Ford’s focus on making a light-medium pick-up suited for South African conditions kicked off in 1962 when it converted the German-built Taunus station wagon into a workhorse. But the cost of the Taunus base proved too exorbitant for mass production. When the Mk1 Cortina launched later that year the lower cost of the car looked promising. But it wasn’t to be as the monocoque construction didn’t provide enough strength, and the lack of heavy-duty differentials in the range meant the load capacity would not be high enough to make it a viable workhorse. The engineers pushed forward though, delivering 8 prototypes over the next seven years, based on the Mk1 Cortina, Corsair, Mk2 Cortina station wagon, Mk2 Cortina sedan and even an Escort panel van. The technological strides taken were decent but the differential issue remained a thorn in the side and the engineers still maintained that a frame-type chassis was needed.
Prayers were answered in 1969 when Borg-Warner set up an axle manufacturing plant in Uitenhage and the Ford engineers were given advanced warning on the next generation Cortina design, which meant that they could develop a frame-chassis pick-up around that and not have to chop and change an existing model.
Prototyping upped the ante, and engineers developed a frame section that was then joined, with what Ford called a torquebox, to the front half of the Mk3 Cortina sedan’s monocoque structure. The torquebox, a box section running transversely at the join tied the front and rear via numerous braces under the seat and added the required strength but also substantial weight – 6.5% heavier than the car version.