The Ford Cortina is a car that was 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 only the Cortina 80 facelift of the Mk IV) 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 Cortina olympic bobsled run at the resort which was called Cortina Auto-Bobbing.
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 (from early 1963 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', and large, round, ‘Ban the Bomb’ tail-light clusters.
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 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 redesigned front grille incorporating the more rectangular side-light and indicator units.
A notable variant was the Ford Cortina Lotus. T
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 five-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 the second time, having already been reworked in October 1963 when round instruments replaced the oblong 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 1558 cc twin-cam engine by Lotus, but based on the Cortina's Kent OHV engine.
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.
The second incarnation of the Cortina was designed by Roy Haynes, and launched on 18 October 1966, four years after the original Cortina. It had some styling elements in common with the third generation US Ford Falcon.
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 1⁄2 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.
An 1100cc crossflow engine from the Escort was also offered for markets like Greece where higher capacities were taxed heavily.
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.
This interrupted the long run of BMC's 1100/1300 range as Britain's best selling car.
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.
According to author and Cortina expert Graham Robson, the 1600E would be the first Cortina recognized as a classic.
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.