Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Britain's 'Shoe Box' Fords.

I believe it was in 1949 that Ford USA launched a radical new concept - the Ford Tudor sedan was first of a range of cars that would come to be known as the 'Shoe box' Fords.
The name 'shoe box' refers to the 'three box' design of the vehicle , as almost any automobile of the pre, or immediately post war period had a rather tall or upright profile by comparison.

As is always the way with these things we British had to wait until 1951 before Ford GB launched our very own version of the shoe box. The range came in three models, with each offering up to the minute improvements in comfort, ride, handling, and steering.
There were also hydraulic brakes, and new unit construction build rather than the old method of mounting the body on a separate frame (or chassis as we call them).
All three models, which were named Consul, Zephyr, and Zodiac were outwardly similar, the differences being in specification and power levels.

The base model was the Consul, (above) which was distinguished by the vertical strip style radiator grille, this car was the only one to run on a four cylinder engine. As an economical family car it was an instant hit.

After the Consul came the Zephyr, or the 'Zephyr six' as it was known. Outwardly similar to the Consul except for the treatment of the radiator grille, the 'six' clue in the name told potential buyers that this car had a little more power!
The Zephyr six performed well and it's six cylinder in-line engine was quick enough for all but the most hardened speed freaks of the day!

Above - A rare survivor, the 'Zephyr Six' and Below - an even rarer model the Convertible option, given Britain's soggy climate not many of this type sold here making them ultra rare today.

The final model of the trio was the Zodiac, or Zephyr-Zodiac as it was officially called. This had everything option wise, it was the car that the boss drove to work.
The 'top of the range' features on the Zodiac meant that big six engine, two tone paint, leather interior, spotlights, they even included gold plating to the 'Zephyr-Zodiac' script applied to the bodywork!

I have always liked these MkI cars in preference to the models that followed, (there were four in the series) produced between 1951 and 1956 they represent a milestone in British motoring as for the first time a mass produced Ford could rival a more expensive vehicle in terms of speed and comfort. Added to which, the build quality of these early Fords was I believe superior to the later products.

The painting at the beginning of this post is one that I did as part of a series of old cars, although the car is a Zephyr, artistic licence allowed me to give it the two tone finish of the more expensive Zodiac! A similar car to the painting can be seen in the photograph below, this time in the correct single colour.
The final photograph shows once again how many of these ground breaking fords have ended their days.

1 comment:

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Absolutely fantastic pictures. And the painted is very, very cool. They are a piece of artwork.