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Ford Granada

Published: 22nd May 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Granada
Ford Granada
Ford Granada
Ford Granada
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Big bargain barges didn’t come any better than the Ford Granada which was a world away from the old Zodiac and rivalled BMW and Mercedes-Benz

Turbo and 4x4 versions were considered by Ford before the Energy Crisis

It’s not often Ford gets it wrong but the Blue Oval certainly did with the Mk4 Zephyr and Zodiac. Too much interference across the pond resulted in a car with odd looks and even more dubious handling, so it’s no wonder sales slumped by 66 per cent by 1971. A new replacement couldn’t come soon enough.

Ford launched the Consul and Granada in spring of 1972, within days of Vauxhall revealing its new FE Victor, which ironically did away with the larger Cresta and Viscount big car range. Ford’s replacement for the old and cumbersome Mk IV Zephyr/Zodiac was some five inches shorter and lower, yet more roomy.

Like the Escort and Cortina Mk3, it was designed to replace not only the MkIV but also the equally ineffective German Ford Taunus 17-26M, and was built in both countries. Looking like a more bloated, yet smarter Cortina, it essentially used the same running gear and suspension and was designed to take Ford into posher markets which it previously dared not tackle. But Ford was confident the new Granada was up to BMW and Mercedes standards, and for a lot less cost – starting from just over £1400.

The cheaper Consul was aimed more at the fleet market and wasn’t so flashy looking, or as well appointed, and still retained the gruff old V4 carried over from the Zephyr. There was the same 2.5-litre V6 choice, which was the starter for the Granada line up, along with the uprated 3-litre V6 first seen in the Capri. The capable 120bhp 2.5 V6 was strangely unpopular and dropped a year later, although made a default return two years later when the Consul line up was dropped.

In top GXL guise, the Granada wanted for little, but Ford saw still fit to use its newly bought Ghia name to good use with the super luxury, if rather tarty looking, Granada Ghia (pictured), which was also available as a sleek coupe that could even outdo the Capri looks-wise.

At £3000 for the saloon, it was the natural successor to the old Zodiac Executive and offered a lot of metal for the money while the build seemed of a better quality than lesser Fords, to woo the cash-strapped executive of the mid 1970s, who had to move down market yet not be seen doing so.

In fact, as good as the Granada was, the stigma of a well-to-do chap owing a Ford was hard to take. Scottish songster B.A. Robertson highlighted this in his hit 1979 song “Knocked It Off” where part of the lyrics remarked: There’s got to be a limo to take me down the shops. Tell them they can stuff it, I’m not about to rough it in some Granada Ghia, I was top of the pops!

It was the price of poverty, talking of which, when the cheaper Consul was launched, it was always a mystery why the wheezy old V4 was used when the better, more advanced 98bhp ohc Pinto unit was available, especially when it was offered in Germany!

When Ford GB did the decent thing it transformed the lower ranked range with respectable performance, not far short of the 2.5 V6, with surprising fuel economy and much better refinement. It didn’t last long, though, because by Oct ’75 the Consul tag was dropped and a new base Granada was made available instead, with an optional economy tuned 75bhp 2-litre engine.

This meant that the bargain-priced 3.0 Consul GT – a Capri V6 for families that was almost as quick and with a better chassis – was gone but Ford replaced this with an even better, but mostly now ignored, Granada S, complete with Bilstein gas dampers and a quicker rack-andpinion with power steering. Costing £3500 back in ‘76 it was a cracking package for the money and a handsome £500 (that’s a third of the price of a new Mini 850 in monetary terms) cheaper than the fast fading, posher Triumph 2500S. A year later Ford replaced the Mk1 with a cleaner cut Mk2, boasting more sophistication, to cater for even more discerning buyers. The days of the old bench-seated Zodiac were long gone without regret.

Gin and tonic!

True, Ford didn’t have to do much to make a better car than the MK4 Zeph/Zode, but it pulled out all the stops with the Granada – a point that was not lost on the cynical lads at Car magazine who were as impressed with the new big Ford as they were indifferent about the Cortina Mk3, so much so that it pointedly remarked, “Where were the Cortina engineers while all this was going on?”.

Without doubt, the chassis was one of the best of its age and, as the monthly further rightly commented, “Call it a BMW and the world would beat a path to Ford’s door”. However, it equally correctly stated that the gaudy Americanised GXL spec resulted in a décor more akin to a “Gin Palace”. Interestingly the rarer Consuls seem so much cleaner and classier now, especially the GT, which, thanks to stardom in The Sweeney, enjoys cult status and ridiculous money can be asked for the handful that are left.

Of course, it didn’t take long for Consuls and Granadas to hit the used car scene and during the 1980s and 90s they provided dirt cheap, luxury transport which – being a Ford – were as easy and inexpensive to run as a Cortina. Anybody could move up from a Cortina GXL into a Granada and enjoy a much better and far more luxurious car.

It’s really only lately that the old Granny has evolved from being a cheap daily smoker to classic status, but they remain true to form and still value. Bank on around £2500 for a fair example with potential while even top models are unlikely to exceed £6000, unless it’s a Consul GT or a Ghia Coupe. The brilliantly roomy and versatile estates are still much in demand as daily drivers and towcars.

The Granada evolved into the Mk2 which was a more prestigious square cut look but based on the old platform. It was an even better car but Ford was quizzed about the Mk3 (Scorpio) and its questionable styling. It was the last of the big Ford range; ironically the current Mondeo dwarfs the Mk4 Zodiac, let alone the Granada, but it doesn’t have same the feel-good factor of stepping out with a glamorous ‘Granny’!

When The Car Was The Star

Yes, we all know and love the fleet in The Sweeney – a Consul 3000GT, Ghia Mk1 and the often forgotten 2.8iS Mk2 – but who remembers its brilliant predecessor, Special Branch or even the John Wayne feature film Brannigan with their Mk1 Granadas? Then there were the Mk2s in the appalling Dempsey & Makepeace and the Michael Caine B-film The Jigsaw Man not to mention Cowley’s 2.8 Ghia in The Professionals. Most hilarious of all was the Mk1 Granada Estate that transports a little devil in the original version of The Omen…

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