Ford Consul is First Produced

The Ford Consul is a car manufactured by Ford in Britain.

Between 1951 and 1962 the Consul was the four cylinder base model of the three model Ford Zephyr range. Consul, Zephyr and Zephyr Zodiac. In the 1962 restyle it was renamed the Zephyr 4, the mid range model becoming the Zephyr 6 and the top of the range just being called the Zodiac. At this point Consul became a four car range in its own right, the Consul Classic, Consul Capri, Consul Corsair and Consul Cortina. The Classic, Capri and Corsair were relatively short lived but the Ford Cortina, minus the Consul tag, went on to scale dizzy heights. The Consul name reappeared from 1972 to 1975 as a replacement to the Zephyr range and shared a body with the more luxurious Ford Granada Mk I. The Capri name was also reintroduced at a later date.

The Consul was first shown at the 1950 London Motor Show and was the start of Ford of Britain's successful attack on the family saloon car market and replaced the larger-engined V-8 Pilot which had only been made in small numbers. It was given the Ford code of EOTA. Most cars were 4 door saloons with body design by George Walker of the parent United States Ford company but a few estate cars were made by the coachbuilder Abbott. From 1953 a convertible conversion by Carbodies became available. The body was reinforced by welding in a large X-frame to the floor pan. Unlike the larger Zephyr the hood (convertible top) had to be put up and down manually.
It was also the first car they built with up-to-date technology. The new 1508 cc 47 bhp (35 kW) [4] engine had overhead valves and hydraulic brakes were used but a three-speed gearbox, with synchromesh only on second and top, was retained. They were also the first production cars to use the now-common MacPherson strut independent front suspension, and was the first British Ford with modern unibody construction.
There is a bench front seat trimmed in PVC and the handbrake is operated by an umbrella style pull lever under the fascia (dash). The windscreen wipers use the antiquated vacuum system. The instruments, consisting of speedometer, ammeter and fuel gauge, are positioned in a housing above the steering column and there is a full width parcel shelf on which an optional radio could be placed.
A car tested by The Motor magazine in 1953 had a top speed of 72 mph (116 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 28 seconds. A fuel consumption of 26 miles per imperial gallon (11 L/100 km; 22 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £732 including taxes.

The 1951-1956 Ford Consul and Zephyr might have been made in Britain, but in their shape they were pure Dearborn. Not only that, but their engineering was inspired by a project that General Motors had killed off in 1947.

By any standards these were important new cars for Ford-UK, and for the British motor industry. In a country that had been torn apart by war, and whose economy had been ruined in the fight against Nazism, enormous debts to friendly nations had been incurred. The best way to pay off these debts, the government decided, was to design new cars and export them all over the world.

To be frank, at that time, Ford-UK's existing products were too old-fashioned to sell well abroad, so a new, modern range would have to be prepared. Therefore, Ford-UK developed two new cars from a rationalized design --calling the four-cylinder car a "Consul" and the six-cylinder version a "Zephyr" -- making them as modern and as technically advanced as it knew how.

The new cars were completely new: a new style, new engines, new transmissions, new suspensions, and a new type of structure, which gave Ford-UK a flying start in the export business. Once the public got to know about them, they sold rapidly all around the world, and in a little more than five years a total of 406,792 of the cars were produced.

Such enterprise was long overdue. Ford Motor Company, Ltd. had been set up in 1911 to manufacture Model Ts from kits; it wasn't until 1932, when the tiny Dearborn-designed Model Y sedan was launched at a new factory at Dagenham, east of London, that Britons were offered a car developed especially for them.

Until the late 1940s, Ford-UK had to accept what Dearborn provided, for the early postwar cars were old-type hangover designs from 1939, both originally conceived in the USA. The latest tiny cars were the four-cylinder Anglia and Prefect, and the larger range was the V-8 Pilot. All had separate chassis frames, side-valve engines, and transverse-leaf spring suspension.

Like Ford-USA's 1949 models, of course, the Consul and Zephyr were the company's first new postwar designs. In a massive phaseout at Dagenham, Ford got rid of the old-style V-8s and offered these smart new models in their place.

The decision to give Ford-UK its head came in 1948, when a team of engineers visited Dearborn to discuss postwar expansion. It didn't take long for Henry Ford II, and his executive vice president, Ernie Breech, to decide on a course of action.

Ford-UK could go ahead with an all-new design, provided that its styling theme was the same as that which George Walker's team had just completed for the 1949 U.S. Ford, and that the ideas of an ex-GM engineer, Earle Steele MacPherson, were incorporated.

The British management team was delighted by this, for it ideally suited its existing skills. Although it had not previously tackled a major styling job, it was confident about building a new chassis.

The project went ahead rapidly; the first prototypes were built in 1949, the factory was reequipped that same year, and a pair of new cars -- Consul and Zephyr -- were unveiled in October 1950.