How Ford won over the 1970s executives
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.