The Ford Zephyr is an executive car that was manufactured by Ford of Britain from 1950 to 1972. The Zephyr, and its luxury variants the Ford Zodiac and Ford Executive, were the largest passenger cars in the British Ford range from 1950 until their replacement by the Consul and Granada models in 1972.

Initially the four cylinder version was named Ford Consul but from 1962 both four- and six-cylinder versions were named Zephyr.

History

The Mark I Ford Consul and Zephyr models were first displayed at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1950. They were the first British cars to use in mass production the MacPherson Strut independent front suspension which is widely used today. Production began with the Consul on 1 January 1951. The Mark I model ran until 1956. From April 1956 the Mark II Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac went on sale and were known as the Three Graces.

The Mark II range was popular and finished its run in 1962, when from April that year the Mark III Zephyr 4, Zephyr 6 and Zodiac went on sale. The Consul name was dropped, the car's place in the Ford UK line-up being filled by the first four-cylinder Ford Zephyr. While the Mark II Zephyr and Zodiacs had shared the same body (the Consul had shorter front guards and bulkhead), the new Zodiac and Zephyrs launched in 1962 shared few body panels. With the Mark III, Ford finally sorted out problems that had beset previous models (Mark I axles and Mark II gearboxes were particular weaknesses) and the Mark III proved to be popular and the most durable of the range.

The model sold at a rate equal to or better than the Mark II both in the UK and overseas, but was in production for a shorter time. During the last months of production, an up-market Executive version was added to the Mark III range. The Mk III range was discontinued in January 1966 and the completely new Zephyr / Zodiac Mark IV range was released in April 1966. This car's design anticipated the later Consul/Granada range with V-engines and independent rear suspension, but the development of the model was rushed and this was reflected in its durability. It was one of the first medium priced cars to feature rear disc brakes.

Although the Ford Zephyr never saw American production, a very limited number were imported into the U.S. and the name itself has appeared on other American Ford-related cars. The first use of the Zephyr name was in 1936 with the Lincoln-Zephyr a smaller companion to the full sized Lincoln sedan sold at the time, followed in the late 1970s with the Mercury Zephyr, an upscale version of the Ford Fairmont. The Lincoln Zephyr name was resurrected for a new model in 2006 but was changed to Lincoln MKZ the following year.

Zephyr Mark II

In 1956 the Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac were all restyled. The 6-cylinder cars' engines were enlarged to 2,553 cc (156 cu in), with power output correspondingly raised to 86 bhp (64 kW).[7] The wheelbase was increased by 3 inches (76 mm) to 107 inches (2,700 mm) and the width increased to 69 inches (1,800 mm). The weight distribution and turning circle were also improved. Top speed increased to 88 mph (142 km/h) and the fuel consumption was also improved at 28 mpg‑imp (10 L/100 km; 23 mpg‑US).

The Zodiac and Zephyr were also offered in two body styles these being the "Highline" and "Lowline", depending on the year of manufacture — the difference being 1.75 in (44 mm) being cut from the height of the roof panel. The "Highline" variant featured a hemispherical instrument cluster, whereas the "Lowline" had a more rectangular panel.

There is no doubt that the performance of the Zephyr and the Zodiac series II models was restricted by the rudimentary exhaust system, both the manifold assembly and the exhaust itself. The well-known Raymond Mays complete engine conversion boosted the performance figures to a top speed of 101mph and 0-60 to 10.0s, with a standing quarter mile of 17.6s, as recorded by The Autocar magazine in issue dated 8 November 1957.

As well as a 3-speed manual gearbox there was an optional overdrive and from 1956 (1959 in Australia) a Borg Warner DG automatic transmission. At first drum brakes were fitted all round (with a larger lining area of 147 sq in or 950 cm2) but front discs became optional in 1960 and standard from mid-1961 (in Australia only 4-wheel drum brakes were available; some dealers fitted servo-assistance from 1961).

A two-door convertible version was offered with power-operated hood. Because of the structural weaknesses inherent in the construction of convertibles, few convertibles are known to survive.

A convertible with overdrive tested by The Motor magazine in 1961 had a top speed of 88.3 mph (142.1 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 17.0 seconds. A fuel consumption of 24.5 miles per imperial gallon (11.5 L/100 km; 20.4 mpg‑US) was recorded. The test car cost £1193 including taxes

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