Tuesday 10 May 2016
The Ford Cortina was 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 called the Cortina 80) 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 bobsled run at the resort which was called Cortina Auto-Bobbing.
The Mark V was announced on 24 August 1979. Officially the programme was code named Teresa, although externally it was marketed as "Cortina 80", but the Mark V tag was given to it immediately on release by the press, insiders and the general public.
Largely an update to the Mark IV, it was really a step between a facelift and a rebody. The Mark V differentiated itself from the Mark IV by having revised headlights with larger turn indicators incorporated (which were now visible on the side too), a wider slatted grille said to be more aerodynamically efficient, a flattened roof, larger glass area, slimmer C-pillars with revised vent covers, larger slatted tail lights (on saloon models) and upgraded trim.
Prices started at £3,475 for a basic 1.3 litre engined model.
Improvements were also made to the engine range, with slight improvements to both fuel economy and power output compared to the Mark IV. The 2.3 litre V6 engine was given electronic ignition and a slight boost in power output to 116 bhp (87 kW; 118 PS), compared to the 108 bhp (81 kW; 109 PS) of the Mark IV. Ford also claimed improved corrosion protection on Mark V models; as a result, more Mark Vs have survived; however, corrosion was still quite a problem.
The estate models combined the Mark IV's bodyshell (which was initially from the 1970 Ford Taunus) with Mark V front body pressings. A pick-up ("bakkie") version was also built in South Africa. These later received a longer bed and were then marketed as the P100.
Variants included the Base, L, GL, and Ghia (all available in saloon and estate forms), together with Base and L spec 2-door sedan versions (this bodystyle was available up to Ghia V6 level on overseas markets). The replacement for the previous Mark IV S models was an S pack of optional extras which was available as an upgrade on most Mark V models from L trim level upwards. For the final model year of 1982 this consisted of front and rear bumper overriders, sports driving lamps, an S badge on the boot, tachometer, 4 spoke steering wheel, revised suspension settings, front gas shock absorbers,'Sports' gear lever knob, sports road wheels, 185/70 SR x 13 tyres and Fishnet Recaro sports seats (optional). Various "special editions" were announced, including the Calypso and Carousel. The final production model was the Crusader special edition which was available as a 1.3 litre, 1.6 litre, and 2.0 litre saloons or 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre estates. The Crusader was a final run-out model in 1982, along with the newly introduced Sierra. It was the best-specified Cortina produced to date and 30,000 were sold, which also made it Ford's best-selling special edition model. Another special edition model was the Cortina Huntsman, of which 150 were produced. By this time, the Cortina was starting to feel the competition from a rejuvenated (and Opel influenced) Vauxhall, which with the 1981 release Cavalier J-Car, was starting to make inroads on the Cortina's traditional fleet market, largely helped by the front wheel drive benefits of weight.
The Mk V Cortina was released in Australia in April 1980, where it was known as the TF Cortina. It sold poorly and was dropped in 1982.
Up to and including 1981, the Cortina was the best selling car in Britain. Even during its final production year, 1982, the Cortina was Britain's second best selling car and most popular large family car. On the continent, the Taunus version was competing with more modern and practical designs like the Talbot Alpine, Volkswagen Passat, and Opel Ascona.
The very last Cortina – a silver Crusader – rolled off the Dagenham production line on 22 July 1982 on the launch of the Sierra, though there were still a few leaving the forecourt as late as 1987, with one final unregistered Cortina GL leaving a Derbyshire dealership in 2005. The last Cortina built remains in the Ford Heritage Centre in Dagenham, Essex, not far from the factory where it was assembled.
The Cortina was still Britain's best selling new car in 1981, and was second only to the Escort a year later. It remained a common sight on Britain's roads and a popular second hand buy until well into the 1990s.
- engine: 6 cylinders
- capacity: 4376 cc
- horsepower: 123 HP
- gearbox: 3+1
- top speed: 178 km/h