Selling your classic car? It's FREE to list your car on Honest John Classics | No thanks

Ford Zephyr/Zodiac Mk4 (1966 - 1972)

5

Zephyr/Zodiac Mk4

reviewed by Nicken9223 on 18 June 2015
5
Overall rating
5
How it drives
3
Fuel economy
4
Running costs
5
Cost of maintenance and repairs
4
Experience at the garage or specialist
4
How practical it is
5
How you rate the manufacturer
5
Overall reliability

Understated Elegance

Most people's reaction to this car if they saw one in the street would be 'What on earth is it?', the rest of them would ask 'Is that a mark 2 Cortina?'. The answer is a mark 4 Zodiac. It's easy to understand their misconceptions; back in the old days it was an uncommon sight on British roads. Now, it's virtually non-existent. Which to me is a shame, because the motoring press at the time commented on its handling, or rather lack of it, in particular. Every time I drive it, I think 'What the hell were they talking about?'.

It was never designed to be a tyre-screeching, rip roaring hot rod. Its sole purpose was to relax, waft along and visit every other petrol station on the way. It's impossible to compare the handling of an old car with that of a new one, because the technology is so much more advanced these days, and cars have developed a heck of a long way. Driving a classic is like visiting another planet to me! But it's safe to say I've have driven more modern cars which handle and ride far worse.

I'll get to the point. It drives fantastically. The steering is light yet perfectly weighted to the car's cargo ship size. And you need the optional power steering, I'd hate to drive one without it! The ride is sublime; with big squishy leather and soggy fully independent suspension you wonder if speed humps even exist anymore. Potholes and uneven road surfaces are smoothed out to such a degree that you hardly notice a thing. The rear legroom is also extremely generous-even with the front seats right back you could play tennis on the back bench.

Fuel economy is not this cars strong point; it never was. Mind you, who buys a classic just for how little it sips petrol? Expect to see 15 to the gallon round town, 18 on a run; put your foot down and expect around 10...but to me these figures are irrelevant. I don't drive this every day-every weekend if I'm lucky, so I only ever need to fill up 30 quid every couple of weeks.

I'm lucky to have the Zodiac, as it's fitted with the fabulous 3 litre 'Essex' V6 engine. It was the first Ford to use this engine, and later went on to power Capris, Granadas, and even Transit vans, so has a well-founded reputation for reliability, power and tuneability. Coupled with the floor change 3 speed automatic gearbox, it's a delight to behold, extremely smooth, quick and sounds glorious. It doesn't cough or splutter, it burbles and roars-it really is music to the ears.

I say I'm lucky, because the lesser specced Zodiacs, known as Zephyrs, were either fitted with a 2 litre V4 or a 2.5 V6, which are too underpowered other reviews have quoted. I'm also lucky because it's not just a Zodiac I own, it's the 'Executive'. This means it has leather seats, auto 'box, wood door cappings, wood dashboard, steel sliding sunroof and front spotlamps. Nearly every car these days has most, if not all, these features. But back in the day, it was a well-equipped motor.

Going back to the point of rarity, these cars were classed as 'banger bracket' motors even when they were just a few years old. Rust was the main killer; most ended their days on the banger racing circuits in the late 70's and early 80's. They were always in the shadow of its spiritual successor the mk1 Granada. The Sweeney's squad car in the pilot episode was a blue mink Zodiac Executive though....

To sum it all up-'why did you buy this car?' you may be thinking. Well, to me it looks fantastic, it's comfortable, being extremely rare adds it to the mix but most of all, proving that the negative reviews were wrong (in my opinion) gives me some sense of accomplishment. If you've read this review because you are thinking about buying one-get one. the owner's club is excellent; very supportive, very friendly (Unlike the Austin Metro owner's club!) and sell loads of new/secondhand spares. Also going through the club gives the best possible chance of finding the right car-a few have popped up on ebay recently, but I reckon they're too overpriced, being sold by bomb site 'garages' to make a quick couple of thousand quid. Oh by the way, I don't think things like a non-standard colour change are 'original' either, but that's just my viewpoint. Whichever model you find, Zephyr or Zodiac, you won't regret it. I promise you.

Specifications:

Engine- 2994cc V6 petrol High Compression
Power @ 144bhp (High Compression)
Torque @ 190lb ft (High Compression)

Performance-
0-60 mph about 10 seconds
Top speed 100mph

Gearbox- Borg Warner Type 35 3 speed automatic (floor change)

Mileage-70100

Full Service History-No

How much did you pay?-£1900

When?-June 2014

Where from?-Bedfordshire

Report as offensive

Write your review

About this car

Top speed95 mph
0-6017.0 s
Power88 bhp

Just reviewed...

5
submitted by Anonymous
3
submitted by Anonymous
 

Ask Honest John