A Moving Tribute

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Sometimes, the journey takes us full circle, back to the place where it all started.

Ed Avedisian began collecting automobiles long ago, but he developed an eye for Lincolns long before he started acquiring them. As a teenager, Ed shared an interest in filling his garage with Model A Fords with a good friend — but even then, the Lincolns of said friend’s older brother caught his eye. Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find Ed cruising around in the crown jewel of his collection, a Volanta Coach Maroon 1941 Zephyr Convertible.

The story of this particular Zephyr came in parts, much like the automobile itself. Before it belonged to Ed, its bones served as a pet project for that same friend’s brother whose collection and skill Ed deeply admired, a master mechanic whose collection included nearly a dozen Lincolns. All of these, he had restored himself — except for one, a Zephyr that he purchased in a “barely running” state, and proceeded to dismantle. For decades, the Zephyr sat in pieces scattered across his garage. As Ed recalls, “The transmission was here, the frame was there, the bumper was over there — parts all over the place, rusted, not moving, and even missing. That’s the shape I got it in.”

Most collectors, including Ed, believed that the vehicle known affectionately among friends as “Peter’s Runner” — a joke, considering the car had long since ceased to run — was past its expiration date. But after Peter passed away, his brother inherited the collection of Lincolns, and shortly thereafter, he called up the old friend who shared his love for the vehicles. Upon entering the garage, Ed was offered the Lincoln of his choice — any car in the prized collection. Without hesitation, Ed chose Peter’s Runner, despite his friend’s urging to select a more desirable vehicle — or at least one that ran. For Ed, the choice wasn’t about acquiring a notable car in pristine shape. It was about remembering a lifelong friend, and his dedication to the art of restoration. “It would become a memorial to him, a moving one,” Ed says. “I was able to get the car on wheels: a fitting tribute to a truly dear friend.”

The restoration of Peter’s Runner, now Ed’s Zephyr, called for more than the average elbow grease. To aid in his effort, Ed reached out to other members of the Lincoln Zephyr Owners Club, and employed their vast expertise to help reconstruct Peter’s Runner. “Their cumulative knowledge of all these cars is unbelievable,” says Ed. “Put it together, and you’ve got an encyclopedia. If you have a problem, you’ll find somebody around here who can tell you what to do, because they’ve experienced it [firsthand].”

After putting this collective human encyclopedia to the test for four years, Ed’s Zephyr was ready to roll out of the garage. Its first stop was a show in Pennsylvania, where the automobile swept the floor and took home five awards — including the one trophy Ed had his heart set on. Peter, the previous owner of Ed’s Zephyr, had been so meticulous in the craft of restoring V12 engines, a memorial trophy had been created in his honor, and is awarded annually to the best engine compartment. With this in mind, during restoration, Ed asked his team to focus heavily on the engine so the end result – “the best compartment that we can possibly present” — would be a V12 compartment to make the previous owner proud. To Ed’s delight, the extra attention paid to the engine compartment impressed the judges enough to bring home the memorial V12 trophy.

From there, there was only one thing left to do. Ed drove from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island with the trophy in tow, and presented to his late friend’s wife. After so many years, she was thrilled to see the Zephyr — the car that had carried her on the very first date with her late husband — on the road once again. Since that day, Ed and the Zephyr have traveled thousands of miles together — turning each drive into a further continuation of Peter’s legacy.

When Ed picked the car out of his friend’s garage, he knew it wouldn’t be easy to get Peter’s Runner out on the road again — and to this day, each drive is a new trial. “There’s a little bit of stress involved, because you’ve got to pay attention to what is around you. You’ve got to be fully involved,” says Ed. “But it’s fun because you see people pointing at the car, blowing their horns, winding the windows down and taking pictures. You feel like there’s a giant family on the road with us.”

And, after all of the work, Ed has the real reward he had been after. “Every time I get into it, I think of my friend,” he says. “That’s an automatic.”

Fewer than a thousand of these cars were ever produced, and only a handful remain — but none of them carries the memories of Ed’s 1941 Zephyr Convertible.

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