A Photo For Sunday: 1976 Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia

It’s a study in yellowy beige. Vinyl has been plastered over the roof. This is almost the top of the Taunus hierarchy. It finds echoes even today.

1976-1979 Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia.
1976-1979 Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia.

A casual Google search indicates these are very rare in this format. You can view a grainy one in action here. And if you want something comparable (but absolutely no vinyl) you need to pay €5600 and it’s for sale here
Moving to the present, Ghia branding has been dropped by Ford. The name became tarnished by association with vehicles such as the one we have shown here. That’s not necessarily fair: by the late 80s, Ghia versions of Sierras and Granadas were acceptably plush and no more; only British motoring writers kept harping on about vinyl trim and wood-effect plastic which was optional. Mid ’00s Mondeo Ghias are really very smart indeed, with well-judged chrome details and in some cases quite special Californian burl walnut embellishments. All without appearing Rover 75-ish.

The Titanium trim level quietly replaced Ghia. Titanium has stood for cool comfort as the name suggests. In my view it’s a very accurately suggestive name for a distinct kind of high-tech, metallic-edged luxury. Ford has decided that it also wants a warmer-sounding name for its high-spec Mondeos. And Vignale steps in to replace poor old Ghia. You can read here how Ford views the Vignale versions of the Mondeo and the forthcoming Galaxy.

Ford’s European boss, Jim Farley said to AutoExpress:  “Vignale is a very important part of our future strategy. We are increasingly being challenged in the mainstream sector by premium rivals who are competing for our customers.” His use of the present tense is puzzling. I think he needed to say “We have been challenged for some time by premium rivals…”. Remember the Scorpio died in 1998 because the BMW 5 series killed it. Ford Mondeo sales have been declining for a decade. This is serious.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

10 thoughts on “A Photo For Sunday: 1976 Ford Taunus 2.3 Ghia”

  1. My Dad had many a Cortina/ Taunus as company cars when he was working in the 70s and early 80s. He did not move on to Sierras because he did not want a hatchback and also the leasing rates for them were inflated by the cost of accident repairs. Interestingly, he switched to Montegos, of which he had three over a seven year period, and they served very well, especially a very nice (if mis-named) GTi.

    I worry increasingly about Ford in Europe. I am seeing a fair few of the new Mondeo, but the more I see the more I have gone off the design. The car looks really heavy, and there is too much surface detail along its flanks trying to compensate for that. Moreover, it really suffers “small wheel syndrome” in that anything but 18″ wheels look like castors and hence accentuate the visual weight of the car. The new S-Max and Galaxy come across as more conservative face-lifts of the previous versions and will age quickly; the latest Kuga is bigger and less appealing than its predecessor; the Focus looks old and fussy; the Ka has disappeared and the new one that is in-coming is devoid of character (to the extent that they should call it something else). The only bright spark is the Fiesta, and the dash on that really shows its age. Vauxhall/ Opel, Renault, Peugeot all look to be developing a stronger core range of renewed cars than Ford, and then there are Kia and Mazda gaining strength in depth. And I have not bothered to mention the VW Group cars which threaten to steam-roller the marketplace in Europe.

    It all makes me wonder if Ford in the US has got its head around what it will take to compete in a strategic time-frame.

  2. Answer: possibly not. It’s not one person’s fault either. It’s a general top-management problem. That’s how they get to here. I’d guess they have lost the Mondeo class. The Focus sells in large numberd based in a large part on inertia. The test of the current model is partly on how many people move to the next one.

  3. A bit of Dearborn devil’s advocacy for the sake of discussion: What if the Transit & Transit Connect are more important to Ford’s European business than the Mondeo, and the Ranger pickup truck proves to be as popular in its class as it is in other markets, mirroring Ford’s dominance of the US vehicle market with the F150? What if Mondeo Man has become Focus Family because the Mondeo has become the Granada and is now sliding into the ‘too big for regular European households’ niche? What if Ka didn’t make money? What if the conservative incremental Galaxy/S-Max and potentially Fiesta updates keep customers happy the same way that VW model changes fail to break the mould?

