Ford Motor Company Part IX – the Ford Cortina

Ford Cortina (Taunus)

Ford Cortina
1967 Ford Cortina Mk I KTO959E

Ford Cortina Super 2 door saloon (“Mark 1”)
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Hyundai Motor Company
Also called Ford Consul Cortina
Production 1962–1982
Body and chassis
Class Small family car
Layout FR layout
Related Ford Capri
Predecessor Ford Consul Classic
Successor Ford Sierra
Ford Telstar
Hyundai Stellar

The Ford Cortina is a car built by Ford of Britain in various guises from 1962 to 1982, and was the United Kingdom‘s best-selling car of the 1970s.

The Cortina was produced in five generations (Mark I through to Mark V, although officially the last one was called the Cortina 80) from 1962 until 1982. From 1970 onward, it was almost identical to the German-market Ford Taunus (being built on the same platform) which was originally a different car model. This was part of a Ford attempt to unify its European operations. By 1976, when the revised Taunus was launched, the Cortina was identical. The new Taunus/Cortina used the doors and some panels from the 1970 Taunus. It was replaced in 1982 by the Ford Sierra. In Asia and Australasia, it was replaced by the Mazda 626-based Ford Telstar, though Ford New Zealand did import British-made CKD kits of the Ford Sierra estate for local assembly from 1984.

The name was inspired by the name of the Italian ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo, site of the 1956 Winter Olympics. As a publicity stunt, several Cortinas were driven down the bobsled run at the resort which was called Cortina Auto-Bobbing.

Mark I (1962–1966) 

Cortina Mark I
1963 Ford Cortina Mark I pre first facelift

1963 Ford Consul Cortina Super 2 door saloon (“Mark 1”)
Production 1962–1966
933,143 units
Assembly Ford Dagenham assembly plant(Dagenham, Essex, England)
Ford Lio Ho (Zhongli City, Taoyuan County (now Zhongli District,Taoyuan City), Taiwan)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Campbellfield, Victoria, Australia
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Ulsan, South Korea
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door saloon
4-door saloon
5-door estate
Engine 1.2 L Kent I4
1.5 L Kent I4
1.6 L Twin-Cam I4
Transmission 4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 98 in (2,489 mm)
Length 168.25 in (4,274 mm) (saloon)
168.5 in (4,280 mm) (estate)
Width 62.5 in (1,588 mm)
Height 56.5 in (1,435 mm) (saloon)
57.75 in (1,467 mm) (estate)
Curb weight 1,736 lb (787 kg) (De Luxe)
2,072 lb (940 kg) (Estate)

Using the project name of “Archbishop”, management at Ford of Britain in Dagenham created a family-sized car which they could sell in large numbers. The chief designer was Roy Brown Jr., the designer of the Edsel, who had been banished to Dagenham following the failure of that car. The Cortina, aimed at buyers of the Morris Oxford Farina and Vauxhall Victor, was launched on 20 September 1962. The car was designed to be economical, cheap to run and easy and inexpensive to produce in Britain. The front-wheel drive configuration used by Ford of Germany for the new Ford Taunus P4, a similarly sized model, was rejected in favour of traditional rear-wheel drive layout. Originally to be called Ford Consul 225, the car was launched as the Consul Cortina until a modest facelift in 1964, after which it was sold simply as the Cortina.

The Cortina was available with 1200 and 1500 four-cylinder engines with all synchromesh gearbox, in two-door and four-door saloon, as well as in five-door estate (from March 1963) forms. Standard, Deluxe, Super, and GT trims were offered but not across all body styles. Early Standard models featured a simple body coloured front grille, earning it the nickname ‘Ironbar’. Since this version cost almost the same as the better equipped Deluxe it sold poorly and is very rare today. Options included heater and bench seat with column gearchange. Super versions of the estates offered the option of simulated wood side and tailgate trim. In an early example of product placement many examples of the brand new Cortina featured as “Glamcabs” in the comedy film Carry On Cabby.

There were two main variations of the Mark 1. The Mark 1a possessed elliptical front side-lights, whereas the Mark 1b had a re-designed front grille incorporating the more rectangular side-light and indicator units. A notable variant was the Ford Cortina Lotus.

The Cortina was launched a few weeks before the London Motor Show of October 1962 with a 1198 cc three-bearing engine, which was an enlarged version of the 997 cc engine then fitted in the Ford Anglia. A few months later, in January 1963, the Cortina Super was announced with a 5-bearing 1498 cc engine. Versions of the larger engine found their way into subsequent variations, including the Cortina GT which appeared in Spring 1963 with lowered suspension and engine tuned to give a claimed output of 78 bhp (58 kW; 79 PS) ahead of the 60 bhp (45 kW; 61 PS) claimed for the Cortina 1500 Super. The engines used across the Mark I range were of identical design, differing only in capacity and setup. The formula used was a four-cylinder pushrod (Over Head Valve) design that came to be known as the “pre-crossflow” version as both inlet and exhaust ports were located on the same side of the head. The most powerful version of this engine (used in the GT Cortina) was 1498 cc (1500) and produced 78 bhp (58 kW). This engine contained a different camshaft profile, a different cast of head featuring larger ports, tubular exhaust headers and a Weber double barrel carburettor.

