Christopher Hubbard's biography
16/03/2010 11:05 | By Christopher Hubbard, MSN Cars Contributor

1967 Ford Corsair



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Tax-free Fords twin test

Ford Focus ECOnetic

The thing about the Focus ECOnetic - and Richard freely admits as much - is that although it may be clever and efficient and planet saving, it is unfortunately terrifyingly dull.

Yes, you can make flowers grow in the dashboard by driving sensibly, but will it ever plant the seeds of love? I don't think so. Which brings us rather neatly to this Ford Corsair.

1967 Ford Corsair

No mod-cons for long journeys
Built in 1967, three years into the Corsair's six-year model run, it isn't a direct classic equivalent of the Focus by any means. Essentially a rebodied period Cortina, Ford pitched it to its public as a bit of posh.

Hence the vinyl interior and the fancy veneer on the dash. But there's no radio, no satellite navigation - just a fantastically tactile thin-rimmed Bakelite steering wheel and surprisingly precise four-speed manual gearbox.

Being pre-'73, the Corsair is road tax exempt. But this is purely down to its age, and absolutely no reflection on the environmental tenderness offered by the unusual 1,996cc V4 petrol up front.

This is not an economical engine. There are no official mpg or CO2 figures to refer to, I can simply tell you it sucked 60 quid out of my wallet over a weekend, and I covered no more than about 300 miles.

1967 Ford Corsair

Green? Not quite, it drank £60 over 300 miles...
But every single one of them felt like an adventure. From the four or five attempts it takes to make it start on a freezing spring morning to the moment you lock the door and walk away at night you know you've actually travelled.

Not least because of the crippling pain the Corsair's rather rudimentary seats tend to inflict on the lower back. But brushing this to one side (everyone has to make sacrifices over something) this is a hell of a way to get around.

The Corsair is an unusual classic. The Euro-American looks certainly aren't to everyone's taste - not even when it was new - but the public reaction to seeing it on the road now is overwhelmingly positive.

People will let you out of junctions when you're driving this thing (though they may be less amused when you overtake them), they will point, and smile, and give you thumbs up.

1967 Ford Corsair

88hp 2.0-litre still keeps pace nicely
And in terms of simply getting places this 43-year-old Ford really requires very little compromise. Sure, the rudimentary - some would say prehistoric - safety levels give you pause for thought during every manoeuvre. But the physical process of driving isn't that difficult to get to grips with.

Yes, the unassisted steering is heavy, and the gearbox synchromesh appreciates it if you can double de-clutch. Yet in terms of raw performance the 88bhp V4 can keep pace with modern traffic - even if you do need to take it slower through the corners, the front disc brakes deliver respectable stopping power.

Of course, the thought of actually having to take sudden evasive action brings me out in a cold sweat. But this just teaches you to drive with more thought, consideration and circumspection.

Contemplating a tax-free Ford? Consider the classic route - it might just brighten up your life.

1967 Ford Corsair

Ford Focus ECOnetic

Twin test: tax-free Fords - old v new verdict

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1967 Ford CorsairChristopher HubbardMSN Cars ContributorChristopher Hubbard's biography2010-03-16T11:05:50The thing about the Focus ECOnetic - and Richard freely admits as much - is that although it may be clever and efficient and planet saving, it is unfortunately terrifyingly dull.Yes, you can make flowers grow in the dashboard by driving sensibly, but will it ever plant the seeds of love? I don't think so. Which brings us rather neatly to this Ford Corsair.No mod-cons for long journeysBuilt in 1967, three years into the Corsair's six-year model run, it isn't a direct classic equivalent of the Focus by any means. Essentially a rebodied period Cortina, Ford pitched it to its public as a bit of posh.Hence the vinyl interior and the fancy veneer on the dash. But there's no radio, no satellite navigation - just a fantastically tactile thin-rimmed Bakelite steering wheel and surprisingly precise four-speed manual gearbox.Being pre-'73, the Corsair is road tax exempt. But this is purely down to its age, and absolutely no reflection on the environmental tenderness offered by the unusual 1,996cc V4 petrol up front.This is not an economical engine. There are no official mpg or CO2 figures to refer to, I can simply tell you it sucked 60 quid out of my wallet over a weekend, and I covered no more than about 300 miles.Green? Not quite, it drank £60 over 300 miles...But every single one of them felt like an adventure. From the four or five attempts it takes to make it start on a freezing spring morning to the moment you lock the door and walk away at night you know you've actually travelled.Not least because of the crippling pain the Corsair's rather rudimentary seats tend to inflict on the lower back. But brushing this to one side (everyone has to make sacrifices over something) this is a hell of a way to get around.The Corsair is an unusual classic. The Euro-American looks certainly aren't to everyone's taste - not even when it was new - but the public reaction to seeing it on the road now is overwhelmingly positive.People will let you out of junctions when you're driving this thing (though they may be less amused when you overtake them), they will point, and smile, and give you thumbs up.88hp 2.0-litre still keeps pace nicelyAnd in terms of simply getting places this 43-year-old Ford really requires very little compromise. Sure, the rudimentary - some would say prehistoric - safety levels give you pause for thought during every manoeuvre. But the physical process of driving isn't that difficult to get to grips with.Yes, the unassisted steering is heavy, and the gearbox synchromesh appreciates it if you can double de-clutch. Yet in terms of raw performance the 88bhp V4 can keep pace with modern traffic - even if you do need to take it slower through the corners, the front disc brakes deliver respectable stopping power.Of course, the thought of actually having to take sudden evasive action brings me out in a cold sweat. But this just teaches you to drive with more thought, consideration and circumspection.Contemplating a tax-free Ford? Consider the classic route - it might just brighten up your life.More images of the Ford twin test152595179Ford Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOnetic1967 Ford Corsair1967 Ford Corsair1967 Ford Corsair1967 Ford Corsair1967 Ford Corsair1967 Ford Corsair1967 Ford Corsair1967 Ford CorsairFord Focus ECOneticFord Focus ECOneticTwin test: tax-free Fords - old v new verdictTwin test: tax-free Fords - old v new verdict