Last Friday, as I drove north on the 605 towards the 91 (that’s California speak for Interstate 605 and California State Highway 91), I rolled past this Ford Cortina Mark I cruising in the right lane. Despite the large number plate on the driver’s door and other race car styling elements, the driver puttered along at ten miles an hour below the posted limit.
It was a nice looking car, and certainly Curbside Classic material when parked, you know, curbside. Of course, tooling down a California highway is a completely different setting. Fortunately, I spotted it with enough time to grab the camera out of the glove box and pop off a couple of shots. Given the nature of the shot (handheld camera aimed through the windshield), I think it’s a pretty good picture even with the washed out colors.
Since my initial shot looked pretty good, I thought I’d try a couple more shots. My first attempt was taken over shoulder and out the back window. Given that the view finder was pointing away from me during this shot, this picture framed up perfectly. We can’t tell much about the Cortina, but those full sized pickups sure are big!
I had to dawdle for a couple miles in the slow lane, but the Cortina finally caught up and passed me on the left (those who drive European cars are sticklers for lane protocol). I must have adjusted the camera exposure and speed settings while dawdling, because I see a big improvement in the colors and image definition.
In this final picture, I’m headed off to the eastbound 91 while the Cortina remained northbound on the 605.
It appears the door number includes a replica Monte Carlo Rally plaque. These Mark I Cortinas (built from 1962-66) ran in the Rally, but never took the overall win. If I ever run across a stationary one, I’ll do some research and explore the topic further, but for now we’ll bid this Cortina farewell.
I’ve taken more than a few shots of interesting cars as I’ve passed by them, or they’ve passed by me, on the interstate. It’s an inexact science! Your last couple actually came out quite well.
Also, kudos for managing to avoid the dreaded dashboard reflection. That has ruined several otherwise acceptable photos for me.
This (BRG?) example was known as the ‘Aeroflow’ due to it’s air vents on the outside of the C pillar..
The first Cortina version didn’t have them, nor any real air venting system other than the winding down of the windows (front screen demisting necessitated the use of one of those awful primitive ‘stuck-on’ heater elements plugged into the cigarette lighter socket..
This ‘Aeroflow’ will also have a revised dash panel with ..wait for it .rotary air vents at either end (and the dash presentation changed from strip speedo to circular..
Also the front grille is changed to fine mesh from the rather ‘toothy-chunky’ look of the first grille
This example appears to be the ‘GT’ model given the shape of the badges at the ends of the rear side panels..
So it would have been factory fitted with a wood-rimmed steering wheel, have a tacho, a floor change 4 speed box and a 1498cc non-crossflow 4 cylinder engine fed by a Weber 32/36 progressive choke carb..
Years released were 1965 and 1966 for the ‘Aeroflow’..
One of the very BEST Fords surely ever made by Henry of ANY country..
A lovely snappy good looking good handling machine of it’s era
Even the baby bro 1198cc was a small force to be reckoned with ..lined up against a 2.6 Velox of the time …starting-off in second gear (a tad of clutch slip and LOTS of revs) it would pull straight through to 5,000rpm give or take in one ‘swiftish rush’ ..leaving the six cylinder Vauxhall wheezing along BEHIND it!#@!#@!
I know this for a fact .. my mother’s french blue/beige trimmed ’63 Mk1 Cortina (NZ rego BJ3341) was my ‘Lotus Seven Clubman Racer in training’ (unbeknownst to her) .. lol
Hey.. I don’t know why that Cortina you have snapped has TWO tail pipes ..that ain’t right .. 🙂
I’m remembering “Air~flow”. Two pipes? I’m hoping V6 ….
heeheeh..well the Aussies crammed a 250 cube straight six banger into the MkIV TE Cortina.. back around ’78 – ’80 ..it needed a nice BIG power bulged hood to cover the monster …some Cortina aye :):)
200 cid 6 cylinder, naturally I don’t condone this type of behaviour …
I have always wondered if this car’s designers made it look like a mini 59 Buick from the back on purpose. I remember seeing precisely one of these in my midwestern youth, and recall it because by the time I saw it, I knew what a Cortina was – but had never seen one that looked like this.
I have driven in California and 10 mph under the limit is almost suicidal, from my limited experience. Of course, perhaps a Cortina gives you little choice.
I see 59 buick and 60 Rambler American mashed up…
As long as it isnt a 1200cc poverty pack those thing was get along at well past the speed limit
I think it was a token nod to tail fins.
My fathers Mk1 would do 115mph back in 1965-66
love, love that car.Like a mini Falcon.
