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Ford Cortina

Ford Cortina Published: 24th Jun 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Cortina
Ford Cortina
Ford Cortina
Ford Cortina
Ford Cortina
Ford Cortina
Ford Cortina
Ford Cortina
Ford Cortina
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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

Few classics are as simple and inexpensive to mod and mend than an old school rear-wheel driven Ford – who hasn’t fixed one by the kerb? With a plentiful parts supply, good specialist and owners’ club back up – plus no need for special tools, a Cortina or a Capri can easily be maintained at home. Here’s how to do it better than most…

ENGINE OUTPUT

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Kent engines are superbly tunable and there’s no shortage of kit, new and used. Can see up to 110-120bhp for road use; many fine with GT tune but for best effect you need distributor and timing. Mild mods start with a GT carb and head but given easy engine interchangeability it’s best to go up a size first if you want big gains. Ex-Formula Fords are blueprinted; good bet.

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Rugged and easy to work on, tired engines start to smoke and fume from the filler cap plus develop rattly tappets which can also be cam wear. If GT cam or distributor are fitted but performance poor, are the wrong tappet, c.b. points gap and ignition timing settings used? Some prefer the pre-crossflow engine – 1500 unit can be taken to 1650cc easily. Cross-flow is almost direct apart from carb linkages.

BOTTOM END

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There’s a lot of stretch by reboring although it’s only really applicable to the 1500 and 1600 engines which can be taken out to more than 1800cc quite safely although 1760cc means no risk of making block porous. You can turn an 1100 into a 1300 crossflow by using crank and rods but not a 1.3 into a 1.6 due to block heights and Escort engine uses different sumps and oil pick up design.

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Rebuilds straightforward, although certain bit are scarce like pistons and blocks and prices reflect this; bank on spending £1000 + on a DIY rebuild. Watch piston designs on cross-flow units as they differ on GT which feature cut outs for larger valves that will want altering further if wilder camshafts are envisaged; even if they are okay the compression ratios may be wrong. External oil pump a cinch to replace so do it, with an uprated one.

FRONT SUSPENSION

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Generally all can do with stiffening and there’s a host of options including modern coil overs and adjustable top mounts although latter can promote steering shake on Capris claims experts Tickover of Kent. 1600E used Lotus spec suspension but now Capri 2.8i set up is as good as any although you need to speak to a Ford expert on the optimum damper/spring compromise – many are mismatched. Poly bushing, especially the anti-roll bar mounts is essential and a cheap mod.

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Cortinas have steering box, expect an inch of play but can be adjusted for wear. Check drag link pin, bushes linking idler and box. Polyurethane ones are £12 per pair. MacPherson struts fitted to all, but pre-August ’67 Fords used an upper mounting that incorporates a thrust race ball bearing, which give problems. If there’s a lot of shaking from the front wheels, it’s probably because the wheels are out of balance but on Capris it’s also down to steering rack/column coupling wear.

WHEELS

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Because the same basic platform was used across all medium-sized Ford ranges any number of wheels and tyres can be fitted but 1600E rims are now highly prized as are steel Lotus ones with hub caps. Other expensive rarities include the steel sports spoked wheels fitted to late Mk1 and Mk2 Capris and early ‘pepper pot’ 2.8i rims, which at 7J on 205/60 x13 are plenty large enough for tuned Fords. Mk3 Cortina wheels fit but their offset is different so beware.

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Wheel wobble at speed and steering shake under braking is common but especially prominent on Capri for some strange reason and can be very hard to dial out; everything has to be in top order (bushes, bearings etc) and even then some cars were only rid of it if the wheels were balanced on the car; problem is finding an emporium as fast-fits won’t touch them now so try a classic specialist who deals in vintage cars with wire wheels – but it will be costly…

TRANSMISSION

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Wide choice with the 2000E unit coveted but it’s a misnomer as later ’boxes on higher-powered versions (but not 1300GT Capri) used similar ratios. Swapping gearboxes across models can be done but some had hydraulic clutches and Capri II used its own selector arrangement. Five-speed Sierra unit is tailored for these Fords – it’s getting hold of one! Lotus experts Kelvedon Motors is developing a five-speed cluster for the 2000E/ Elan casing but it will be expensive.

