Photos: Shadman Al Samee
The Ford Zephyr was a British Ford product that spanned the onward and upward decade of the global auto industry in-between 1950 and 1972. For three generations, the Zephyr and its variants blended European packaging and efficiency with distinctly American design into a car that was lapped up by executives and company managers all across Britain. For its size, comfort and six-cylinder efficiency, the Zephyr and its luxury variants, the Zodiac and Executive, were often the choice of cars for diplomats on foreign missions—embassies, consulates and field offices in far off countries often got a handful of Zephyrs in service.
The Zephyr Mark II you see this week was bought from Old Dhaka in a neglected but running condition by E.M. Faruq—a name that will be familiar with anyone interested in classic cars. Over the past six-seven decades, Mr. Faruq has positioned himself as the preeminent collector of classic cars, with cars from the early 20th century all the way through to recent history. With no descendants to pass off his extensive collection to, Mr. Faruq has slowly begun offloading a select few items to worthy owners to restore and drive. That’s where Abrar Musa comes in.
“I love driving. When I work on a car I want to make sure I can enjoy it, drive it everywhere. I’ve never wanted a garage queen, and that factored into the restoration of the Zephyr,” says Abrar.
While it may seem odd to pair the words ‘daily-driven’ with ‘vintage car’, it’s not unheard of elsewhere—with brands like Singer, Icon and Guntherwerks essentially crafting new cars from the bodies of older vehicles, restomodding is a dream come true for people like Abrar. That’s essentially what this ’59 Zephyr is—a prime example of what restomodding can accomplish, even in Dhaka’s relatively inhospitable environment. Under the hood is a second gen 1JZGE six-cylinder motor lifted from a Toyota. While the displacement of the 2.5 litre straight six VVTi 1JZ may match the original Ford motor, the power figures are vastly improved (197 HP and 185 lb-ft torque, as opposed to the 86 HP of the original), as is top-shelf Toyota reliability. It stops better too, thanks to modern disc brakes up front, hiding behind the mirror finish hubcaps sourced from Ebay.
“The biggest challenge was the rubber seals for the windows and trim. The odd shapes and super tight spacing meant that it was either find original rubbers, or modify rubber mouldings which are locally available. We tried the latter and failed miserably. So I had to source original rubbers from the UK,” says Abrar.
The Zephyr is smooth and quiet. Sitting on original suspension, cold air blasting from the neatly integrated air-conditioning unit, obscure underground hip-hop (“Blessed” by Third World Don—give it a whirl) streaming in from the Pioneer speaker/Nakamichi subwoofer combo; you get the sense that this car was built to the needs of the owner, naysayers be damned. The soft brown leather seats sink in beneath occupants, while the brown suede headliner and plush maroon carpets combine to create an environment that relaxes and pampers, even while the rest of the world outside do double-triple-quadruple takes when passing by the two-tone vintage.
Abrar Musa’s Zephyr may not be original. It may not be restored to concourse winning status. But it stands out, and embodies everything that is cool and hip about classic cars, minus the major inconveniences even when driven daily. Abrar’s other cars (an FJ Landcruiser and a Benz G-wagen, plus an American pony car) have a bright future ahead—this Zephyr is just proof.