5.0 Power? 1953 Ford Zephyr Mark I

This British Ford Zephyr initially caught my attention because I think I had a matchbox version when I was a wee one. The thing is, this 1953 Zephyr has a whole lot of non-Zephyr-like stuff going on but it’s not promoted front and center. I actually read the listing twice to make certain that I grasped what’s going on here. This far-from-stock British sedan is located in Salt Lake City, Utah and is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $4,500. There is a make an offer option too. T.J. gets the high five for this find!

Ford’s Zephyr was a British mainstay and offered in differing series between 1951 and 1972. Most commonly found as four-door sedans, there were estates (station wagons), two-door coupes, and convertibles (conversions) offered too depending upon the intended geographical market. Our subject car, being a third-year offering, is technically known as a Mark I or a Zephyr Six (’51-’56), and I can’t help but notice the shrunken similarity to the ’49-’51 “shoebox” domestic (U.S.) Ford. While manufactured primarily for the U.K. market (production in Dagenham, England and Cork, Ireland) left-hand drive models, such as this example, were produced for U.S. sale. Total production of the Mark I, according to Ford’s Wiki, was about 152K copies.

Standard Mark I power was provided by a 2.2 liter, in-line six-cylinder engine which provided 68 HP and drove the rear wheels via a three-speed manual transmission. Our seller casually mentions that this Zephyr has been outfitted with a Ford 5.0 liter (302 CI) V8, connected to an automatic transmission and a 9″ rear axle. There’s barely an image of the engine and that seems like a marketing faux pas. The seller adds, “Needs driver side exhaust, steering & shifter linkage fabricated. It’s super tight with the new suspension” that front suspension courtesy of a Mustang (Mustang II?). The exterior sure isn’t giving anything away!

Speaking of the exterior, it’s in sound-looking condition – the finish still has a muted shine. There are a few primer patches in place, ostensibly to deal with surface rust but no significant rot or crash damage is noted. Additionally, all of the trim and fittings look to still be in place. I have to wonder about those smallish steel wheels and tires, I imagine that 5.0-liter engine could reduce them back to ground carbon black rather quickly!

Images of the interior are only fair. In this one, the steering column looks dropped/moved, perhaps a necessity with under-the-hood real estate availability. The vinyl and cloth upholstery has fared well all of these years as have the door cards. Even the headliner presents well with only some minor separation at the edges. There is an aftermarket engine gauge that has been added under the dash but there are no other indicators that hint as to what lurks under the bonnet.

Cool? You bet! I’m just surprised at how nonchalant the listing is – there’s no title mention of the significant powertrain modifications that have been bestowed upon this rather obscure little sedan. Picking up a project such as this, especially where another has left off, can always be dicey but you have to imagine how much fun this Zephyr will be when completed, right?

Comments

  1. Martin Horrocks

    Good value for someone with the skills.

    One thing, I don’t think there was a 2 door coupé of the Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac Mk1 ( convertible, yes). As you say, the design was intended to reflect the US 49 Ford, very radical for post WW2 UK.

    Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Right you are, there was a two-door utility for the Australian market.

      JO

      Like 1
      • Garry

        Jim, I don’t recall a Mk,1 ute in Australia. A Mk.2, for sure; I owned a wreck which I used for parts for my Mk,2 Australian Wagon. I still have its tailgate.

        The Mk.2 Australian ute used a Mk.1 windscreen for a rear window. Both the Australian Wagon and Ute differed considerably from their English counterparts.

        Like 1
      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        I could have my MKs mixed up.

        JO

      • Solosolo Solosolo Member

        This is an Australian Mk 2 Ute that was on a Birmingham, UK, motor show that I went to a few years back. I think the tail lights are from a Ford Consul and the wheels are after market.

        Like 2
      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        Love anything in Ute form, thx!

        JO

        Like 1
  2. luke arnott Member

    The Dinky Toys model was the Zephyr Zodiac,which had 2 tone paint etc.I am looking at one as I write,beige over blue,number 170.
    The Zephry was entered in the Monte Carlo Rally,I knew someone who competed.

