- Surface rust should be obvious and judged according to what you can see, but bear in mind the basic truth that there is always more hiding underneath. This is particularly true of the front wings: rust in the rear halves will be obvious, but when you unbolt them you may well find that the tops of the inner wings have disappeared too.
- Headlamp surrounds collect muck that rusts out the bowls and surrounding metalwork. Front and rear valences can also trap moisture and muck, rusting merrily as a result.
- Inner sills need careful probing, especially towards the back ends. Outer sill rust is usually confined to sections that can be repaired using cover sills, but it is still an involved job to make sure all corrosion is removed first.
- The drain tubes from sliding sunroofs fitted to most Granadas lead water down the rear pillars. It is supposed to exit from the grilles, but often sits there instead and promotes rust.
- Water can sit in the headlamps and discolour the silvering, while the rear lights are prone to fading and good replacements are hard to find.
- The automatic gearbox had an oil cooler integrated into the bottom of the radiator. This can rust, allowing water into the box and wrecking it in short order. Check the condition ofthe oil before buying, and at regular intervals thereafter for this very reason.
- The electrics are simple and robust. If there are problems, the most likely suspect will be a rusty fuse box and aged wiring/connections.
- Cloth seats are prone to wear on the driver’s base, and to sun damage along the top of the rear upright. Finding good replacements to match can be a nightmare.
Bit soggy but a fine cruiser. GT is great - if you can find one
Estates are particularly practical and desirable still. Juicy on fuel
Routine servicing is easy and not dear. Mk2 parts can fit, too
Being a Ford helps but certain parts are becoming hard to get
Still cheap for what they offer, especially the sleek Ghia Coupe
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The Consul and Granada epitomised the Ford ethos of giving you a whole lot of car for relatively little cash. Today, it is much the same story as Simon Goldsworthy discovers
Ford had somehow lost the plot with the big and angular MkIV Zephyr and Zodiac of 1966-72. Unashamedly inspired by American cars of the era, it was simply too large and too slab sided to fire the car-buying imagination on this side of the Atlantic. Its exclusive use of the new V4 and V6 engines didn’t help matters either, the four-cylinder unit in particular soon gaining a reputation for roughness that has, perhaps, been exaggerated slightly over the years, while the handling – care of its new fangled independent rear suspension - was decidedly shaky. All that changed when it was replaced with the swish new Consul and Granada in 1972. Ford built on the outgoing model’s all-round independent suspension and V engines, but clothed it in a much more European skin. Outwardly this was considerably smaller than the Zephyr/Zodiac (five inches shorter, an inch narrower), yet the designers managed to squeeze more interior space into the smaller footprint ( that’s the space the car takes up on the road-ed). And it worked a treat. Whereas the Zephyr/Zodiac sold barely 150,000 vehicles in six years, the Granada and Consul racked up the best part of 850,000 sales before morphing into the square-cut Mk2I in 1977. In that time they achieved celebrity stardom on the television screen and indelibly etched their mark on a generation of small boys. But are they still such a great car to buy and run today, some 30 years after their production ended?
Which model to buy?
In typical Ford fashion, there are plenty of engine and trim options but finding a car in good condition should be your main priority as the restoration costs for a poor car will soon outstrip its value. V4-engined Consuls are very rare nowadays, but the Pinto in-line OHC unit is generally considered a big leap forwards anyway: power rose from 82bhp to 98bhp and while top speed was little altered, the Pinto would haul the Consul towards the ton far more rapidly. Just watch out for some late 1976 base and L-spec models, which had a Ford Transit-based economy-tuned engine that could muster just 75bhp. Essex V6 cars were available at both 2.5 and 3.0-litre capacities initially, although the 2.5 was soon dropped and most survivors are the bigger variety. Trim did vary over the years, and a lot of cars have been mixed and matched since production ended either through owner preference or as a matter of necessity. As a basic guide if you do have a choice of spec, the Consul came with individual front seats and a sculpted rear bench. The L pack Consul had better seats and carpet, as well as niceties such as a heated rear screen, vanity mirror and clock. A GT had the largest engine, uprated suspension and exterior mods such as a black grille and halogen lights and was a real TR6-spoiler. Granadas were always better trimmed and equipped, with added soundproofing too.The GXL came as standard with automatic, vinyl roof, sunroof, tinted glass and a push-button radio. But as we said, many cars have been altered over the years, the flagship Ghia’s wood trim being a particularly prized addition along with its posher velour trim. Prices do seem to vary enormously, so be prepared to wait and shop around for the best car at a price you can afford. Generally £2500-3000 should buy you a good coupe (I used to have one and loved it-ed), with equivalent saloons starting from closer to £1800.
Behind the wheel?