Wait til a Mk2 Cortina turns up it looks more like a Falcon than a Falcon
A couple of minutes with Photoshop can bring back some of the colour and contrast:
I simply adjusted the levels and saturation in PS. Couldn’t do much with the first pic, which is overexposed.
A car that appealed to me when I was shopping for my first (used) car after getting my license in the early ’70’s. A friend had a Mk1 Lotus Cortina and my sister’s first car was a Mk2 so I was able to enjoy them vicariously. I think I’ve seen only a handful of Mk2’s in the last 20 years or so. In the US it was killed off by the launch of the Maverick which has hung around a bit better. I believe Mk3’s were imported to Canada and I’d see one occasionally, sometimes with US plates, in the mid-seventies. All gone I suspect, or at least only seen at shows. I haven’t seen a non-Aussie Capri in ages either. Time to start taking pictures of Chevy Sonics and Ford Fiestas before they become the CC’s of 2050!
A bit more like the ’60 Buick’s rounded off fins, i see.
Another car from growing up in the 60s.Mum had a Mk1 in a strange pale green(Ludlow Green?) until a scaffolders lorry dropped it’s poles on the bonnet.Just to make you wish for a time machine in 1975 I had a summer job as a canteen assistant in a chemical factory,an apprentice bought a Mk1 Lotus Cortina for £120.It was a bit chewed around the edges and badly sprayed black with a light blue stripe.
Congratulations on nabbing a Mk1 Cortina. I’ve long hoped to, as well as a Mk2, but no luck. I just missed out on a terrific Mk1 in the Bay Area, but didn’t have my camera with me.
These were appealing cars in their time, especially given their performance potential. They were rather a precursor to the BMW 1600/2002.
They hunted the Humber 80s from the tracks in saloon car racing here lighter than the Rootes car and with better after market support the Cortina remained popular for many years in NZ
Nice find, this one has twin tailpipes too. Maybe a V8 conversion?
Good noticing. Maybe the Cologne V6? That would fit in really well, and not overtax it quite so much.
There was the Savage Cortina which had the Dagenham 3 litre V6 in the UK.South Africa got the Perana Cortina with the same V6.Australia had a straight 6 Falcon engined Cortina,a car I’ve always been interested in despite Bryce’s warnings!
Buy one Gem they go fine but the front subframes crack badly they are too weak for even the 200cu motor on the MK3 the MK4/5 adressed those issues but the buyers stayed away.
The six came as a 200 or 250, 3 or 4 speed manual or auto, as well as a top-of-the-line XLE with all the goodies that initially came as a 250 only.
Good cars in a straight line, but they don’t like corners. Despite Ford recessing the firewall to mount the six, it was still nose-heavy. I like corners, so my TC/Mark 3 was a four (2000 only by then), but I didn’t leave it as Henry made it. Ford strengthened the body for the six (though not enough), and then used the same body for the four from about ’73 on. My four had about eight inches of space between the engine and the firewall!
….wonder if there was space for a supercharger to go in there in that case…. the diff seals would be blown in 5 minutes lol (that’s what happens to the seals in the Capri diff in my Donkervoort ESC Lotus 7…which has a Torana XU1 3048cc I6 jammed in it’s tiny nose (dry-sumped) …always replacing the diff seals .. .. ..
If it’s a V motor, I hope it’s the Cologne engine rather than a V-8. While V-8 power sounds attractive in the abstract, the increased weight would greatly impact the Cortina’s handling.
Yep there were several built like that when I was younger a few Zephyr suspension and brake parts helps too the whole UK Ford range mixes and matches into nearly any little Ford.
It also has much larger diameter wheels fitted originally they were on 13s those look like 15s probably to lift the gearing on the cheap.
Great shots, even better that it was on a California highway. Those tail lights remind me of the Martian Eye-on-a-Stalk from the original War of the Worlds movie (Gene Barry, not Tom Cruse). Those pulsing sound effects still give me the creeps. Pretty car, though!
Nice catch! You’re a lot more talented (or lucky) than I’ve ever been at snapping shots while driving. The car is awesome and the exact same colour as the new Mk2 my Mom bought in 1969. Curiously the taillights also remind me of that car. Although the Mk2’s rear lights were completely different, they recycled the Mk1’s design for the ball and socket-type ventilation outlets in the dash! [Pic is of a Lotus-Cortina, but the vents are the same. ]
The Mark 1 Cortina gave Fomoco its first Bathurst win in 63 while slower than the S4 EH Holdens they had front disc brakes and could stop and steer better that was the big valve 1500cc GT model not the legendary Lotus edition.
My old man had a GT500 engine put in his car (a standard 4 door car) by Harry Firth. Not sure if he did the brakes or not but I assume so. He was notorious amongst the family for setting some quick times for trips, of course back then there weren’t speed limits as we have now.
