How Ford won over the 1970s ex­ec­u­tives

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driven -

It’s easy to dis­miss the March 1972 in­tro­duc­tion of the Granada – and its less plush Con­sul twin – as the ar­rival of yet an­other large Ford, but there was sig­nif­i­cantly more to it than that.

Not only did the new range re­place the Bri­tish-built MkIV Ze­phyr, Zo­diac and Ex­ec­u­tive, it filled the space in Ford of Ger­many’s line-up pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied by the 17M, 20M and 26M Taunus. Con­se­quently the new model was built in both coun­tries un­til May 1976 when Bri­tish con­struc­tion came to an end.

Avail­able ini­tially with the unloved 2.0-litre V4 (Con­sul only), and V6s in 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre dis­place­ments, the four-door saloon range was joined seven months af­ter launch by a ca­pa­cious estate.

What­ever the badge, all mod­els shared the same ba­sic body­work and un­der­pin­nings, com­plete with dual-cir­cuit brakes with discs up front and all-round in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion.

Con­suls orig­i­nally ap­peared in lowly L and sporty GT guises, Granadas as plusher XL and GXL de­riv­a­tives. Not only was it a broad enough range to com­pete against Vaux­hall’s FE-se­ries, it could take on com­peti­tors such as Chrysler’s 180/2-Litre, Rover’s P6 and Volvo’s 240/260.

April 1974 saw the ar­rival of the 3000 Ghia as the flag­ship, al­low­ing the full-sized Ford to tilt at Jaguar’s XJ6 and Mercedes’ W114/115 range of Teu­tonic saloons.

Ford con­tin­ued to tweak the mix of en­gines and trims, with a new 2.0-litre OHC in­line-four oust­ing the V4 in Septem­ber 1974, be­fore all mod­els were re­named Granada 13 months later, con­sign­ing the Con­sul to the shelf for dis­carded name­plates.

A touch of ex­ot­ica also ap­peared in 1974 when Bri­tain fi­nally re­ceived the rak­ish twodoor coupé de­riv­a­tive, which Ger­many had al­ready en­joyed for a cou­ple of years. For the UK it was only avail­able in com­bi­na­tion with the lav­ish sur­round­ings of the Ghia pack­age, again with the largest en­gine.

Af­ter just shy of 850,000 Con­suls and Granadas had been pro­duced – with nearly 51,000 of those orig­i­nat­ing in Bri­tain – Ford re­placed it with the MkII range, that went on sale from 1977.

Now the styling was sharper and more per­pen­dic­u­lar, but the newer range re­lied heav­ily on the orig­i­nal as its base, run­ning on a mod­i­fied plat­form. It was es­pe­cially ob­vi­ous on estate ver­sions where much of the rear body­work was iden­ti­cal, save for trim em­bel­lish­ments. If it bore any stylis­tic re­sem­blance to Mercedes-Benz’s W123 range, par­tic­u­larly in the de­tails like the ribbed rear lights, that was purely ad­van­ta­geous for Ford and in­dica­tive of the Blue Oval’s as­pi­ra­tions for its range-top­per.

Fol­low­ers of the coupé were left dis­ap­pointed as it wasn’t re­placed in the MkII form (there was a two-door in Europe) – some­how a Capri Ghia didn’t cap­ti­vate their imag­i­na­tions to quite the de­gree.

By 1985 the MkII Granada saloons and es­tates gave way to the ad­ven­tur­ous hatch­back style of the MkIII range, known in Europe as Scor­pio, a ti­tle re­served for the top of the Bri­tish range. Ford re­tired the Granada name at the end of 1995.

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