'47 Lincoln Zephyr restored with love

'47 Lincoln Zephyr restored with love

The Providence Journal projoCars.com

Projo Article

By: Peter C.T.Elsworth – Journal Staff Writer


Overseeing the restoration of the Pace Car Yellow 1947 Lincoln Zephyr convertible has been a labor of love for Ed Avedisian.

It is the last of 11 1940s V-12 Lincolns that his late friend Crain Watjen had been restoring. Watjen inherited them from his brother Peter who died in 1996. Craig, who mixed a career that included playing the clarinet in orchestras and being one of the first employees hired by Bill Gates at Microsoft, himself passed away in August.

“He never got to see it restored,” said Avedisian in a recent interview at Nick’s Upholstery in Narragansett, adding, “He said it was (Peter’s) favorite convertible.”

The car is just coming off three years’ restoration by artisan Daniel Falco, formerly of Narragansett Reproduction, who has restored about six of the the Watjen Lincolns.

“I did most of the work on this one,“he said.

“Mechanical, wiring, windows, everything that makes the car work.“He said he served as a contractor for other work, notably the paintwork and the upholstery, which he contracted out to Nick Petcu who owns Nick’s Upholstery.

He had the car painted the pale yellow that was the color of the Lincoln Continental that served as the official Pace Car of the 1946 Indianapolis 500. Proving popular, it was sold the following year as Pace Car Yellow.

“It was copper red with a white vinyl roof,” Falco said of the car when it arrived from Bellevue, Wash., where it had been stored since 1996. “Wrong color, wrong top.” Petcu installed beige upholstery and replaced the top with beige canvas.
Avedisioan said his friendship with Watjen went back more than 60 years.

They grew up in Pawtucket where they worked together on cars, notably Model A Fords. Avedisian’s brother Paul said he could remember going into the garage in the morning and finding them both still at work after a long night.

“I’d stop round to see what they’d been doing all night,” he said.

Both went to college in Boston — Avedisian to Boston University, Watjen to Harvard — and both played the clarinet. Indeed, Avedisian went on to a career playing the clarinet in symphony orchestras, including the Bosoton Pops Orchestra, as well as ballet and opera orchestras.

But while Watjen went on to earn a degree in clarinet from the Julliard School of Music in Manhattan and a master of music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, his career was not so clear cut. After a numer of years playing in orchestras, he switched gears and earned an MBA from Stanford University.

He subsequently became involved with the growing computer programming community in what was to become Silicon Valley. Most notably, he fell in with Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who went on to establish Microsoft in Seattle. Watjen joined the company in 1981 as the 69th employee and worked there until 1996 when he was assistant head of the company’s treasury team.“He was a multi-talented guy,” said Avedisian.

Watjen’s first car was a 1929 Model A Ford rumble-seat Sport Coupe that he got when he was 12.
Avedisian said he and Watjen had restored six Model A’s in those early years and they formed a part of Watjen’s collection at his home in Bellevue, Wash.
Overall, Watjen had 30 cars, mostly Model A’s — he was a long-time member of the Model A Ford Club of America — plus his late brother’s Lincolns, which had been shipped over from Pawtucket where Peter had lived.

Avedisian said he had a 1941 Lincoln Zephyr convertible, which had been a gift from Peter, and a 1941 Ford Model A deluxe roadster, which had been a gift from Craig.

Falco said the 1947 Lincoln had been running but was in poor shape.

“It was a runner shipped from Washington,” he said. “I took it apart, every bolt and nut.”
Avedisian said he did not know what would become of the late friend’s collection in Bellevue. Watjen had created a private museum for the cars, which he called “Lincolnshire.”

“He restored it in his brother’s memory,” he said of the 1947 Lincoln Zephyr. “It’s the last one.”