Cars I have driven #12 – Ford Mk2 Consul, Lowline, and 375

23 Aug

I owned three 204E Mk2 Consuls in the early to mid 70s, respectively a 1960 lowline, a 1957 model and a 1961 375. All had the 1703cc 4 cylinder engine and a 3 speed column change gearbox.

The first, a pale blue Lowline with a white roof was bought from a colleague at Ross Foods and was not a great success. I knew the car well having had many lifts part way home in it, but I found out the hard way that it was on its last legs and it was delivered to the scrap merchant about three months later.

Having learned nothing I also bought the second one, a 1957  model, from a colleague, although by now I was working at Brown Brothers and knew that the guy I got it from was a meticulous mechanic and had spent some time rebuilding the engine in his garage; I’d sold him some of the parts.  Having got the car back together for some reason he had decided to sell and so I bought. This one was a good one, navy blue this time, but what Brian had omitted to tell me was that he had not run the engine in after the rebuild.

Not knowing that I had hardly been gentle with it and had run it pretty hard down to Lydden Hill and Snetterton a couple of times and also up the A5 to Brum in addition to general running around to and from work. Now those 1703 engines had a fair bit of  torque and I could drive from home to work and back in the rush hour in second gear all the way (I used to challenge myself to try and do the run without stopping. It’s good practice for your anticipation and traffic reading skills). The downside of those  motors was that they were a three bearing crank, so you could get some whip if you weren’t careful, and I had not been careful as I didn’t know the thing needed to be run in.

As a result the old girl ran her main bearing one Friday night as I dropped down the A5 into Towcester on my way to Birmingham for the weekend. In the end she passed into the hands of someone local who was able to take her away from the lay-by where I had been forced to abandon her. A shame because she was a good car and got me through the dark days of the petrol shortage.

The last Connie, 501 YEV, was a swap. I had my Moggie Minor van and one of my pals, a panel beater, had a lovely 375 that he had painted midnight blue with a diamond white roof. My pal had done the bodywork and sprayed it himself and it was a quality job. He had fitted a tow bar with the aim of fitting up a small trailer as a mobile spray workshop with a compressor and all so that he could do private bodywork jobs outside of work for extra cash. One night in the pub he bemoaned not having the time to build a trailer, nor to be able to find a cheap one to convert, and that a van like mine would be just the job. We swapped keys when we left the pub and swapped log books the next week.

That one saw me through some fun times and I would have kept it for longer, but I had got to the stage of having a company car (or sometimes a van) and there seemed no point in keeping both, especially when my pal made me a good offer to buy it back as he and his wife had started a family. You can see this car in the background of the photo here.

Viva HB and Consul Mk2 501 YEV

The Mk2 Connies (and their Zephyr and Zodiac big sisters) had been introduced in 1956 and the styling had more than a passing nod to the Ford Thunderbird. They looked good and drove well, even if they weren’t especially quick (top speed wasn’t much over 70 mph and 0-60 took a while), but they were spacious and reasonably stylish cars, very easy to look after, could take 6 people in comfort (bench front seat + column change helped). They had some foibles; the vacuum operated windscreen wipers could pause at embarrassing moments for one thing, but I loved them.

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