Ford Granada is First Produced
The Ford Granada was a mid-size car built and marketed by Ford Motor Company in North America from 1975 to 1982, along with its sister models, the Mercury Monarch, and Lincoln Versailles.
The Granada was touted by Ford as a rival to the similarly sized Mercedes-Benz 280 of the time. The Granada and Monarch were available as a 2-door coupe or a 4-door sedan. A total of 2,066,336 Granadas were produced.
The Granada replaced the Torino as Ford's mid-size model. They were assembled in Wayne, Michigan and Mahwah, New Jersey. They also overlapped with the Maverick/Comet's ultimate successors, the Ford Fairmont and the Mercury Zephyr, which were released in 1978. The first-generation Granada and Monarch were based on the platform of the Maverick/Comet four-door. It shared much of its design with earlier Ford compacts and intermediates, dating back to the 1960 Ford Falcon. Powertrain options included the base 200 CID six-cylinder, a 250 CID six, a 302 CID V8, and a 351 CID "Windsor" V8. Available transmissions included a standard three-speed manual, a four-speed manual with overdrive, and a three-speed automatic (standard on 351-powered cars). The 1980 model year added a 49-state optional 255 CID V8, which was the only V8 offered in California-spec cars that year.
Ghia versions of both the Granada and Monarch included higher-level interior and exterior trim and added sound insulation. The 1975-76 Grand Monarch Ghia was a top-of-the line version. The Granada Sports Coupe was produced from 1976 to 1977; Mercury offered a similar treatment with its 1976-77 Monarch S. A 1977–1/2 variation on the Granada Sports Coupe, produced from May '77 through the end of the model year, featured blacked-out molding, modified trim, taillights, and color selections. Documentation of this half-year model exists in Ford advertising from spring 1977. This car is perhaps the "rarest" of Granada production.
The 1976–77 Sports Coupe and S packages included standard heavy-duty suspension, styled steel wheels, striping unique to this option and unique interior trim with standard bucket seats. The 1978-80 ESS (European Sport Sedan) replaced the Sports Coupe and S models. Sports Coupes, and ESS models equipped with bucket seats, can be identified by trim codes beginning with "P" on the car's data sticker on the edge of the driver's door. The Granada and Monarch ESS models featured "blacked-out" chrome, and a standard-equipment bucket seat interior with a floor-mounted shifter, although a bench seat was optional. Ford Motor Company's design chief at the time, Stephen Estrada, mentioned later that "The Granada was my favorite design and the one that I'm most proud of". The ESS option included standard color-keyed wheelcovers (styled-steel wheels were optional) and unique opera-window louvres.
The 1978 model year brought a minor restyling including rectangular headlamps and revised taillights, features which continued through the end of first-generation Granada/Monarch production in 1980.
In North America, an unrelated car of the same name was introduced in 1975 along with its related model, the Mercury Monarch. The Mercury Grand Monarch became the Lincoln Versailles in 1977. The Granada was touted by Ford as a rival to the similarly sized Mercedes-Benz 280SE of the time.
In the United States, the Granada/Monarch was intended to replace the Ford Maverick and the Mercury Comet but ended up being sold alongside them for a time. They were assembled in Wayne, Michigan. They also slightly overlapped with their successors, the Ford Fairmont and the Mercury Zephyr. Ford also sold a Ghia version and an ESS (European Sport Sedan) version.
The range was moved to the Fairmont's smaller Fox platform for the 1981 model year and was sold through the 1982 model year. It was replaced by the downsized LTD, based on the Ford Fairmont.
If Ford took an established advertising approach with the very established models above, then it took an unabashedly different approach with advertising for its newly created '75 Granada model. Which I find worth examining because it was a new approach. Rather than pointing out how a potential Ford buyer was getting a better car over a Chevy as had been done for years, early ad copy instead suggested that he or she would be piloting a cruising vessel that looked a great deal like, and would be easily mistaken for, the far more expensive Cadillac Seville. (The Seville was an “internationally-sized” model introduced as an early ’76 model, designed also to appeal to buyers who found upscale imports more fashionable).
Granada was a far more rational proposition and one of Ford's best-timed ideas of this decade. Introduced during 1975, it was conceived as just a slightly larger Maverick using the same chassis and drivetrains.
But when the fuel crunch boosted small-car sales, Ford decided to retain Maverick and launch its erstwhile successor as a more-luxurious compact half a step up in price. This explains why the Granada appeared on the four-door Maverick's 109.9-inch wheelbase.
The 1975 Ford Granada, shown here, skyrocketed in sales to
become Ford Division's best-seller.
Adroitly keyed to the changing market, Granada blended American-style luxury with the mock-Mercedes look then in vogue. Buyers wholeheartedly approved, and Granada zoomed from nowhere to become Ford Division's top-seller, outdistancing the full-sizers and swollen Torinos by wide margins. It was soon a familiar sight on American roads. Not that it performed that well on those roads with its untidy cornering response and a roly-poly ride on rough sections.
Nevertheless, Granada bridged a big market gap at a crucial time, appealing to both compact buyers with upscale aspirations and big-car owners now energy-conscious for the first time. Offerings through 1980 comprised six and V-8 four-door sedan and opera-window coupe in base and plusher Ghia trim (the last referring to the famed Italian coachbuilder bought by Ford in 1970).
There was also a gesture toward sport in the 1978-80 ESS -- for "European Sports Sedan" -- but it was only a gesture. Maverick's true successor bowed for 1978 with a name borrowed from Ford's Australian subsidiary: Fairmont. It was undoubtedly Dearborn's single most significant new product of the decade, although few knew that outside the company. Why? Because Fairmont's basic engineering would be the foundation for most Ford Motor Company cars introduced through the mid-'80s, including a new-generation Mustang and T-Bird.
Billed as the first FoMoCo car designed with the aid of computer analysis, the Fairmont (and its Zephyr twin at Mercury) was a common-sense car and pretty conventional. Though conceived around a traditional front-engine/rear-drive format, it was a big improvement over Maverick: clean-lined; sensibly boxy for good interior space on a shorter 105.5-inch wheelbase; lighter and thus thriftier than many expected.
Engines were familiar -- initially the 140-cid Pinto four, 200-cid six, and 302-cid V-8 -- but there was a new all-coil suspension with modified MacPherson-strut front end geometry, which mounted the coil springs on lower A-arms. Aside from better handling, this arrangement opened up more underhood space for easier servicing. A front stabilizer bar was standard, as was rack-and-pinion steering, offered at extra cost with variable-ratio power assist, a new item shared with several other Fords that year.