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Ford Cortina Mk1 buying guide

Ford Cortina Ford Cortina Ford Cortina Ford Cortina Anyone growing up in the Sixties was touched by the Ford Cortina Mk1. If there wasn’t one in the family, one of the neighbours would have one. The Cortina was one of the cars that defined the Sixties and it was a landmark model for Ford – a miracle of packaging, manufacturing efficiency and price. So it was no wonder that in just four years over a million examples were sold, to eager sales reps as well as families, keen to embrace the motorway age.

Although the Cortina was massively popular in period, few of those made have survived as they weren’t designed or built to last. Despite this, the Cortina remains as attainable as ever, with most derivatives worth very little. The Cortina’s original popularity hinged on a wide array of engines, trims and body styles being available, and things are no different now, although the Lotus editions have got very costly in recent years. For that reason we’ll overlook them here, but even without them there’s plenty to amuse.

Which one to buy

Cortinas are bought more on condition than specification, as is common at this end of the market. Although there was a variant for everyone when they were new, the rate of attrition for some of the lowlier editions means poverty-spec Cortinas are now very hard to find.

Just about any mechanical malady you’re likely to encounter can be knocked into shape cheaply and easily. But overlook bodywork glitches and things are very different, so don’t dismiss a car with a good body but mediocre running gear. The cost of reviving a project car can quickly run away with you, so be cautious about taking on a tatty or incomplete Cortina.

Unsurprisingly, the more powerful a Cortina is, the greater its desirability and value. As a result, GT editions carry a premium while autos aren’t very sought after as they’re rather uninspiring to drive, so don’t pay over the odds for one.

Estates are worth buying for their practicality, but they’re relatively unusual and most buyers prefer a two or four-door saloon instead. The former is especially sought after by those wanting a sportier look – and by those keen to create a Lotus lookalike.

Tech spec - Ford 1500GT

Engine 1498cc, four-cylinder
Power 78bhp @ 5200rpm
Torque 91lb ft @ 3600rpm
Top speed 91mph
0-60mph 12.1sec
Consumption 26mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual

What to look for

• Rust is likely and original panels are scarce and expensive, but some repro pressings are available. All inner and outer panels need to be checked carefully. The area around the headlamps corrodes along with the front bumper supports, the anti-roll bar mountings, the wing bottoms and the wheelarches.

• Also scrutinise the MacPherson strut tops, the bulkhead, the bottoms of the doors, the A-posts and the sills. Don’t overlook the B-posts, the closing panels for the rear doors, the rear wing bottoms, the wheelarches, the floorpans, the rear valance and the boot lid. Petrol tanks corrode too, along with the jacking points plus the rear spring and shock absorber mountings.

• Mk1 powerplants were based on the pre-Crossflow Kent engine. There were 1198cc or 1498cc variants, the latter in standard or more powerful GT forms. Engine rebuilds are straightforward, although some parts are hard to find. The first sign of trouble is usually noisy valve gear, because of worn rockers, cam followers and the camshaft itself.

• Worn timing chains also cause problems – listen for rattles from the front of the engine. But it’s worn rings and bores that will blow the biggest hole in your wallet. Even when really worn, blue smoke is unusual, so look for fumes from the oil filler and breather at the rear of the block.

• All manual Cortinas have a four-speed all-synchro gearbox. Worn second-gear synchro is the first sign of trouble, along with jumping out of top. This could be a broken spring in the gearchange fork rod, or the screw and lock nut which holds the selector fork rod together may have worked itself loose; both easy fixes. But it could be serious wear in the gearbox coupling dogs or selector fork rod.

• The Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic gearbox is very reliable, but also rare in the Cortina.

• The steering box gives an inch of play at the steering wheel. Check the steering by rocking the wheel from side to side, get somebody to watch the ball joints and the steering idler assemblies. Severe play will be immediately obvious.

• Look for play in the drag link pin and bushes which link the idler and steering box. New repro pins and bushes are available.

• The MacPherson struts’ upper mounting incorporates a thrust race ball bearing. Lack of lubrication and moisture getting in lead to it getting stiff.

• The rear hub bearings are a pain to replace, as they require 1200lb of pressure to remove and the same to put them back. Check for play by jacking up the back of the car and rocking the top and bottom of each wheel to see if there’s any movement.

Model history

1962: The Consul Cortina 113E two-door saloon arrives, in basic or de Luxe forms with an 1198cc OHV engine. Later, a four-door saloon appears.
1963: A five-bearing 1498cc engine is introduced; it’s standard on the Super and optional on the de Luxe. A five-door estate debuts and the GT arrives, with a 78bhp 1498cc engine, uprated suspension, disc front brakes. Also, the strip speedo gives way to a circular unit in a binnacle and there’s now an auto option on 1498cc cars.
1964: A facelift brings a full-width grille, disc front brakes, Aeroflow ventilation, interior upgrades and more power.
1965: The basic saloon is dropped
1966: The last Mk1 saloon and estate are built.

