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
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”.
“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.