Twenty Things You Didn't Know About The Cortina
Published 13 September 2002
- The Cortina's project name was 'Archbishop'. Just for fun, Ford in
Britain chose that name to outrank a Ford of Germany project, code named
'Cardinal'. Later, Ford's British product planners discovered that 'Cardinal'
referred to a bird, not a churchman's title.
- The original Cortina 1200 two-door saloon of late 1962 sold for only
£573, which was much less than any other car in this category. In those
days, incidentally, a heater was an optional extra - for £15.10.
- In 1963 a Cortina Super driven by Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers broke
the trans-African London - Cape Town driving record.
- In 1964, the Cortina became the world's first family car to have a
controllable face level fresh air ventilation system.
- One million Cortinas were sold in its first four years - 1962 to 1966
- which up to then made this the fastest-selling British Ford of all
- The Cortina was Britain's best-selling car for 10 of the 20 years
it was on sale: 1967, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980,
1981. It was in second place for eight years and in third for the remaining
- Ford, in association with Lotus, developed the twin-cam engined Lotus-Cortina,
which became a world-beater in races and rallies. Not only did Sir John
Whitmore win the European Saloon car race series in a Lotus-Cortina,
but a similar model also won the British RAC rally.
- For sale to Japan in the 1970s, Mk III Cortinas had to be slimmed
down by a few millimetres to sell within a particular tax bracket which
depended on a car's width. This was done by clamping and squeezing,
the newly-assembled body shells in a special fixture.
- The Cortina was the first British Ford whose body engineering evolved
through aircraft engineering stress technology: body engineer Dennis
Roberts had previous worked at the Bristol Aeroplane Company.
- Two of the planners of the first Cortina went on to chair Ford companies
- Sir Terence Beckett became Chairman of Ford in Britain, while Alex
Trotman (later Lord Trotman) became Chairman of the parent Ford Motor
Company in Dearborn, Michigan.
- The original versions of this car were to have been named Consul 225
and Consul 255 - the Cortina name only being adopted after the first
press photographs were taken.
- Although 'Cortina' was named after an Italian resort, it was later
discovered that in Spanish the name also means 'curtain'.
- The original high-output Cortina GT engine of 1963 was developed in
association with Cosworth Engineering - an early example of the way
that Ford racing activities were used to improve the road cars.
- In 1967, the newly-launched Cortina Mk II was so popular that no fewer
than 290,972 such cars were assembled during the year.
- During the 20 year life of this model name, on the British market
alone, no fewer than 23 different types and tunes of engine were available
in Cortinas - from 48.5bhp to 116bhp.
- The largest engine ever fitted to a Cortina production car was in
one version of the Australian-assembled Mk IVs of the late 1970s, which
had a 4.1-litre straight-six cylinder power unit.
- From 1970 the new Cortina Mk III was also joined, in Germany, by the
new Taunus range, which shared the same chassis engineering, but had
a different style.
- The Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, once included the Cortina in
a satirical poem about 'Executives'.
- Towards the end of its life, the Cortina was treated to a complete
TV programme in the BBC TV Arena series.
- In 20 years, no fewer than 788,012 Cortinas were exported from Dagenham
in kit form, for assembly in other countries. Straight-six engined versions
(Australia) and 3-litre V6 types (South Africa) were never available
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