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Ford Zepher Images and Technical Specification



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Until the 1950s, British Fords were always affectionately known as 'Dagenham Dustbins' (cars were built at Dagenham, in Essex), with their engineering derided, and their low selling prices highly respected. All that changed forever when the first post-war Fords were introduced. The closely related Consul and Zephyr models completely changed the face of the company. After 1945 it took several years to convert the British motor industry to a forward-looking peacetime economy. Even at Ford, a ruthlessly efficient operation, early post-war cars were simply warmed-over 1930s types until the introduction of the Consul/Zephyr models, classics of their type, and classic to this day. Inside Ford, and out, these cars represented a design revolution. They were the first Fords to use unit construction (chassis-less), the first to use independent front suspension, and the first to use overhead valve engines. Later, as the model range developed, they would be the first to offer a steel-bodied estate car derivative, the first to offer automatic transmission as an option, and the first Fords to go on sale with front-wheel-disc brakes. Even if they had looked dreadful, they would have been classics of their period, but this excuse was never needed. Styled by Ford-USA in Detroit, they were modern, streamlined, distinctive shapes by the standards of the late 1940s. Inside their cabins, of course, they were pure Detroit, complete with bench-type front seats, and with steering-column gear change controls. Under the skin, Consuls had four-cylinder and Zephyrs had six-cylinder versions of the same design, while the front suspension was a new and mechanically simple layout known as 'MacPherson strut' (after its American inventor) which was carefully patented to eliminate direct copies. The mechanical elegance of this system was such, however, that rivals all round the world made haste to make their own versions (and to employ the best patent lawyers to advise them).

Consuls had a soft ride, but were quite slow, while Zephyrs (which had a longer wheelbase) were faster, but with rather skittish roadholding. Their value, however, was not in doubt, and after a 'works' Zephyr had won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1953, their reputation was sealed. Shortly, a better-trimmed and equipped version of the Zephyr, called 'Zodiac', arrived, after which developments of these cars dominated their market sector for more than 20 years, until the first Granadas replaced them. As model followed model, rivals would snipe about their styling, their equipment, and their rather obvious transatlantic pedigree, but Ford, who knew what sort of value they were offering, never flinched. Between 1950 and 1956, no fewer than 231,481 Consul/Zephyrs were sold.

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