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Ford Cortina Mk1: Buying guide and review (1962-1966)

Ford Cortina Mk1: Buying guide and review (1962-1966) Classic and Performance Car
Ford Cortina Mk1 Ford Cortina Mk1 Ford Cortina Mk1 Ford Cortina Mk1 Ford Cortina Mk1 Ford Cortina Mk1
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 surprisingly little. When it was launched, the Cortina offered an unprecedented number of body styles – two-door and four-door saloon as well as the five-door estate – as well as a good number of trim levels and engines. Today certain models are worth more than others, but all remain relatively affordable, with the notable exception of the twin cam Lotus model. 
 

Which Ford Cortina 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. 
 
Although it was relatively advanced when it was new, the Cortina is a simple machine today. Thanks to great parts supply, most mechanical parts can be replaced or rebuilt with ease – usually at home. This means that a tired car can be a very viable project for anyone willing to get their hands dirty. Solid bodywork is vital though, as the cost of removing rust, and respraying a tatty car will not make financial sense. 
 
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. 
 
While we’re not covering the Lotus models in this guide – read all about buying a Lotus Cortina Mk1 here – we should mention that it’s by far the most sporting of all Ford Cortina models. 
 

Performance and specs

 
Ford Cortina 1500GT 
Engine 1498cc, four-cylinder 
Power 78bhp @ 5200rpm
Torque 91lb ft @ 3600rpm
Top speed 91mph
0-60mph 12.1sec
Fuel consumption 26mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 2490mm
Length 4267mm
Width 1645mm
Height 1391mm
Kerb weight 864kg
 

Common problems

 
• 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 from front to rear, from the front wings (the wheelarches and the metalwork around the headlights especially) to the rear valance and wing bottoms via the floorpan. No area should be left unchecked if possible. 
 
• The MacPherson strut tops should be scrutinised, along with the anti-roll bar mounts, bulkhead, the bottoms of the doors, the A-posts and the sills. We can’t emphasise enough that you need to check every inch, with areas like the leading edge of the bootlid, rear suspension mounts as well as the all-important jacking points possible corrosion spots.
 
• Engines are simple, but being based on the old pre-crossflow Kent unit means that rebuilds are a frequent occurrence – by modern standards at least. On the flip side, it’s easily done and is pretty cheap. Some parts can be difficult to track down, but the usual problems – such as noisy valve gear – can usually be sorted by replacing worn rockers, cam followers or in some cases the cam.  
 
• Listen to the engine on start-up from cold, and pay attention to any untoward rattles or knocks. The most likely culprit is a tired timing chain. Perhaps the worst thing to look for is worn piston rings and bores. Blue smoke is likely but not inevitable, but oil blow-by out of the oil filler and breathers is another sign of potential problems. 
 
• All manual Cortinas have a four-speed all-synchro gearbox, but finding one without a worn second-gear synchromesh is very rare these days. The car jumping out of fourth gear is also common, and can mean a number of things. It could be a broken spring in rod mechanism, or a loose selector fork lock nut; both easy fixes. It could also be serious wear in the gearbox coupling dogs.
 
• The Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic gearbox is very reliable, but also rare in the Cortina. It also makes for particularly slow going.
 
• The steering box is vague at the best of times, but if particularly worn will feel scary on the road. Severe play will be immediately obvious by rocking the steering wheel while an assistant visually checks the steering joints. Inspect the drag link pin and bushes, joining the idler and steering box. If there is any excessive play, new repro pins and bushes can be fitted.
 
• MacPherson strut front suspension features a thrust race ball bearing in the top mount, which can become stiff if the lubrication isn’t maintained. Replacement is relatively easy.
 

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. 
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites 

 
www.mk1cortina.com
www.fordcortina.co.uk
www.mk1-5cortinaownersclub.co.uk
www.cortina-mk1.com
 

Summary and prices

 
Cortinas have always carried prices considerably higher than many similar rivals from the same era, which can probably be put down to the thriving classic Ford scene. Two-door cars are a valuable source of spares for Lotus Cortinas, but it’s a lovable classic car for anyone who has fond memories of one while growing up. 
 
