Friday February 8, 2019
It almost goes without saying that any Consul Mk. II “Lowline” is a highly desirable classic. However the example owned by Eddie Bramley is especially interesting as it has been in his family since new. LCB 384 was registered on 21st August 1959, and it was acquired by Eddie’s grandmother Lena Bramley for her son Lewis.
The car was ordered from Walsh Brothers, Blackburn’s main Ford dealers, and the price (including the optional heater) was £808 17s 9d, less £287 17s 9d for a 1950 Morris Minor in part exchange. The Consul looks particularly imposing in black, and this choice of sober paint finish was because ‘the family ran a taxi and funeral car service’ in addition to their fruit and vegetable shop in Great Harwood in Lancashire.
In the 1960s the car was frequently used to chauffeur Mrs Bramley to holidays in Morecambe and Eddie’s uncle Lewis owned the Consul ‘right up until 2015. The total mileage is 63,000, and from 1971 to 2016 it covered only 1,000 miles. I’ve done 1,000 since then’. Eddie gradually became the Ford’s custodian, and he supervised its recommission. ‘The brakes were shot as the cylinders had leaked and the car had been stood for seven years’.
One memorable adventure occurred four years ago, shortly after the Consul had returned to the road. In the words of Mr Bramley, ‘I’d taken it on a long run. When I returned to the car 10 minutes later to find smoke emitting from the bonnet because a faulty regulator had set the wiring and dynamo on fire. Luckily I quickly disconnected the battery’. Not surprisingly, there is now an alternator under the bonnet.
The Consul naturally receives a considerable amount of attention from other road users, and various passers-by, from the taking of photos and such comments as ‘”my grandad had one of those” – never “my dad”!’.
To drive it today is also to be reminded that the Ford “Three Graces” Mk. II range debuted in early 1956, over two years before the UK’s first motorway. Eddie notes that while the three-speed steering column gearchange is ‘ok to use’ the performance from the 1,703cc engine is ‘acceptable up until about 50 mph. After that, it bottoms out, so I tend to stay in the slow lane’.
At one point the Ford was fitted with radial tyres, but she has now reverted to cross plies – ‘I never go around corners fast’ - while the brakes present a further challenge. Front discs became an option in 1960 and were standardised on the last of the line Consul 375 in 1961 but the all-drum set-up on LCB 384 means that ‘you need a football field to stop in and it felt quite hair-raising at first’.
To anyone used to modern cars, the vacuum-operated wipers fitted to all large British Fords until 1962 can prove equally interesting. As Eddie succinctly observes - ‘when you put your foot down they stop working!’
But such details are all part of the enjoyment of owning a car that looks as good as in the days when you might have encountered it parked outside of Bramley’s shop on Queen Street. This ’59 Consul is more than just a fine motor-car – it is automotive and social history.
WITH THANKS TO – EDDIE BRAMLEY