Advertising of the revised version, which appeared at the London Motor Show in October 1964, made much of the newly introduced “Aeroflow” through-flow ventilation, evidenced by the extractor vents on the rear pillars. A subsequent test on a warm day involving the four different Cortina models manufactured between 1964 and 1979 determined that the air delivery from the simple eyeball outlets on the 1964 Mark I Cortina was actually greater than that on the Mark II, the Mark III or the Mark IV. The dashboard, instruments and controls were revised, for a the second time, having already been reworked in October 1963 when round instruments replaced the strip speedometer with which the car had been launched: twelve years later, however, the painted steel dashboard, its “knobs scattered all over the place and its heater controls stuck underneath as a very obvious afterthought” on the 1964 Mark I Cortina was felt to have aged much less well than the car’s ventilation system. It was also in 1964 that front disc brakes became standard across the range.

Ford Cortina Lotus was offered only as a two-door saloon all in white with a contrasting green side flash down each flank. It had a unique 1557 cc twin-cam engine by Lotus, but based on the Cortina’s Kent OHVengine. Aluminium was used for some body panels. For a certain time, it also had a unique A-frame rear suspension, but this proved fragile and the model soon reverted to the standard Cortina semi-elliptic rear end.

Mark II (1966–1970) 

Cortina Mark II
Ford Cortina MkII 1600E

Ford Cortina 1600E Mark II 4-door Saloon
Production 1966–1970
1,159,389 units (UK)
Assembly Ford Dagenham assembly plant(Dagenham, Essex, England, United Kingdom)
Ford Lio Ho (Zhongli City, Taoyuan County (now Zhongli District,Taoyuan City), Taiwan)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Campbellfield, Victoria, Australia
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Ulsan, South Korea
Designer Roy Haynes
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door saloon
4-door saloon
5-door estate
Engine 1.2 L “KentI4
1.3 L “KentI4
1.3 L Crossflow
1.5 L Kent I4
1.6 L “CrossflowI4
1.6 L Twin-Cam I4
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 98 in (2,489 mm)
Length 168 in (4,267 mm) (saloon)
Width 64.9 in (1,648 mm)
Height 55.7 in (1,415 mm)
Curb weight 1,890 lb (857 kg) (De Luxe)
2,032 lb (922 kg) (1600E)

The second incarnation of the Cortina was designed by Roy Haynes, and launched on 18 October 1966, four years after the original Cortina. Although the launch was accompanied by the slogan “New Cortina is more Cortina”, the car, at 168 in (427 cm) long, was fractionally shorter than before. Its 2 12 inches (6.4 cm) of extra width and curved side panels provided more interior space. Other improvements included a smaller turning circle, softer suspension, self-adjusting brakes and clutch together with the availability on the smaller-engined models, for the UK and some other markets, of a new five bearing 1300 cc engine.

A stripped-out 1200 cc version running the engine of the Ford Anglia Super was also available for certain markets where the 1300 cc engine attracted a higher rate of tax. The 1500 cc engines were at first carried over, but were discontinued in July 1967 as a new engine was on its way. A month later, in August, the 1300 received a new crossflow cylinder head design, making it more efficient, while a crossflow 1600 replaced the 1500. The new models carried additional “1300” or “1600” designations at the rear. The Cortina Lotus continued with its own unique engine, although for this generation it was built in-house by Ford themselves.

The Cortina was Britain’s most popular new car in 1967, achieving the goal that Ford had been trying to achieve since it set out to create the original Cortina back in 1962. Period reviews were favourable concerning both the styling and performance.

Again, two-door and four-door saloons were offered with base, Deluxe, Super, GT and, later, 1600E trims available, but again, not across all body styles and engine options. A few months after the introduction of the saloon versions, a four-door estate was launched, released on the UK market on 15 February 1967: much was made at the time of its class topping load capacity.

The four-door Cortina 1600E, a higher trim version, was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in October 1967, a year after the arrival of the Cortina Mark II. It combined the lowered suspension of the Cortina Lotus with the high-tune GT 1600 Kent engine and luxury trim featuring a burr walnut woodgrain-trimmed dashboard and door cappings, bucket seating, leather-clad aluminium sports steering wheel, and full instrumentation inside, while a black grille, tail panel, front fog lights, and plated Rostyle wheels on radial tyres featured outside.

Ford New Zealand developed its own variant of this model called the GTE.

For 1969, the Mark II range was given subtle revisions, with separate “FORD” block letters mounted on the bonnet and boot lids, a blacked out grille and chrome strips on top and below the taillights running the full width of the tail panel marking them out.

A 3.0-litre Essex V6-engined variant was developed privately in South Africa by Basil Green Motors, and was sold through the Grosvenor Ford network of dealers as the Cortina Perana; a similar model appeared later in Britain and was known as the Cortina Savage. Savage was available with 1600E trim in all three body styles, while her South African stablemate was offered only as a four-door saloon initially with GT and later E trim.

TC Mark III (1970–1976)

Cortina TC Mark III
1972 Ford Cortina MkIII GXL ca 2000cc

1972 Ford Cortina Mk3 GXL four door.
Production 1970–1976
1,126,559 units
Assembly Ford Dagenham assembly plant(Dagenham, Essex, England, United Kingdom)
Ford Lio Ho (Zhongli City, Taoyuan County (now Zhongli District,Taoyuan City), Taiwan)
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1962–1975
Campbellfield, Victoria, Australia
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Ulsan, South Korea
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door saloon
4-door saloon
5-door estate
2-door coupé utility (P100)
Related Ford Taunus TC
Engine 1.3 L Crossflow I4
1.6 L Crossflow I4
1.6 L Pinto TL16 I4
2.0 L Pinto TL20 I4
2.0 L Essex V4
2.5 L Essex V6
3.0 L Essex V6
3.3 L Falcon 200 I6
4.1 L Falcon 250 I6
Transmission 3/4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 101 in (2,565 mm)
Length 167.75 in (4,261 mm) (saloon)
171.5 in (4,356 mm) (estate)
Width 67 in (1,702 mm)
Height 52 in (1,321 mm)

In the late 1960s, Ford set about developing the third-generation Cortina,the MK3, which would be produced in higher volumes than before, following the recent merger of Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany into the modern-day Ford of Europe. The car marked the convergence of the German Taunus and British Cortina platforms with only minor differences between the two, hence the car’s internal name TC1, standing forTaunus-Cortina. It was also the last European car engineered by Harley Copp as Vice President Engineering and head of Brentwood, before he returned to Detroit.

