Classic Cars Wiki
Classic Cars Wiki

The Ford Taunus is a family car sold by Ford in Germany and other countries. Models from 1970 onward were similar to the Ford Cortina in the United Kingdom. The model line was named after the Taunus mountain range in Germany and was first made in 1939 and continued through several versions until 1994.

Taunus G73A (1939–1942) / G93A (1948–1952)[]

The Ford Taunus G93A was a development of the Ford Eifel and used the same 1172 cc four cylinder engine but in a longer chassis and a streamlined body. It was the first German Ford to have hydraulic brakes. Due to the war, production was interrupted from 1942 to 1948. 74,128 were made including estate cars and light vans.

Taunus M-series (1952–1968)[]

From 1952 to 1968 all German Fords were called the Taunus, using the model names 12M, 15M, 17M, 20M, and 26M. The "M" is said to stand for "Meisterstück", in English "Masterpiece". Taunus was also sometimes adopted as the brand-name in export markets, particularly where British and North American Fords were also available.

The 12, 15 and 17M models had a straight-4, later ones a V4 engine. The 20 and 26M models had the Ford Cologne V6 engine. The 12, 15, 17 etc. refer to the engine displacement; 1200, 1500, 1700 cc etc.

From 1962 to 1970, the smaller models 12M (P4) and 12M/15M (P6) had front wheel drive. All other models had rear wheel drive.

The following models were offered:

Smaller line: 12M, 15M[]

First generation 12M (G13) (1952–1959), 15M (1955–1959)[]

The Taunus 12M presented in 1952 was the first new German Ford after World War II. It featured ponton styling, similar in style to British Ford Zephyr.

Something else the new Ford Taunus 12M had in common with its British Ford cousins was the retention of an old sidevalve engine at a time when competitors were increasingly moving over to ohc units. The Taunus 15M used a new and more powerful engine:

  • 12M: 1172 cc, 38 hp (28 kW), 112 km/h (70 mph)
  • 15M: 1498 cc, 55 hp (40 kW), 128 km/h (80 mph)

Body styles were two door sedan, two door station wagon and sedan delivery.

Second generation 12M (1959–1962)[]

Not a new car, but a rework of the 1952 model. All cars are called 12M, though both engines are continued (the car with the bigger engine is called "Taunus 12M 1.5 litre").

Body styles were the same as in the 1952 model.

Third generation 12M (P4) (1962–1966)[]

The new Ford Taunus 12M P4 was similar in size, but a completely new car based on the Ford Cardinal project. New body, new V4 engine, front wheel drive. The first Ford car with front wheel drive (second is Ford Corcel, third is Ford Fiesta). Engines:

  • 1.2 litre: 1183 cc, 40 hp (29 kW), 123 km/h (77 mph)
  • 1.5 litre: 1498 cc, 50, 55 or 65 hp (37, 40 or 48 kW), 135, 139 or 144 km/h (84, 87 or 90 mph)

Body styles were two door sedan, four door sedan, two door coupé, two door station wagon and sedan delivery.

Fourth generation 12M (P6) (1966–1970), 15M (P6) (1966–1970)[]

The Ford Taunus P6 came with new bodies: engines and platform are continued. Again, the car with the bigger engine is called 15M. Engines:

  • 12M 1.2 litre: 1183 cc, 45 hp (33 kW), 125 km/h (78 mph)
  • 12M 1.3 litre: 1305 cc, 50 or 53 hp (37 or 39 kW), 130 or 134 km/h (81 or 84 mph)
  • 15M 1.5 litre: 1498 cc, 55 or 65 hp (40 or 47 kW), 136 or 145 km/h (85 or 90 mph)
  • 15M 1.7 litre: 1699 cc, 70 or 75 hp (51 or 55 kW), 153 or 158 km/h (95 or 98 mph)

Body styles were unchanged from the P4.

In 1970, the P6 is replaced by the Taunus TC (see below).

Bigger line: 17M, 20M, 26M[]

First generation 17M (P2) (1957–1960)[]

Growing prosperity in postwar Germany encouraged Ford to offer a line of bigger and more expensive cars. The Ford Taunus 17M of 1957 was as long as (though significantly narrower than) the British Consul Mk2, but a different car. It presented a style similar to American 1956 Fords, featuring substantial (at least by European standards) tailfins. The transatlantic flamboyance of the car's styling gained it the sobriquet "Baroque Taunus". Unusually for middle class German cars of this period, it was available with either two or four doors. The competition noticed, and from 1959 it would become possible to buy an Opel Rekord with four doors.

The P2 used an ohv engine with 1698 cc and 60 hp (44 kW). A maximum speed of 128 km/h (80 mph) was quoted. A road test of the time commended the smoothness of the three speed all-synchromesh manual transmission system.

