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Ford Granada

The primary reason I take pen keyboard in hand to laud this car is that -- apart from having a probably unhealthy obsession with later-1970s cars -- I saw a beautifully preserved example of one of these over the weekend (shown). I thought at the time and I still think that it was, or at least could be, quite a handsome car. True, it had several of the gaudy features that people tend to hate about this period -- opera windows and a huge chrome grille -- but if you step back and take in the whole thing, I think one Granada3-4 can usefully view it as a nicely proportioned American sedan. And despite being the butt of many jokes nowadays, for a time it was Ford's biggest seller and filled an important market niche.

This won't be a long detailed post on the history and development of the model -- all of those gory details were admirably summarized by our own Chuck Lynch for its sibling, the Lincoln Versailles -- but I hope to at least make the case that the Granada, and its Mercury stablemate the Monarch, were actually pretty good cars for the time and ought to get a little more respect than they ordinarily do.

Like the Mustang II, the Granada bowed at a convenient time given the emphasis that was placed on it being a smaller and somewhat more fuel-efficient car. Memories of the 1973 oil crisis were still fresh and the Granada combined smaller size (it was classed as a compact) with a more luxurious look-and-feel that could appeal both to small-car owners wishing to move upscale a bit and larger car owners wishing to downsize a bit without losing too much in the way of creature comforts. It was originally intended as a replacement for the rather downscale Maverick and was based on that model's platform, but the latter ended up being carried over for another three years because of the general increase in small car sales. 

The Granada had, ostensibly, a pretty good range of engine options from a 200 cubic inch (3.3L) straight-6 up to the 351 (5.8L) Cleveland so you could go for efficiency or something resembling power. Interestingly, it also was available with a 3-speed manual transmission (see the Granada's Wiki entry for more detail on various powertrain options).

GranadaFront Lookswise, it was supposed to capitalize on the Mercedes Benz look and evoke feelings of that car's luxury and driving characteristics with a much lower price tag. And in this they succeeded remarkably well, coming within a hairsbreadth of the Mercedes in build quality, ride, handling, and power.

Okay, I may have made that last bit up.

Frankly, I like the way it looks. It doesn't have the swoops and swishes of the pre-1977 Chevrolets, is less gaudy (I think) than the Continental Mark V, and appears much less ponderous than the Torino. It's nicely proportioned fore and aft, the wheel wells are slightly flared giving it a bit of sport, and the slight rise behind the rear pillar keeps it from looking too tail heavy -- in the coupe version it evokes something of a pony car look.

It still hewed to the "personal luxury" concept Ford had been developing, with heavily cushioned seats, optional padded door panels and reclining buckets, and a soft squishy ride standard. Some of the options are surely dictionary examples of style over substance and will no doubt provoke many a furrowed brow as to what exactly they describe: "elegant-looking Chainmail vinyl upholstery"? "louvered opera window appliques"? "Touraine Cloth and Vinyl flight bench seats"? Well, okay, gotta sell 'em somehow.

They did try to inject some performance into the lineup, whether of the true or all-show-no-go variety. The Ghias were the top of the line in each division, with the Grand Monarch Ghia being the cream of the crop at least in terms of luxury options. For performance Ford featured a Sports Coupe version of the Granada and an S version of the Monarch in 1976 and 1977. In large part these were trim features, but they gave them a heavier suspension that was also available on the Mustang II and Pinto/Bobcat lines, though with some modifications. I can personally attest to the improvement in handling the better suspension provides. From 1978 to 1980 these were slightly restyled and rebadged as "ESS" GranadaESS (European Sport Sedan, ha) and were available as either 2- or 4-door models (the ESS Granada is shown in the attached brochure).

While many are wont to rip on these cars as exemplars of excessive style over substance, I still maintain that they were a step up from previous models in many respects, especially given the tenor of the times. True, Ford didn't design the damn thing with the oil crisis in mind, that was just dumb luck (though they, along with others, took notice of the steadily burgeoning sales of small Japanese imports), but the Granada at least, along with the newly redesigned Mustang II, finally gave smaller car owners some upscale goodies at an affordable price. We often forget that the pavement-pounding muscle cars of the previous generation were also loud, drafty, and decidedly rather barbaric. American manufacturers were finally starting to include a few of the amenities -- for example, not going deaf at highway speeds -- that owners of expensive European sedans had been enjoying, and for far less money in the more appliance-oriented US market. And while we see them today and rolling behemoths, compared to previous generations they were actually quite lean. relatively speaking.

