But it is so much more. And I know, because I recently tried a Consul on a beautiful summers day.
It is a sultry Friday back in August 2016. But only literally speaking. This was also the case last time In late August, when I swung a Ford Consul on to the back roads in Jutland and became very pleased. Once again a wonderful fact about our hobby was confirmed; that good times with classic cars doesn’t depend on neither price, prestige or power.
There, behind the wheel of an orange Ford Consul 2.3 station wagon, in what second and on those roads – it was as if the time once again was 1973 and it was as you know, before things went mad. The maize was not genetically modified, the sun shone through thick and safe ozone layer and cars had rear-wheel drive and smoking in them was allowed.
There’s gonna be some scabs out there who will point out that everything has improved since and it is very possible – but it has at least not been cozier. And cozyness was this Consuls’ strength.
I have rarely run into a classic with a more sympathy-inducing effect. Even on the short trip I received appreciative greetings and when I stopped by my parts supplier on the way home they were fresh with words of praise and nearly a discount too: “What a nice car you have,” and I would really rather confirm than smudge in that it unfortunately was not mine.
Because I thought it was an incredibly nice car, the orange Consul. All played up to strike the right mood and precisely this very original car was – complete with its light patina – perfect for playing time warp. The colour orange so definitely absolutely belongs to the seventies. Among the more recently modern retro colors, no one have yet dared to tackle the soft warm orange color in its pure form as this Ford truck. And no, I do not think it is ugly and no, I could never find it in me to paint it.
Which is also how the car’s current owner also feels. He took over earlier this year from his family, and he remembers the car from his distant childhood, roughly as it is, which of course gives it a great sentimental value. The rest of us can be comfortable with the idea that the Danish roads also in the coming years will house the orange station wagon, because the owner is very happy about it. My trip back in August was also on the way to its winter hibernation, so we certainly run no risk of loosing this car in the coming years.
This is also how I imagine the original Consul-owners must have been: Originally I thought at least they had all kinds of insurances, belt and braces and an extra set of underwear in the cargo bay. But it may very well indeed be wrong, for although Consul is not a prestige vehicle of mighty value today, it was at the time the highest ranking in the “European Ford’s” hierarchy. Or rather, the second highest – Granada was the top.
And so we arrive at the big question – is it not the same, Granada and Consul? No, not quite: Consul existed as name for this car from 1972-1975 and was a cheaper version of Granada – to put it simply. The mechanicals are the same, so I guess that the driving experience can’t be very different.
It is good, I can tell you – a Consul can be more than a cozy place: With a 2.3-litre “Cologne”, the engine is only a class below the highest possible, and even though Ford V6 are often criticized for being primitive and worse, they have no problem in delivering smooth nature and a lot of torque. It’s not a tomboy of a high rev’ver, but it would frankly be totally out of character with the car here.
Relaxed on the border to being lazy seems to be a proper description, but there is a great surplus of force and thus the car isn’t slow. I ran soft-hat-drive that fit the car well, but I can read that Granada / Consul series actually was known for very fine handling. Not sporty, but safe and comfortable.
It will also helps the speed potential that this has a manual transmission. Which is a really well-run four-speed box that made me extremely jealous. My own Reliant Scimitar also has a Ford V6 (an “Essex”) with a four speed gearbox, but the Consul one changed infinitely better – all at once easier, more precisely, with shorter movements and much faster. Now, you do not actually switch gears very much in a V6-Consul, but it was certainly a pleasure to do it anyway. I refrained from using many revolutions, but also feel that the smaller the Cologne engine runs more ‘round’ and easily than my larger 3-liter Essex, and also has a nice sound meanwhile.
The combination of beautiful sound and the transmission is nice to play with, but as I said not particularly necessary: It is also due to the Consul, like many other older cars have quite a low gearing. You quickly find yourself in fourth gear, and you have to encounter choppy curves before having to wind down. It provides a relaxing drive on country roads, but on the motorway it has the opposite effect. It does of course manage, but not without feeling busy.
And it’s a pity when you otherwise enjoy the soft seats. Sitting here is good, and the cabin is beyond comfort and also just absolutely enormous. The Granada from 1972 was with a width of 1.79 meters an unusually wide car and it provided plenty of good space inside. In this estate there is even more, yes space seems almost absurd, and load length with laid down rear seat is about two meters. It is something that demands respect, and I could not help thinking of how comfortable a family could travel on holiday in such a time, back in 1973. Imagine swaying softly through Europe with 2.2 children in the back seat and still plenty of room for the large family tent and a childrens’ tent before the pop-up glass fiber.
Those are who I see in the cabin and behind the wheel: Families. Perhaps father and mother alone. Maybe Dad at work with big things in the back – items or tools. Mostly the first, I think – the Consul does not so much strike me as a van for craftsmen. The only one I can remember from my childhood belonged to the city’s hotel director. While I cannot remember if it was a Granada or Consul, I know, however, that it was a coupe. Which I usually prefer, but not here: This Consul with its huge station wagon body – that would be my choice. It is well proportioned for it’s size, almost elegant – and so it has rarity on its side. And then there is the great utility value, which selas the deal for me.
It’s not sexy, no. But it’s so much more. Including its relative modernity, usefulness and as I mentioned, and as I said it’s crazy cozyness.
Or what do you say?