Handles a lot better than you’d expect from a large saloon of this era
You sit high on seats that are firmish, but extremely comfortable. They are nicely shaped too although the use of shades of beige and brown everywhere can get a little overpowering on some models. The Ghia badge on the car we tested might have meant top of the range, but this was over three decades ago and you still got remarkably little flash for your cash from Ford. The age of electric windows had yet to trickle down from the likes of Jaguar and although there is a proper sliding steel sunroof, you do have to operate it by hand. There is some cheap trim too in the likes of the chromed plastic door handle surrounds, but ahead of you the Granada is equipped with a comprehensive set of instruments, including that most informative of dials - an ammeter. They sit deeply buried in a wooden dash on the Ghia, a dash which stretches seemingly forever across the front of the car - the Granada is a big car without being ridiculous and there is elbow room to spare. It is still easy to place the nose through corners and into parking spots though, even if the tail is hidden from view on the high-tailed coupe. Ford had done a lot of development on its all-round independent suspension during the Zephyr/Zodiac years and the Granada handles far better than you might expect from a large saloon of this era. The power steering is very light though, and does take out a lot of the feedback along with road imperfections. That shouldn’t be seen as a criticism though, because it suits the Granada so well - I remember driving from the UK to Latvia and back in one a few years back and it was a superb cruiser. The brakes (discs up front and drums at the rear) are power assisted too, and are plenty good enough if working properly that no special allowances need be made for the design being some 35 years old. The C3 automatic gearbox is ideally suited to the big and lazy Essex 3-litre engine. It will kick down if you push it and want to hustle, but in normal use the changes are so smooth as to be almost imperceptible.And this really sums up the driving experience of a Granada - it is built for comfort rather than speed, but can pick up its skirts and hustle with surprising alacrity should the need arise.
Ease of Ownership?
The Granada is an appealing mix of classic and modern
Each of the engine families has a well-documented weakness of their own, but they are by and large both conventional and reliable. You are unlikely to find a V4-powered car, but the famous problem on V6s is that the fibre timing gears strip their teeth. In practice, this is most commonly the result of overheating so using a good anti-freeze to stop the waterways furring up and fitting the correct thermostat with a jiggle pin should keep problems at bay. Alternatively, noisier but far more durable steel timing wheels can be fitted instead. On the Cortina-derived Pinto engines, the famous weakness is a lack of oil to the overhead camshaft. Once again you can bypass the problem by fitting a modified spray bar and most cars will have had this done already, but regular oil changes and the occasional cleansing blast of compressed air down the spray bar will do the trick too. Servicing and repairs on any Granada or Consul are simple enough - they are Fords remember, and ease of maintenance has always been a strong point of the blue oval. In the spares department, mechanical stuff is generally easy enough to source but as ever, panels are much more difficult. So is the trim – second-hand items for the saloon does turn up from time to time, but coupe-specific pieces are much less common. Interiors can be particularly problematic, which is one reason why the car in our pictures has had vinyl inserts let into the nylon seats.
The Daily Option?
The Granada is a very appealing mix of classic and modern that makes driving it on a daily basis quite feasible. You can jump out of a modern car and only take a moment to familiarise yourself with the design tweaks of the 1970s before driving straight off. The switchgear is slightly clunky, but it is far easier to identify and use than the stuff you find on most modern offerings. There are facilities we now take for granted such as two-speed wipers, an electric screen washers and a decent heated rear screen. On the other hand there may be inertia seatbelts in the front, but there are none in the back. The boot is most accommodating though, more so on the saloon than in the coupe which has a much narrower opening. None of the engines are particularly sluggish. You should be able to get 28mpg out of the Pinto too, without pussy footing about. The V6 cars are even more usable as far as performance goes, especially with their generous dose of torque right where you need it in the middle of the rev range. But you will pay for it at the pumps - they will sit at 60mph all day long spinning over at 3000-35000rpm and return around 22mpg even in automatic form, but get heavy with the right foot and you will be dipping into the teens before you can say: “Hey, I thought I’d just filled the tank!” Mind you, if you are happy to modify your car, then fitting a Sierra five-speed gearbox from the Sierra (Pinto) or Granada Mk2I (Essex V6) can help.
Consul and Granada launched. Latter is top of the range with 2.5 or 3.0-litre Essex V6. Consul is lower spec, with lumps ranging from unpopular 2.0 V4 up to the 3.0 V6 for the Consul GT. Estate arrives September, as 2.5 option is dropped from Granada range.
Mid-line up 2.5 V6 option is dropped entirely due to poor take up. Power steering is now standard across the range (but still optional on certain Consul models). Ford expert tuner Ralph Broad launches special turbocharged Granada GXL.
Granada Ghia becomes flagship variant in April. In July sleek coupe goes on sale in the UK (it had been available in Germany from the outset) with automatic as standard. In September, the V4 engine is dropped in favour of Cortina 2.0 GXL unit.
Consul name is dropped in September, replaced by new lower ranking Granada L (later with economy-tuned engine and poverty ‘Popular’ style interior). Underrated Consul GT becomes the new Granada S with added appeal.
Production finishes in Dagenham to make way for Fiesta, but continues in Cologne. The more angular Mk2 Granada takes over, built in Germany on the same basic platform but with smaller, sweeter running 2.3 and 2.8 V6 Cologne engines.
The Granada and Consul are big, comfortable cars that can be thrown around the back roads or driven across continents. A 2.0 Pinto car will be more affordable as a daily driver, but a 3.0 Ghia is ultimately the one to have. It might not be the most sophisticated car you can own, but it will do everything you ask it to do and come back for more.
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