The Carchive: The 1976 US Fords For Europe

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Welcome to this week’s first freefall descent into the bottomless chasm of The Carchive.

This series has so far showcased brochures of various languages and from various locations. Today, though, we’re truly going pan-global. This is an English language brochure, printed in Germany, about the American cars that Ford exported to Europe.

Throw an 8-Track on and pour another Asti Spumante, it’s 1976 again!

European Ford car buyers in the mid ’70s had a basic choice of four machines to choose from; Escort, Cortina, Capri and Granada (until the Fiesta arrived and increased choice to five), and that was it. Ah! no it wasn’t! If you approached your sharp-suited Ford salesman with the correct password and funny handshake, you never knew what he “might have out back”.

Although not featuring in their core portfolio, certain American Fords were offered to customers who thought to ask for them. In fact, Ford’s monthly updated full line brochure occasionally featured the Mustang, hidden right in the back pages somewhere.

This particular brochure was issued to show exactly how much choice there was, should the European offerings be insufficient for your needs.

Of course, the models discussed below will be dealt with in all their considerable glory individually in the fullness of time.

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“The Ford Mustang II has three outstanding virtues that are just right now. The economy of a small size car. A surprisingly high standard of luxury. And painstaking workmanship that you just won’t find in any other small car”

Would anybody reading like to verify that last claim? I don’t recall the Mustang II ever being celebrated specifically for heroic build quality. Or economy, come to think of it. Or, in fact, being particularly small.

“Then there’s the Mustang II Mach 1. It looks like a racer- but it’s sensibly budget minded too”

The Mach 1 was all about the cosmetics, and they went a long way to invigorating the Mustang and making it appear more special. There were bodyside mouldings, black lower bumpers and the bonnet  had a stylish tape stripe. Add in twin wing mirrors and the overall effect was. “really racy, and pretty smooth as well”

Or, perhaps your racing days are behind you? Well, there was also the Ghia:

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“….the car for the man who wants everything the Mustang II can offer- plus the ultimate in luxury”

Being that this was an American car in 1976, luxury meant a vinyl roof and opera windows. And pinstripes, of course. For absolute one-upmanship and to make sure everybody knew that you Mustang was the Ghia-est of all, you might plump for the silver and cranberry “speciality” Ghia, with velour deep enough to drown in. It was “so comfortable it’s almost sinful”.

So that was the the Mustang. That’s lovely, but what else might you have, perhaps something in a Sedan?

Well, Ford of Europe were already selling a Granada here, so they couldn’t very well sell another of those. But what if there was a US Granada with a different name? How about Monarch? Surely a more than suitable moniker for a motor to appeal to our traditional, Queen-loving, Royalist sensibilities?

Interestingly, the brochure doesn’t mention the Mercury name even once.

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“The Monarch is virtually a whole new concept of luxury saloons”

That was a pretty big claim, and one which might well have been lost on, well, everybody. In America the Granada advertising campaign had likened the car to a Mercedes, and that campaign had been met with modest approval. Across Europe there was no such specific marketing drive for either the Granada or the Monarch.

There was, though, the European Ford Granada, which was generally regarded as being pretty good.   Looking back at things right now, I’m struggling to think of much extra that the Monarch could offer.

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“To drive or ride in the Monarch Ghia is a real experience in lavish luxury- especially when you remember that this is really still a small-size saloon”.

 Yeah, there was all the quilted velour and wood-effect luxury you could ask for, and it was small, compared to a Bentley or a Forrestal class. This was really stretching the European understanding of the word. The standard 4.1 litre six was 1.3 litres bigger than the biggest Granada engine, and you could opt for an engine 1.6 litres bigger than that if you needed it.

That said, unless considerable modification work was carried out I doubt the 5.7 litre monarch was an order of magnitude faster than the 160hp 2.8i Granada.

This is a huge, sweeping generalisation, but I’ll guess that the vast majority of customers for Ford’s US imports into Europe were found among the thousands of US Servicemen and women stationed in the dozens of allied bases over here. I always remember seeing several UK registered Mustangs, as well as other examples of Americana whenever I visited RAF Mildenhall, Lakenheath, Bentwaters or Woodbridge. These, my four local airbases, entertained the USAF over the years to the extent that they became little pockets of the USA on British soil, and with that came a profusion of imported American cars.

Indeed, the outlying villages have adapted to serve these demands; there were electrical shops who would provide you with a Westinghouse refrigerator or a big Sears washing machine adapted for our weird, arcane mains supply. Because that’s what our American guests wanted.

The Mustang II and the Mercury Monarch sold here to people who wanted them. Not as the result of cross-shopping or common sense, but out of simple desire to own them.

(Disclaimer: All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. The Probe, Explorer and Cougar were all marketed here, and I liked them. In exchange for all the above, you got Merkur. Seems a well balanced exchange in hindsight)

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