If you spend any time sitting in Dave Jolly’s modest, well equipped, home workshop it’s easy to see that he lives and breathes automotive customization.
We spent some time with him recently, and while perched on a wooden chair, wearing a Winfield’s Custom Shop shirt, the story of how his 1938 Lincoln Zephyr became the street rod it is today rolls off his tongue effortlessly.
Dave’s Zephyr is nowhere near stock. But, until he parked it beside the stock 1939 Zephyr he also owns, we didn’t realize just how much work he’s done. The show-stopping end result is a true testament to both the skill and taste of the builder.
To wind the clock back to as close to the beginning as possible, Dave has always had a love for cars. However he didn’t get his first ‘old’ car – a 1951 Meteor – until the early ’70s.
Always tinkering with cars to some degree, Dave took the next step in his journey by chopping the Meteor’s top with the help of a neighbor. This car was eventually sold to fund the next project, and the buy-sell-buy sequence repeated until Dave worked his way into his first Lincoln.
It was a four-door hardtop Zephyr, that was the predecessor to this one. It was also the vehicle that Dave first performed a hard top to convertible conversion. A conversion he perfected with his current ’38.
The starting point for this two door Zephyr was a vehicle that was found in a barn in Schomberg, Ontario, Canada. Down on its luck upon discovery, the engine was gone and rust had eaten into much of the sheetmetal. It was a terrible candidate for factory restoration, but a great candidate for extensive modification. While Lincoln was one of the first manufacturers to offer uni-body constriction, for Dave’s purposes, the body and frame needed to be separate structures.
In order to bring the car closer to the ground, air suspension alone wouldn’t do the job. A custom chassis with higher front and rear kick ups was absolutely necessary to achieve the stance Dave wanted. Since most of the floor, running boards, and rocker panels were gone, Dave saw the required metal work as an opportunity to make the car his own.
Where the factory Zephyr front end somewhat abruptly rounds off, Dave brought his forward to a peak. The reshaped nose gives the car a look that is much more becoming of a street rod. The grill section is entirely hand made. Dave is proud of the fact that no fancy tools were used in the grill’s creation. He bent the bars over whatever he had in the shop, including his knee.
In front of the grill is a factory rear bumper that has been narrowed and had cut outs created with an angle grinder.
The rear end of the car is also a Jolly original. Extended rear quarters, and custom taillights are just a few of the pieces Dave crafted himself. As another added touch to the hind quarters, Dave recessed his license plate into the trunk lid. This treatment helps the plate blend in rather than stick out like a sore thumb.
Down the sides of the car are smoothed running boards with custom trim. The fenders, doors, and quarter-panels are razor straight, and there are no door handles or hinges to speak of. An often over looked addition is the suicide driver’s door. Dave added that as a nod to those with a keen attention to detail.
Both doors shut with the ease of a modern car and the gap work is phenomenal. Cypress Pearl and black paint covers body work done by a collective of people. Rick Fabian, John Connery, and Legendary Motorcar all had a hand in getting the body to look the way it does today. A dual pinstripe done by Dave Connery runs not only on the outside of car, but through to the door jambs as well.
Dave informs us that the bottom side of the car is also painted, and cut and polished to showroom shine. We couldn’t see it during the shoot, but we beleive him.
Under the hood, Lincoln power remains. Now, it’s in the form of a 460 cubic-inch engine glommed from a ’73 Continental. The engine was been bored .030-inch over, and is fit with a Ford Racing marine camshaft. The air cleaner, which is actually made from a Lincoln hub cap, covers an Edlebrock intake and a Holley Speed Demon carburetor.
Inside, a custom center console starts at the factory dash and ends wrapped around the seats. It’s not a fiberglass piece. Keith Sim metal craft created the beautiful flowing unit. Finished in black, it’s visually impossible to tell where the original Lincoln metal ends and the new metal begins.
Orange leather and black paint match the exterior pinstriping, and on the dash is a signature from one of Dave’s greatest influences, Gene Winfield.
Rolling stock for this car is pretty unique. Though they might look it, the wheels are not reproductions. Instead, they are original Lincoln centers pressed into a modern steel rim. Dave did all the leg work of this conversion himself, only outsourcing the final welding to a specialty shop.
While describing some of the ideas that went into the creation of this car, Dave isn’t ashamed to admit that not all of them worked.
In his garage hangs a solitary ’38 fender with a BMW mini headlight grafted into it. An idea Dave loved in theory, but didn’t love in practice.
Dave has several more examples of similar ideas that just didn’t come together during the fifteen year build. However, each idea, failure or success, contributed to the car he has now.
Enjoying its debut season in 2017, the car has earned a fair share of accolades including Winfield Select Six honors in Syracuse. His Zephyr also took home top honors in the Hot Rod class at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
With a history of selling his builds to move onto the next one, Dave isn’t quite sure yet what fate lies in store for this car. For now, he’s simply enjoying some much deserved time with an absolutely stunning, completed project.