Ford UK originally wanted to call it something other than Cortina, but the name stuck. Although the Mark III looked significantly larger than the boxier Mark 2 Cortina,it was actually the same overall length, but 4 inches (100 mm) wider. Within the overall length, a wheelbase lengthened by more than 3 inches (76 mm) also contributed to the slightly more spacious interior.

The MK3 Cortina was inspired by the contemporary “coke bottle” design language which had emanated from Detroit – the car sported similar fluted bonnet and beltline design elements to the North American Mercury Montego and Ford LTD of the same era. It replaced both the MK2 Cortina and the larger, more expensive Ford Corsair offering more trim levels and the option of larger engines than the MK2 Cortina. The MK3’s sister car – the Taunus TC – sold in continental Europe was subtly different in appearance, longer front indicators different door skins and rear wing pressings that toned down the drooping beltline in order to lose the “coke-bottle” appearance of the Cortina.

The MacPherson strut front suspension was replaced with more conventional double A-arm suspension (Also known as double wishbone suspension) which gave the MK3 a much softer ride on the road’ but did give the larger engines distinct understeer.

Trim levels for the MK3 Cortina were Base, L (for Luxury), XL (Xtra Luxury), GT (Grand Touring) and GXL (Grand Xtra Luxury).

The early MK3 Cortinas came with the same 1300 and the 1600cc engines as the MK2 Cortinas,(except for the 1600CC GXL)these engines are known as the Kent, crossflow engine or over head valve (OHV) engine. There was also the introduction of the 2000cc engine, the single overhead cam engine, now known as the pinto engine. SOHC. The OHV Kent unit was fitted with a single choke carburetor and was used for the early models up to GT trim, the SOHC twin choke carburetor Pinto unit was used for the GT and GXL models. The GXL was also offered in 1600 in the later Cortina MK3s.

In left-hand drive markets, the 1600cc OHC was replaced by a twin-carb OHV (Kent) unit not offered in the home market, in order to distinguish it from the competing Taunus which only came with the OHC Pinto engine. 2.0 L variants used a larger version of the 1600cc Pinto unit and were available in all trim levels except base. Base, L and XL versions were available as a five-door estate.

Although no longer than its predecessor, the MK3 was a heavier car, reflecting a trend towards improving secondary safety by making car bodies more substantial. Weight was also increased by the stout cross-member incorporated into the new simplified front suspension set-up, and by the inclusion of far more sound deadening material which insulated the cabin from engine and exhaust noise, making the car usefully quieter than its predecessor, though on many cars the benefit was diminished by high levels of wind noise apparently resulting from poor door fit around the windows.[17] Four-speed manual transmissions were by now almost universally offered in the UK for this class of car, and contemporary road tests commented on the rather large gap between second and third gear, and the resulting temptation to slip the clutch when accelerating through the gears in the smaller-engined cars: it was presumably in tacit acknowledgment of the car’s marginal power-to-weight ratio that Ford no longer offered the automatic transmission option with the smallest 1298 cc-engined Cortina.

Four headlights and Rostyle wheels marked out the GT and GXL versions, while the GXL also had bodyside rub strips, a vinyl roof and a brushed aluminum and black boot lid panel on the GXLs, while the GTs had a black painted section of the boot with a chrome trim at either site of it. All pre-facelift models featured a downward sloping dashboard with deeply recessed dials and all coil suspension all round. In general styling and technical make up, many observed that the Mk3 Cortina aped the Vauxhall Victor FD of 1967.

The Cortina went on sale on 23 October 1970, but sales got off to a particularly slow start because of production difficulties that culminated with a ten-week strike at Ford’s plant between April and June 1971, which was at the time reported to have cost production of 100,000 vehicles, equivalent to almost a quarter of the output for a full year.

1972 Ford Cortina (North America)

 1972 Ford Cortina MkIII (North America)

During 1971 the spring rates and damper settings were altered along with the front suspension bushes which reduced the bounciness of the ride and low speed ride harshness which had generated press criticism at the time of the Cortina III’s launch.

Volumes recovered, and with the ageing Austin/Morris 1100/1300 now losing out to various newer models, the Cortina was Britain’s top selling car in 1972, closely followed by the Escort. It remained the UK’s top selling car until 1976 when it overtaken by the Mk2 Escort.

In late 1973 the Cortina MK3 was given a facelift, and was redesignated TD. The main difference was the dashboard and clocks, no longer did it slope away from the driver’s line of sight. But shared the same dash and clocks as the later MK4 and MK5 Cortinas, upgraded trim levels and revised grilles, rectangular headlights for the XL, GT and the new 2000E (the “E” standing for executive), which replaced the GXL. The 1.3 L Kent engine was carried over but now, 1.6 L models all used the more modern 1.6 L SOHC engine. Whilst the TD Cortina still had double A-arm suspension with coils at the front and a four-link system at the rear, handling was improved. The 2000E reverted to the classy treatment offered by the 1600E and later mk4/5 Ghia models instead of the faux wood-grain trim offered by the GXL. The 2000E was also available as an estate version.

1973 Ford Cortina III 2000E in England

 Ford Cortina Mark III 2000E (i.e. executive version), with a pre-facelift Cortina Mark I de luxe alongside.

