Ford's new Zodiac and Zephyr

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On April 20th, Ford of Britain announced its entirely new Mk. IV range of Zephyrs and Zodiacs, incorporating the expected V6 power units. The cars took their Press bows in Tunisia, which was perhaps an unfortunate choice since we saw our colleagues displaying more photographs of camels than of Zodiacs.

The cars possess a distinctive shape, with evidence of a strong mid-Atlantic influence. Indeed, at first glance they would appear to have at least first cousin relationship with the Mustang. The boot is outwardly rather small and seems quite out of proportion with the rest of the car, but the sweep of the roof line raking down to merge with the top of the boot has something quite appealing about it. Whilst the boot has been scaled down, so the bonnet has been exaggerated, and the overall effect is similar to that which would be produced by shifting the people compartment of a Mk. III Zephyr back a couple of feet. Perhaps the idea has been to cash in on the name that the Mustang has made for itself in competitions.

As the bonnet has been enlarged, one would expect it to house an engine similarly increased in proportions. Far from it! The V6 engine takes up less room than the former straight-6, and there is a huge chunk of wasted space forward of the radiator, the latter being supplied with its air current from an intake below the front bumper. The space in question houses the spare wheel, the Ford designers getting off the hook with the theory that this will absorb a certain amount of any forward impact and result in greater occupant safety. Personally, we would prefer to see the spare wheel where all good spare wheels should be and, if any additional space has to be put under the bonnet, the power unit spread so that work on it becomes that much easier.

Independent suspension is featured on all four wheels, that at the rear being of the semi-trailing arm-type with coil-springs and telescopic dampers mounted on a separate sub-frame.

The Zodiac is fitted with a 3-litre V6 engine fed from a twinchoke Weber carburetter and produces 144 b.h.p. An alternator and a dual headlight system are standard equipment. The Zephyr can be powered either by a 2 1/2-litre version of the V6 engine, or a 2-litre V4. The V6 produces 118.5 b.h.p. and the V4 93 b.h.p. Both versions are fitted with ordinary dynamos and Zenith carburetters and a single headlamp system.

A comparison of the specifications of the three cars (Zodiac, V4 Zephyr and V6 Zephyr) indicates that the Zodiac has far more refinements. It also has several of the items (oil-pressure gauge, ammeter, etc.) which we would like to see incorporated as standard equipment on all cars in the range. The instruments on the Zodiac are clustered quite neatly in front of the driver, with no stray gauge mounted over on the left to encourage straining the eye muscles.

On the face of it, the new Fords, despite the surface objections which we have raised, appear to be likeable motor cars, and a colleague who drove them in Tunisia said that the experience was a pleasant one (the cars, not Tunisia!). However, the proof lies in the eating and we reserve our final judgement until we are entrusted with a road-test car in the U.K.—G.P.