The Ford Consul Corsair (later known simply as the Ford Corsair), manufactured by Ford UK, is a midsize car that was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1963 and available as either a saloon or estate from 1964 until 1970. There was also a convertible version built by Crayford, which is now very rare and highly sought after as a classic. Two-door Corsair saloons are also rare, being built only to order in the UK, although volume two-door production continued for some export markets. Only one example of the fleet model, the Consul Corsair Standard, is known to exist.
The Corsair replaced the Consul Classic range and was essentially a long wheelbase re-skinned Cortina (the windscreen and much of the internal panelling was the same). The Corsair had unusual and quite bold styling for its day, with a sharp horizontal V-shaped crease at the very front of the car into which round headlights were inset. This gave the car an apparently aerodynamic shape. The jet-like styling extended to the rear where sharply pointed vertical light clusters hinted at fins. The overall styling was clearly inspired by the early 1960s Ford Thunderbird. This American styling cue was originally inspired by a styling study for the upcoming 1960 Ford Taunus in Germany that Ford designer Elwood Engel saw on a visit. He utilized its front end design in both the 1961 Thunderbird and Lincoln Continental.
The car was initially offered with the larger 60 bhp (45 kW), single carburettor, 1.5 L Kent engine that was also used in the smaller Cortina, in standard and GT form. The range was revised in September 1965, adopting new Ford Essex V4 engines, making it rough at idle and coarse on the road. This engine was available in 1663 cc form at first, but later in 1966, a larger 2.0 litre L version was offered alongside. One marketing tag line for the V4 models was "The Car That Is Seen But Not Heard", which was a real stretch of the ad man's puff, given the inherent characteristics of the engine. The other tag was "I've got a V in my bonnet". A 3.0 litre conversion using the Ford Essex V6 engine was one of the options available via Crayford Engineering.
An estate car by Abbott was added to the range on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and in 1967, the Corsair underwent the Executive treatment like its smaller Cortina sibling, resulting in the 2000E model with dechromed flanks, which necessitated non-styled-in door handles, special wheel trims, reversing lights, a vinyl roof, and upgraded cabin fittings. The 2000E, priced at £1,008 in 1967, was positioned as a cut price alternative to the Rover 2000, the introduction of which had effectively defined a new market segment for four cylinder executive sedans in the UK three years earlier: the Corsair 2000E comfortably undercut the £1,357 Rover 2000 and the £1,047 Humber Sceptre.
A five-seater convertible and a four-seater cabriolet conversion were available via Crayford Engineering. Only 18 Cabriolets were built using technology from Karl Deutsche in Germany. Only 4 are known to survive.
The Corsair's performance was good for a car of its type and period, with a top speed in its 2.0 L V4 version of 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) as measured by the speedometer, and exceptional acceleration at full throttle resulting from the progressive 28/36mm twin-choke Weber downdraught carburettor.
The Corsair was replaced by the Mk 3 Cortina in 1970, at which time the enlarged Cortina became Ford's mid-sized car, and a new smaller model, the Escort, had already filled in the size below. The new Ford Capri took on the performance and sporty aspirations of the company.
Over its six-year production, 310,000 Corsairs were built - of which approximately 350 are thought to survive. Conversely, of the 100 convertibles built around 75 have survived.
Between 1989 and 1992, the Ford Corsair name was used by Ford Australia for a badge engineered version of the Nissan Pintara (a version of the Bluebird).
Known during development as 'Project Matilda', the Corsair was produced under a model-sharing scheme known as the Button Plan. It was offered as a four-door sedan and as a five-door liftback, in GL and Ghia trim levels with 2.0 L (CA20E) and 2.4 L (KA24E) four cylinder engines.
The Corsair was intended to replace the Mazda 626-based Ford Telstar, which was imported from Japan. The two were sold side-by-side in the Australian Ford range, with the Telstar only available as the high-performance TX5 hatchback. However, it proved less popular than the Telstar, losing sales dramatically during 1991.
When Nissan closed its Australian plant in 1992, the Corsair was discontinued and the imported Telstar once again became Ford's main offering in the medium size segment, until being replaced by the Mondeo in 1995.
The Edsel Corsair was produced by the former Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln Division of the Ford Motor Company in the United States and sold under its Edsel marque in 1958 and 1959