1951 Ford Consul – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

The potential issue that comes with buying a project is that it can be more work than you perhaps anticipated. Of course, no car restoration is easy, but some can be more stressful than others owing to previous work, unobtainable parts or corrosion and damage simply too advanced to tackle with any degree of ease. Of course, that’s why we run our weekly Project Profile articles, in which we cherry pick what we hope to be the most worthwhile projects currently listed on Car & Classic. This week, however, we have delved into our own auction listings for a project and come up with this already restored 1951 Ford Consul. All the hard work has been done.

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Why, then, are we covering it as a project? Well, as you can see from the listing, this Consul needs a bit of putting back together. The vendor states that he will do as much of this as possible before the auction ends, but you just know there are going to be some jobs that still need doing. But that’s fine, because this car seems to be incredibly solid. It’s running and driving, it has had a bare metal respray and now it just needs someone to take it to the next level. This car, going off the strength of the pictures and the information in the listing, could very easily be a show car. Plus, when was the last time you saw a Mk1 Consul? A Zephyr, sure. But a Consul? A very rare thing indeed.

What is it? 

By the end of the 1940s, Ford needed to change things up. It needed a new family car, something modern and fresh to take on this most rapidly of expanding market segments. The car to do it would be this, the revolutionary Consul along with the bigger engine version, the Zephyr. It was a cutting edge car when it was unveiled to the world in 1950. A three-box saloon with a full body it was Ford’s first monocoque design for the British market. It was spacious, it was good looking and it was well made. Needless to say, it was a sales hit. Buyers flocked to Ford dealers to get both this and the Zephyr. However, today it’s the latter car that is more widely seen at classic car shows and the like. The Consul, being a base model, four-cylinder version was often forgotten in favour of newer, more exciting offerings. It’s ironic then that this once incredibly popular car is now significantly rarer than its Zephyr big brother.

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Why is it a project? 

This is an interesting one, as technically you could bid, buy and just drive it as is. Currently for sale on Car & Classic Auctions, this Consul has already been through an extensive restoration. The car has been repainted, it’s been given a mechanical overhaul and is now in the process of being built back up. Look at the listing, and you’ll see that many parts are still to be fitted, though we’re assured by the vendor that as much as possible will be done by the time the auction comes to a close. Of course, as well we all know, it’s never that simple, so the new owner will inevitably have to do some finishing off. But aside from that, this is a project because we believe this Consul has the potential to be something very special indeed. A show winner possibly. The paint is excellent, the condition is completely original, no Pinto or slot mags or other period ‘modifications’ in sight. It’s a rare gem, a Mk1 Consul in original specification. It’s a rare find, this. One that is going to be hard to find elsewhere. And being a 1951 model, it is an exceptionally rare example. One that will turn heads wherever it goes.

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Five things to look for: 

1) Rust

It doesn’t look like there is any rust at all, which is pleasing. So we say this purely as a cautionary act. It’s a Ford, and Fords like to rust. This car has been repainted, so should be free of any and all corrosion. But still have a good look, just to be safe.

2) Parts

The car is, at the time of the auction going live, still in a state of disassembly. The owner says he is going to have the car back together by the time the auction ends, but you just know the odd clip, fastener or bit of trim is going to be missing. So have a good look around, and make sure everything is there.

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3) Electrics

Again, this is just cautionary advice. Old wiring can be unpredictable, it can get brittle and break, and it can fail in other ways due to moisture and the like. It never hurts, for the sake of safety if nothing else, to have a good look at the visible wiring and connections to make sure everything is okay. Look for corrosion or any evidence of excessive heat.

4) Engine 

The engine wasn’t running when the car was photographed due to the owner waiting on some parts. This should hopefully have been resolved now though, and as such, you should be able to hear the four-pot run. Check for the usual smoke, low down grumbles and make sure it revs cleanly. They’re strong little engines.

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5) Paint

As we mentioned earlier, this Consul has been repainted in the original shade of Winchester Blue, and it looks resplendent as a result. But a paint job is something you want to check properly. We’re assured by the seller that this was a bare metal job, so it should be as good as, if not better than new.

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What should you do with it? 

There really is only one way to go, and that’s to continue this car’s journey back to being a completely original specification, restored example of a very early Ford Consul. It would be absolutely criminal to modify or change this car in any way. There are rougher, more tired cars out there should hot rodding or customising be your desire. This car should be buttoned up and enjoyed for what it is, a rare gem of a classic Ford that is near unrepeatable in terms of condition, age and specification.

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