Ford Executive Cars
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Ford of Britain's "E" era started in January 1965 with the announcement of the Executive Zodiac and lasted until the demise of the MkIII Cortina 2000E a dozen years later. Stemming from Ford's discovery of the "executive", a new class of customer visualised as "a successful young married businessman seeking a four-seater sporting saloon with more comfort and status than is normal for this class of car", the Executive models succeeded brilliantly and fulfilled the need for those wanting "the best car in the range". This guide details the Executive Zodiac, Corsair, 2000E, Cortina 1600E, Capri 3000E, Escort 1300E and Cortina 2000E, status symbols in their day they remain some of the most luxurious and stylish cars ever produced by Ford.
Mk1 Escort 1300E
The Mk 1 Escort range was built between 1967 and 1974 and offered everything from a basic 1100 two-door saloon up to a two-litre fully-fledged rally car. The 1300E version arrived towards the end of MkI Escort production, being introduced in March 1973. It was originally produced at Aveley before the model went "mainstream". The 1300E boasted full instrumentation including rev counter, oil pressure gauge, battery condition indicator and odometer. Standard features included deep-pile carpeting, "walnut" wood trim and halogen auxiliary driving lamps. Sharing its engine with the Escort GT, maximum power was 75bhp @ 6000rpm, translating to a top speed of around 100mph and 0-60mph in 13 seconds. Only 11,000 Es were built in 1973 and 1974, making it one of the rarest Ford Executive models.
The luxurious Zodiac Executive first appeared in October 1966 and headed the Mk4 range with a remarkably comprehensive standard specification. Power steering was standard as was the steel-panel sliding sunroof. No-cost options were cloth upholstery in place of the standard hide (or vinyl), metallic paint, and the manual gearbox plus overdrive rather than the standard automatic transmission. Test by the motoring press early in 1967, the V6 Executive was found to be "a genuine 100mph car" and despite a laden weight of 31 ½ CWT, accelerated from rest to 60mph in just 13.1 seconds. A fine car, the Zodiac Executive laid down the foundation of the "all in" theme and later models in the Ford range were given the executive treatment with a great deal of success. Metallic colours included Silver Fox, Fern Green, Sapphire Blue, Evergreen, Glacier Blue, Pacific Blue, and Tawny.
The Ford Corsair started life in 1964 and slotted into the Ford range between the established Cortina and Zephyr models. Using many parts common to the Cortina, the early Consul Corsairs as they were known, used the 1500cc Cortina engine. Later in 1965 Ford switched to 1700cc and 2-litre V4 units. The 2000E began life in 1967 and reflected Ford policy to have an "executive" model in all its ranges. The 2000E was "de-chromed" compared with standard Corsairs and featured a vinyl roof.
It was March 1970 when the E for Executive marketing suffix was applied to the Capri to produce a £1,541 3000E flagship. Replacing the 3000GT at the top of the range, the 3000E carried all the usual X, L, R options and added some extra touches such as a vinyl roof, pushbutton Ford branded radio, electric rear screen, opening rear quarter windows and very welcome cloth inserts for the seats. Fitted with the "Essex" coded ex-Zodiac V6 engine, the early 3000Es provided a performance little better than that of the 2-litre V4 models, although from October 1971 the 3000E and 3000GT were fitted with an improved engine and were now capable of 122mph and a 0-60mph in just 8.4 seconds. At the time Ford described them as the "fastest production line cars ever to marketed by Ford of Britain".
Following the success of the Corsair 2000E, the Cortina 1600E joined the Executive range in October 1967. Created to fit between the GT and Lotus in the Cortina range, the 1600E succeeded brilliantly with over 58,000 examples being built in its three-year production life. The package was excellent, there was the usual "E" refinements inside the car such as wooden facia and plush seats and on the outside, sporty Rostyle wheels, driving lamps and neat black rear panel. The near-to-the-ground stance made the model both distinctive and desirable. Performance was good, using an updated version of the "Kent" cross-flow with a capacity of 1599cc and producing 88bhp, the top speed of the 1600E was around 98mph with 0-60mph acceleration in around 12 seconds. Price when new in 1967, £982. All home market 1600Es were four-door but a few two-door cars were built for export only.
October 1970 saw the introduction of Ford's new range of Cortinas. The new Cortinas replaced the MkII and incorporated new "Coke bottle" styling, so named because of the distinctive high rear waistline curve. The Cortina MkIII quickly became one of the most significant family models of the 1970s. Produced in a total of 35 basic variants, the top of the tree, and the replacement for the much loved 1600E Mk2 Cortina was the 2000E. It featured twin-choke Weber carburation and many luxury fittings associated with the "E" such as wooden facia and door cappings, deep pile carpeting, which carried on up the door base and luxury velour seating. The 2000E was also available as an Estate version, which made for an extremely practical luxury car.