When he traded it in a little old lady bought it and would build up a heap of carbon in the engine puttering around town between services, where an important procedure was for one of the mechanics to take it for a thrash out the road to blow it all out. I gather the cam lobes wore down after a while.
This was several years before I was on the scene, but I think I did see the car once, at least 15 years after my father sold it.
Well I recall my mother’s car (Cortina 1200) ‘went-in’ every 500 miles for a ‘valve grind’ top end job (ie: head off and de-carbonising and valves lapped) …perhaps due to the shocking petrol quality then which was tractor style sulphurous low octane stuff loaded with tetra ethyl lead in combination with the sharp unfinished edges and general design of the cylinder head possibly ..what a far cry from today you take the head off when the gasket has blown from an overheating misadventure several hundred thousand kms down the track (if unlucky) ..
With a school bus yellow flash, that was my ’66 Lotus. Last time I saw one on the road was on Highway 17 heading to San Jose. 1991, had the little puff of blue smoke every time he shifted (no valve guide seals on a Twin Cam).
I was 18, and knew a little about wrenching. Pulled the engine, had a burnt exhaust valve, and wanted to do a “light” rebuild. Being a resourceful scrounger, found a water pump seal kit instead of buying a new pump at the dealer; about a quarter of the cost. Even in the Detroit area, parts were there to buy.
Had a bitch of a time getting it started, turns out the guy that was helping me had set the ignition timing to what a SBC would have, and was on the opposite side of the TDC mark. I finally checked the manual and figured out what he did.
The turn signals were messed up, all 4 would flash quick and dim. Took it the dealer in Royal Oak, service advisor called and told me I needed 4 new turn signal assemblies. $100+. I went to pick it up, the tech that worked on it, Lee, saw me and told me I just needed to clean the rust off the signals and they would work. He put the blinkers on, bridged a screwdriver between the bumper and one of the signal assemblies and everything worked. Bad grounds.
He also told me he noticed it didn’t have much power, so he pulled the distributor and cleaned and lubed the advance mechanism. All this for $8 an hour. 1971 labour rates.
Went from maybe 50 hp to the 100+ it was supposed to have…
Drove it across the Ambassador Bridge to Canada. The Canadian customs guy says to me; “Welcome home, sir”. I had this quizzical look on my face, so he looked at the front of the car and saw the Michigan plate and then said “Sorry”. Kind of wished I was Canadian.
Took another 3 years and the tinworm did in the body. Pulled the engine and sold a complete Twin Cam for $450, Webers and all. That’s all it was worth in Detroit in 1974.
Still have the steering wheel, shift knob, and all the Lotus badges, including the “Twin Cam” one I got from an Escort Tin Can. Wish I still had it, and my ’68 TR 250, I knew what cars to buy when I was 17 and 18…
All the British Car trauma convinced me to go to trade school and learn how to wrench. First job was at the Sports Car Exchange in Dearborn; Ferrari, Lotus, Jensen dealer.
Are you really permiited to take photos whilst driving?
In the UK, you’d be in court and on the TV news
In Victoria, Australia it’s 3 demerit points (out of 12) and $300 fine. The amount of beauties I’ve missed…
Yay, another Victorian!
Hmm…. don’t want that
I’m not sure if the law specifically bans photography whilst driving, but here in LA we work on the theory that “real” crime keeps the Police too busy to chase after camera wielding scofflaws.
..if you started waving a camera around at some cops driving by here in NZ they would probably just wave back at you and smile .. but you wouldn’t want to switch it for a water pistol ..they are very quick here to send you to hospital in a body bag if they think you are waving a gun around ..plastic ..real ..or even a steel-painted carrot or banana ..out comes the 9 mil Glock or the Bushmaster XM15 quicker than you can say Jack Flash …some little time ago an innocent delivery van driver was taken out like this on the western motorway (Auckland) cos he was just sitting behind the wheel of his vehicle in the firing zone of the cops happily blazing away at the bad guy (whom they ‘missed’) .. wtf
Not so different here-
Police shoot two newspaper delivery women
They’re a bit on the keen side in the UK.I’ve seen the armed response unit of 3 vans surround a drunken scrote who was waving a realistic looking BB gun about.
Great little car and quite peppy in GT form. The 1198cc Kent engine was much to be avoided, though. It only had three main bearings as against five for the larger 1498cc unit and this affected its durability. Mr Wikipedia reminds me that this car was designed by Roy Brown, the same bloke who did the Edsel. I think he may also have been responsible for the Mk111 Zephyr/Zodiacs. This makes him alright by me (Edsel excepted)!