Like many other Cortinas, Mk.3s were prone to rust and as a result only about 1000 now survive. Because of their rarity and the fact that they are now seen as an iconic car of the mid-70s, prices for MK.3s are rising steadily, with the best examples fetching several thousand pounds. The Mark III was never sold in the US, although it was available in Canada until 1973.

In addition to four-cylinder models, the Mark III was available in South Africa as the ‘Big Six’ L and GL with the Essex V6 2.5 L engine and Perana, GT and XLE with the Essex V6 3.0 L engine. There was also a pick-up truck version available. Ford Australia built its own versions using both the UK four-cylinder engines (1.6 and 2.0) and locally made inline six-cylinder engines from its Falcon line.

For Japan, the cars were literally narrowed by a few millimeters on arrival in the country in order that they fit into a lower tax bracket determined by exterior dimensions – this was done by bending the wheel arches inwards. The Cortina was joined by the Ford Capri in Japan and was imported by Kintetsu Motors, an exclusive retailer of Ford products.

Mark IV (1976–1979)

Cortina Mark IV

Production 1976–1979
1,131,850 units (including Mk V)
Assembly Ford Dagenham assembly plant(Dagenham, Essex, England, United Kingdom)
Ford Lio Ho (Zhongli City, Taoyuan County (now Zhongli District,Taoyuan City), Taiwan)
Campbellfield, Victoria, Australia
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Ulsan, South Korea
Designer Uwe Bahnsen
Body and chassis
Body style
Related Ford Taunus TC2
Engine 1.3 L Crossflow I4
1.6 L Crossflow I4
1.6 L Pinto TL16 I4
2.0 L Pinto TL20 I4
2.0 L Cologne V6
2.3 L Cologne V6
3.0 L Essex V6
3.3 L Falcon 200 I6
4.1 L Falcon 250 I6
Transmission 3/4-speed manual
3-speed automatic

The fourth-generation Cortina was a more conventional design than its predecessor, but this was largely appreciated by fleet buyers. Generally a rebody of the Mark III, as an integration of Ford’s model range, this car was really a rebadged Ford Taunus. However, although the updated Taunus was introduced to Continental Europe in January 1976, Ford were able to continue selling the Cortina Mark III in undiminished numbers in the UK until they were ready to launch its successor as the Dagenham built Cortina Mark IV, which went on sale on 29 September 1976.

Many parts were carried over, most notably the running gear. The raised driving position and the new instrument panel had, along with some of the suspension upgrades, already been introduced to the Cortina Mark III in 1975, so that from the driving position the new car looked much more familiar to owners of recent existing Cortinas than from the outside. Cinema audiences received an early glimpse of the new Cortina (or Taunus) through its appearance in the James Bond The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 film.

The most obvious change was the new body, which achieved the marketing department objective of larger windows giving a better view out and a brighter feel to the cabin, but at the expense of body weight which was increased, albeit only marginally, by approximately 30 lb (14 kg). Ford claimed an overall increase in window area of some 15%, with “40% better visibility” through the wider deeper back window. Regardless of how these figures were computed, there must have been substantial weight-saving gains through reduced steel usage in the design, given the unavoidable extra weight of glass.

This series spawned the first Ghia top-of-the-range model, which replaced the 2000E. The 2.3-litre Ford Cologne V6 engine was introduced in 1977 as an engine above the 2.0 L Pinto engine, already a staple of the Capri and Granada ranges. However, 2.3-litre Cortinas never sold particularly well in the UK. The Cologne V6 was certainly a much smoother and more refined power unit than the Pinto, but the V6 models were more expensive to fuel and insure and were only slightly faster, being about 0.5 seconds faster from 0–60 and having a top speed of about 109 mph compared to the 104 mph of the 2.0-litre models. The 2.0 Ford Cologne V6 engine continued to be offered on Taunus badged cars in parallel with the Pinto unit, and offers here an interesting comparison with the similarly sized in-line four-cylinder Pinto engine. The V6 with a lower compression ratio offered less power and less performance, needing over an extra second to reach 50 mph (80 km/h). It did, however, consume 12½% less fuel and was considered by motor journalists to be a far quieter and smoother unit. The 2.3 L was available to the GL, S and Ghia variants. A 1.6 Ghia option was also introduced at the same time as the 2.3 V6 models in response to private and fleet buyers who wanted Ghia refinements with the improved fuel economy of the smaller 1.6 Pinto engine. Few cars were sold with the 1.6 engine though, the 2.0 Pinto was always by far the most common engine option for Ghia models.

Two-door and four-door saloons and a five-door estate were offered with all other engines being carried over. However, at launch only 1.3-engined cars could be ordered in the UK with the two-door body, and then only with “standard” or “L” equipment packages. In practice, relatively few two-door Mark IV Cortinas were sold. There was a choice of base, L, GL, S (for Sport) and Ghia trims, again not universal to all engines and body styles. Rostyle wheels were fitted as standard to all Mk.4 GL, S and Ghia models, with alloy wheels available as an extra cost option. The dashboard was carried over intact from the last of the Mark III Cortinas while the estate used the rear body pressings of the previous 1970 release Taunus.

1977 Ford Cortina MkIV ZA

 South African-built 1977 Ford Cortina Mark IV

Despite its status as Britain’s bestselling car throughout its production run the Mk.4 is now the rarest Cortina, with poor rustproofing and the model’s popularity with banger racers cited as being the main reasons for its demise. Particularly scarce are the 2.0 and 2.3S models which were discontinued when the Mk.5 was introduced in August 1979.

