Ford Consul MkII

One of my ear­li­est mo­tor­ing mem­o­ries is trav­el­ling in my un­cle’s Consul MkII Con­vert­ible. De­spite my ten­der years the Consul, with its bold styling and transat­lantic de­sign cues, made a big and last­ing im­pres­sion on me. Which helps ex­plain why I’m so draw

Classics Monthly - - Contents - WORDS MARTYN MOR­GAN-JONES PHOTOGRAPHY GER­ARD HUGHES

Su­perb at­ten­tion to de­tail makes this MkII one of the best in the coun­try.

A lthough more con­ser­va­tively dressed than its up­mar­ket straight-six pow­ered Ze­phyr and Zo­diac sib­lings, the en­try-level Consul still cuts a dash. In­deed, there is some­thing re­ally rather glam­orous, cap­ti­vat­ing even, about the Consul, es­pe­cially Mick’s Chateau Grey ex­am­ple. This car is not just pe­riod per­fect, thanks to his ex­pert (self-taught) skills. Mick has trans­formed this for­mer daily-driver into a con­cours win­ner. A dream ma­chine in fact.

HIGHS AND LOWS

“In the mid-‘ Six­ties I had a 1957 ‘ High­line’ Consul, which I re­ally liked,” re­called Mick. “I sold it to raise funds to get mar­ried. A few years later my son was born and an­other few years passed and my daugh­ter came along. At the time, our fam­ily car was a Standard Ten, which soon proved to be a bit on the small side. Also, the fact that you couldn’t ac­cess the boot from the out­side was a bit of a nui­sance!

“As it hap­pened, dur­ing a chance con­ver­sa­tion at work, I learnt that a col­league was sell­ing his ‘ Low­line’ Consul as he was buy­ing a Consul Capri. This was back in 1974 and I paid a now un­be­liev­able £85 for the Consul!”

The Consul was promptly pressed into ser­vice and used as a daily driver for quite some time. Un­til, that is Mick’s wife, Ann, bought her own car. Al­though this new ar­rival didn’t quite ren­der the Consul su­per­flu­ous to re­quire­ments, it did take a back seat.

“Al­though we did use the Consul from time-to-time, for the most part we didn’t re­ally need a se­cond car,” re­marked Mick. “In fact, on a num­ber oc­ca­sions, we con­sid­ered sell­ing it. Thank­fully, our de­ci­sion to buy a tour­ing car­a­van caused us to hang onto the Consul, as Ann’s car wasn’t quite man enough to tow.”

The Consul was man enough for the job and proved to be a ca­pa­ble tow­ing ve­hi­cle that served the Stad­don fam­ily well for an­other decade or so. Un­til 1987 in fact, by which time the big Ford was look­ing and feel­ing rather tired. To be hon­est, 1987 should have marked the end of the fam­ily’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the Consul. But, thank­fully, it was our hearts and not our heads that ruled on this oc­ca­sion”.

Sav­ing Grace

“The Consul had well and truly be­come part of the fam­ily,” rem­i­nisced Mick. “So much so we couldn’t bear to part with it. In­stead, with the fam­ily’s bless­ing, I de­cided to take it off the road and tidy it up.” Ex­cept Mick, who’s self-taught, is some­thing of a per­fec­tion­ist and what started out as a ‘tidy up’ ended up be­com­ing some­thing rather more in­volved.

“It al­most turned into a full restora­tion,” says Mick smil­ing. “I ended up bare-met­alling the shell and do­ing lots of other work. I had lots of ad­vice from col­leagues at work, read lots of magazine ar­ti­cles and the end re­sult was pretty good. How­ever, there were some things I felt I could have done bet­ter. Plus, the en­gine was not per­form­ing as well as it should and it soon be­gan smok­ing un­der power.”

These is­sues be­gan to nig­gle

Mick and as a re­sult in 1992 he de­cided to take the Consul off the road again. The en­gine, which was now con­sum­ing al­most as much oil as it did petrol, was re­moved and sent to South Cer­ney En­gi­neer­ing for an over­haul. This gave Mick the chance to ad­dress the un­der bon­net area and bring the en­gine bay back to show­room standard.

“Re­mov­ing the en­gine pro­vided me with the op­por­tu­nity to paint and de­tail the un­der bon­net area,” ex­plained Mick. “This hadn’t been done in 1987 and it was some­thing I’d re­gret­ted. By now I was get­ting pretty good with the spray gun and was very pleased with how the un­der bon­net area turned out. Ac­tu­ally, see­ing how good it looked, I was prompted into tack­ling the rest of the car. This was some­thing I hadn’t planned for, it just kind of hap­pened. The en­gine bay makeover then spi­ralled into a full-blown nut and bolt restora­tion! “I over­hauled all of

the run­ning gear and fit­ted new brake cylin­ders and shoes, wheel bear­ings, uni­ver­sal joint, oil seals, a pair of re­con­di­tioned McPher­son struts, lever arm dampers and a steer­ing box. Pretty much ev­ery­thing in fact. Most jobs were straight­for­ward, al­though to re­place the half­shaft oil seals, I had to make up a spe­cial tool to do this job.

Mick then went on to tell us how the bodyshell was in very good con­di­tion. “When I bought the car in 1974, all that needed do­ing were re­pairs to the bot­toms of the front wings and to tackle some mi­nor rust on the sills. A friend at work did these jobs and he lead loaded all the re­pairs and I then sprayed the un­der­side of the car and all the cav­i­ties with old en­gine oil.” That en­gine oil cer­tainly did the trick, as even af­ter the bodyshell had been blasted with a por­ta­ble sand­blaster, Mick was de­lighted to dis­cover that all the met­al­work was ex­tremely sound and rust free. Mick re­painted the bodyshell us­ing Gla­surit

The ver­ti­cal tail lights on Mick's Consul de­note it's a MkII 'low­line'. Ford also used this style of rear lamp clus­ter on the 105E Anglia.

The Consul still has a pleas­ing pro­file and it's not hard to see why the this big Ford was so pop­u­lar as a fam­ily car back in the day.

Mick ad­mits that de­tail­ing the Consul's en­gine bay while the in­line-four was be­ing re­built gave him the con­fi­dence to paint the rest of the car, a job he'd never con­tem­plated prior to tack­ling the un­der bon­net makeover.

The Consul's re­fur­bished in­te­rior now looks as fresh and tidy as it would have when the car left Ford's Da­gen­ham plant back in 1961.

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