Wednesday 18th October 1950
The new Consul and Zephyr launched at the Olympia Motor Show were the first Fords with monocoque body/chassis construction and the first cars in the world with MacPherson Strut front suspension, now an industry standard. They were also the first Fords with overhead valve engines. Production began with the Consul on 1 January 1951. The Mark I model ran until 1956. From April 1956 the Mark II Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac went on sale and were known as the Three Graces. The Mark II range was popular and finished its run in 1962, when from April that year the Mark III Zephyr 4, Zephyr 6 and Zodiac went on sale. The Consul name was dropped, the car’s place in the Ford UK line-up being filled by the first four-cylinder Ford Zephyr. While the Mark II Zephyr and Zodiacs had shared the same body (the Consul had shorter front guards and bulkhead), the new Zodiac and Zephyrs launched in 1962 shared few body panels. With the Mark III, Ford finally sorted out problems that had beset previous models (Mark I axles and Mark II gearboxes were particular weaknesses) and the Mark III proved to be popular and the most durable of the range. The model sold at a rate equal to or better than the Mark II both in the UK and overseas, but was in production for a shorter time. During the last months of production, an up-market Executive version was added to the Mark III range. The Mk III range was discontinued in January 1966 and the completely new Zephyr / Zodiac Mark IV range was released in April 1966. This car’s design anticipated the later Consul/Granada range with V-engines and independent rear suspension, but the development of the model was rushed and this was reflected in its durability.
Although the Ford Zephyr never saw American production, a very limited amount were imported into the U.S. and the name itself has appeared on other American Ford-related cars. The first use of the Zephyr name was in 1936 with the Lincoln-Zephyr a smaller companion to the full sized Lincoln sedan sold at the time, followed in the early 1980s with the Mercury Zephyr, an upscale version of the Ford Fairmont. The Lincoln Zephyr name was resurrected for a new model in 2006 but was changed to Lincoln MKZ the following year.