By the middle of the 1950s Ford of Britain was reaching its industrial zenith. Success at every market level was maintained by constant innovation and improvement. With its Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac range, Ford had already struck gold in both sales and motorsport. A Mk I Zephyr (originally known as the Zephyr Six) had won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1953 and the East African Safari in 1955, enhancing the car’s reputation for good value.
Problems of understeer and limited performance were overcome with easily made modifications that improved handling and added as much as 20 mph (32 km/h) to the top speed.
Success bred success. In 1956 the new Mk II Consul/Zephyr/ Zodiac models were acclaimed as the three graces’, thanks to their stunningly family-friendly new lines. The Mk II Zephyr benefited most. Longer, heavier, wider and more powerful, its popularity as the biggest mass market family car was assured — considerably helped by a run of competition successes crowned by winning outright the 1959 RAC Rally.
It was the Mk II Zephyr which opened the door for Ford’s later adventures with the Cortina and the Escort. Many are still competing in Classic and other events: and drivers’ reports of powering a Mk II up a snowy mountain pass, or controlling the well-behaved heavyweight Nutting through mud-clogged forest lanes, continue to excite everyone who has ever dreamed of their family car transforming into a supercar. The Zephyr Mk H is the car that proves you don’t have to be rich to be a winner.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
2,553 cc 01W Straight Six
Top speed of 89 mph (143 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 17 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A factory-modified Mk II rallying version had a top speed over 101 mph (163 km/h) and achieved 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in less than 10 secs.