Ford Australia built its own versions with the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Pinto unit and the Ford Falcon’s 3.3 and 4.1 L 6-cylinder unit. Interior door hardware and steering columns were shared with the Falcons and the Australian versions also had their own instrument clusters, optional air conditioning, and much larger bumpers. It also had side indicators. A considerable number were exported to New Zealand under a free trade agreement where they were sold alongside locally assembled models similar to those available in the UK. In South Africa, the Mark IV was built with the Kent 1.6 and the three-litre “Essex” V6.

Mark V (1979–1982)

Cortina Mark V
1982 Ford Cortina 80 Mk5 2.0GL

Ford Cortina GL Mark V Saloon
Production 1979–1982
production – see Mark IV
Assembly Ford Dagenham assembly plant(Dagenham, England, United Kingdom)
Ford Lio Ho (Zhongli City, Taoyuan County (now Zhongli District,Taoyuan City), Taiwan)
Campbellfield, Victoria, Australia
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Ulsan, South Korea
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Body and chassis
Body style
Related Ford Taunus TC3
Engine 1.3 L Crossflow I4
1.6 L Crossflow I4
1.6 L Pinto TL16 I4
2.0 L Pinto TL20 I4

The Mark V was announced on 24 August 1979. Officially the programme was code named Teresa, although externally it was marketed as “Cortina 80”, but the Mark V tag was given to it immediately on release by the press, insiders and the general public.

Largely an update to the Mark IV, it was really a step between a facelift and a rebody. The Mark V differentiated itself from the Mark IV by having revised headlights with larger turn indicators incorporated (which were now visible on the side too), a wider slatted grille said to be more aerodynamically efficient, a flattened roof, larger glass area, slimmer C-pillars with revised vent covers, larger slatted tail lights (on saloon models) and upgraded trim.

Prices started at £3,475 for a basic 1.3-litre-engined model.

Improvements were also made to the engine range, with slight improvements to both fuel economy and power output compared to the Mk.IV. The 2.3 V6 engine was given electronic ignition and a slight boost in power output to 116 bhp (87 kW; 118 PS), compared to the 108 bhp (81 kW; 109 PS) of the Mk.IV. Ford also claimed improved corrosion protection on Mk.V models; as a result, more Mk.V’s have survived; however, corrosion was still quite a problem.

The estate models combined the Mk IV’s bodyshell (which was initially from the 1970 Ford Taunus) with Mk V front body pressings. A pick-up (“bakkie”) version was also built in South Africa. These later received a longer bed and were then marketed as the P100.

Ford Cortina V Estate Queens Road Cambridge

 Ford Cortina Mark V Estate
1981 Ford Cortina Mark V pick-up

 1981 Cortina Mark V pick-up

Variants included the Base, L, GL, and Ghia (all available in saloon and estate forms), together with Base and L spec 2-door sedan versions (this bodystyle was available up to Ghia V6 level on overseas markets). The replacement for the previous Mk.4 S models was an S pack of optional extras which was available as an upgrade on most Mk.5 models from L trim level upwards. For the final model year of 1982 this consisted of front and rear bumper overriders, sports driving lamps, an S badge on the boot, tachometer, 4 spoke steering wheel, revised suspension settings, front gas shock absorbers,’Sports’ gear lever knob, sports road wheels, 185/70 SR x 13 tyres and Fishnet Recaro sports seats (optional). Various “special editions” were announced, including the Calypso and Carousel. The final production model was the Crusader special edition which was available as a 1.3, 1.6, and 2.0 saloons or 1.6 and 2.0 estates. The Crusader was a final run-out model in 1982, along with the newly introduced Sierra. It was the best-specified Cortina produced to date and 30,000 were sold, which also made it Ford’s best-selling special edition model. Another special edition model was the Cortina Huntsman, of which 150 were produced. By this time, the Cortina was starting to feel the competition from a rejuvenated (and Opel influenced) Vauxhall, which with the 1981 release Cavalier J-Car, was starting to make inroads on the Cortina’s traditional fleet market, largely helped by the front wheel drive benefits of weight.

Up to and including 1981, the Cortina was the best selling car in Britain. Even during its final production year, 1982, the Cortina was Britain’s second best selling car and most popular large family car. On the continent, the Taunus version was competing with more modern and practical designs like the Talbot Alpine, Volkswagen Passat, and Opel Ascona.

The very last Cortina – a silver Crusader – rolled off the Dagenham production line on 22 July 1982 on the launch of the Sierra, though there were still a few leaving the forecourt as late as 1987, with one final unregistered Cortina GL leaving a Derbyshire dealership in 2005. The last Cortina built remains in the Ford Heritage Centre in Dagenham, Essex, not far from the factory where it was assembled.

1982 was also the year in which the Cortina lost its title as Britain’s best selling car, having held that position every year since 1972. It was still selling well though, and the number one position had been taken by another Ford product: the Escort.

Sales success

In 1967, the Ford Cortina interrupted the Austin/Morris 1100/1300s reign as Britain’s best selling car. It was Britain’s best selling car for nine out of ten years between 1972 and 1981, narrowly being outsold by the Ford Escort in 1976.

The final incarnation of the Cortina was Britain’s best selling car in 1980 and 1981, also topping the sales charts for 1979 when the range was making the transition from the fourth generation model to the fifth – in that year it achieved a British record of more than 193,000 sales. Even in 1982, when during its final year of production it was second only to the Ford Escort.

The Cortina was also a very popular selling car in New Zealand throughout its production and continued to be sold new until 1984.

