In the aftermath of World War II,  the entire UK motoring industry took several years to convert themselves to the reality of a forward-looking peacetime economy.

Even at Ford, the UK offshoot of the American car making giant,  famous for their ruthless efficiency and drive for long-term growth, appeared to be caught up in the same doldrums with their early post-war cars nothing more than a collection of warmed-over Thirties designs and engineering platforms.

All this was to change, and dramatically, with the introduction in 1951  of  the Mark1 series of medium-sized family saloons starting with the  Ford Consul  and  Zephyr, with the top of the range Zodiac introduced two years later

The Mk 1 series were  Fords first real post-war models, giving a clear sign that the company was finally ready to move into the Fifties, creating a car which was ahead of its time and remained a classic to this day.

Along with the closely-related six-cylinder engined Zephyr and Zodiacs, the Consul provided a whole series of "firsts" for the company, as being the first Ford-UK unit-construction car, using a short-stroke overhead-valve engine, fitted with MacPherson strut independent front suspension as well as hydraulic brakes.

Add the use of small-diameter (13in) wheels and a smooth, modern body style, and the extent of the revolution was there to be seen and enjoyed.

 Later, as the model range developed, they would be the first to offer a steel-bodied estate car derivative, the first to offer automatic transmission as an option, and the first Fords to go on sale with front-wheel-disc brakes.

Inside their cabins, the Consuls gave off an atmosphere of pure Detroit, complete with bench-type front seats, and with steering-column gear change controls.

The Zodiac, a jazzed-up and better equipped Zephyr, came on the scene in 1953/54 (and, incidentally, pre-dated the Vauxhall Cresta, which aped the concept). All the bells and whistles included two-tone paintwork, exterior rearview mirrors, whitewall tyres, extra driving lamps, leather upholstery, with a radio available as a factory-installed option.

There was no Zodiac convertible option — that would come on the Mk II.

In their drive to shrug off the atmosphere of post-war austerity which had pervaded too long in the UK, Ford pulled out all the stops to offer different versions of the highly popular Mark 1 series.

A two-door convertible of the Consul and Zodiac produced for Ford by Carbodies of Coventry, went on sale in 1953, with the car becoming a great favourite of the “ Teddy Boy” generation with money in their pocket to spend on a “ head turner”.

> Another addition to the Consul range was an  estate car,  introduced in 1955, which was produced by coachbuilders Abbots of Farnham

A very successful yet highly simple machine, the Mark I Consuls were not as fast as he or more fast, nor particularly economical, but it was hugely successful mostly because they added much-needed glamour to the UK motor industry of that time.

 Motor historians would tell you that some of the later versions of the Marque being better mechanically and aesthetically, and even sold better.

 However the Mark I will always hold a special place in UK motoring history, while Ford will happily recall that no fewer than 225,000  Consuls / Zephyrs and Zodiacs rolled off the production line at Dagenham over the six-year period that they were in production.

The Mark I Ford Consuls / Zephyrs and Zodiacs proved to be a great commercial success, paving the way for the Mk II which followed in 1956 that would go on to do even better.

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