Zephyr/Zodiac – Model Introduction


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    Kim Warner

      Regretfully I have very little personal knowledge of this model line since its existence preceded mine by quite a few years, also because there are not many around.

      What I have been able to glean, primarily from Wikipedia, is that there were four versions (MK I to IV) running from 1950 to 1972.

      The Zephyr was the base model, and the Zodiac the Upmarket model.

      MKI (1951-1956)

      Powered by a 51kW 2262cc OHV Straight 6, the first of the Zephyr/Zodiacs was essentially a lengthened version of the Consul available in either 4-door Sedan, 2-door Coupe or 5-Door Estate versions.

      The car reached a top speed of 130km/h and consumed petrol at a rate of 10.22 L/100km

      MKII (1956-1962)

      In line with the Consul, the Zephyr and Zodiac were restyled and the engine stretched to 2.553cc producing 64kW. The wheelbase was increased to 2700mm and the width increased to 1800mm. The weight distribution and turning circle were both improved.

      Top Speed increased to 142km/h while Fuel Consumption improved to 10L/100km.

      The rudimentary exhaust system fitted as standard equipment did strangle performance, a popular conversion at the time (Raymond Mays) boosted figures to 160km/h top speed (0-97km/h in 10 sec).

      A 2-Door convertible was offered with a power-operated hood.

      At first Drum brakes were fitted all round, but front disks became optional in 1960 and standard from mid-1961.

      MKIII (1962-1966)

      The Consul range was dropped, replaced by a 4-cylinder version of the Zephyr known as the Zephyr4. A 4 speed, all synchromesh, gearbox was standard, with overdrive or automatic transmission available as options.

      The Zephyr 6 was powered by an uprated version of the same 2553cc straight 6 engine now producing 15 extra kW along with an improved torque range.

      The Zodiac version was externally distinguished by limousine-type rear doors, sharper roofline, 4 headlights and exclusive bumper bars. Internally by plusher seating and better upholstery, dashboard and fittings.

      The standard 6 cylinder car had a top speed of 162.1 Km/h and accelerated from 0-97km/h in 13.4 sec’s. Fuel consumption was listed as 12.5L/100km.

      MKIV (1966-1972)

      A completely new car, now using the Essex V4 and V6 engines and fully independent suspension and disk brakes all round.

      The new model attracted initial criticism for it’s tendency to over steer uncontrollably in wet weather, this was addressed by fitting radial-ply tyres instead of the standard (at the time) cross-ply tyres along with a retro-fit to earlier examples.

      Unusually, the extra under-bonnet space liberated by the compact “V” engines was put to use by relocating the storage of the spare wheel to ahead of the radiator.

      South African Versions received the 2994cc “Export” version of the Essex V6.

      The Zodiac line featured 4 headlights, an alternator (instead of the usual dynamo), an adjustable steering column, a heater, Aeroflow ventilation, electric window washers, a cigar lighter, a tachometer, clock, ammeter and reversing lights as standard equipment.

      Poor sales, led to the decline of the Zephyr/Zodiac line and was replaced by the all new Granada during the latter half of 1972.

      An Automatic version of a Zodiac Executive was tested by Autocar Magazine in 1967:

      Top Speed 160km/h
      0-100km/h 13.1 seconds/h
      Fuel Consumption 16.4L/100km
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