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Big comfy seats? Check. Plenty of extra gauges? Check. Acres of wood veneer? Check. Of all the best appointed classics, here are the top 10 luxury Fords.

Mk4 Zephyr-Zodiac Executive

top 10 luxury fords

The Flying Pig was the nickname of Ford’s forth-generation Zephyr-Zodiac – thanks not to its transatlantic styling but its wallowy independent rear suspension’s vomit-churning ride. Yet its slab sides and long bonnet (which housed the spare wheel) ooze retro-cool, especially in quad-headlamp V6 Zodiac form.

October 1966’s flagship Ford Executive took the 136 bhp 3-litre Zodiac and included power steering, leather upholstery, automatic gearbox (overdrive manual was a reduced-cost option), sunroof, walnut fascia and door cappings, driving lights, extra chrome strips and star badge on the grille. October 1968 added FORD badges and padded steering wheel, while 1969 witnessed revised suspension and redesigned cabin. Cloth seats were optional from 1970 but the last all-British big Ford was dropped in December 1971.

Granada Coupé

While British buyers lusted after The Sweeney’s Consul GT, our German cousins were given a Coke-bottle-styled Granada coupé from 1972. Its square-shouldered facelift arrived in the UK from July 1974, only in 138 bhp 3-litre Ghia guise with cross-hatch grille, fog lamps, 5.5×14 inch steel wheels with colour-matched hubcaps, vinyl roof and rear panel, sunroof, tinted glass, opening rear windows, Beaumont fabric upholstery, PAS and autobox; manual was optional.

luxury fords

For 1976 there were new instruments, 14 inch alloys, laminated windscreen and remote door mirror, plus Pinto-powered 2000 Ghia coupé — so underpowered it lasted until April. Metallic paint and Signal shades were optional, and air conditioning could be specified as an SVO. Sadly, there was no coupé when the Mk2 Granada arrived in September 1977, leaving most Mk1s sadly banger-raced into oblivion.

Scorpio Ultima

Less popular than a shark in a swimming pool, the palatially-appointed Ultimata appeared in January 1995 as the top-of-the-line Scorpio. Built as four-door saloon or estate, engine choices were 134 bhp 2-litre, 145 bhp 2.3, 148 bhp 2.9, 204 bhp (Cosworth) 2.9 24-valve or 113 bhp 2.5TD. Ultra-luxurious spec included cruise control, electric sunroof, front fogs, climate control, trip computer, footwell lamps, CD changer, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and driver’s seat memory. Heated leather seats were optional.

top 10 luxury fords

The 2-litre and 12-valve 2.9 were dropped in August 1996, then October 1997 brought slighlty-less-minging styling, with smoother grille, tinted headlamps and multi-coloured back lights. Leather was now standard, along with central rear headrest. Production ended in July 1998, and the big Ford was never replaced.

Sapphire 20o0E

As a spiritual successor to the Cortina 1600E, the Sapphire 2000E didn’t offer enough sporting appeal. But the 2000E boasted a seriously generous specification — based on the 123 bhp DOHC Ghia automatic (five-speed manual was a no-cost option), it added Shadow Grey leather upholstery and Cosworth three-spoke steering wheel, vinyl door panel inserts, air conditioning, all-round electric windows, heated windscreen, trip computer and headlamp wipers.

top 10 luxury fords

The suspension was stock, but there were Scorpio-style four-stud 5.5×14 inch alloys, and optional ABS. Two-tone metallic paint was standard (Stratos Silver, Flint Grey or Tasman Blue over Moonstone), although late models were offered in single-tone bodywork. A colour-coded grille, clear indicators and smoked rear lenses arrived in 1990 (along with cat/118 bhp), but the E was gone by August 1991.

Escort 1300E

Rolling in the Cortina 1600E’s wheeltracks, March 1973’s executive Escort 1300E — called Special Campaign — was assembled at Aveley to keep AVO afloat. Based on the 72 bhp Sport, it added rectangular headlights, Lucas driving lamps, cloth seats, cherry veneer trim, centre console and cut-pile carpet. Standard metallic paint was complemented by vinyl roof, coachline, driver’s door mirror and 1600E-sourced badges on the rear pillars.

top 10 luxury fords

Production transferred to Halewood in October 1973 for the Series Two, now based (usually) on an XL, adding more body and cabin colours, Beta cloth upholstery, opening rear windows, 1300E badges and E crests on the pillars. A four-door joined the line-up in April 1974, alongside the near-identical export-spec GXL. Collectible today — and a comfy alternative to typical Mk1 Mexico reps.