Second generation 17M (P3) (1960–1964)[]

The Ford Taunus P3 had a completely new body in a very modern style. The look of car reminded some critics of a bath tub, and it consequently gained the soubriquet "Taunus Badewanne". At a time when competitors boasted that all four corners of the vehicles were visible from the driver's seat, the new Taunus instead offered a streamlined form. However, in Germany the concept of streamlining in cars was associated with narrow passenger cabins reminiscent of the 1930s and of the still popular Volksagen Beetle. The new Taunus, however, provided greater interior width than its predecessor despite being no wider on the outside. Although the 1.7 litre version was launched with the same 60 PS power output as the outgoing model, the new model was a full 10 km/h (6 mph) faster, which was attributed to improved aerodynamics and a lighter bodyshell. The front end styling is reminiscent of the 1961 U.S. Ford Thunderbird and Lincoln Continental.

Three engine sizes were now offered:

  • 1.5 litre: 1498 cc, 55 hp (40 kW), 136 km/h (85 mph)
  • 1.7 litre: 1698 cc, 60 or 65 hp (44 or 48 kW), 138 or 140 km/h (86 or 88 mph)
  • 1.8 litre: 1758 cc, 70 or 75 hp (51 or 55 kW), 148 or 154 km/h (92 or 96 mph).

A very successful car.

Third generation 17M (P5) (1964–1967), 20M (P5) (1964–1967)[]

The Ford Taunus P5 came with a new body and new engines. 17M now gets a V4 engine:

  • 1.5 litre: 1498 cc, 60 hp (44 kW), 140 km/h (88 mph)
  • 1.7 litre: 1699 cc, 65 or 70 hp (48 or 51 kW), 145 or 150 km/h (91 or 94 mph).

New 20M gets a V6 engine with 1.8 litres and 82 hp, or 2.0 litres (1998 cc) and 85 or 90 hp (63 or 66 kW) with a top speed of 158 or 161 km/h (99 or 101 mph). Again, a good selling car.

Fourth generation 17M (P7) (1967–1968), 20M (P7) (1967–1968)[]

For the new Ford P7 there was a new body: engines and platform were carried over from the P5. Rear lights no longer mounted at corners. 20M-model with fake air scoop on bonnet and new bigger engine.

The engines of the 17M/20M P5 are continued with only one addition on the top end. It is the

  • 20M 2.3 litre: 2293 cc, 108 hp (79 kW), 170 km/h (106 mph).

Fifth generation 17M (P7.2) (1968–1971), 20M (P7.2) (1968–1971), 26M (1969–1971)[]

Shrinking sales of the P7 are forcing Ford to offer a restyled car only one year later and the new car is again called P7. Rear lights again mounted on corners. Here, to avoid confusion, it is called P7.2, sometimes it is called P7b. The name "Taunus" no longer used.

26M, introduced in 1969, is the top of the line version with new bigger engine (2.6 litres), bigger brakes, dual headlight, power steering, and the most luxurious trim level. V6-engines slightly revised. The engine programme is enlarged; now there are two base engines (V4 and V6) in six displacement sizes and nine power stages:

  • V4
    • 17M 1.5 litre: 1498 cc, 60 hp (44 kW), 135 km/h (85 mph)
    • 17M 1.7 litre: 1699 cc, 65 or 75 hp (48 or 55 kW), 140 or 150 km/h (88 or 94 mph)
  • V6
    • 17M 1.8 litre: 1812 cc, 82 hp (60 kW), 153 km/h (96 mph)
    • 20M 2.0 litre: 1998 cc, 85 or 90 hp (63 or 66 kW), 155 or 160 km/h (97 or 100 mph)
    • 20M 2.3 litre: 2293 cc, 108 or 125 hp (79 or 92 kW), 170 or 180 km/h (106 or 112 mph)
    • 20M 2.6 litre, 26M: 2550 cc, 125 hp (92 kW), 180 km/h (112 mph), optional on 20M, but standard on 26M.
Ford 20M RS[]

Ford 20M RS Coupé made in Germany as a (2300 S) P7b and (2600) P7b. In the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon Ford used three Ford 20M RS from Germany and Belgium. In 1969 a Ford 20M RS won the Safari and as well occasionally a Capri was seen with works involvement.

This is the last specifically German Ford. In early 1972, it is replaced by the new Consul and Granada.

Taunus TC (1970–1976)[]


Ford Taunus TC

In 1970 a new Taunus, the Taunus Cortina (TC), was introduced, as a two- or four-door sedan, station wagon (or Turnier) and coupé. It was very similar to the British Ford Cortina Mk III but without the "coke bottle" belt line. Also, the Taunus was available as a coupe, a bodystyle that the Cortina was never made in.

Both cars were developed under the auspices of Ford of Europe, and most major components including key parts of the bodyshell were identical. From 1976 Taunus and Cortina models were identical in all but name, 'Taunus' being the name used in left hand drive (LHD) markets, and 'Cortina' in right hand drive ones, although the Cortina name was used in LHD South Korea and Taiwan. The Mk III was also sold in Scandinavia, alongside the Taunus.

The Ford Taunus TC series was conceived in the late 1960s to be a "world car" alongside its technical sibling the Cortina Mk III, with construction and design work taking place on both sides of the Atlantic. As with the design of the first generation, it was done under the supervision of Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen, of former General Motors fame. The car is often nicknamed "Barock 2" (pointing back to the Taunus P2 series of the late 1950s, commonly known as the "Barock-Taunus") or "The Knudsen Nose" by its German owners because of the pointy hood scoop that, as the legend has it, was put there on direct order from Knudsen. Otherwise the major design work is rumoured to have been done by German car designer Luigi Colani, who also did design concepts for BMW's motorcycle division in the late 1970s.

