Reader’s restoration 1973 Ford Consul L
Readers’ restoration: When Dan Godley looked to get back into a Consul after a break, he had his work cut out finding one — until he lucked out with this L-spec survivor.
Words and Photos Jon Cass
Consul L gets a new lease of life
Dan Godley is certainly no stranger to a Mk1 Granada or indeed its almost identical Consul-badged cousin, but this 1973 2-litre V4 base model which was in desperate need of some major TLC happens to be one of the rarest he’s rescued so far. Dan’s affiliation to the Mk1 Granada and Consul of the same era stems back to 1978 when he was just two years old. “My dad bought a 1975 3-litre Ghia in Royal Blue which was originally a chauffeur-driven car for British Steel,” Dan recalls. “He kept it for six years, and that particular car really struck a chord with me.” A Mk4 Cortina Ghia became a reluctant replacement for that first Mk1, but Dan’s dad made a speedy return to his favoured model with a succession of Granadas including an early Mk2. “My dad preferred big cars and although he briefly owned a Rover SD1 V8 for a time, he quickly found he couldn’t get on with it,” Dan continues, “and my brothers also went on to own Mk1 Granadas throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.”
Inspired by the family tradition, Dan decided to continue the trend and went on the hunt for a Mk1 Granada to become his first car. While most 17-year-olds back then were hooning around in Minis, Fiestas or Escorts, Dan soon found himself smoking around in a 1977 base model Mk1 Granada 2-litre in Nevada Beige, “I paid £40 for it with an MoT, though initially it didn’t run,” Dan laughs, “I later added a low mileage 1973 Consul L 2-litre V4 in Pearl Grey with a Ruby interior to the fleet.” Further Mk1s and Mk2 were to follow, but in 2003, just before classic car values began to rise, Dan sold his last Mk1, a 2-litre L Estate in Diamond White. “I was without a Mk1 in my life for the next 10 years,” Dan recalls, “and it felt like something was missing.”
Time for another
Sadly, early Granadas had become quite a rarity by the time Dan began to track down a suitable project all those years later, “I had my heart set on another early Consul-badged car which are even rarer,” he explains, “this made my search that much harder.” Dan also had his sights set on a car painted in Evergreen Metallic ever since he saw one appear in a Swedish sales brochure, he’d bought 30 years ago. A seemingly impossible goal, for sure.
Yet, with likeminded friends and acquaintances, there was still a chance Dan’s dream could become a reality. “I first heard about this 1973 Consul back in 2008,” Dan recalls, “unfortunately, I didn’t have the space or funds to make a purchase and it was sold.” The vendor had been a breaker’s yard in Essex who at least had the foresight to advertise the car, but Dan feared the worst and expected this rare Consul to make an appearance on the oval at best.
“Luckily, it had been bought by an enthusiast in Norfolk who intended to restore the car,” Dan continues. “My friend, Rod knew him and kept in touch, hoping it may come up for sale again.” Sure enough, just a year later, Rod bought the Consul with the intention of turning it into a GT replica, but on closer inspection and having noticed its originality, he decided to offer the car to Dan instead.
“It’s quite a survivor, but much of that is thanks to the car’s second owner, Brian Baker who purchased it from South Essex Motors when it was just 9 months old,” Dan explains. “He’d paid £1095 with a trade-in allowance of £420 for his Cortina estate and went on to own the car for a further 30 years in Basildon, just around the corner from where it had been built.” Sadly, Mr Baker last drove the Consul in 1993 after suffering a severe stroke. “He kept hold of the car in the hope he would one day be able to drive it again,” Dan adds, “sadly that wasn’t to be and after a bizarre lack of interest from any advertising, the family had to pay the breaker’s yard to take it away!”
Despite that lengthy period in storage, which included numerous invasions by vandals, the Consul had remained unbelievably solid. “I began stripping the car down and was amazed to find the underside was virtually rust-free,” Dan smiles. “It had been Ziebarted from new and the rustproofing had done its job well. Once I’d scraped o the bitumen-based coating, the condition of the chassis and floor was unbelievable!”
The same applied to the engine bay and boot, though the exterior appeared less rosy, now covered in scabs and dents. “I repaired a small hole on the rear of the off side sill and the only new panels required were front wings,” Dan points out. “I took the shell to my favoured bodywork specialist, Glyn Short in Derbyshire for prepping and painting.” Fortunately, Glyn was able to remove the multiple dents including those on an almost unsalvageable bonnet, retaining as much of the original metalwork as possible. Once repainted in the rare factory colour of Evergreen metallic, Dan resisted refitting some of its original factory-fitted options such as the black vinyl roof, bumper overriders, Granada-style hub caps and wing mirrors in favour of a plainer look which he prefers. Without doubt, it now looked resplendent once again and unusually, the mega-rare fog lamp blanking plates remain in situ, too.
The 2-litre V4 is original to the car though a partial rebuild was required and Dan was pleased to discover most of the existing suspension units were reusable, too. “The springs and bushes were all good, other than the tie rod bushes, one ball joint and the track rod ends, “Dan recalls. “I fitted newold stock dampers and cleaned the Ziebart rustproofing from the suspension beds and rear axle before repainting these with fresh coats of satin black Hammerite smooth.”
