History of the 1967 - 1970 Ford Cortina
The Ford Cortina Mk II was a front-engine rear-wheel-drive four- and five-seater available as a two- or four-door saloon, or as a five-door estate. It was built between 1966 and 1970.
The Ford Cortina Mk II was launched in October 1966 and gained instant praise from the motoring press and public for its slick appearance, spaciousness and robust mechanics. The body was of all-steel unitary construction, with disc/drum brakes and recirculating ball steering. The suspension at the front was by independent Macpherson struts and at the rear by semi-elliptic leaf springs and a live axle.
The Mk II was initially available as a two- or four-door saloon with either a 1300 or a 1500 engine and the trim levels were Fleet, Deluxe, Super and GT, the last-named with lowered suspension, a remote-control gear lever and extra instrumentation. The first three could be specified with either a direct link floor change or, more rarely, a steering column change. A bench front seat and automatic transmission were available on the non-sporting models.
The Ford Cortina Mk II Estate was introduced in February 1967, with lever arms replacing rear telescopic dampers; a GT station wagon was also available to special order. The Cortina Lotus debuted in March 1967 and that is listed separately. Five months later the 1300 unit gained a crossflow head and the 1500cc engine was replaced by a 1600cc ‘Kent’ crossflow unit and in October the major news was a new flagship. The 1600E combined the suspension of the Lotus with the GT engine and four-door saloon coachwork. The enhanced equipment included a wood faced dashboard, reclining front seats, twin spot lights, a clock, a cigar lighter, reversing lamps and Ro-Style wheels. Within months, the Ford Cortina 1600E created its own niche as the ideal junior executive transport.1968 saw the GT gain a vastly improved second gear ratio, the Super fitted with the remote-control gear lever. The range received a facelift that October; a centrally mounted handbrake replaced the under-dashboard lever and there were now an alternator, improved transmission and a new radiator grille. The dashboards of the GT and 1600E were altered and the latter gained a new rear seat.
Ford also offered a 1200 version, subsequently replaced in 1968 by an 1100 model, for overseas markets. From 1969 onwards the 1600E was available in a two-door form for export only. In the UK Race Proved Performance and Racing Equipment Ltd. made the ‘Cortina Savage’, which was the 1600E – although a small number of estates and GTs were also converted - powered by the V6 2,994cc engine of the Ford Zodiac Mk IV. The Savage also featured uprated suspension and cooling system and a limited-slip differential. In South Africa, Basil Green Motors of Johannesburg made the Cortina Perana, which combined the 3-Litre engine with the Cortina Lotus gearbox.
Production of all Ford Cortina Mk IIs ceased in 1970.
The Ford Cortina Mk II was first available with a 1,297cc S4 OHV with a single Ford carburettor, a 1,498cc S4 OHV with a Zenith carburettor while the 1500GT had a Weber system. The later 1,599cc S4 OHV unit as fitted to the Fleet, De Luxe and Super had an Autolite carburettor and the 1600GT and 1600E had used Webers. The standard transmission was four-speed all-synchromesh manual and Borg Warner Model 35 three-speed automatic as an extra.
The 1600E is probably the most desirable of the Mk II range – it was a virtual classic when it was new – but even the smaller engined models feel surprisingly light and responsive. The Fleet, De Luxe and Supers are more difficult to find than the GT or 1600E. Estates are less common than the saloon, especially in GT guise. Many surviving Cortina Mk II’s have been treated to customisation of vary degrees.
Worn rings, timing chains and bores are common engine problems and the transmission can suffer from coupling issues. In terms of corrosion, pay special attention to the A and B pillars, the anti-roll bar mounting, the wheel arches and wing valances at the point where the suspension struts are fixed to the body. Replacement interior trim can be very hard to find.
Rivals to the Ford Cortina Mk II include the Austin A60 Cambridge and Morris Oxford Series VI, the Rootes’ Arrow saloon and estate cars and the Vauxhall Victor FC.