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Synchromesh wearing on second is first sign of trouble, along with transmission jumping out of top gear. It may be a broken spring in the fork rod but more likely general wear; you can expect to pick a recon ’box up for around £400. Gear lever ‘zzzzz’ common but simply worn bushes. Pinion seals can leak oil from the differential and they can become noisy but invariably soldier on regardless. Mk1 clutch plates virtually unobtainable unless you go through owners’ club.

BRAKES

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As vast majority of Fords were disc-braked since the 1960s, uprating is easy. Start with better pads (EBC, Mintex) before opting for larger discs and callipers, such as Wilwood or AP; a cheaper as good option is to utilise Capri 2.8i components but be sure to match them with better rear wheel cylinders to retain brake balance. Servos weren’t standard fitting on lower spec cars.

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The effective braking system is straightforward, and apart from most pre-September 1964 cars, all Cortinas boasted front disc brakes. Rear cylinders can leak or seize. Pipes also need careful scrutiny for rusting. Self adjusting drums frequently don’t but parts are available. Capris in particular are prone to pulling and can be very difficult to eradicate; check everything is tip top, including worn suspension top mounts.

REAR SUSPENSION

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All feature a similar design, the differences lie in the axle location which is aided by radius arms on the Capri and certain high-powered Cortinas such as the 1600E with its lowered and stiffened Lotus spec suspension. These arms can be subsequently retro fitted if desired. Classic Ford experts Tickover of Kent warns against additional bracing as simply poly bushing the axle suffices. Uprate springs by 25 – 50 per cent in stiffness but no more than that and lower by an inch.

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On all, it’s a simple leaf spring design and usual checks apply, chiefly worn or broken springs (Capris should have a slightly ‘nose up’ stance) and shot shockers – all cheap and easy DIY jobs. Capris changed from radius arms to a thin rear anti-roll bar around September 1972. Whatever the set up, penny to a pound the leaf ‘eye’ bushes will be perished and other bushes worn. Rear hub bearings are a pain to replace, as they need 1200lb pressure to shift and replace them.

BODY AND CHASSIS

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Apart from alternative GRP panels, there’s little in the way of performance Cortina parts unlike the Capri where racing-style and custom panels are available if you search hard. Panel supply remains fairly good for Cortinas however and NOS can surface at car shows. New front wings can go for £600 so be warned. Ex-pressed Steel is producing Capri body panels and most of what you need (inner panels, bulkheads, floors A posts etc) is available – eventually.

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All rot with vigour and need regular care to keep it at bay. Cortinas go in the main at the valances, wheelarches, inner wings and sills. Also check the bulkhead, A-posts, B-posts, floorpans, rear axle mounts and petrol tank along with the usual Ford rot spot, the strut housings. Capris are similar with the A posts, silLs and bulkheads particularly prone. Chassis rails, box sections and front cross-members let go too. Flat bonnets rare as Ford stopped making them by mid 1970s.

TRIM

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Apart from the Mini, has any car been so modified as these family Fords? The options are wide and many parts from other Fords can be made to fit; 1600E and Mk2/Mk3 Capri seats are more comfy and look authentic. Mk3 perches can also be made to fit although are wider. Early Mk1 Cortina trim is scarce especially pre airflow models.

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Decent interior trim is virtually impossible to find but repros for most classic Fords are available from Aldridge Trimming. Capri stuff is becoming scarce with brightwork hard to find. Original wiper arms may be a problem and decent bumpers rarely turn up. Pre-facelift Capris used same headlamps as an Allegro, but later Capris used headlights which are now hard very to obtain. Rear lights no better; early Capris shared Escort Mk1 units ( £100 each), post 1972 lights even dearer.

AND ANOTHER THING…

Not unexpectedly, Mk1 Cortinas suffer from spare parts supply the most and NOS (new old stock) is virtually extinct although what you need is out there somewhere, including the optional fake wood trim on the flanks of the estates. According to the owners’ club (which boasts some 850 members worldwide), GTs are most wanted but there’s now strong interest in ‘fleet’ 1200 model due to its basic trim and metal grille.



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