    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      A Mk 1 Ford Zephyr actually won the 1953 Monte Carlo Rally in 1953 with Maurice Gatsonides as the driver. I have owned a 1953 Zephyr, and a 1955 Zodiac, both very strong cars except for the differential. My dog used to hear me coming from about 2 miles away and run towards me where I would stop to allow him to jump into the car! They did tend to turn over on occassion and the reason given was that they only had 13″ tyres. I also had Mk 2’s, Mk 3’s and the V6 Mk 4’s and to the best of my memory they ALL had 13″ wheels.

      Like 2
  3. Mafv8

    This was a popular engine/body combination back in the 80’s in England. Also the later Mk2 Zodiac and Zephyr models were used, also some of the engines used were highly tuned which made for some fast cars.

    Like 1
    • Garry

      The Constabulary used Mk.2 sedans in England.
      I recall a yellow Mk.2 sedan with a 5 litre V8 (Ford?) Ravi at Warwick Farm (Sydney) in the 1960s

      • Garry

        Of course Ravi should read racing.
        Not quick enough to pick it up before going to press!

      • Solosolo Solosolo Member

        And Mk 3’s, remember the TV show “Z” Cars? Not sure that they used Mk 4’s though as I had left UK by then and we didn’t get TV in Rhodesia until about 1960.

  4. Les Reed

    In this series (Mks 1/2/3/4) the earlier series is by far the best – to me.
    As each new mark came about, so the niceness disappeared – Les (London)

    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      Not quite Les. I restored a 1959 Mk 2 Zephyr Convertible, which was the best to my mind, followed by the Mk 4 Zephyr V6, 3 litre which was wider inside than the Chrysler/Plymouth Valiant that preceeded it. Three people on the front bench seat was no problem.

      Like 2
      • Les Reed

        All a personal choice!
        I’ve owned many of all these variants since 1967 – and I always thought the Mk1s were the most pleasant. Shame that here in the UK most of them finished up on the banger racing circuit – along with the Mk2s
        Mk2s were nice – to me.
        Mk3s were like driving a big old boat – and rusted pretty badly. They had the 4 speed gearbox – with so many pivots that wore out.
        On that score, the mk1s had a tight lever mechanism – and a small stick, which meant no gymnastics when changing gear.
        Mk4s?
        Bleaughh (to quote Charlie Brown) – flimsy panels/wallow all over the place/v6 often prone to overheating issues.
        Nah, I’ll stick with the Mk1 (in my mind).
        Cheers, Les (London)

        Like 2
  5. Ian

    According to the excellent Michael Allen book on MK 1s….6 Zephyr and 5 Consul utes were built locally in Australia. Stopped by Dagenham as based n their first monocoque shell and concerned by safety issues/strength

    I owned a 1953 Mk 1 Zephyr for 7 years – still miss it – despite being replaced by the mighty Mk II Zodiac that I had for 10 years

    Like 1
    • Garry

      Typical of English car makers! The Mk.2 ute was a little “beefed up” in the floor/frame area, if memory serves me right.
      The English overlords also interfered with BMC (Morris); they said a B Series couldn’t be enlarged to 1622cc!
      They also told Bob Jane that it wasn’t possible to take their XJ 6 cylinder motor to 4.2 litres!

      Like 1
      • Les Reed

        Thank you for your interesting diatribe – why you felt the need, I know not…
        English overlords?
        You are aware that the 4.2L was in mass production use in the 1960s – before the term XJ6 came into being?
        Your “prejudice” is overwhelming!

        Like 1
  6. Garry

    Les, I thought that the XK120 was the start of the XJ motors, perhaps I was wrong, but I don’t like to dwell on the negatives.
    The motor to which I referred was in a Mk.2 Jaguar. Bob Jane was perhaps the world’s best driver of those vehicles!

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