Following the rally in a Ford Consul Corsair GT

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The ordinary Ford Corsair was written-up, not very favourably, by “M. L. T.” last month, but, not having driven this latest Ford model, I was eager to take the GT version over part of the Rally route. Certainly with the Weber-carburetted, hotted-up, 78 (net) b.h.p. 122E GT 5-bearing engine, it becomes a very acceptable car, as I said last month, a logical development of the popular Cortina, pleasant to drive and with excellent torque characteristics in 3rd and top gears, so that very good acceleration is available for overtaking. The unfortunate gap between the two lower and the two higher forward gears remains, however. Although the back axle still tramps on rough roads, the Corsair GT sat down and handled noticeably better than a Cortina GT I had been driving, presumably because of the 100 lb. weight increase and 3 in. longer wheelbase although the spring rates front and back have been slightly changed; both Fords had Firestone tyres.

The Corsair has excellent brakes but didn’t seem quite so accelerative as the Cortina GT, either on account of the greater weight or because it had only run some 2,000 miles. The front seats, while not perfect, are more comfortable and give better support than those of the Cortina, and there are other small improvements, such as lamps-fiashing from the former horn-push (the Corsair having a horn-ring), variable-speed wipers, thief-proof “pips” on the quarter-light catches, rubber inserts on the bumpers, coat-hooks, and “pulls” for the back-seat occupants. One becomes used to the adjacent turn and lamps controls on the r.h. stalk but while I prefer hand dipping to a foot dipper, this layout is inconvenient because the right hand has to be moved from the steering wheel to operate it.

The passenger found the handle on the cubby-hole lid painfully vulnerable to his knees, Ford have reverted to a fuel tiller concealed behind a sprung-back number-plate for the Corsair, and it is curious that the safety interior door-handles, hidden beneath the arm-rests, that were a much publicised feature of the short-lived Consul Classic*, have been superseded by ordinary pull-up handles on the Corsair! The key has to be used to lock both front doors, whereas on the Cortina the passenger’s can be locked from inside. Facia lighting cannot be switched off independently of the lamps.

The older Zephyr-style plated-metal twist-and-pull-out handbrake is used, less easy to release than the Cortina slide-out brake. A 110-m.p.h. horizontal-scale speedometer is flanked by fuel-gauge and thermometer, but the ammeter (deleted from the new all-on-the-facia wooden Cortina GT panel) and oil-gauge remain low down on the central console, as on the earlier Cortina GT, in this roomy Corsair GT saloon. Interior stowage on a deep under-facia shelf, in the shallow but deep cubby-hole, on the shallow back shelf (incorporating the radio speaker) and in that useful central locker behind the console, was put to good use, swallowing much personal “clobber,” while the very spacious, self-locking boot proved very useful. The cubby-hole exposes a bare hand to some sharp projections, however.

An engine that goes willingly to 6,000 r.p.m. and beyond, coupled to a very nice floor gear-change in which 1st gear usually goes in easily in spite of synchromesh, and road-holding which is good by family-car standards, renders long-distance driving in a Corsair no hardship and in nearly 900 hard miles the only trouble was a blown rear-lamp bulb, replaced at a cost of 4s. 1d. Petrol consumption (the fuel need not be 100-octane) averaged 27.6 mpg, and the sump took 1/2-of-a-pint of oil. Whether Roy Brown has been successful in his desire to incorporate both male and female features in the Corsair’s styling is a matter of opinion; I dislike the curiously-shaped full horn-ring (and found it difficult to use) and the 5-star decor on the steering-wheel spoke. But the excellent performance and powerful disc front brakes made this a good car in which to follow the rally, the roughest forest roads failing to show up any shortcomings in a conventional suspension system which nevertheless has roll on fast corners nicely suppressed. Good value, this Corsair in 4-door, so-called GT form, at £840 7s. 1d.—W.B.

*The excuse for the Classic is that it was only intended for a short run anyway, made shorter because it went into production late, and that at the end of its run it had exceeded Ford’s sates target of 250 a day.

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