Monday, April 14, 2014

1959 Ford Zephyr Mark II

"Now an American favorite, too! THEY'RE  IMPORTED, compact and thrifty! English Ford Line cars are a joy to drive, a pleasure to park. They cost hundreds less than most new cars. And you drive them for pennies  . . .  up to 35 miles per gallon! THEY'RE FROM FORD, a name you can depend on. Every American knows that Ford gives value  . . .  the most car for the money. That's true of the English Ford Line, too. Built in England's largest, most modern auto plant, with Ford mass-production know-how."

Pictured here, a Ford that essentially was designed twice. In its first incarnation, it should become the Ford Vedette, to be built by Ford's French subsidiary. Ford's stylists in Dearborn began working on the Vedette in spring 1953. Their styling proposal was further refined and engineered by Ford's German branch. But then, the French plant and the almost production-ready Ford were altogether sold to Simca, and became the successful Vedette which bowed in late 1954.

Soon, Ford of England realized, that a car of this exact size would be a perfect successor of the Ford Zephyr Mark I, that was produced in the UK since 1951. So, British designers under chief stylist Colin Neale began designing an eye-pleasing trio of Fords, to be launched in 1956. The lineup spawned three very similar cars: the entry level Consul, powered by a 4-cylinder engine, the 6-cylinder Zephyr and the better appointed Zodiac, which soon should be dubbed "The Three Graces". In their styling and dimensions, these models kept bearing a strong resemblance to the earlier French design.

The Zephyr and its siblings were the biggest Ford models that you could buy in Europe. Beside an American Ford, however, they look truly compact. And exactly for this reason, the "Three Graces" should become so successful on American shores: the "Big Three" had completely missed the boat when "compact" cars became extremely popular in the latter 50s. To have something to offer, Ford intensified the Import of the "English Ford Line cars". On both sides of the Atlantic, these Fords became a tremendous commercial success, and consequently, Ford's UK production doubled between 1954 and 1958. Today in Cuba, not surprisingly, you still see quite many examples of the "Three Graces".

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