Tuesday 5 July 2016
The Ford Taunus is a family car that was sold by Ford Germany throughout Europe. Models from 1970 onward were similar to the Ford Cortina in the United Kingdom. The model line was named after the Taunus mountain range in Germany and was first made in 1939 and continued through several versions until 1994.
The Ford Taunus P1 is a small family car which was produced by Ford Germany from 1952 until 1962. It was marketed as the Ford Taunus 12M, and, between 1955 and 1959, as the larger-engined Ford Taunus 15M. The company produced a succession of Ford Taunus 12M models until 1970, as the name was applied to a succession of similarly sized cars, but the first Taunus 12M models, based on the company’s Taunus Project 1 (P1), remained in production only until 1962. In that year the Taunus P1 series was replaced by the Taunus P4 series.Planning for Ford Germany’s new ponton bodied passenger car began in 1949. Several aspects of the car’s development reflected the advantages and the disadvantages of running a business with management decisions necessarily split between two continents at a time when even international telephone calls needed to be pre-booked.
The original plan for the strikingly modern design came from Ford in the USA who drew up a proposal based on the ponton format Champion model introduced to the US auto-market a few years earlier by Studebaker. The Studebaker design had already proved highly influential on the domestic programs of mainstream US auto-makers. Cologne based production engineers adapted the US proposal for the German market. The Studebaker featured a large roundel directly above the front grill on which was displayed the propeller of an airplane. The Ford Project 1 also featured a prominent roundel at the front of the car, but in place of the Studebaker’s propeller design, the Ford roundel featured a hemispherical depiction of half a globe. This bold and unusual decoration led to the new car becoming known as the „Weltkugeltaunus“ (Globe Taunus).
The proposal from Ford in America called for a monocoque construction, following the lead (in Germany) of the 1937 Opel Olympia. Ford of Germany had no experience of this construction method, having spent most of the 1940s concentrating on building light trucks. Project 1’s predecessor, the Ford Taunus designed in the 1930s, had had its body built by an independent specialist pressed steel body builder in Berlin until 1948, and after the Berlin firm had its surviving plant crated up and shipped to the Soviet Union, Ford had in 1948 been driven to having Ford Taunus bodies produced by competitors and specialists from northern Germany, Volkswagen and Karmann. Ford’s Cologne management sought cooperation from other German auto-makers with developing the processes necessary for producing the monocoque Project 1 model, but the other German auto-makers had priorities of their own, and in the end it was with support from Ford of France that the production lines for German Ford’s project 1 were set up at the company’s Cologne plant. In due course, and not before a certain amount of confusion concerning the naming of the car, Ford’s Project 1 was released to the market as the Ford Taunus 12M. It proved a success. By the time the half globe was removed from the car’s nose, 247,174 of the 12M version had been sold along with 127,942 of the subsequently introduced Ford Taunus 15Ms.
At its launch, the car placed Ford ahead of the pack, being unusually modern in terms of the bits that showed. It was one of the first new cars to appear in Germany since before the war, and featured a radical ponton format “three box” body as pioneered (at least in Germany) by the 1949 Borgward. The three-box car body format would soon become mainstream, but when the Ford Taunus 12M appeared in 1952 competitor manufacturers including Opel, Volkswagen and Auto Union were still competing with models based closely on designs originating in the 1930s.
The two-door modern slab sided Ford Taunus that appeared in January 1952 with an old fashioned engine married to a stylish new body was connected with the road using fashionably small 13“ wheels which will have saved on cost and maximised the space available for passengers and their luggage. Individually suspended front wheels marked a contrast with the approach taken with the original Taunus, but in 1952 the rigid rear axle was all too familiar to Ford’s existing German customers. The old Taunus had acquired the option of a four-speed gear box in 1950, but the new model at its 1952 launch came only with the older three-speed box, controlled using a column-mounted lever. (Until the 1960s European cars in this class never offered the option of an automatic gear change.) In the early years all the cars, regardless of equipment level, and whether saloon/sedan, or cabriolet bodied, came with a single bench seat across the full width of the car in place of the individual front seats fitted by most European manufacturers: this was a matter in respect of which the Taunus 12M was seen to reflect it’s manufacturer’s North American parentage and thereby conferred a certain glamour at a time when the USA was a widely accepted role model across much of Europe and especially in West Germany.
A maximum 38 PS/hp (28 kW) of power was delivered to the rear wheels. This was a useful increase on the 34 PS (25 kW; 34 hp) claimed for the previous model, and may have reflected a higher compression ratio and increases starting to come through across Europe in respect of available fuel octane levels.
In May 1953 the Taunus P1 finally became available with a four-speed gear box, though only as an optional extra. It was also at this point that a 3-door kombi/estate version joined the range. A cabriolet version had been offered since December 1952, being the result of a conversion by a coach building specialist based, like Ford, in the Cologne area and called Karl Deutsch
- engine: V4
- capacity: 1498 cc
- horsepower: 55 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 140 km/h