Taunus TC2 (1976–1979) and TC3 (1979–1982/1994)[]

As from the 1976 model year the Taunus and Cortina were almost identical, apart from regional variations (in terms of specification changes and trim levels).

The Taunus TC along with the Cortina Mk III and their successors have been produced in slightly updated forms in Europe, Argentina and Asia (some Cortinas were built under license by Korean automaker Hyundai) with the last Turkish Otosan-Taunus leaving the factory in 1994. However the major components remained basically the same through the entire production run only receiving minor body changes with the biggest re-engineering in the 1979 model year, which involved a facelift (identical to the Ford Cortina Mk5 update).

The Taunus/Cortina was finally replaced by the Sierra in late 1982. The Sierra carried over the Cortina/Taunus OHC Pinto Engines and RWD configuration but was otherwise an all new car with independent suspension all round.

The Taunus and Cortina models are very easy to service and share a lot of mechanical components with the other European Ford cars of the period (excluding the Ford Fiesta), making them extremely easy to fix, although they are now a rare sight in even the markets where they were most popular. For example, the British Cortinas of this generation sold more than 1,000,000 units, but little more than 2,000 were in circulation by 2006. The Taunus, however, still can be seen in circulation, in nations like Spain, Germany and Scandinavia and there is an active owners club.

In 1982 production of the Taunus ceased in Europe; it was replaced by the Ford Sierra. Production continued in Argentina until 1984, where a coupé version (effectively a two-door saloon) remained in the line-up right until the end (while in Germany the coupé was dropped after the 1975 facelift), and at Otosan in Turkey, where a restyled version of the last model continued in production until 1994.

Production in Argentina[]

The Taunus was produced in Argentina from 1974 up until the end of 1984, when the production assembly was sold to Turkey to manufacture the Otosan Taunus. The Otosan factory also came to take over the tools for manufacturing the previously South African-built Cortina mk V-based Ford P100 pick-up truck, although building it with their own loading bed with foldable sides (reminiscent of the Peugeot U10) and its own front end with dual square headlights and a colourmatched grille. The Argentine models had different engines than the European versions, although the "Pinto" 2.0L OHC straight four was the base engine. Options were the North American 2.3L "Lima" engine which was derived from the "Pinto" engine but they differ in several specs. The biggest engine available in the Argentine Taunus was an updated version of the lima with an upgraded camshaft, new exhaust headers and a 2 barrel 36/36mm Solex carburator. None of the Argentine models came with 6 cylinder engines.

Prior to introduction the reborn "TC1" after a year of road testing received improvements to critical chassis components due to the harsher roads of rural Argentina and a lot of parts were re-selected for ease of availability although most of it still had to be imported from European Ford plants. One of the most significant technical differences is that the Argentine Taunus cars used Dana rear axles, as opposed to the European Taunus and Cortinas that used Atlas or Salisbury rear axles, individually depending mostly on engine size.

The Argentine models produced were the "TC1" in 4-door saloon versions (2000L, 2000GXL and 2300GXL) or 2 door fastback coupè (2300GT and 2300GT/SP) from 1974 to 1980. The "TC2"/Cortina Mk 4 was never produced, switching instead to the "TC3"/Cortina Mk5 bodies directly and also introducing the uniquely Argentine facelift-version of the fastback coupe with the "TC3" nose and its own taillights only found on this version.

Both saloon (2.0L, 2.3 Ghia and 2.3 Ghia S) and Coupè (2.3 GT, 2.3 SP and 2.3 SP5) were produced, being the only coupè bodies ever made using the TC3/Mk5 styling. No estates or 2 door saloon were ever produced. 4 and 5 speed manual and 3 speed automatic transmissions were available, the last two only on 2.3L-engined models.

Even though the Taunus/Cortina is not a usual sight anymore in many countries where it used to be a best-seller, it is indeed pretty common in Argentina, where a number of Clubs keep the cars in top condition, but it is also a regular transport with many families in the country.

Ford started production of the Sierra in 1984, replacing the Taunus definitely in 1985 and continuing production until 1993, without ever updating its styling as Europe did.

Notable media appearances[]

A black 1976 model Taunus was driven by henchman chasing James Bond (Roger Moore) - in his Lotus Esprit - in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me on the roads of Sardinia. A notable passenger of the Taunus was the iconic Jaws (Richard Kiel), who was presumably the only survivor when Bond managed to shake off the pursuing car and cause it to overshoot a cliff and plough into the roof of a barn. A blue 1948 model Taunus was driven by Steve Forrest in the very first episode of the 1965 TV series The Baron. A 1979 Ford Taunus is a main feature of the Swedish classic television show Ronny&Ragge.

Modified Taunus TCs are used as the Omega forces patrol vehicles in the spaghetti Mad Max film Warrior of the Lost World.