Key clubs and websites


Words: Richard Dredge
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Last updated: 1st Apr 2015
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Ford Cortina cars for sale

25 Search results
Ford Cortina
4950 55000 GBP
  • 1968 Ford Cortina Lotus Mk. II


    The second incarnation of the Cortina was designed by Roy Haynes and was launched on 18th October 1966. One of the best loved versions of that Cortina appeared in 1967, the 1600E, which was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in October of that year. The mechanical specification included an 88bhp, 1600cc Cortina GT engine which achieved a fuel consumption of 25 miles per gallon. Following on from the enormous success of the Lotus Cortina Mk. I, Ford introduced the Cortina-Lotus Mk. II in 1967 with the famous Lotus twin cam engine now giving 109bhp. Ford renamed the Lotus version the Cortina-Lotus, due to its manufacture at Ford's Dagenham plant in Essex. This came about through their move from Cheshunt to Hethel in 1966. As an aside, the well-known stripe that adorns the Ford Cortina-Lotus models was never applied by the factory and was made a dealer option only. This 1968 Ford Cortina Lotus Mk. II was subject to a complete restoration in the late 1980's at which time the original body shell was found to be beyond repair so a replacement was found and the car was rebuilt using all the original components. The last owner purchased the car in 2000 and has kept it in very good conditio

    • Year: 2016
    For sale
    Historics at Brooklands
  • 1974 Ford Cortina 3.0 V6 XLE @8995


    Unique to the South African market, the 3.0 XLE was the top of the Cortina range over there. It is fitted with the 3.0 Essex V6 (hence the 'E') and automatic gearbox. This car is in a very original condition, even down to the paint, although I'm sure it has had some paintwork over the years. Panel fit is good all round and it still has the original wheels with the XLE hubcaps. The interior is immaculate and is the dark tan vinyl. Some modifications have been made to the suspension including springs and bushes to make the handling more secure. A very rare car, I have not seen another in the UK, and don't know even if there are any others!

    For sale

    £29,995 £29,995

    Here we have a genuine 1966 Airflow 1500 GT with matching numbers. Subject to full restoration some 10 years ago the car has been in a private collection since. Presented in Alan Mann racing colours this car is truly in magnificent condition. We have a pictorial record of the car before and during restoration and the car has stood up well which is indicative of the standard of the work that was carried out. The car is pretty much standard apart from the addition of slightly later 1600E reclining seats and the Minilite style wheels, neither of these items compromise the car. Driving extremely well it would be hard to find a car and restore for the asking price of this beauty. Good MK1 GT Cortina's are appreciating in line with the Lotus's more so the 2 door's making this car a gold chip investment for the discerning collector.

    • Mileage: 35200 mi
    • Engine size: 1.5
    For sale
    Hartford Automotive
    01252 842899 / 01252 845845
  • FORD CORTINA MK I 1500 Super Pre-Airflow 1964

    £6,995 £6,995

    1964 Ford Consul Cortina MK 1 1500 Super Pre-Airflow Model. Platinum Grey with Red upholstery. A lovely MK 1 Cortina that are becoming increasingly rare nowadays, this car retains all of its original features including oval park lights, front bench seat, heater and column change gear lever. The original Ford radio is still fitted to the car. 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. Launched in January 1963 the 1500 Super was immediately identified by the chrome tapered strips along the side flutes. This MK 1 is still in super condition and drives without fault, the engine is very strong and the all syncromesh gearbox changes as it should. It starts on the button and runs very sweetly. A great investment and a real rarity to find one in this condition. Absolutely any inspection is welcome. Viewing is highly recommended and we know you won't be disappointed. All major debit and credit cards accepted. Please contact us for any further information. Delivery can be arranged.

    • Mileage: 79000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.5
    For sale
    TA Classics
    07502 229616
  • 1964 Ford Cortina Mk1 GT

    £23,500 £23,500

    A genuine GT that as far as we can see has never seen a welder ! Recreated as a period rally car, she comes with twin 40 DCOE carbs and branch manifold and extensive history file. Twin fuel tanks, rally seats, twin binacle dash and retro trip fitted. Car also has a Halda speed pilot yet to be connected. Period radio modified to take Ipod for today’s comforts. A stunning car throughout. Find a better one!!! If you do then please let me know.

    • Year: 1964
    For sale
  • Ford 1965 Lotus Cortina

    £55,000 £55,000

    This original 1965 Ford Lotus Cortina Left Hand Drive Rally Conversion was restored in 1992 and having FIA identity from 1993. Currently finished in white with green stripe the car can be rallied or raced.

    • Year: 1965
    For sale
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