or a coupe based on the Ford Mustang in 2020.
That’s when the premium automaker should unveil a concept car, just like it did with the Continental. The production model should arrive in 2021 when Ford will make room for a new vehicle at its Flat Rock assembly line in Michigan. The next-generation Ford Mustang should be unveiled around the same time.
Read our full review on the2017 Lincoln MKZ.
Source: Car & Driver