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Homepage. This page: A Kodakcolor print of a MkIII Zodiac in a London street scene, dated 1963.

Ford Zodiac Mk III.

I doubt that the taker of this photograph realised that fifty or so years later, the vehicles - including a Ford Zodiac Mk3 - captured on film driving around Trafalgar Square in London, would have been of much interest to anyone. Yet they certainly are. As a snapshot of a moment frozen in time, this photo not only portrays the cars and buses vying for position on the capital's roads, but also the pedestrians, and the typical dress sense of anyone heading out in the early 1960s.
The Mark III Zodiac can be seen to the left of shot, its driver braking to slow the car down in order to avoid the van in front. The 2,553cc Mk3 Zodiac was introduced with the rest of the be-finned Mk3 Zephyr/Zodiac range in 1962, making the car shown here in August 1963 a comparitively new example of Dagenham's flagship model. While similar in style to the Zephyr 4 and 6, the Zodiac was significantly different in detail. For instance, the trim between the rear lamps was unique to this model, as was the glistening front end trim and quad headlamp arrangement. The structure was also much-modified, incorporating as it did slimmer rear screen pillars, accommodating an extra opening quarter window set in behind each rear door. For those with more cash to spend from 1965-on, an Executive variant was also offered.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size Zodiac image.)
1962 Ford Zodiac Mk III car
The specification of the Mk3's interior depended very much on the depth of the purchaser's pockets. Drivers resigned to the bottom-of-the-ladder Zephyr 4 for instance, at first anyway, had to make do with rubber floor coverings, shiny metal dash inserts, and a simple central horn button. Later 4's would go on to incorporate some of the 6's specification. Zephyr 6 buyers could bask in a cabin whose floor was lined in carpet, while the bright metal dash inserts were replaced by wood grain items, and a full horn ring offered a dash of glamour that owners of the '4' could only dream of. The seats were trimmed in either PVC, or "Saranweave" cloth which was a no-cost option, and infinitely preferable on a hot, sticky, summer's day.
The oppulent Zodiac, the subject of this page, was yet more luxurious. The seats, packed with extra padding, were covered with super-soft "Cirrus" PVC as standard. The options list though offered the possibility of parking one's behind on seats covered with crushed hide, or Bedford Cord, at extra cost. Dash panels fitted with simulated walnut complemented the extra soft facia padding, while controls for the standard-fit heater, screenwashers, cigarette lighter and trip mileometer added to the upmarket feel. The large aluminium alloy grille surrounding the Zodiac's four headlamps, coupled with deeper bumpers, bumper overriders, and other extra brightwork, ensured that passers-by and fellow motorists knew that a Zodiac rather than a mere Zephyr was in their midst.
Including Purchase Tax, the Zodiac at its launch would have cost its owner 1,070, compared to 846 and 929 for the lowlier models. The cost of a new Mk III Zodiac compared well the list price of the outgoing Mk II Zodiac, being only 50 or so more expensive, for a much improved design all round.
Revisions for 1963 would include revised door and seat trims, while at the back built-in reversing lamps would now feature. The bumper overriders would now include rubber inserts, while a floor-change gear lever option would now be listed, a perfect match for the individual, rather than bench, front seats that could also be specified.
In 1965 the Executive would go on sale. An automatic gearbox came as standard for the new top-spec version, while features hitherto available as options only to Zodiac buyers, would be standard fit on the Executive.
This old photo features, in addition to the rakish Ford, a pair of red London Routemaster buses, a glimpse of a black cab, and a swish single-decker coach.
Return to Page 16 in the gallery of classic vehicles.

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