CC Capsule: 2006 Lincoln Zephyr – The Winds of Change

The 1-year only 2006 Lincoln Zephyr is a car that has been on my CC bucket list for a while. With about 30,000 produced they aren’t exactly rare, but after 10+ years they are definitely becoming much less common.

Zephyr is one of the most storied names in Lincoln history, probably third only to Continental and the Mark series (OK, I’m sure someone in the commentariat will bring up Town Car, but to me these always conjure up images of livery vehicles). While the name hadn’t been used since the 1930’s (on a Lincoln anyways – the Mercury Zephyr doesn’t count), it still carries a lot of weight among knowledgable auto enthusiasts to this day.

Lincoln revived the Zephyr name for the 2006 model year to much fanfare with its clone of the first-generation Ford Fusion. Alas, this name would be short lived, with Lincoln moving to alphanumeric model designators the following year. Like Punxatawny Phil, The catchy Zephyr moniker would be sent back into hibernation after only a brief glimpse of sunshine, only to be replaced by the prosaic MKZ name. In terms of automotive naming crimes, this rates second only to the renaming of the Acura Legend to the RL, in my opinion.

I always thought the 2006 Zephyr was a handsome (if mildly differentiated) take on the Fusion (an attractive car itself). The interior, in my opinion, is its best quality, with a nickel-finish dashboard nicely offset by the generous use of blonde wood. The symmetric dual-cowl design (which my photo failed to capture) harks back to the 1961 Continental.

The Zephyr, with its semi-upright waterfall grille, carries the last remaining vestiges of the neo-classical Lincoln design language that can be traced all the way back to the 1969 Mark III. Lincoln embarked on a new styling direction with the second-generation MKZ (see my 2014 MKZ parked alongside for comparison).

 

This angle most clearly reveals the shared lineage with the lesser Ford Fusion (and Mercury Milan), as all three vehicles shared the same roofline and window glass.

Much worse…

All in all a clean design that Lincoln unfortunately ruined when they added the walrus front end in the 2010 mid-cycle refresh.