Although the last Cortina rolled off the production line in the summer of 1982, thousands of them remained unsold. More than 11,000 were sold in 1983, and the final six examples didn’t find homes until 1987. Its demise left Ford without a traditional four-door saloon of this size, as the Sierra was initially available only as a hatchback or estate. Ford later addressed this by launching a saloon version of the Sierra (the Sierra Sapphire) at the time of a major facelift in early 1987. It also added an Escort-based four-door saloon, the Orion, to the range in 1983.

A total of nearly 2,600,000 Cortinas were sold in Britain, and in March 2009 it was revealed that the Cortina was still the third most popular car ever sold there, despite having been out of production for nearly three decades.

The BBC Two documentary series Arena had a segment about the car and its enthusiasts.

Racing and rallying

The Cortina also raced in rallies and Lotus did some sportier editions of the Cortina Mark I and Mark II which were marketed as the Ford Cortina Lotus.

Powered by a Lotus engine, the Ford Cortina was a notable competitor in the American-based Trans Am Series. In the inaugural series in 1966, Canadian born Australian driver Allan Moffat shocked the outright cars when he drove a Cortina Lotus to outright victory in Round 3, a 250 mi (400 km) race at the Bryar Motorsports Park in Loudon, New Hampshire.

This car is, today, used for racing, because of its powerful cast iron engine. The car can have imported cylinder heads, with hydraulic valves, which give an enormous power boost.

The Cortina was also a popular car in UK Banger racing in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s proving to be a competitive car and also lasting it out in Demolition Derbys.

Other cars using Cortina engines

The Kent engines used in the Cortina (popularly known as the “Crossflow”), being lightweight, reliable and inexpensive, were popular with several low-volume sports car manufacturers, including Morgan who used them in the 1962–81 4/4 (and continue to use Ford engines in most of their current models). The engines are also found in a number of British kit cars, and until recently was the basis of Formula Ford racing, until replaced by the “Zetec” engine.

The Kent engines were also used in several smaller Fords, most notably the Escort, lower end Capris and Fiesta.

The Pinto overhead cam units used in the Mk.III onwards, as well as being fitted to contemporary Capris, Granadas and Transits, were carried over to the Sierra for its first few years of production, before gradually being phased out by the newer CVH and DOHC units. Like the Kent Crossflow, it was also extensively used in kit cars – as a result many Cortinas were scrapped solely for their engines – the 2.0L Pintos being the most popular.

In recent years, the opposite phenomenon has become popular among enthusiasts, where classic Cortinas have been retrofitted with modern Ford engines – the most popular unit being the Zetec unit from the Mondeo and Focus. The Zetec, although originally intended only for front wheel drive installation can be adapted fairly easily owing to the engine’s use as a replacement for Kent units in Formula Ford.

Non-United Kingdom sales and manufacture

The Cortina was also sold in other right hand drive markets such as the Republic of Ireland where it was assembled locally, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand (local production 1961-76 as a joint venture with Anglo-Thai Motor Company, Ford’s import distributor), Malta and South Africa. Mark III Cortina estates were adopted as police cars in Hong Kong. The Cortina was also assembled in left hand drive (carrying Taunus badging) in the Philippines, in South Korea (by Hyundai), Turkey (by Ford-Otosan in Kocaeli), and in Taiwan (by Ford Lio Ho) until the early 1980s.

The first two generations of the car were also sold through American Ford dealers in the 1960s. The Cortina competed fairly successfully there against most of the other small imports of its day, including GM‘s Opel Kadett, the Renault Dauphine, and the just-appearing Toyotas and Datsuns, although none of them approached the phenomenal success of the Volkswagen Beetle. The Cortina was withdrawn from the US market when Ford decided to produce a domestic small car in 1971, the Ford Pinto, though it continued in Canada until the end of the 1973 model year.

The third generation Cortina was also sold in some continental European markets, such as Scandinavia, alongside the Taunus. A small number were exported to Japan, with the rear of the bodyshell compressed to make it narrower – this was because cars in Japan were taxed on exterior dimensions, and having a narrower body enabled the Cortina to avoid being heavily taxed. The engines offered to Japanese customers were the 1.6 litre and the 2.0 litre with the higher trim package, however, Japanese customers were liable for more annual road tax for the 2.0 litre unit, which affected sales.

The Ford Cortina was also assembled in the Amsterdam Ford Factory from the launch in 1962 until 1975. Production was for the Dutch market, but also for export to non EU countries and even for export to the UK if the demand there was higher than the UK production capacity.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Cortina range generally followed that of Britain. Overall CKD assembly ran from 1962 to 1984, at Ford’s Lower Hutt (Seaview) plant.

The Mark IV Cortina range, introduced into local assembly early in 1977, was very similar to that offered in the UK – a main specification difference, however, was the use of metric instrumentation, and that a 2-door sedan was not offered. Engine sizes of 1.6 and 2.0 litres were available. The 2.0 L was a very popular fleet vehicle and the transport of thousands of sales reps in New Zealand over the years.

Additionally there were limited imports of Australian Mark IV Cortinas, equipped with both 2.0 four-cylinder engines which featured more emissions control equipment than the UK-sourced cars, and the Falcon’s 4.1 L six-cylinder engines.

The Mark V range was introduced early in 1980, a range that featured 1.6 base, 2.0 L, 2.0 GL, 2.0 Ghia, 2.3 V6 Ghia, and wagon variants for the 1.6 base and 2.0 L. In 1982 the 2.0 GL model was discontinued and replaced with a 2.0 S (Sport) model, and unlike in the UK, it was a model in its own right. A 2.0 “van” was also introduced – essentially a Cortina estate without rear seats, aimed towards fleet buyers.

All 2.0-litre models had the option of automatic transmission, and with the 2.3 V6, it was the only transmission offered.

