Back when Ford was selling the punky Pinto in the U.S. market, it was also selling cars like today’s Nice Price or No Dice Taunus all over Europe. Let’s see if this private import’s price makes it worth exploring what us Americans were missing.
The comedian Billy Crystal used to do this character on Saturday Night Live called Fernando who lived by the motto that it was “always better to look good than to feel good.”
With a clean bill of health on the mechanical side but some aesthetic issues, yesterday’s 2000 BMW M5 would not have been appreciated by Fernando. Those visual blemishes — some creeping rust and paint issues here and there — also doomed the M5 and its $13,999 asking price for many of you. At the end of the day, it fell in a narrow but decisive 57 percent No Dice loss.
One car we looked at so far this week was an American luxury sedan from Ford’s Lincoln division that was powered by a German BMW engine. Following that, we considered a BMW that was full-on German. Today we’re going to bring that accidental mish-mash theme full circle and look at a German-built Ford.
This 1972 Ford Taunus TC — named for a mountain range in Germany — represents one of the Ford Motor Company’s earliest attempts at a so-called World Car. That’s a bit of a misnomer since, by “the world” Ford at the time mostly meant Europe. Prior to the introduction of the Taunus TC, Ford of Germany and Ford of Britain proffered separate car lines that played in the pretty much same size category, each in their home market.
The 1970 Mark III Cortina and Taunus TC (for Taunus Cortina) merged these disparate car lines into one. The resulting car, along with the 1968 Escort and 1965 Transit van, were Ford’s first cross-subsidiary designs, intended to be sold all over the Continent and Britain. The only thing America offered was an influence on the new car’s Coke bottle styling.
The Mark III Cortina, and hence the Taunus TC, moved up a size from its predecessor, being fully four inches wider and offering a V6 engine for the first time. Ford could take this tack as the Escort served the size class below while the European-market Granada topped the range in both size and status.
In the U.S., Ford offered the Pinto in the same size class as the Taunus, and throughout the early ’70s that car served as its smallest offering here. In fact, every model in the U.S. at the time was grotesquely larger than its nominal European counterpart. It wouldn’t be until the 1980s that Ford began to include the U.S. in its global model plans.
Before then, however, we were denied cool cars like this Taunus TC coupe. This car is a private import, and it could very well be the only one of its ilk now on U.S. roads. The styling should look vaguely familiar, as it shares a winged front fender design with domestic Fords of the era, as well as the same rising haunch and semi-fastback roofline. The back of the car is eerily reminiscent of the hatch design on the Pinto wagon, right to the horizontal shadow line and taillamp design. Everything under that American-influenced styling is about three-quarters scale of what was offered here at the time.
As an example of that, the Taunus’ wheelbase is 101 inches, or about 2 inches shy of the contemporary Maverick. The base engine on the Maverick at the time was a 170 CID OHV inline-six. Here, in the Taunus, you get a 1600cc edition of Ford’s long-serving “Pinto” four. This SOHC engine replaced the Essex V4 and was actually used in the Pinto here in the States, so parts sourcing shouldn’t be much of a problem. Power might be, though. Though this apparently is a high-compression edition, the engine makes only about 70 horsepower on its best day.
That’s matched to a four-speed manual gearbox with a floor shift, and power is applied to the ground through a live axle at the back.
The bodywork looks tidy for the most part, but like most every European car from the era before bodies were galvanized, it does exhibit some rust pop-through. That’s most notable in front of the driver’s side rear wheel arch. The sheetmetal otherwise appears fairly solid. The paint is claimed to be a respray, and you can see a darker shade of blue evident in the trunk.
The seller says that most of the car’s major brake parts have been replaced, replacing rubber lines with sturdier braided steel hoses. Everything else is said to work as it should. The ad notes the odometer to read 42,995, and a quick squint at the dashboard pic shows that number to be reading in kilometers. That’s a little over 26,000 miles to us Yanks.
The rest of the interior looks to be in decent shape, and you have to love the air vents placed like eyebrows on the upper edge of the dash. The seats have been recently reupholstered, and the car comes with its original Blaupunkt radio. All the proper paperwork for the car’s immigration seems to have been completed, as it wears Washington plates and is said to carry a title from that state.
The price tag for this rare-in-the-U.S. Ford is $5,500. If you’re a devoted fan of Ford’s European wares then this would be quite the peach to add to (or begin) your collection. Is it worth that kind of cash, though?
What do you think, could this Taunus command that $5,500 asking? Or, does that price make this imported German Ford a genuine folly?
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