John Sparks – Mk1 Consul Flatdash

John isn’t a club member, but his story relates to his first car back in the day and makes fascinating reading, in his words:

I found your site fascinating, especially the photos of the guy restoring a ‘Flatdash’ Mk 1 as I bought one of these in 1962 (1951 Reg.No. LRT 93) and had it for a couple of years, during which I sprayed it Pillar Box Red from the original Black (well, I was young, mad and impetuous!). I’d never heard it called a ‘Flatdash’ before as it was only known to me as an EOTA type, and as it seemed to be unique (with the ‘pigeon hole’ glove box) I wrote to Ford and they wrote back to say it was primarily for export and it was 6” longer and 1 cwt heavier than the slightly later model, and that there was only about 200 made, which was a surprise for me as my best mate’s father** had the exact same model in Olive Green. Uncanny. (Not sure about that bit from Ford, they seem to be getting mixed up with the Zephyr? Gaz.)

**He devised a ‘reserve vacuum tank’ to aid the useless windscreen wipers, which sounds technical but just meant soldering up a tin can with a tube on each end and inserting it into the path of the rubber tubing – it helped but they were useless as the faster you went the slower the wipers worked. Great going a 70 on a dual carriageway in a rain storm!

The other peculiarity of this car was the trafficators, which was odd considering it was supposed to be the latest in modern technology (I was told these were only being used on cars such as the Morris Minor at the time), and what a pain they were. No amount of tweaking would make them work properly, so if they were feeling inclined that day, you had to bash on the door pillar to get them to stagger out OR if that didn’t work (you needed fingernails) you opened the window and pulled them out.

t had a fitted push button valve radio (way ahead of its time) and this huge heater fitted under the dashboard. Both, needless to say were pretty slow to burst into life. I think I still have the tuning tool for the radio somewhere and the original handbook.

I shudder now to think that I took my girl’s family up to Scotland in it, because it failed the then new MOT test when we got back because of a rotten chassis and floor pans, but it was only to be expected as you could see the road passing by if you lifted up the rubber mats, and once when I jacked it up the jack slowly disappeared into the body. The man at the testing station said it was a wonder that we didn’t all sink through the floor and finish up in the road.

I clearly had to get rid of it and so a local dodgy dealer allowed me £20 trade in against another second-hand car and I thought that would be the end of it, BUT 6 months later I saw it coming towards me being driven by a unaware buyer!

My first car so thanks for the memories…

P.S. All the photos were taken around 1962/63, and the B&W ones with me and my girl (now my wife) were taken somewhere on the East Coast near what is now known as Minsmere Bird Reserve.

Cannot find the letter from Ford re the history of the car, but it’ll turn up one day when I’m looking for something else. Will send you a copy then?

P.P.S. The car behind mine in the spraying photo belonged to my friend there helping me – it was a very rare BSA four wheeler sports job. I think he regretted selling it.