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Budget Zephyr was a breeze; Classic Wheels.

Byline: IAN JOHNSON

BACK in 1964 around pounds 770 could have bought you a very spacious car.

One of the hot choices was the Ford Zephyr 4 Mark III which was available in saloon form or a surprisingly stylish estate. The Mark III 4 was the entry level model of the new Zephyr range, which was a further step by Ford into the premiumpriced large car market. But the 4 was different in that it had fewer trimmings and a four-cylinder engine as opposed to the other models' six-cylinder powerplant. It was initially understood to be the new Consul, but that old-faithful Ford name was dropped and the car became the Zephyr 4. Canadian stylist Roy Brown, who had been involved in the ill-fated Ford Edsel project, took on the design of the Zephyr after in-house pennings and a projection by Frua were discarded.

The result was a large and rather dashing car with tailfins, quite a lot of chrome and a very imposing road stance.

The plainest of the range with its one-piece grille, the 4 immediately hit it off with that section of the market which demanded a large car without the expense of an overly powerful engine.

After its launch in 1962, nearly 120,000 buyers got behind the wheel of this car which featured a 1,703cc four-cylinder engine driving the rear wheel via a four-speed synchromesh gearbox. Overdrive or automatic transmission were options. On the road it could peck at the 80mph mark and was a lot more economical than its six-cylinder stablemates at 27.2mpg (6 miles per litre). But it did have a drawback at first and that was poor rear legroom which had to be remedied with a package of modifications within nine months of launch. This update also included some simulated wood trim which gave the interior a much better look. Innovations included a new variation on recirculating ball steering with variable ratio to make it lighter at parking speeds.

I well remember this car and it is true that the steering was vastly better than previous large Fords.

I particularly enjoyed Ford's version of a column gearchange which was very smooth compared with the clumsy, clunky systems found on some other makes. This however was replaced in 1964 by a floor-mounted gearchange. The estate version was by Farnham and featured a tailgate in glassreinforced plastic. These days the 4 is overshadowed by the fame of the Zephyr 6 which was the car star in Z-Cars, the well-known TV police drama of the 1960s. But the Zephyr 4, which was produced until 1966, pointed the way ahead in economy for Ford with a capacious and very comfortable large car which could be run on a budget.

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* DASHING STYLE: Ford headed into the premium-priced large car marked back in 1964 with the pounds 7 Mark III Ford Zephyr 4
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 27, 2012
Words:479
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