Ford’s long-awaited and much-rumoured new model at last made its debut on May 19th. Named the “Consul Classic” 315, the new car is a trifle disappointing on first acquaintance as it resembles nothing more than an enlarged version of the 105E Anglia with the addition of some American styling gimmicks. In size the car falls between the Anglia and the Consul, having a wheelbase of 8 ft 3 in, an overall length of 14 ft 21/2 in, and an overall width of 5 ft 5 in, which figures indicate that it is very little smaller than the Consul.
The car features an all-steel welded integral construction body/chassis unit which will be built in 2 and 4-door styles. The Anglia reverse-angle rear window is incorporated although this appears to be at a slightly less acute angle than that on the Anglia. Nevertheless this allows for an extremely large boot with a flat floor (the spare wheel being stowed vertically on the left-hand side) which has a capacity of 21 cu ft The frontal aspect of the car is quite pleasing, the four headlamps taking pride of place and the radiator grille being dominated by the Ford five-star motif. The styling, with its slightly scalloped side panels and Rapier-type tail-fins, is reminiscent of the American Ford Galaxie but Fords claim that the car was developed entirely in Britain without outside influence.
The front suspension is of the well-known Mcpherson strut type with altered geometry to cater for the track of 4 ft 11/2 in, and a semi-floating rigid axle is used at the rear with leaf-springs and lever-type hydraulic dampers. The axle-ratio is 4.125 to 1. Fords have gone over to disc brakes for the front wheels, the choice falling on 91/2-in. heavily-shrouded Girlings, while 9 in x 13/4 in drum brakes are retained at the rear. Pressed-steel wheels with 5.60 x 13 in tubeless tyres are fitted.
The engine of the Classic, to be known as the 109E, is similar to the 105E unit but is fitted with a shorter throw crank giving a stroke of 65.07 mm. Compared with the 48.41 mm of the 105E. This gives a capacity of 1,340 cc and on a compression ratio of 8.5 to 1 produces 54 bhp at 4,900 rpm. A low-compression 7.2 to 1 head is available if required. In fact the 109F was designed first, the 105E being developed from it. The Anglia 4-speed gearbox is retained with the same ratios but a column-mounted lever is available as well as the standard floor-mounted gear-shift. The 109E engine will of course fit straight into the Anglia.
These, then, are the basic details of the Classic 315 (no one at Fords is very sure what 315 indicates) and for our impressions of the car prior to a full road test we were invited to the Ford test circuit at what used to be the Boreham race track. As the Press appeared on the scene other Ford prototypes were hurriedly hidden away, leaving only a number of Consul Classics for inspection and test. One enters the car through front hinging doors fitted with push-button handles which have rather strong “keeps” requiring some effort to pull the door to its full extent. The seats are of the split bench type, separately adjustable, having rather upright squabs. The 16-in two-spoke steering wheel with integral horn ring is well positioned, as are the pedals, the organ-type accelerator pedal being well placed for heel-and-toe changes. In front of the driver is a rectangular 100-mph speedometer, flanked on either side by square fuel and water-temperature gauges. Warning lights for ignition, oil pressure, main beam and direction flashers are incorporated in the instruments. To the extreme right of the facia is the rheostat-operated variable-speed wipers switch (which is depressed to bring the washers into operation on the de luxe model), a combined instrument/side-lights/headlamps switch, with foot dipper switch and on de luxe models a column-mounted stalk for daylight flashing of lamps, which is combined with the direction indicators switch. In front of the passenger is the cigar-lighter (de luxe only), choke control, ash-tray, glove locker and heater controls, the heater and demister being extra. At knee height is a full-width parcels tray and other extras on the test cars available only on de luxe models include twin sun vizors, coat hooks, padded arm-rests, two-tone body colours, floor carpets, rear compartment ash-tray, twin horns, chrome horn rings, bright metal exterior and interior ornamentation, door-operated courtesy light, two-tone trim, etc, etc.
The engine is started with the ignition key and runs reasonably quietly. The handbrake is released by a horizontally-placed umbrella handle and we headed the Classic onto Boreham’s deserted and rather neglected perimeter track, which was covered with deep pools of water. With two up the acceleration is not startling although 3rd gear will hang on for 65 mph, but on Boreham’s short straights the maximum speed indicated in top gear was a shade over 70 mph, although Fords claim a genuine 80 mph. It is also claimed that the Classic will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 23 sec, with average fuel-consumption figures around 32-35 mpg, giving a range of about 300 miles from the 9-gallon tank. Springing is rather soft which gives a good ride over bumps but allowes a good deal of roll on corners although the full cornering potential could not be reached owing to the soaking state of the track. The car apears to understeer normally but heavy cornering produces roll oversteer and some thumping from the suspension. The brake pedal has a surprisingly soft feel for disc brakes, although it is estimated that pedal pressure required is some 10% up on the Anglia. The pressure required will present no hazards to female’s “winkle-pickers” whilst still retaining excellent stopping power.
We were also able to sample a de luxe model with steering-column change which surprised us with its positive feel and absolute precision. Anyone who requires to carry three people in the front need have no qualms about using this lever.
It is difficult to give an overall impression of a new car based on a few laps of a test track and this will have to wait until we have carried out our normal road-test procedure, but it would appear that the Classic is aimed at the family motorist requiring five seats with good luggage capacity and not requiring exceptional acceleration and road-holding. In short, it will probably not appeal to racing or rally drivers [how disappointing; we had hoped that the new car would be a higher performance version of the Anglia but it appears to be just another family car.—Ed.] as it is over-bodied or, more accurately, under-engined, and the Works do not plan to rally the Classic.
The Classic does not replace any car but the Prefect is discontinued and will not be replaced. Prices are not yet available but the car will sell for less than the Consul. At a guess the standard model should retail at £700-£730.—MLT.