Monday August 7, 2017
Back in the 1970s, the likes of the Ford Granada GXL or Ghia Mk. I were often regarded as vehicles for the local elite; factory owners or the proprietor of a small chain of tobacconists. You were more likely to encounter one of the cheaper models as a minicab, company car or estate carrying a family to a holiday in Swanage and for these versions, Ford revived a famous badge - the Consul.
The Consul/Granada was jointly developed by Dagenham and Cologne as a replacement for the Zephyr/Zodiac Mk. IV and the Taunus P7b. For British motorists, the Granada line-up was the successor to the Zodiac and Executive while the Consul was aimed at drivers looking to trade in their old Zephyr 4 or 6. As compared with the outgoing model, the new Ford looked less like a scaled-down Lincoln and more like a European cruiser; there was to be no bench front seat or column gear change option. The rack and pinion steering was also a bonus, even if the new model lacked the Mk. IV’s rear disc brakes.
In the UK, the Consul was offered in 2 litre V4 or 2.5-litre V6 guises with a choice of base or L trim levels. The former was not exactly the last word in luxury and when reading Ford brochures of the early 1970s you can virtually see the copywriter straining to find the right, or any, superlatives – ‘Seats!’. ‘Wheels!’. ‘See-through windows!’. However, the latter was somewhat more desirable as at least it came with a clock, rear courtesy light, reclining front seats reversing lamps and a dipping rear view mirror as standard.
In 1975 Car magazine thought the 2000L was ‘better, as a car and in value, than the similarly priced Cortina 2000E’. The Consul proved to be a strong rival to Vauxhall’s FE Victor range and had a stronger brand image than the Chrysler 180. It also had a greater appeal to the more conventionally-minded motorist than the Austin/Morris 2200 ‘Landcrab’, for at that time many British motorists distrusted large FWD cars. Anyone who craved more luxury could opt for the Granada or even the flagship Granada GXL, but a Consul 2500L was comfortable and rather good looking while the estate version was capacious and practical. ‘Enjoy the prestige of full sized motoring’ urged Ford.
And for those who desired more performance, there was the cleverly devised Consul GT with power from the Granada’s 3-Litre V6. As it carried less equipment and had unassisted steering, this meant it was around one hundred pounds lighter than its upmarket stablemate and Ford fitted it with a manual gear change while stiffened suspension. Extra instruments, halogen driving lamps, ‘sports wheels’ and even a ‘simulated leather’ gear knob proclaimed enhanced your status to other road users and at a price of £1,780 the GT represented good value for a 114-mph big saloon. Motor Sport found that ‘out of a well-known hairpin bend the Consul can be accelerated hard with none of the inside rear-wheel spin or axle tramp which afflicts, for instance, a BMW 2500’. The GT certainly appeared ideal for a new Euston Films television series concerning the Flying Squad…
In 1974, the 2000’s V4 engine was replaced by the S4 OHC unit as found in the Cortina Mk. III and in the following year the Consul was succeeded by the Granada base, L and S. It was a fine swansong to one of Ford’s most well-known model names. In tribute, here is the GT in action although Triumph 2000 and Jaguar S-Type fans might like to look away at this point…