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Lotus Cortina MK1 & MK2

Lotus Cortina MK1 & MK2 Published: 12th Jul 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Lotus Cortina MK1 & MK2
Lotus Cortina MK1 & MK2
Lotus Cortina MK1 & MK2
Lotus Cortina MK1 & MK2
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The magic of Lotus turned an ordinary family saloon into a road and track icon and the Cortina-Lotus (to give this Elan-powered two-door its correct title) remains loved for its heritage, elegant simplicity and Q Car appearance 55 years since its launch. The later Mk2 version isn’t quite as well regarded yet it’s the better, more rounded road car. Just watch out for cunning fakes on all models.


The Lotus Cortina was very first “fast Ford” as such remains a whole lot of fun to drive even if this Lotus is about as brisk as today’s typical repmobile. What the bare figures can’t convey however is the raw thrill of this Ford and, best of all perhaps, this discreet tuned family saloon feels fast at 70 so that you don’t have to break the legal limits to wring the best out of one – unlike so many moderns.

Handling is entertaining to say the least; opinions still rage whether the original ‘A frame’ rear suspension is superior to the retrograde rethink for 1965 but it’s easier to live with although dilutes that Lotus character, feeling little different to the Cortina GT said one road test. The added civility of the Mk2s makes them better for touring and handles just as well.


Six figure sums aren’t uncommon for something special (mostly early alloy panelled pre-airflow Consul badged models) and in excess of 50 grand is the current currency for LCs in A1 order with passable ones still commanding more than £20K – projects start from around £12,000 but have to be genuine.

Converted GTs (and there are plenty around) are worth nothing like an original, although are entirely good usable cars without being so precious. Mk2s, on average, are worth 50 per cent less. Officially 3301 were made but fakes were always rife so check with an owners’ club.


1963 Announced in January 1963, actual deliveries didn’t start until the summer; Elan engine and gear ratios with Seven style rear suspension

1964 In line with the Cortina range, a revised model was introduced benefitting from a new nose as well as a less austere interior, which also featured Ford’s now famous Aeroflow ventilation system

1965 Poor build and issue with body panel and that rear suspension saw Ford demand that GT parts were used instead while the famous ‘2000E’ gearbox replaced the Elan type

1967 With the Mk2 launched, Ford took the opportunity to bring the build in-house and badge it TwinCam. Mk2 always used SE engine tune plus higher gearing

1968 In common with the GT and 1600E the dash is revised and the handbrake becomes a centrally positioned pull up type

Best models

Consul badged

Purists like these most basic models best and their bespoke bits are like gold dust. If working properly, the coil spring rear suspension gave better grip

Post ’64

While not so ‘Evo’ revision to GT hardware did mean better build durability and interior while gearing changes aided touring qualities


For decades seen as the poor relation yet it’s the better car – even if it lacks Lotus aura but prices handsomely cheaper. Some convertibles made

Top five faults


Can be oh so convincing that even experts have been fooled. Chief tell-tale signs are a special panel to the boot floor, extra axle radius arms, reinforced front strut top mounts, added bulkhead flitch panels, boot-mounted battery, relocated horn (behind the grille) and instruments unique to Lotus


The A-frame/coil spring set up was tainted by frailty where the axle tugged away and broke it (check for a succession of welding bodge ups). Lotus enjoyed a higher ratio steering box along with lengthened track control arms, together with a larger 0.94inch front anti-roll bar


Normally Kingfisher Blue cam covers while green-painted ones signified SE, standard to Mk2s, optional on Mk1s


Before they became classics, they were simply Cortinas and don’t be surprised to find GT or Super bits fitted; rear drum brakes for instance supposed to be larger nine inch Classicsourced items; have normal gear been substituted?


Not only is certain trim special to the Mk1 but very first models had unique detailing that’s hard and pricey to own

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