Ford Consul Mk 1 (1953)

A beautiful surviving example of Ford’s first post-war design success. In traditional black with red seating and carpets, this saloon is bodily very sound, runs like a dream with some useful upgrades to allow it perform successfully in today’s conditions and is nicely patinated all round.

The all-new Consul range was introduced in 1950 as the replacement for the V8 Pilot, the first car Ford’s UK subsidiary had made after WW2. The Pilot (we’ve one of those coming shortly) had only been produced in the relatively small figure of barely more than twenty-two thousand. Prior to the launch of the Mk 2, more than ten times that number of Mk 1 Consuls had been produced in all variations. So, in spite of being smaller-engined than the Pilot, and despite being created by one of the US company’s designers, the Consul Mk 1 was the first real post-war British Ford model which returned the UK company back to mass production of cars. It set the scene for Ford’s sales successes in the UK in later decades. Regardless of the numbers produced, there are apparently fewer than fifty of these Mk 1 Consuls left on the road.

After the V8 Pilot, the Consul’s four-cylinder, 47 bhp engine may have appeared – to modern eyes at least – to have been a retrograde step. However, the new range was revolutionary in several respects. The new 1508cc unit had overhead valves which was an improvement, especially when compared with the smaller, side-valve engines in Ford UK’s smaller saloons. It made full use of the change to a single taxation class which allowed for a short-stroke engine. The Consul also benefitted from other, “modern” technology such as a hydraulic clutch, MacPherson strut independent front suspension (the first British production car to do so) and unitary construction (the first production Ford to do so). The body was especially rigid, being well-braced. The gearbox was less of an advance though. Like the Pilot it was just a three-speed, column-operated, with synchromesh only on second and third/top. Notwithstanding that, the Consul was capable of exceeding 70mph.

Like this particular car, the vast majority of Mk1’s were four-door saloons with room for six people. From 1951, owners could also profit from some of the trickledown of glamour from the Zephyr Six and Zephyr Zodiac cars. Indeed, although they were later cars, the Z-cars had been conceived alongside the Consul and so were identical in size from the screen backwards and thus provided no more passenger or luggage space than the Consul. Only the slightly longer front and the different grill treatments were obvious clues to the more powerful six-cylinder engine under the bonnet of the Zephyr range.

Inside, the Consul was of a style which has come to define Fords of this and later eras: suggestions of America downsized to suit (note the stars on the speedometer for example), with painted metal dash, white control knobs and a bench front seat. This car has the later, asymmetrical dashboard with the main instruments (speedometer, ammeter and fuel gauge) positioned in a casing placed directly behind the steering wheel. It also has a beautiful EKCO valve radio located above the heater controls and below some useful aftermarket gauges. The radio came on when we tried it, but it may need work to operate reliably.

The previous owner ran this car to Europe in summer 2016 demonstrating its reliability. We understand the engine was rebuilt only 4k miles ago and it benefits from some obvious improvements like an inconspicuously placed electric fuel pump with new filter and lines and good radial tyres on the chrome hubcapped wheels. The odometer now reads just over 30k miles.

This is a bit different from our usual offering, but one cannot help but be charmed by what was more affordable for most 1950s drivers than our Bentleys or Alvises for example. This must be a great opportunity to acquire a sound, running specimen of what used to be a common sight on our roads but which is now seen all too rarely. The car comes with some spares and an owner's manual.


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