    I don’t have a strong view one way or the other but those are some things that come to mind. I’m out of touch with Ford news in Europe – I was surprised to see that Jim Farley is CEO there during the IAA news cycle because for some reason I kept thinking Stephen Odell was. Are they making money again in Europe? Suppose I have to do some more reading…

    1. That would take Ford out of some markets key to its identity. The Mondeo has become too big in part because it has to fit the USA. You and I know the Mondeo is now too big dimensionally but the thing is that for many buyers they still think of it as a not-huge family car and would be surprised if it winked out of existence. They think of the Focus as a medium sized car on the small side, and it is odd to have Ford´s passenger car range topped by a Golf/Astra competitor, aided by Galaxies and S-Maxes. At least I think that´s odd. Just as I was about to write that the saloon was dead I remembered BMW, Audi and Mercedes do a nice line in saloons. People want saloons. If the format was out-dated the big players would not offer them.

    2. RE: Mondeo disappearing – I don’t see it disappearing so much as sitting higher up the tree just thanks to its size. At least in Europe. In Australasia the Mondeo is effectively offering a similar interior space package to the Falcon, which is disappearing thanks to the implosion of traditional mass-market large car sales versus SUVs/crossovers and ‘downsizing’ in our part of the world and the One Ford rationalisation of platforms and manufacturing. In the US the Taurus remains above the Fusion, but if I recall correctly the Fusion is the car challenging the Accord and Camry for family car sales honours. My point is that the Mondeo might remain as a figurehead but the bulk of business will be in the class below, or in different categories like crossover wagons.

      Could a Focus saloon variant with a different name fill the ‘smaller Mondeo saloon’ niche? Would a Focus Vignale saloon do the trick?

  4. The Jetta is offered by VW and it confuses people. I expected that many Passat buyers would opt for the handier Jetta. As it happens, nearly none have (in Denmark) despite the Jetta looking alright and being about as big as the very acceptable early 00s Passat. It seems that if if you sell as saloon based on a Golf/Astra/Focus no one wants it, and there is not a lot of grounds for this. I personally like the idea of this class of car but I am very much in the minority.

    1. Good point. I think this is a Europe problem in a way. Saloon-friendly developing markets seem to be content with Jetta-like family saloons and North America/Australasia Ford saloon buyers are happy with Falcon/Taurus-sized Mondeos as fleet or private purchases. If Mondeo/S-Max/Galaxy/Edge is the top class, then Focus/C-Max/Kuga is the class below and Fiesta/B-Max/EcoSport in the compact class. That’s a pretty solid portfolio even if the competitiveness of individual products is questionable depending on the category and market.

      I suppose the ideal to suit European markets would be a right-sized and specced ‘Mondeo Euro’ but Ford seems disinclined to do this. If they had copied Honda they could have sold the Mondeo Euro through a premium channel a la Acura (Mercury Mondeo?) and kept the Fusion at Ford dealerships. Of course the Accord Euro hasn’t really worked in Europe versus other parts of the world where it has made a sportier/premium/compact alternative to the full-fat Accord that Americans prefer.

  5. Ah, I was away when this was put up. Sahara Beige – the Burnt Orange of the 70s. I once resprayed a whole van this colour though, since I was tight for money and economised on both paint and compressor, the result was a then unfashionable matt effect finish.

    1. It’s almost certainly the same colour used in N America on their Granadas. These Tauni are nearly not rare for their age. They outnumber the Passat of the time. The Ascona is around in even greater numbers and in my opinion looks the more solid car. There’s an article: from Taunus to Capri via Ascona: Bartin Muckley assesses the Ascona on a route named for its arch-rivals from Ford.

  6. I came across this 1970 review of the Taunus Coupé. I guess it’s best seen as a junior Granada Coupé, rather than a Capri competitor, although there is considerable overlap, however you look at it. Interesting, though; I wonder if they considered doing a Cortina version.

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