A unique option, offered under guarantee by a dealership, South Auckland Ford, was a turbocharger.

The Ghia models were similarly equipped to UK models, but only the 2.3 V6 models featured imported Ford alloy wheels. Ford ‘Rostyle’ steel rims were fitted to all 2.0 GL, Ghia and S models, optionally on the other models. New Zealand Ghia models, however, did not feature a steel sliding sunroof (fitted as standard on UK Ghia models), although some models did feature an aftermarket sunroof.

Unlike Australia, the Cortina had been a popular car in New Zealand, and was missed by many when it ceased production in mid-1983, notably after Ford New Zealand had scoured the globe for surplus assembly kits, a number of which came from Cork in the Republic of Ireland. Station wagons (estate models) remained available until 1984. The Cortina range was finally replaced by the 1983 Ford Telstar range and the 1984 Ford Sierra station wagon. Sales had been dropping in the early 1980s, however, with the average age of buyers in 1981 being between 45 and 54. Quality and fitment were also issues of concern, with the local assembler welcoming the Cortina’s Mazda-built replacement.[34]

Compared with Britain and many other countries where the Cortina was originally exported, in New Zealand it has a far superior survival rate due to the climate being far drier and more favourable to the preservation of rust-free classic cars. It is not uncommon to see examples in everyday use especially New Zealand’s rural areas, and obtaining spare parts to keep them on the roads is yet to become a significant problem.


P100 pick-up

From 1971, the Cortina formed the basis of the Ford P100 pick-up truck, which was produced in South Africa purely for that market. The vehicle had a six-foot load bed with a locally sourced rear body.

In the mid-1970s grey imports of this model to the UK spurred Ford to examine the market for official import. The study culminated in the P100 which was a heavily revised version of the South African product with a seven-foot loadbed and T88 “Pinto” engine. The vehicle was for RHD markets only and was developed under the codename “Atlas” to reflect its market leading one tonne payload capability.

Other markets within Ford’s European operation also wanted the vehicle, so when time came for a follow on product it was decided to source it from a European plant. At the time, Ford had divested from South Africa and sold its stake in Samcor, although it continued to assemble Ford models under licence. All production of the European engineered and Sierra-bodied P100, codename PE45, was produced for Europe in the Azambuja plant in Portugal. This vehicle was available in both RHD and LHD forms.

Ironically, the MK5 Cortina-based P100 was launched in 1982, the year that the standard Cortina was being replaced by the Sierra. However, it remained a popular choice with pick-up truck buyers until the Sierra-based P100 was launched in 1988; this version lasted until the end of Sierra production in early 1993.

South Africa

In South Africa, the Cortina range included V6 “Essex”-engined variants, in both 2.5L and 3.0L forms.

From July 1971, a locally designed pick-up truck version (known in Afrikaans as a “bakkie”) was also offered, and this remained in production after the Cortina was replaced by the Sierra. The Cortina pick-up was exported to the UK, in a lengthened wheelbase form, as the Ford P100 until 1988, when Ford divested from South Africa, and a European built pick-up truck version of the Sierra was introduced in its place.

The Mk V model range, introduced in 1980 for the South African market included: 1.3L (1980–1982), 1.6L GL (1980–1983), 2.0 GL, Ghia, (1980–1984), 3.0 XR6 (1980–1983), 1.6L Estate (1980–1983), 2.0 GL Estate (1980–1983), 3.0 GLS (1980–1984), 1.6 One-Tonner (1980–1985), 3.0 One-Tonner (1980–1985).

The XR6 was a sports version which used the Essex v6 and featured body aerofoils and sport seats.

In 1981 a version called the XR6 Intercepter was released as a homologation special made to compete in production car racing. They featured triple Weber DCNF carburetors, aggressive camshaft, tubular exhaust manifold, suspension revisions and wider Ronal 13 inch wheels. They produced 118 kW and were only available in red. 200 were produced.

Later on a special edition XR6 TF was released to celebrate ‘Team Fords’ racing success with the XR6. They were essentially XR6s in exterior and interior Team Ford colours, which were blue and white.

In 1983 a special version was created by Simpson Ford to appease the demand for an Intercepter-like Cortina and was sold through Ford dealerships countrywide. It was called the XR6 X-ocet and featured a Holley carbureter, aggressive camshaft and tuned exhaust. They came in red with a white lower quarter and did 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds with a top speed of 195 km/h (121 mph).

South African Mk V models differed slightly from UK models with different wheels, bumpers and interior trim.

The last brand new Cortina was sold in South Africa by mid-1984. It was often the country’s top selling car, being far more popular than the Sierra, Telstar and Mondeo models that followed it.

Ford Motor Company Part VIII – the Ford Corsair

Ford Corsair

The name Ford Corsair was used both for a car produced by Ford of Britain between 1963 and 1970 and for an unrelated Nissan based automobile marketed by Ford Australia between 1989 and 1992.

Ford Consul Corsair (1963-1965), Ford Corsair V4 (1965-1970) – Britain

Ford Consul Corsair
1965 Ford Consul Corsair
Manufacturer Ford of Britain
Production 1964–1970
310,000 made
Assembly Halewood, England (1964-1969)
Dagenham, England (1969-1970)
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door saloon
2-door convertible
5-door estate car
Layout FR layout
Wheelbase 101.0 in (2,565 mm)
Length 176.75 in (4,489 mm)
Width 63.5 in (1,613 mm)
Height 55.5 in (1,410 mm)
Kerb weight 2,194 lb (995 kg)
Successor Ford Cortina mark 3

The Ford Consul Corsair, manufactured by Ford Motor Company in the United Kingdom, was a midsize car introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1963 and available as either a saloon or estate from 1964 until 1970. There was also a convertible version built by Crayford, which is now very rare and highly sought after as a classic. Two-door Corsair saloons are also rare, being built only to order in the UK, although volume two-door production continued for some export markets. Only one example of the fleet model, the Consul Corsair Standard, is known to exist.

