The Ford Consul Classic, known as the Ford Consul 315 for export markets debuted in 1961. The Consul Classic was meant to be a scaled-down version of the American-market Ford Galaxie 500 for the UK market, envisioned to be “suitable for the golf club car park”. This tells you about Ford’s aspirations as per the target customer. However, launching was dragged into the Sixties, bringing the curious example of a Fifties-styled Ford launching into the Swinging Sixties. It’s no surprise, as the Galaxie 500 was a Fifties model, and it’s said that styling direction was dictated by Michigan, even for UK Fords.
Never mind, Ford decided to add some standard features that weren’t typically commonplace on UK cars at the time. The current owner shows me some of these, namely the “pull-to-flash” function on the headlamp stalk, the cigarette lighter in the dash, and the windscreen washer function. The pull-to-flash is particularly useful, as we must remember that many UK cars had this on the floor, and you had to lift your right foot off the throttle (or brake) to flash your headlamps.
This car came to Sri Lanka from South Africa, hence the Consul 315 badging on the rear, which was what export market cars received. UK market cars were simply badged “Consul Classic”. The car spent a significant amount of time in Gampaha, where it quickly became noted and recognized. After that, it passed into the hands of Ramal Jasinghe, who gave it a comprehensive restoration. The current owner purchased it from Ramal and has set about continuing the restoration efforts, particularly on the interior side of things.
The first thing you note is the reverse-raked rear windshield, which reminds you of the Ford Anglia – the “Yankee”, or “Harry Potter” car as it’s fondly known. Riding with the current owner in the front seat, it’s clear that this car can be driven on a regular basis, although the lack of AC and prevailing hot weather mean that I am sweating buckets. You don’t really want to fit AC to this car either, as it would dilute its character, as well as affect the performance.
You see, this car is powered by a 1,340cc pre-crossflow Kent three-bearing four-cylinder with a single carb, coupled to a four-speed manual transmission with synchros on the top three ratios, and driving the rear wheels via a live axle. A contemporary magazine at the time tested a 1961 Consul Classic and timed it at 22.5 seconds to 100km/h from rest, and it topped out at around 125km/h.
you, these figures were more than adequate for your average family car at the
time, and buyers weren’t likely to complain much. However, Ford did fit a
larger 1.5-liter crossflow Kent five-bearing engine in 1962 for better
performance, with an all-synchromesh four-speed transmission. With the Consul
Classic bowing out by 1963, it remains one of Ford’s shortest-produced models,
with a mere 111,225 Classics produced. While these numbers may seem
significant, they pale in comparison to other Fords at the time.
Two more factors of note are the front disc brakes and independent front suspension, which were considered advanced for the time. The rear retains drum brakes and a floating live axle suspended by leaf springs, which is apparent in the floaty characteristics of the ride, but it’s quite comfortable, and after a while you feel like you’re in a small boat, gently rocking with the potholes and bumps on the road. However, you won’t mind any of this as you take in the smiles and admiring glances from passers-by, as they appreciate a classic car from yesteryear.