Absolute cult and probably the synonym for Ford Germany was the Taunus. In particular, the Taunus 12M, launched exactly 60 years ago, embodied a new beginning and the dawn of modernity with innovations that were cutting-edge at the time. It was precisely this model that was considered the benchmark in the mid-size class and was given the legendary nickname “globe”, derived from the globe placed centrally on the edge of the engine hood. The “M” also stood for “masterpiece” – and rightly so.
In September 1964, the new Taunus 17m/20m (development codes “Hummer” for the 17m and “Languste” for the 20m) was unveiled. Stylistically, the “big bathtub” follows on from its 17m P3 predecessor and remains true to the “line of reason”. Designer Wes Dahlberg recalled his 1957 Monaco concept car, but it turned out longer, wider and taller. The drag coefficient was nevertheless lower.
Also new were calculated crumple zones, the interior ventilation called “full-circle ventilation” the so-called “wide-track chassis”. The P5 was basically based on its predecessor, but the wheelbase was stretched by 75 mm, making 17M and 20M P5 the first Cologne Fords to benefit from a split propshaft. The generous chassis dimensions also ensured correspondingly lavish space inside, which meant that the P5 was able to take first place in a comparison of competitors in terms of leg and hip room in the front and rear.
The V4 “Marathon” engine with 70 hp replaced the in-line four-cylinder, while more power was available from the “Tornado” 2-liter V6 with 90 hp. The V6 engine of the 20M was based on the same design (extended by a pair of cylinders). However, since a six-cylinder engine is naturally extremely smooth-running due to its design, the balancer shaft was dispensed with. With the 20M, Ford Cologne quickly established itself as the market leader in the six-cylinder segment throughout Europe.
From spring 1965, the most powerful 17M and all 20Ms could be supplied with an automatic transmission on request for the first time. This was the “Cruise-O-Matic” (C4 transmission) produced by the parent plant in the USA, which was simultaneously used in many other models – including the Mustang. When American carmakers used to advertise the automatic transmissions of their chrome-laden road cruisers, they had to come up with particularly sonorous names for them. “TorqueFlite” was the name of the time-honored three-speed automatic at Chrysler, “DynaFlow” the first automatic transmission at Buick. That really said it all: The automatic promised smooth gliding and lazy cruising. In Germany, Ford chose the not-so-elegant word “Taunomatic” for the three-speed automatic for the Taunus.
Also starting in 1965, all 17Ms and 20Ms could be ordered with a 12-volt system and three-phase alternator if desired. Other innovations included the new heating system with combined air- and water-side temperature control, continuously variable blower speed, adjustable “Vario-Air” nozzles on the right and left side of the dashboard, and forced air ventilation via slots in the C-pillars. All models in the range, down to the most basic 17M, had an extensively equipped dashboard.
In addition to the two- and four-door sedan, there is a “Turnier” (three- and five-door as well as panel van) and an elegant “Hardtop Coupé” with fully retractable side windows. Without disturbing center posts, the curved roof arches over the interior. Karl Deutsch also built a few cabriolets again. Two-tone paint and a full-length front bench seat were popular. Upon request, all models could be ordered with an electric Golde steel sunroof starting in January 1965. The 20M/TS featured a sporty stick shift and individual reclining front seats as standard equipment for the first time. Both were also standard on the coupe version of the P5, which was initially supplied only as the 20M and 20M/TS – but from 1966 also as the 17M. In a small series, the “Serrana 67” was built in Uruguay in 1967, a pick-up on a 17M and 20M basis, the latter even with a 2.3 liter engine.
In the spring of 1967 Ford reacted to declining P5 sales figures and offered a “white series” with complete equipment.