Roy Brown(not foul mouthed comedian Roy “Chubby” Brown) was responsible for the Mk4 Zephyr /Zodiac which not many people liked.Dad called it the British Edsel and bought a used Falcon instead of a Mk4.I’m one of the few fans of Edsels and Mk4 Zodiacs.
…that’s very interesting ..the 1198cc in particular was indeed a very peppy performer (felt more ‘lively’ than the 1498 actually …and the later smaller capacity ‘bowl in piston’ crossflow engines felt absolutely gutless by comparison
Nice pictures ! I can never get decent pix when moving .
In about 1971 I worked in T & T Arco , the two French brothers who needed a gasoline franchise to run their Inde. Peugeot Garage out of and we had a daily parade of French ex pats coming by ~ one drove a white Cortina like this , he was maybe 40 Y.O. and a totally self absorbed jerk who cheated on his incredibly beautiful wife constantly , always bringing some trollop by in the Cortina , the wife occasionally dropped by and cride on my arm as I filled the tank (fun times , not.)
He also imagined himself quite the racing driver one time over revving it so badly the fan tossed a blade through the hood , eventually he wrecked it into a telephone post , claiming (naturally) it was the car’s fault , not him going way too fast on old bias ply tires with minimal driving skills .
Nice cars I think , looks sharp to these old eyes .
BTW : three main bearing on the crankshaft was the English way to reduce parasitic drag and get more power out of small bore engines .
I used to have a 1937 BMC engineering article where they bragged about how much better the 750 C.C. flathead engine would run because of deleting ‘ extra ‘ main bearings .
As a long time BMC fanatic I agree , just don’t never , _EVER_ lug it or you’ll flex the crank and beat the mains out right quick .
I read a summary that if the main journals and crank pins overlap when looking along the axis of the crank, then there is not much to be gained by having 5 bearings instead of 3. This implies beefy journal sizes and relatively short stroke, so it makes sense for a production car, but I don’t think the resulting engine would be as light as you could build with smaller bearing sizes, thinner block castings and 5 bearings.
..was there not a late ’30’s MG referred to as the “rubber crankshaft” ..or have I got that wrong ..it was so insufficiently supported in the crankshaft the latter that actually “flexed” in operation…and of course catastrophic breakages would not be uncommon after a while
AJS & Matchless 650 twin motorcycles had a 3 bearing crankshaft and had a reputation for blowing up due to the crankshaft being too stiff! When looking for a British bike my brother was told to stick to Triumphs & BSAs and not to go near any others especially AMC twins,one of the few times he took advice
…as did the Norton Atlas 750 twin! …the only ‘sweet’ one was the ’88’ 500cc (the ’99’ 600cc and the 650SS were bad self-destructing rattlers with resultant shortish lives)
..speaking of the BSA twins..the unit construction covers around the main bearings tended to cook them because of heat build-up in those big heavy enclosing cases (so also not a good engine really although the Lightning produced about 7hp more than the Triumph Bonneville)
..prior to unit construction the Triumph 650 was a sweet sweet engine (designed by Turner of Daimler V8 fame)
..the Brit bikes for longevity were the big lazy singles with caged roller big ends ..the (AJS and) Matchless 350 and 500 singles ..the G3LS …and the G80 (AJ 16R etc) ..fabulous indestructible machines that sounded good, felt good, and went slow (just like the big Harleys) .. lol
..for acceleration back then you needed the ‘widow maker’ the infamous ‘Quacker’ 500 H1A
Maybe the MG TD engine ? that was a wretched piece of junk ~ the cranks constantly broke .
A fun and very good looking little car though ~ I do love me some BMC’s ! .
I can’t seem to add another photo , why not ? .
Why can’t I add an avatar photo ? .
Ha! I own this Cortina and these pics were taken immediately after I picked it up in So-Cal with a fly-and-drive to Nor-Cal and then Seattle, WA.
As some have surmised, it has a non-stock engine – – – a previous owner installed a 4.3 liter GM V6. The drivetrain was beefed up with a T56 6-speed transmission and an 8-inch Ford rear end. Not for the purists, but the GM V6 fits nicely with no firewall modifications.
I’m having another 4.3 liter V6 engine built using a GM Performance aluminum bowtie block with Brodix aluminum heads. Output should be about 275-300hp with weight approximately the same or a little less than the original cast-iron Cortina 4-cylinder. Overall power to weight ratio should be similar to that of a Ford AC 289 Cobra.
The front suspension will be upgraded to rack-and-pinion and coil-overs with Wilwood brakes on all four corners. I’m still trying to decide whether to install Minilite wheels or stick with the steelies, which I believe came off a Ford Fairlane. And the T56 transmission might be swapped out in favor of something lighter with appropriate gearing.