While concours examples might fetch more, £8000 is around top money for a tidy mk1 Cortina. While projects can still theoretically be picked up for less than £1000, decent runners can range from £2500 to £5000. 
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Last updated: 17th Jan 2017
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Ford Cortina
5995 22950 GBP
  • Ford - Cortina mk II - 1970

    €9,950 - €12,935 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €9,950 - €12,935 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €9,950 - €12,935 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €9,950 - €12,935 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Catawiki Auctions
  • Ford Cortina

    £6,500 £6,500

    For reluctant sale in Croydon Surrey. 1973 Ford Cortina 1600XL Est. in Daytona Yellow. Manual 4 speed. One owner from new, purchased in 1974 by my Dad who sadly can no longer drive due to health reasons. Always garaged, fully serviced by our company mechanic. Low mileage 47,371. Underbody and Internal Treatment with Tectyl by M.P.A. Rust Prevention on delivery. Fully original interior in very good condition. All carpet in excellent condition, with original floor mats. Zero rust, minor blemishes to paint work easily redone. Just had new battery, fuel pump, fuel filter and MOT. 6,500 GBP ono Very sad to have to sell my Dads cherished Cortina, but he would love to know that's its gone to another Cortina enthusiast who will continue to look after it as he has done for all these years. John Hall Email: hall.j@hotmail.com Home no: 02086846925 Mobile: 0061416007913 (Australian mobile

    • Year: 1973
    • Mileage: 47163 mi
    • Engine size: 1.6
    For sale
    £6,500 £6,500
    John Hall
    John Hall
  • Ford Cortina

    £5,995 £5,995

    FOR SALE A nostalgic Ford Cortina Mk4 1600L with 40,249 miles in amazing show condition. EQUIPMENT All steel welded integral construction, safety glass all round, Zone-Toughened windscreen, louvered radiator grill, bodyside coachline, bright drip-rail, windshield and rear window inserts, anti-burst locks, bright bumpers, perforated headlining, lockable glovebox, ‘hangdown’ centre console, vanity mirror, seat valances, cigar lighter, boot mat, two rear coat hooks, instrument illumination control, two speed wipers with ‘flick’ wipe, electric screen wash. EXTERIOR This beautiful Mk4 1600L is finished in the original colour of Fjord Blue, (Code Q9). Having acquired this Cortina in 2017, KGF Classic Cars were delighted to see that the car still wore its factory fitted panels which were unrepaired and incredibly well preserved. Linear shut lines and defined panel edges affirmed the amazing originality, and first paint had been retained. The decision was made to commission an expensive professional glass out repaint, returning the car to its former glory. Meticulous removal and either replacement or refurbishment of trim sections was a real labour of love, and the remit quickly became clear, to make this Cortina exceptional regardless of time. The preservation of some original aged trim pieces took preference over aftermarket replacements, and with this in mind some very minor markings can be seen upon close scrutiny. All factory glass and lights are number plate etched, with exception of the front screen which was replaced due to a stone chip. A new lease of life for this already remarkable Cortina, ready now for many more years of cherishment. INTERIOR Having covered just 40,249 miles from new, the original interior has been well preserved. The factory coverings to the Black Fabric seats, (Code A1), are clean and show only minimal wear. Three tiny nicks to the fabric along to rear seat top can be seen. The colour keyed carpets, matching door cards and perforated headlining are in good condition. All switchgear and functions are in excellent order and housed in a perfect dashboard with no cracks or sun related distortion. A wonderfully original classic Ford interior, comfortable and hugely nostalgic. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION Ford’s time tested and trustworthy 1600 OHC unit with single choke carburettor needs little introduction. With a power output of 72bhp, a top speed of 94mph and a 0-60 time of 13 seconds is quoted. Bonnet up exhibiting is a must with factory plates displayed along with beautifully detailed components and original panel fitment. The four speed all synchromesh manual gearbox feels light with a positive clutch action and relaxed motoring is effortless. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The original styled steel wheels with 13 x 4.5in rims are in immaculate order and shod in matching 165/80 R13 tyres with plenty of tread remaining. The spare wheel is housed alongside the original jack in a spotless boot area, still protected by the boot mat and totally original with factory weld seams still visible. Hydraulic dual line brakes with servo assistance and 9.75in front discs offer ample stopping power and complete assurance. HISTORY FILE First registered on 1st August 1979, this rare surviving Ford Cortina has covered a very low and verified 40,249 miles from new. Previous MOT certificates dating back to 1983 and a large collection of invoices date from 1980 to 2017 track the mileage and form part of the comprehensive history file. Perusal of which leaves in no doubt the fastidious maintenance this car has enjoyed which is testament for the superb mechanical performance. Recent work carried out in 2016 includes a major service and new carburettor. The previous keeper, Mr Holmes, a member of the Ford Cortina Owners Club and huge classic car enthusiast sold the Cortina to KGF Classic Cars early in 2017 after purchasing our Rover Montego 1.6LX. Mr Holmes even kept a maintenance log for the car! All original handbooks, operating guides and the Ford Accessories booklet remain with the car. KGF Classic Cars quickly learned of the amazing originality of this Cortina with only the factory first paint showing cosmetic aging. The car was handed to renowned and trusted Classic Cars Restorer, Andrew Skervin, to carry out the full glass out repaint, the results of which are a credit to both him and the car. A truly stunning classic Ford. MOT November 2018, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/Y4ErdjAgfCA To see a full set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://www.flickr.com/gp/kgfclassiccars/n8JD49 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 1979
    • Mileage: 40249 mi
    • Engine size: 1.6
    For sale
    £5,995 £5,995
  • Ford Cortina 1,2 De Luxe

