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Ford Zodiac

Ford Zodiac Published: 17th Nov 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Zodiac

What The Experts Say...

Kevin Dipchan of Kent-based Zodiac Motor Services says values of the majority of Zephyr and Zodiacs have stagnated of late although top cars will always get the money. Consuls still lag behind in terms of desirability yet there’s little wrong with them, he adds. The Cresta Owners’ Club ( says it has between 600-700 on its books and many owners have more than one car. Far from trailing in the tyre tracks of the more popular Ford, values of the best PAs can be extremely high; the club says one restored car was sold for £35,000. And while spares are never as plentiful as they are for the Ford, there’s no problem with them and the club even has some reproduced.

Ford Zodiac
Ford Zodiac
Ford Zodiac
Ford Zodiac
Ford Zodiac
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You see them at any car show, looking oh so 50’s smart and usually always grabbing the most attention. We’re not talking about the car in this case but the owners, dressed in drainpipe jeans, checked shirt, greased- back hair – and as for the ladies…

You only have to go to the excellent Goodwood Revival to see how 1950’s style stands out from the crowd and it’s the same for the cars of that era. And no others carry it off quite as well as those blue collar car makers, Ford and Vauxhall.

The Mk2 Zephyr/Zodiac and Vauxhall’s PA Velox and Cresta ranges remain the epitome of 1950’s bad boy motoring and will always be so, which is why values of these saloons are rising. Heavily influenced by American styling, fins ain’t what they used to be… but what rock and roll idol would you take on face value alone?


Rather like today’s aggressive noses that feature on most new cars, by the mid 1950s it was tail fi ns that were all the fashion and Ford and Vauxhall wasted little time in dumping their previous clean rounded saloon styles for something more flamboyant! Ford did it fi rst in 1956 with the Mk2 Zephyr and Zodiac, effectively a reskin of the Mk1 albeit with added space to go with the style. Mechanically, it was much the same (Ford pioneered the MacPherson strut on the Mk1) but the engine was stretched from 2.3 to 2.6-litres. As before, the Zodiac was the flagship of the range.

In the case of the PA Vauxhall, it was a much more radical departure and the Americanised styling went as far as curious (and not to say knee-breaking) wrap-around ‘dog leg’ windscreens. The 2262cc engine was carried over and it wasn’t until 1960 that it was enlarged to 2.6-litres. Like the Ford, overdrive or automatic were options as were lurid colour schemes which included not only two tone paint but also triple tone!

Both offered custom build estates from their chosen coach makers (usually Farnham for Ford and Frairy in the case of Vauxhall) and are rare fi nds today, while you could even have the Ford as a (Consul) pick-up, albeit for Commonwealth countries only.

You have to bring the Consul into the equation at this point. It was a similar car to the six-cylinder models with simpler styling and plainer trim and fi tted with a 1703cc four-cylinder engine. Apart from this, and the respective drop in both performance and luxury, it is much the same car although CLASH FORD VS VAUXHALL 50’S SALOONS tail fi ns are almost non existent. Naturally, they are not as desirable as the six-pots and so a fair bit cheaper as a result yet entirely acceptable for many if performance isn’t important.

The Fords underwent a major restyle in 1959 when the ‘low-line’ body was introduced with a lower, flatter roof which some prefer. Ford was the fi rst to offer front disc brakes a year later before making them standard in May 1961. Vauxhall provided discs a little later but only tidied up the distinctive body (and introducing the now classic rounded Cresta grille) in 1960.

It was all change for 1962. Ford kept with the finned look for its Mk3 line up and with now a Zephyr 4 to replace the old Consul. Vauxhall on the other hand introduced a more conservative and cleaner style first seen on the FB Victor.

In terms of numbers left, there’s considerably more Fords to choose from; the rare and now highly desirable convertible line up of Consuls, Zephyrs and Zodiacs accounted for almost 20,000 sales alone. And in terms of values the Dagenham dustbins fetch more; £20K plus for the rag tops and as much as ten grand for a top notch saloon but say £5-6000 for a Consul, which is roughly the going rate for the majority of Vauxhalls but the gap is notably closing.

Basket cases can sell for less than £1000 but given the difficulty and cost in restoring either a Ford or Vauxhall, unless you like labour of loves, it’s best to buy a good car from the outset.


Let’s be clear here, these aren’t sports cars or Mk2 Jags so don’t expect to be a ton up kid. At best, 90mph was tops and all feel much happier around 65-70mph. Similarly, handling is going to be 50’s rock and roll but so long as you appreciate this and drive accordingly they are perfectly secure handlers although benefi t enormously from slightly wider modern radials and perhaps stiffer damping to reduce wallow- inducing travel sickness.

Apart from the autos (where the Ford is better as it was three speeds; Vauxhall used lacklustre two-speeders right up to 1970!) all relied on a three-speed manual transmission worked by a column gearchange – four on the floor wasn’t even optional back then but you can adapt this to the Ford as later Mk3 models had an extra cog on the column.

However, thanks to the low rev torque of those big-sixes, you rarely feel short changed, if you excuse the pun, thanks to the wider-spaced ratios that had to be employed. Not too good for 0-60 runs agreed (typically around 16-17 seconds across the board), but on the road it allowed that middle ratio to act like a semi- auto, ambling from walking pace and yet take the car up to almost the legal limit.

Another reason why column change was fitted was because bench front seating was the fashion for full six-seater sittings.

Of course, it poses all the attendant problems when people of greatly varying heights sit up front! And they are not the most comfortable of perches either.


The Vauxhall is not particularly harder to service and maintain than the Ford, it’s just that the Zephyr and Zodiac have the benefi t of better parts and owners’ club support and so nicks this section.

The Cresta’s real problem (just like most old Vauxhalls really) is parts obtainability; you can source 90 per cent of what you need for the PA but that fi nal 10 per cent – the stuff that turns a nice restoration into a great one – are very difficult to get hold of.

Rust is the sworn foe of the both the Ford and Vauxhall and the PA’s shape did little to dispel the notion that Vauxhalls are notorious rot boxes! Mechanically, the Luton car is as tough as old boots and parts supply is good although repairs to the Hydramatic and Powerglide autos won’t be easy or cheap. If desired, the much lustier 3.3-litre engine from the later PC Cresta can easily be substituted and we hear so can the later 80’s Senator engine, although requires considerable re-engineering.

Spares for old Fords rarely pose a problem and a Mk2 Zephyr or Zodiac is easy to maintain – even new trim is available. Unless you propose to drop a V8 in, the later 3-litre Mk3 Zodiac engine is the most sensible choice and there are period – and highly prized tuning gear around, such as Raymond Mays heads and carb kits.

And The Winner Is...

While these big bangers aren’t everybody’s classic cup of tea, they do offer a lot of Detroit- inspired metal for the money. There’s no real winner here. Looking at them pragmatically, the Ford gets the nod due to there being more choice and better club and specialist support for spares but these cars are mainly about style and that’s why it all comes down to personal choice. What do you prefer?

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