Twenty Things You Didn't Know About The Cortina

Ford Cortina


  • 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 time.
  • 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 two.
  • 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 in Europe.
Published 13 September 2002 Melanie Carter

The information contained this Ford news article may have changed since publication on the 13 September 2002. Our car specifications, reviews, and prices may only apply to the UK market. You may wish to check with the manufacturer or your local Ford dealer, before making a purchasing decision. E.&.O.E. You may NOT reproduce our car news in full or part, in any format without our written permission. © 2018