The elegant and long-anticipated replacement for the largely unloved Ford Zephyr/Zodiac Mk IV was once a familiar sight in corporate car parks, but catching a glimpse of a Mk I Ford Granada of any description today is something of an event.
Spy an estate (or, even more impressively, a coupé) and you’ll be tweeting about it for weeks. Happen upon an early Consul (as the base version was known until 1975) and we doubt anyone will believe you without photographic evidence, such is their rarity. The reasons for this apparent scarcity are many and varied (at least one was sacrificed in the famous opening TV title sequence of The Professionals), and while rust no doubt claimed a lot of them, we suspect many more met a grisly end on a banger racing track of some description. Owning one today, then, will definitely set you aside from the masses.
So, early Granadas may be super-rare, but they’re mechanically simple and, since they were big, spacious cars back in the day, serve as a handy family holdall today, with bags of space inside and a boot big enough to swallow an aircraft carrier.
Elegance, prestige, luxury, effortless performance and spacious comfort Ford’s contemporary sales literature for the Ford Granada promised all this and more, although whether anyone ever managed to wring the (also promised) 30mpg out of the four cylinder cars is possibly open to debate.
Unless you’re lucky enough to find a genuine 5.0-litre V8 Perana Mk I Granada (which was only ever sold in South Africa), your engine options are simple – four cylinders or six. Of the former, the earlier V4 has received considerable bad press over the years for its perceived unreliability, but it’s actually a much smoother engine than the later, stronger Pinto.
Essex V6s are the most desirable engine options, and it’s practically de rigeur for the big, handsome coupé, preferably allied to the beautifully slurred C3 three-speed automatic gearbox. Don’t expect sports car handling to go with the lazy power, though – these are cars for cruising in.
Inside, the Mk I Granada is very much of an age, with plenty of wood trim on range-topping Ghias.
MK I Ford Granada, 1972-1977
Power (bhp@rpm) 138bhp@5000rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 174lb ft@ 3000rpm
Top speed 113mph
Gearbox 3-spd automatic
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Rust is obviously a key problem area on any unrestored 1970s Ford, so make checking the usual places a matter of course. The higher-spec models do require particular attention, as corrosion can fester behind the profusion of chrome body embellishments, especially those fitted to the wheelarches and around the headlights/grille.
The generic door handles Ford used in the 1970s are known for their quirks. If a door won’t open unless you press the handle in before squeezing it up, then chances are it’s on its last legs. A door that persistently refuses to close, meanwhile, is usually as a result of the handle getting jammed in the open position, either through lack of use or from general wear and tear. This could point to broken or damaged innards, but try dismantling the assembly and re-greasing everything first.
Choose your engine wisely: both the 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre Essex V6s enjoy plentiful parts back-up, as does the 2.0-litre Pinto ‘four’, but the earlier (pre-1975) 2.0-litre V4, while arguably the sweeter of the two four-cylinder engines, has nowhere near the same level of support for non-service parts.
It’s a tricky and fiddly job, but it’s well worth checking the hexagonal oil pump drives, which connect the oil pump to a gear at the base of the distributor, for wear. Access is tricky and requires the timing to be re-adjusted afterwards, but the ultimate price for neglecting this is an oil-starved engine. While you’re there, it might be worth replacing the condensor and points with electronic ignition for more efficient running, even when hot.
Noisy tappets can usually be silenced by professional re-adjustment. If not, it can indicate that a previous owner has been less than pedantic about treating the car to regular oil changes, and/or has repeatedly used poor quality or recycled oil. More seriously, this can also point to blocked engine oil ways, which may necessitate a partial strip-down in order to remedy completely.
Contemporary magazine road test reports revealed that Mk I Granadas were known for their relatively inefficient ventilation and heating systems even when they were new, but today can indicate either a leaking matrix (check for wet carpets in the front footwells) or a simple airlock. If it’s the latter, brave DIY-ers may be able to release the lock, although it would be safer for a garage to rectify, given the high temperatures involved.
Discoloured and/or pungent gearbox oil is bad news, suggesting contamination or lack of maintenance, and can signify the beginning of the end for the otherwise bomb-proof C3 three-speed auto. The four-speed all-synchromesh manual is pretty much indestructible, and while driveline slop is rare, it is usually attributable to worn propshaft UJs.
Front brake issues are almost always as a result of simple lack of use, with chief among the most common problems being seized calipers and corroded discs. A rock hard brake pedal can be symptomatic of a perished vacuum hose, but if a subsequent strip-down reveals the hose to appear sound, the servo is most likely on its way out, and will need replacing. An uneven ride height, meanwhile, often points to a simple broken coil spring – replacements are cheap to buy and easy to fit, however, even for an experienced DIY-er.
Mint early interiors are becoming increasingly scarce, so beware any car that requires major work inside. What few parts are available are usually very expensive – it’s often cheaper (if little easier), to source a complete donor car.
The Mk I Granada has a magical certain something that makes it a truly appealing classic proposition. Part of its appeal must surely stem from its various starring roles in gritty 1970s British TV cop shows such as The Sweeney and The Professionals, but it’s a great car in its own right, being at once handsome (especially so in coupé guise), lazily powerful and hugely practical. Mechanical parts back-up is very good on all models (with the possible exception of the V4-engined cars) and the engines themselves are simple and largely bullet-proof. In fact, your biggest problem is probably going to be actually sourcing a car: well-preserved Grannies are available reasonably readily through the clubs, of course, but most projects will have succumbed to tin worm or banger ignominy by now. Find a good one, though, and you won’t regret it.