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
 

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