Back about 1960, Ford Motor Company worked on a revolutionary new V4 powered subcompact meant to compete with the VW Bug, the Ford Cardinal. The new car received some big publicity in magazines like MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED, and a public was anxious to see the new car. But, Ford, for some unknown reasons decided not to market the new subcompact model here in the United States, and instead a restyled version of the car was built in Germany and Belgium and sold in the European market as the Ford Taunus.
With the new V4 engine, the small car would have unlike any car ever built or sold in the U.S. And likely Ford was looking for something revolutionary to compete with the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair that sported a horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine that was an meant to capture the interest of VW fans who loved the rear engine air cooled designs that both VW and Porsche marketed.
The cars were certainly economical, but were anemic powered with just over 29.4 horsepower in the smallest engine version and about 48 horsepower in the largest displacement version of V4 engines which ranged from 1183cm up to 1498cm. The cars only had 6volt electrical systems as well. The cars had top speeds ranging from 76mph with the smallest engines up to 91mph with the largest V4.
Production of the cars lasted from 1962 to 1966, where the car was actually considered to be a larger car in the European market, but very small by U.S. standards. But, where gasoline is very expensive, many Europeans look for the best fuel economy, and the small Ford sold well before replacement with newer car lines such as the Cortina. The Ford Cortina was marketed as an import in the U.S. for a short time, but sold poorly here, so Ford looked to develop another subcompact, the Pinto, which was a huge success, selling close to 400,000 units a year for much of it’s run before being replaced with world cars like the Escort and Focus.