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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 cars for sale

8 Search results
Ford Cortina
6750 69000 GBP
  • Ford Cortina 1,2 De Luxe

    €16,300(£14,423.87) €16,300(£14,423.87)

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

    • Year: 1966
    For sale
    CC Cars
  • Ford Cortina

    £69,000 £69,000

    1965 Australian Ford Cortina GT 500, this car is one of 110 built for homologation to race in the Armstrong 500 race at bathurst in 1965. These cars featured a hotter version of the 1500 pre-crossflow, lotus cortina gearbox, brake cooling ducts and twin fuel tanks among other mods from the factory. This car has been restored, its matching numbers with its original motor and all the special parts are still on it. The car is located in Brisbane, Australia. Email for more information.

    • Year: 1965
    • Mileage: 86000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.5
    For sale
    Aaron Henderson
    0401473643 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Ford Cortina

    £19,995 £19,995

    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 £19995 ONO

    • Year: 1968
    • Engine size: 1.7
    For sale
  • FORD CORTINA SUPER 1968

    £6,750 £6,750

    Just taken in part exchange this 1968 Ford Cortina presented in very good condition. The vehicle had sat for a few years, after light commissioning the vehicle passed its MOT. We are told it has a Cortina 1600E engine. This car has obviously had a lot of time and money spent on it over the years, the underside is solid as you can see from the photos.;;Nuneaton Car Sales showroom in Hinckley is open 7 days a week for viewings. We have 50-60 classic and modern vehicles in stock and full dealer facilities.

    • Mileage: 79625 mi
    • Engine size: 1.598
    For sale
  • Ford Cortina

    £14,995 £14,995

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A very rare and genuine Mk1 Ford Cortina GT in fabulous condition. EQUIPMENT All steel integral construction, safety glass all round, zero torque locks, air extraction vents, childproof locks on rear doors, wing mounted chrome mirrors, bright metal exterior ornamentation, halogen headlamps, single tone horn, painted fascia and upper door capping’s, padded dashtop, aluminium scuff plates, aeroflow heating and ventilation system, twin sunvisors, cigar lighter, oil pressure, water temperature, amp, fuel gauges, tachometer, Speedwell 3-spoke wooden steering wheel. EXTERIOR This high-performance Ford Cortina GT is finished in fantastic Alpine Green with the Ermine white flash (Code CM .A). The paintwork boasts a uniform shine with only minor marks and some micro blisters to the bottom of the front doors and rear valance. Structurally excellent this example has been beautifully preserved with remedial cosmetic refurbishment and being the later GT model it has the twin combined flasher and sidelamps, full width chrome front grill and the air extraction vents in the rear quarter pillars. The chrome brightwork is in excellent order with original front grill, bonnet and rear badges displaying the faintest of aging. A wonderful example guaranteed to draw much admiration. INTERIOR The spacious interior of this classic Cortina is remarkable, the foam padded front bucket seats, rear bench seat and matching door cards are finished in a luxurious cream leather and remain in a near perfect condition. The original washable headlining and matching twin sunvisors are in great condition just showing very slight discolouration, with the original Fir Green carpet finishing off this delightful interior. All gauges and controls housed in a safety padded instrument panel are clear and fully operational and a period Motorola radio remains in situ. The Cortina aeroflow heating and ventilation system capable of changing the air in the car every 40 seconds, even with the windows closed, is working perfectly and reminds the driver how special this car is. The stylish Speedwell three spoke sports steering wheel is in fine order and adds to a fantastic Cortina interior, simply brilliant. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The pre-crossflow 1500 cc engine with the GT upgrades of a heated intake manifold, high performance camshaft and dual chamber weber carburettor produces 83.5 bhp and sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 12.1 seconds. Adding to the performance package is an electronic ignition distributor, hand-made full stainless exhaust system and K&N air filter giving this a roughty exhaust note and real sporty feel. A four speed 2000E Bullet gearbox completes the package and is light and precise. Fast, fun and fantastic in every respect. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES Pressed steel wheels with wide base rims are fitted with immaculate and bright chrome hubcaps surrounded with 175/70 R13 tyres showing ample tread. The single line braking system including front discs with P16 cailpers and 9 inch rear drums insures safe and efficient stopping power. HISTORY FILE Built at Fords Dagenham factory in March 1966 and registered on the 3rd May in the same year, this wonderful Cortina GT has only had 5 previous owners. A model often replicated this genuine GT was used on the show circuit before being exported to Ireland in 1998 to join a Ford collection. It has now arrived back in the UK and awaits a lucky new custodian and Ford enthusiast. MOT February 2018, HPI Clear To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/nUFoqlEnOUE To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskPkMYua '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: 1966
    • Mileage: 82318 mi
    • Engine size: 1.5
    For sale
  • FORD CORTINA 1500 GT MK 1 2 Door 1966

    £27,950 £27,950

    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
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