MK11 Ford Consul Zephyr & Zodiac owners club

Five Star motoring with the 3 Graces since 1956

A Brief History


Model number 206E

In 1956 the MK1 Consul, Zephyr, and Zodiac were all restyled to a new family look. The straight 6-cylinder engine was retuned and had  a capacity of  2,553 cc (156 cu in), with power output correspondingly raised to 86 bhp . The wheelbase was increased by 3 inches  to 107 inches and the width increased to 69 inches (1,800 mm). The weight distribution and turning circle were also improved. Top speed increased to 88 mph  and the economy was also better at 28 mpg 

In 1956 a new Consul appeared with the Ford code of 204E. Compared with the original it had a longer wheelbase, larger 1703 cc, 59 bhp  engine and a complete restyle. One thing not updated was the windscreen wipers which were still vacuum-operated. The roof profile was lowered in 1959 on the Mk2 version which also had re-designed rear lights and much of the external bright work in stainless steel. Front disc brakes with vacuum servo appeared as an option in 1960 and were made standard in 1961 (4-wheel drum brakes only, in Australia). The name became the Consul 375 in mid-1961.

The convertible version made by Carbodies continued. A De Luxe version with contrasting roof colour and higher equipment specification was added in 1957. The Australian market had factory-built versions of the pick-up (utility) and estate car (station wagon) as well as a locally-engineered version of the saloon.

A Consul MkII tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956 had a top speed of 79.3 mph  and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 23.2 seconds. A fuel consumption of 22.1 miles per imperial gallon was recorded. The test car cost £781 including taxes.

The Zodiac and Zephyr were also offered in two body styles these being the "Highline" and "Lowline", depending on the year of manufacture — the difference being 1.75 in (44 mm) being cut from the height of the roof panel. The two models shared various slightly differing components, but are generally interchangeable between the two. The "Highline" variant featured a hemispherical instrument cluster, whereas the "Lowline" had a more rectangular panel. A locally-engineered version of each of these models was introduced to Australia.

As well as a 3-speed manual gearbox there was an optional overdrive and from 1956 ,1959 in Australia , a Borg Warner DG overdrive . Auto transmission also At first drum brakes  were fitted all round (with a larger lining area of 147 sq. in) but front discs became optional in 1960 and standard from mid 1961 (in Australia only 4-wheel drum brakes were available; some dealers fitted servo-assistance from 1961).

A two-door convertible version was offered with power operated hood, and a pick-up and factory-built estate were sold on the Australian market. Owing to the structural weaknesses inherent in the construction of convertibles very few convertibles are known to survive: probably only 20-25 examples.

A convertible with overdrive was tested by The Motor magazine in 1961 had a top speed of 88.3 mph  and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 17 seconds. A fuel consumption of 24.5 miles per gallon  was recorded. The test car cost £1193 including taxes. 

The Mark II Zodiac was slightly altered to distinguish it from the the other variants, having more elaborate tail-end styling and  a different front  grille. The auxiliary lamps and wing mirrors were also on  the Zodiac range and it retained two-tone paint, whitewall tyres, chrome wheel-trim embellishers and gold plated badges.

A car tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956 had a top speed of 87.9 mph  and could accelerate from 0-60 mph  in 17.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 21.5 miles per  gallon  was recorded. The test car cost £968 including taxes.