Corsair 200oE

Ford’s first mid-sized executive express — and the first to wear an E badge — was the Corsair 2000E of January 1967. Replacing the unloved Corsair GT, the 2000E used the same Thunderbird-inspired styling, blinged up with horizontal-bar grille, fancy wheel covers, black vinyl roof, walnut-veneer fascia, reclining seats and deep-pile carpets. The 2-litre V4 was tuned to 97 bhp, and revised gear ratios (resulting in the famed 2000E gearbox) meant the Corsair could top 97 mph.

top 10 luxury fords

Four-door saloons or estates were available, and automatic transmission was optional. May 1967 added chrome window surrounds, while September saw cabin revisions including a clock in the centre console and bucket-style rear seats. FORD badges appeared on the nose and tail in September 1968, but the Corsair was deleted in June 1970.

Granada Ghia X/Executive

Executive by name and exclusive by nature, the Granada Ghia X Executive of April 1984 was to the Ford Cars brochure what the lingerie section was to the Littlewoods catalogue: pleasant to behold and suspiciously prone to falling open on that page. While the regular Ghia X received air conditioning, electric sunroof and electric/heated seats, the Executive added grey Connolly leather trim (not heated) and circular front driving lamps.

Automatic transmission was standard (a five-speed manual was a no-cost option), mated to a 133 bhp 2.8 Cologne V6 or 148 bhp 2.8i, which included goodies from the Granada 2.8 Injection: rubber front spoiler, uprated suspension and metric Michelin TRX alloys. Sold as a saloon only, Ghia X Executive remained in production until February 1985 — when replaced by the Granada Mk3.

Cortina 1600E

The car that fired up Ford’s executive express credentials, September 1967’s Cortina 1600E was a magical mix of business and pleasure: heavy-duty four-door body, Lotus suspension (including radius rods), GT instruments, the first outing of Ford’s Crossflow powerplant, plus a wealth of luxuries: American cherry dashboard and door cappings, reclining seats, centre console, driving lamps, chrome rostyle wheels, black grille and special badges; a vinyl roof was optional.

top 10 luxury fords

Series Two from November 1968 incorporated new fascia, floor-mounted handbrake, black rear panel, half-chrome rostyles, unique seats and different badges: FORD lettering on bonnet and boot lid, plus blue (instead of red) grille emblem. All Dagenham-built, the last 1600E left the lines in August 1970. No official estates, but export markets were offered a Series Two two-door 1600E. A true cult classic.

Mk2 Escort Ghia

Planned as another executive E-badged Escort, the range-topping Mk2 was swapped to Ghia when Ford bought the Italian design studio. Exclusively German-built, the Ghia combined upmarket trim with (mainly) Sport mechanicals: a twin-choke Weber carburettor and four-branch exhaust manifold meant  a 69 bhp 1300 or 83 bhp 1600, mated to servo-assisted front discs, enlarged rear drums and close-ratio gearbox; a slow-witted three-speed autobox was optional.

top 10 luxury fords

Standard kit included square headlamps, chrome trim, vinyl roof and tinted glass, while metallic paint and alloys were optional. Inside were plush seats, full-height door cards, glovebox, centre console and fake wood dash. The 1600 Ghia two-door was dropped in mid-1976 but the two-door 1300 Ghia continued alongside four-doors until replaced by the Mk3 in summer 1980.

Orion 1600E

You can’t keep an old badge down — Ford revived the 1600E moniker for October 1988’s ultra-posh Orion, hand-finished by Tickford craftsmen, who lavished love and leather over Halewood-built Ghia Injections in Raven or Mercury Grey metallic. The seats (including XR3i fronts), gearknob and gaiters received Shadow Grey hide, there was a cloth headlining, Scorpio steering wheel, wood veneer dashboard and door cappings.

top 10 luxury fords

Cross-spoke alloys, coachlines and non-injection brightwork completed the exterior. No optional extras were offered, so none were fitted with autoboxes or ABS. Ford’s intention was to create 1500 examples, but production stalled in February 1989 after around 1000 were built. A further batch was made (reckoned to be 498) between June and July 1989, with Diamond White replacing Mercury. A hidden gem today, so expect interest to rocket.

Words Dan Williamson

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