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Ford Cortina Mk1

Published: 31st Jan 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Cortina Mk1
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Who doesn’t need a Lotus to have fun

The Cortina was one of the cars that defined the 1960s and it was a landmark model for Ford – a miracle of packaging, manufacturing efficiency and price. So it was no wonder that in just four years over a million examples were sold, to eager sales reps as well as families, keen to embrace the motorway age. Originally, the Cortina’s popularity hinged on a wide array of engines, trims and body styles being available, and things are no different now, although the Lotus editions have got very costly in recent years. For that reason we’ll overlook them here, but even without them there’s plenty to amuse with the Cortina range.


Rust is the most common issue, and original panels are extinct, although some good repro parts are available. As a result you must check every square inch of bodywork, focusing on the headlamp surrounds, valances, wheelarches, inner wings and sills. Also check the bulkhead, A-posts, B-posts, floorpans and petrol tank.

There’s less to fear with the mechanicals, as engines and transmissions are generally pretty tough. However, some bits are getting scarce, and even a DIY engine rebuild will cost £1000, so listen out for noisy valve gear and look for excessive exhaust smoke, belying a worn bottom end. Rebuilt gearboxes can be hard to track down, so check for any jumping out of gear.

The steering box gives an inch of steering wheel movement before the road wheels do anything, but the steering idler and various ball joints all wear, sometimes creating lots of play. Suspension bushes also wear; polyurethane replacements are available. The upper mounting of the front MacPherson struts incorporates a thrust race ball bearing, which seizes up, so feel for any stiffness; it can be greased. Also, the rear hub bearings are a pain to replace, as they require 1200lb of pressure to remove them and the same to put them back into place. So make sure they don’t need replacing.

Decent interior trim is virtually impossible to find, so don’t underestimate the task of reviving a tatty cabin. Seat frames can break while carpet sets and trim panels can get damaged – original or decent used trim is extinct, but new repro seat covers, headlinings and door panels are available from Aldridge Trimming. They’re of superb quality, but it’ll be costly if you need to replace lots of parts, but do it right once and you’ll save in the long run.


Cortinas should be bought more on condition than specification; poverty-spec models are now very hard to find. Projects are £100-£500 while a decent 1200 costs £1000-£3000; equivalent 1500s are worth an extra £500-£1000. GTs are worth the most; a decent one costs £4000-£5000, while mint examples fetch between £7500 and £10,000. Two-door cars carry a premium, autos are worth less than manuals, and those handy, hardy estates are worth about the same as an equivalent four-door saloon.


For an economy car, the Cortina is amazingly good to drive, while the ride is pretty good too. The smaller engines can feel rather weak in modern traffic, but buy a car with a 1500 engine and you’ll keep up happily enough (stick a GT carb on it). There’s plenty of space for five and a huge boot means there’s ample luggage capacity too.


Engine 1498cc/4-cyl
Power (bhp/rpm) 78/5200
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 91/3600
Top speed 91mph0-60mph 12.1sec
Consumption 26mpg
Gearbox 4-speed manual
Length 14ft 0in (4.28m)
Width 5ft 2.5in (1.59m)
Weight 1848lb

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