Rumblings, June 1962

Another very good motor car

In this space last month we wrote of the Volvo 122S with the high-output B18 engine, describing it as a very good motor car indeed. This time another very good car, tested recently over a matter of 1,200 miles in ten days, finds itself on this page—the Ford Taunus 17M with the new 77 (gross) bhp 851 x 76.6 mm (1,758 cc) TS engine.

Last year we reported on the normal Taunus, concluding with the words : “Ford of Cologne have provided in the latest Taunus 17M features that combine to make this a splendid touring car which it is virtually impossible to fault.”

Now comes this TS version, the same excellent “compact” saloon, modern as they come, with enhanced performance. Whereas we got 88 mph from the 1961 Taunus, the TS version has a top speed of 921/2 mph. It also returns quite outstanding acceleration times : 0-50 mph in 10.3 sec, 0-60 mph in 15.7 sec, 0-70 mph in 23.5 sec and the ss 1/4-mile in 20.2 sec. Impressive figures for a 6-seater family saloon with a very big luggage boot. Moreover, the extra 60 cc and 10 bhp of the TS engine has had very little effect on the quite exceptional fuel economy of this remarkable car, which is a credit to the Solex PICB carburetter. Overall, we got 32.9 mpg of Super (not 100-octane) petrol— this with four crossings of London and hold-ups in the Easter traffc—which compares with 33.8 mpg from the 1,698-cc version, and 33.6 mpg on a cross-country run compared with 35.6 mpg. Clean bodyshape and a 3.56-to-1 top gear (3rd =4.87 to 1) assists this admirable conservation of fuel.

Apart from its higher output and improved torque, the TS Ford Taunus has all the good features of the normal 17M, which were outlined on pages 563-564 of Motor Sport for July 1961 — the light steering, exceptional visibility from curved windows and big screen, good finish, sensible maps and parcels’ storage, quiet gears, comfortable seats and silent running, etc. Its appearance is attractive, although slightly reminiscent of a blancmange that hasn’t quite set.

This TS Taunus had separate front seats instead of a bench front seat, these being of generous dimensions, nicely upholstered in vinyl-cum-flecked leathercloth (very smart), with easily adjustable squab rake. Between these seats is a very useful locker, its lid upholstered so that three people can sit in front if necessary.

The Taunus has a very light and precise steering-column change for the all-synchromesh 4-speed gearbox, which occasionally jams after reverse has been engaged but is easily restored to silky smoothness by momentarily re-engaging the reverse ratio. If it calls for rather excessive movements, like conducting an orchestra, it is one of the nicest column-shifts yet encountered. There are press-button minor controls, an accurate, graded but uncalibrated petrol gauge, an accurate Vdo clock, coat hooks, 2-speed wipers, foot-operated screen-washers, grab-handles, map-light, luggage boot light, sill interior locks, vanity mirror, fitted carpets, twin-tone horns, and very excellent asymmetrical headlamps for safe night driving, whether on dipped or full beam. Incidentally, a praiseworthy lighting detail concerns the fact that the headlamps are switched off in conjunction with the ignition, so that a Taunus is unlikely to be parked with its lamps ablaze—one of the worst and most thoughtless of motoring misdemeanors! Reversing lamps are standard and there are fittings for US-type safety belts. Greasing of the chassis has been eliminated entirely.

The n/s quarter-light emitted an irritating air-whistle which was cured by opening its opposite number — apparently snow is also blown clear of the screen, so Taunus aerodynamics are both interesting and practical.

Altogether the Ford Taunus appeals to us very strongly. After 1,220 miles approximately a pint of oil was required and the car had been entirely trouble-free. The Whitewall Dunlop B7 tyres were out of sight and out of mind, an unavoidable encounter at speed with a projecting concrete slab, sufficient to dent the off-side front rim, having no adverse effect on the tubeless cover.

The body/chassis structure, protected by softish suspension, is free from all but mild shudder. The heater is fully up to its job and decently sensitive. The weakest feature concerns the brakes, the pedal having a long, stiff travel before anything very much happens, although a hard push produces quite adequate retardation and the effort required at least obviates wheel-locking, which was appreciated in one incident we experienced on a wet road. But disc front brakes instead of the present all-drum 9-in Teves-Ford brakes would be a welcome innovation on the Taunus.

Herr B Osswald, head of chassis and engine development at Ford’s Cologne plant, points to the new solid cast crankshaft of pearlitic modular iron in conjunction with special steel-backed lead-bronze bearings as showing that durability as well as higher power has been built into the TS power unit. This crankshaft uses a new type of modular iron characterised by an absence of destructive ferrite particles around the graphite modules, and free from cementite to a depth of at least 5 mm. The internal structure of the metal is built up with careful additions of manganese and copper to the iron — expensive but long-lived. Microphones recorded the noise of various experimental crankshafts using identical bearing clearances, until the quietest design was discovered for the TS engine. In addition, new ducts between main and big-end bearings increase oil flow from an increased capacity pump. The increase of cr from 7.0 to 8.5 to 1 was achieved with higher pistons and by milling the head. In other words, the 77-hp 1.7-litre Taunus TS engine is a revised design, not merely a tuned power unit. It gives 104.9 lb/ft torque, instead of 97 lb/ft, at 2,500 rpm and the enhanced power at 200 higher rpm.

The Ford Taunus is in all ways a very fine family car. Ford of Dagenham seem to have borrowed some of its good points, such as the 4-speed all-synchromesh gearbox and curved glass, but we doubt whether this will in any way undermine sales of the Taunus. Lincoln Cars Ltd., Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex, can supply the new 4-door TS version for £1,428 19s 6d, inclusive of import duty and purchase tax. The normal 4-door 17M costs £1,169 1s 10d.—W B.