Credits: The brochure for the ESS is from Hans Tore Tangerud's web site. The photos I took myself a couple of blocks from my house, further ensconcing my residence as a veritable epicenter of Car Lust.

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It's the car from the beginning of the cheers intro!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCe7aITZvJc

I remember that dark green & white color combination in the mid 1970s. From the Mustang II to the Granada, it really wasn't half bad, though I'd prefer a dark green interior over white.

At least these cars made an attempt at having some class and style. Today's jelly bean, look-alike appliances may work a lot better, but they have little or no personality.

In the spring of 1983, I was 18 years old and I needed to replace my totaled Pinto. I went to look at a gray with burgundy interior (and vinyl roofed) 1976 Granada Ghia 2-door. I thought it was somewhat garish and was really wasn't enthusiastic about the car until I took a look under the hood. When I saw it was a 351, I closed the hood and said "I'll take it." It had a fair amount of power-for the time-and was comfortable to drive. As stated above, American cars of the time had (some good, some bad) personality. I enjoyed that car and wish I still had it. I kept it for 5 years and then sold it when I needed a truck. Of course I bought an '88 Ranger. I still have the Ranger.

I saw one parked in a small coastal town north of Seattle a couple of years ago.
It was the first I'd seen for awhile and was absolutely mint. I couldn't take my eyes off it.
Somweone out there must love them.
Hope a few are saved .

They re-used a lot of parts, it has the same basic suspension design as my 65 Falcon. My Falcon has a lot of granada parts on it, front sway bar, front brakes, and some other things I stole back when I was in the junkyard in the early '90s. You can't find one in the yard now, but they were everywhere then.

--Stephen

Thank god for the Aussie Falcon such a better car than these over adorned bombs Just because there was a Mustang based on it does not mean its any good, Really its nothing at all like a Benz WTF were they smoking

Bryce
Remember, these were bread and butter cars...no sporting pretense was implied or offered...unlike the versions of the Aussie Falcons you mention.
I'm guessing not all of those were sporty or memorable.
Most were 4-door family cars.

My mom had a '76 Granada that I inherited. It was a mechanical nightmare! The transmission went south at 8,000 miles and never again worked properly. I got to be on a first name basis with the folks at the local Ford zone.
The thing that really set me against the car was when the starter went out. No big deal; I’ve worked on cars all my life. Ooops! Need to raise the engine to get the starter off! GD Granada or as the rental car folks used to call them Ford Grenades. It was purty though!

This was their attempt at a Volvo 240 or Mercedes. Though, build quality is not even close to on par. It served it's purpose, but they were not very good cars by any means. My grandmother had one for a long time, but she rarely ever drove the thing. I recall my Mom's 79 Cutlass Supreme having a much higher quality feel inside. Personally, I would own any Maverick 1st, flighty power steering all the same... but they seemed to be much easier to work on and keep up.

The car pictured is a pretty nice example and it is surprising to see one around that is in such decent shape. Considered alongside other cars of the era, I suppose the Granada isn't all that bad.

Still, I prefer the smell of rich, Corinthian leather in my lates 70s blahmobiles...

I owned a 78 Granada Ghia coupe ordered in late77, with 302v8 ,bucket seats and console, fully equipped, cordovan metallic with half vinyl roof. Owned the car for 19-20 yes. One of the most durable cars owned. I used synthetic oil through most of its life. Kept a service diary. Total miles 642,000 not a typo, major problem was the c3 tranny replaced 5 times. Otherwise 3 water pumps, power steering pump and gearbox, 4 starters, original radiator and 1 thermostat, 3alternators, 1 timing gear and chain at 165k and several front ends + 1 set of pwr window motors. I miss that car.

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