    €13,500(£0) €13,500(£0)

    Ford Cortina 1,2 De Luxe Equipment: Bemærk bilen står i Odense Meget fin restaureret Flot farve kombination Sjælden udbudt til salg skal ses ring for info

    • Year: 1966
    For sale
    €13,500(£0) €13,500(£0)
  • Ford Cortina

    £16,995 £16,995

    Ford Lotus Cortina Evocation 1968 Based on 1968 Ford Cortina Mk 2, Two Door Shell, this car finished in white is just out of full rebuild and modification. Fitted with 1700cc crossflow engine with Twin 45 Weber Carbs and 234 Kent Cam with a big valve head. Interior fully retrimmed and fitted with Black Nappa Leather seats. More Pictures and information at: http://www.classiccarbluebutts.co.uk/Car145.html £16995 ONO

    • Year: 1968
    • Engine size: 1.7
    For sale
    £16,995 £16,995
  • FORD CORTINA 1500 GT MK 1 2 Door 1966

    £22,950 £22,950

    This Ford Cortina MK1 1500 GT 2 Door has been the subject of a total restoration with a comprehensive history file of the work carried out including photos. The engine was also subject to a rebuild to 'fast road' specification. The end result is a truly superb vehicle that is not only attractive but is extremely rare these days. The numbers confirm that this car is an original GT and is not one of the many 'clones' that are around. On the road the GT drives extremely well with performance best described as 'crisp'. The interior is superb to match the flawless paintwork. The car sits on rims that were usually fitted to the Lotus Cortina but set the car off well. These cars are rare now particularly in this condition, it would be hard to find and restore a car to this level for the asking price (if you can find one), as such it does offer excellent value and would be an asset to any private collection.

    • Mileage: 35100 mi
    • Engine size: 1.5
    For sale
    £22,950 £22,950
    Hartford Automotive
    01252 842899 / 01252 845845 View contact number
    Hartford Automotive
    01252 842899 / 01252 845845 View contact number