Although Dan’s Consul is effectively an entry level base model, the interior is still a nice and spacious place to be. Those black vinyl, non-reclining seats and trim combined with faux wood instrument surround take you right back to the early 1970s, while those additional specified options continue inside with a Kienzle clock, inertia seat belts and a mirror located in the passenger sunvisor. “I’ve since retrofitted rear seatbelts and four-way hazard warning lights with the correct button switch using part of a later Mk1 Granada wiring loom,” Dan points out, “though I’ve resisted any temptation to fit a radio.”
While originality has remained key throughout this whole project, Dan has considered upgrading the four-speed ’box to a five-speed for improved fuel economy and cruising. “I’ve also thought about fitting a twin-choke Weber carb from a Corsair 2000E or early Capri Mk1 2000GT,” he says, “I may also upgrade to electronic ignition too although it does run really well on the old points ignition.”
As you’d expect, Dan’s immaculate and rare base model Consul has proved itself popular at shows, but despite his recent achievements he’s eager to get back in his garage. “I’ve just bought a late Mk1 Granada Ghia saloon with a factory-fitted 2-litre,” he smiles. “I plan to keep that one original too, though there will be a few very minor modifications.” It sounds like the Godley family tradition of resurrecting Mk1s is likely to continue for some time yet!
Thanks to: Rod Tebble, Richie Moore and Ian ‘Lefty’ Wright for invaluable advice and support, Glyn Short for prep and paint, and my wife Jo and daughter, Emily.
CONSUL OR GRANADA?
FORD’S DETAIL DIFFERENCES
The Mk1 Granada and Consul were launched in March 1972 and replaced the Mk4 Zephyr/Zodiac range at the top of Ford’s executive tree. The Consul badge was given to lower-specced, less-expensive models, while the Granada name was given to fully-equipped versions. Visually the two cars looked very similar, with only a few external tweaks to tell them apart. On the inside though, you could instantly tell which one you were sitting in. Although the Consul was by no means poorly equipped, the Granada had all of the goodies available at the time. These included a rev counter, oil pressure gauge and ammeter in addition to the Consul’s standard instruments, a revised centre console, the option of a vinyl roof, extra sound deadening, as well as tinted windows and a sunroof as found in top-spec GXL Granadas.
The Consul was available with either 2-litre V4 or 2.5-litre V6 Essex engines — the infamous Consul GT as seen in The Sweeney was fitted with a 3-litre Essex V6, but was the only Consul-badged model to do so. Ford then introduced the 2-litre Pinto to the range in April 1975. However just a few months later the Consul name was dropped altogether, meaning a complete shakedown of model names and trim spec. What remained was the Granada Base and L models, replacing the lower-spec Consul range, and the Granada 3-litre S, which replaced the GT Consul. Then you had the models that originally came from the Granada side of the family, including the GL, GLX, and Ghia.
TECH SPEC 1973 Ford Consul L
- Engine: 1996cc Essex V4
- Transmission: Type E four-speed manual, 3.89:1 axle ratio
- Suspension: double wishbone with coil springs at front, semi-trailing arms with coil springs rear
- Brakes: Front discs (solid) and M16 callipers, rear 9 inch drums, dual circuit, servo assisted
- Wheels and tyres: 5.5x14 inch steel wheels, 175HR14 radial tyres
- Top speed: 96 mph
- Acceleration: 0-60: 14.1 seconds (source: Autocar roadtest June 8, 1972)
- Price when new: (April 1973): £1236.65
SPECIALIST HELP The Motorist 01977 233200, themotorist.com
The 2-litre V4 sits in an immaculate bay and runs like clockwork.
Underside is finished to a higher level than Ford would have done.
“ONCE I SCRAPED OFF THE UNDERSEAL, I REALISED THE CONDITION OF THE CHASSIS AND FLOOR WERE INCREDIBLE”
Dan loves driving the Consul, but is now busy with a Mk1 Granada Ghia build.
Consul’s interior is basic by Granada standards, but still pretty sumptuous. Radio was optional extra, though… Left: Dan’s swapped the optional, full Granada-style wheel trims for these simpler Consul hubcaps.
- Dan missed buying this car back in 2008 so when he was offered it again, he jumped on it.
- The Consul had vandalised while in storage but even so was in good, solid shape.
- Carefully poking around, Dan found just a small area of rot in the corner of one of the inner sills.
- He removed the (optional) vinyl roof to find the original paintwork underneath.
- The original V4 was stripped, cleaned and painted and fitted with new bearings and rings.
- Meanwhile at Glyn’s bodyshop, the panels were all bare metal, prior to epoxy primer and fresh paint.
“IT’S QUITE A SURVIVOR, AND MUCH OF THAT IS DOWN TO THE SECOND OWNER WHO LOOKED AFTER IT FOR 30 YEARS”
Kienzle clock was optional extra.