By Stuart Grant
In September 1962, Ford unveiled its new passenger saloon, the Consul Cortina. It ticked the design brief of being economical, practical, cheap to run and inexpensive to produce, and soon became the car to have. But there was more…
Ford teamed up with Lotus cars who, together with Cosworth, developed a twin-cam version of the Ford Kent engine. The plan was to fit this engine to 1 000 Ford saloons to meet Group 2 racing homologation requirements.
Ford supplied two-door Cortina body shells while Lotus carried out the mechanical and cosmetic modifications. All the Lotus factory cars were painted white with a green flash down the flanks. On the track the Lotus Cortina excelled, and Jim Clark won the 1964 British Saloon Car Championship.
South Africa didn’t miss out as Koos Swanepoel powered his Lotus Cortina to the 1964 South African Saloon Car Championship. What wins on Sunday sells on Monday, and the demand for road-going Lotus Cortinas was strong enough to see in the region of 3 300 sold.
In 1966, Ford wrapped up production of the first Cortina model and released an all-new Mark II. This also got the Lotus treatment – like the car pictured here.
The Mark II Lotus Cortina hit the streets in 1967 but had lost its green power line as standard treatment. Most buyers had these added at extra cost. Power from the 1557cc twin-cam engine measured in at 110bhp while the torque figure impressed with 145Nm.
This was good enough to see the 100km/h sprint completed in 11 seconds and for a top speed of 167km/h. Thankfully, disc brakes up front were standard.
MacPherson struts and coils kept the front wheels under control while a semi-elliptic leaf spring with radius arms and De Dion axle set-up handled the rear.
At the close of play, just 4 093 Mark IIs rolled off the production line. While they didn’t match the Mark I’s motorsport successes, their combination of practicality and performance powered Ford to the forefront of the sporting saloon line.
*Photographed car supplied by www.oldcar.co.za
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