1966 Ford Corsair V4 Abbott estate

Ford Corsair V4 estate 1966. The stylish Corsair estate conversion was produced by Abbott. It was more expensive than most permutations of the Cortina estate but offered no more load carrying capability. It was never a big seller.

The Corsair replaced the Consul Classic range and was essentially a long wheelbase re-skinned Cortina (the windscreen and much of the internal panelling was the same). The Corsair had unusual and quite bold styling for its day, with a sharp horizontal V-shaped crease at the very front of the car into which round headlights were inset. This gave the car an apparently aerodynamic shape. The jet-like styling extended to the rear where sharply pointed vertical light clusters hinted at fins. The overall styling was clearly inspired by the early 1960s Ford Thunderbird, though in transferring the look to a British family car, the overall effect is something of an acquired taste. This American styling cue had also been adapted by Ford, in Germany, for the (at the time controversially styled) 1960 Ford Taunus 17M.

1967 Ford Corsair V4 2-door convertible

Ford Corsair V4 2-door convertible 1967. The Corsair convertible was a product of Crayford Auto Developmentswhich was first exhibited at the London Motor Show in October 1966

1969 Ford Corsair 2000E 1996cc

With the vinyl roofed Corsair 2000E Ford attempted to compete on price half a class up in the category dominated (in the UK) by the Rover 2000 andTriumph 2000.

The car was initially offered with the larger 60 bhp (45 kW), single carburettor, 1.5 L Kent engine that was also used in the smaller Cortina, in standard and GT form. In 1964 twins Tony and Michael Brookes’ team in a Kent engined (straight four) Corsair GT set 13 World Speed records at Monza in Italy averaging over 100 mph (160 km/h) for 15,000 miles (24,000 km) in the under 1500 cc class. The range was revised in September 1965, adopting new Ford Essex V4 engines that many say spoiled rather than enhanced the car, as it had an out of balance couple, making it rough at idle and coarse on the road. This engine was available in 1663 cc form at first, but later in 1966, a larger 2.0 litre L version was offered alongside. One marketing tag line for the V4 models was “The Car That Is Seen But Not Heard”, which was a real stretch of the ad man’s puff, given the inherent characteristics of the engine. The other tag was “I’ve got a V in my bonnet”. A 3.0 litre conversion using the Ford Essex V6 engine was available in Britain in conjunction with Jeff Uren‘s Race company and was known as the “Corsair Savage.”

An estate car by Abbott was added to the range on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show in March 1966 and in 1967, the Corsair also underwent the Executive treatment like its smaller Cortina sibling, giving the 2000E model with dechromed flanks, which necessitated non styled-in door handles, special wheel trims, reversing lights, a vinyl roof and upgraded cabin fittings. The 2000E, priced at £1,008 in 1967, was positioned as a cut price alternative to the Rover 2000, the introduction of which had effectively defined a new market segment for four cylinder executive sedans in the UK three years earlier: the Corsair 2000E comfortably undercut the £1,357 Rover 2000 and, indeed, the less ambitiously priced Humber Sceptre then retailing at an advertised £1,047.

The Corsair’s performance was good for a car of its type and period, with a top speed in its 2.0 L V4 version of 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) as measured by the speedometer,[6] and exceptional acceleration at full throttle resulting from the progressive 28/36mm twin-choke Weber downdraught carburettor (“progressive” in the sense that second carburettor would start to open only once the first was fully open). A popular story circulated that if the car were driven at speeds over 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), its wedge-shaped nose would generate sufficient lift to make the vehicle dangerously unstable. However, this story was shown to be an urban myth when Corsair set World records at Monza (see above), running at 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) for hour upon hour without the slightest apparent effect.

The Corsair was replaced by the Mk 3 Cortina in 1970, at which time the enlarged Cortina became Ford’s midsized car, and a new smaller model, the Escort, had already filled in the size below. The new Ford Capri took on the performance and sporty aspirations of the company.

Over its six-year production, 310,000 Corsairs were built.

Ford Corsair UA – Australia

Ford Corsair UA
1989–1992 Ford Corsair (UA) GL sedan, photographed in Sutherland, New South Wales, Australia.

Ford Corsair (UA) GL sedan
Manufacturer Nissan Australia
Production 1989–1992
Assembly Clayton, Australia
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
Layout FF layout
Related Nissan Pintara
Engine 1,974 cc CA20E I4
2,389 cc KA24E I4
Predecessor Ford Telstar
Successor Ford Telstar

Between 1989 and 1992, the Ford Corsair name was used by Ford Australia for a badge engineered version of the Nissan Pintara (a version of the Bluebird). Known during development as ‘Project Matilda‘, the Corsair was produced under a model-sharing scheme known as the Button Plan. It was offered as a four-door sedan and as a five-door hatchback, in GL and Ghia trim levels with 2.0 L (CA20E) and 2.4 L (KA24E) four cylinder engines. The Corsair was intended to replace the Mazda 626-based Ford Telstar, which was imported from Japan. The two were sold side-by-side in the Australian Ford range, with the Telstar only available as the high-performance TX5 hatchback. When Nissan closed its Australian plant in 1992, the Corsair was discontinued and the imported Telstar once again became Ford’s main offering in the medium size segment, until being replaced by the Mondeo in 1995.