BF Exclusive: 1966 Lotus Cortina

1966 Lotus Cortina

UPDATE: The car has sold within one week to a Barn Finds reader. Thanks Andy!

We feel very honored to feature this car. Not only is a Lotus Cortina a very special car, but this particular one has a very special story behind it. This car has not been offered for sale anywhere else, so this is a great opportunity anyone in the market for a high performance sports sedan. This car was owned by Kevin Corcoran (the famous boy actor who starred in Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, and many more) for almost 40 years! Kevin recently passed away though so his friend Andy S is assisting with the sale of the car. So, keep reading to learn more about this great car.

Kevin in 1977

Here’s the story in Andy’s own words:

This 1966 Lotus Cortina was owned by my friend Kevin Corcoran for almost 40 years. Kevin drove the car daily for years, but after the Northridge earthquake in 1994 he parked the car to focus on rebuilding his home. Months turned into years, and before he knew it the car had been parked for 21 years.

Taken In 1977

Kevin and I talked often about reviving his beloved Cortina for years, so after he was diagnosed with cancer, we pulled the car out of storage and sent it to Santo’s Italian Car Service. Santo has been taking care of Kevin’s GTV since he bought it new (that all original one owner car is another story!). Santo agreed to get the Cortina back in driving condition, brakes, carburetors, fluids, and fuel tank were renewed, new tires were installed.

Dirvers Side

My plan was to get the car running and do a paint detail and touch up the left front fender and lower right fender, repaint the green stripe the proper color, and reupholster the dash. I knew we would not have enough time for a complete restoration. Santo’s shop was busy with many restoration projects and the mechanical rejuvenation of the Cortina took much longer then anticipated. The car was returned to Kevin’s home five days before he passed away. He heard it run and saw it in the driveway on his last trip from home to the hospital. I never got to go for that ride in the Cortina that had meant so much to him.

Lotus Cortina Dash

I am selling the Cortina on behalf of his widow. This Cortina is one of only 186 LHD imported into the USA. According to Ford 3,300 total units were made and approximately  650-700 were LHD. This car was in dry storage, but unfortunately there was a leak in the storage building and the bottom of the left front fender has some rust. The rust is in the fender only. The left front fender was exposed to the sun through a window and the paint has cracked and checked. The car runs very well, drives very nice, and is a super dry, solid unmolested example that can be cleaned up as-is or be a nice restoration candidate.

Lotus Cortina Grill

I have been restoring cars for almost 40 years and this is a very good car. I would love to keep it and restore it as a tribute to my friend, but I have too many cars of my own and am just not feeling the Cortina love – its not my type of car. I have attached some pictures and would like to realize the best return for Kevin’s widow.

Lotus Twin Cam

That tale alone would make this car special, but lets talk a little bit more what makes a Lotus Cortina such a big deal. Lotus had been using Coventry Climax engines in their cars until the early sixties when Colin Chapman asked Harry Mundy to design a twin cam version of Ford’s four cylinder. Things worked out well because the engine went great in the Elan and Ford even asked Chapman to slap one into their Cortina sedan. The guys at Lotus proceeded to install the engines and make extensive tweaks to the suspension. Some subtle touches were made inside and a serious competitor was born.

Lotus Cortina Seats

This new sedan was a formidable foe on the race track and rally course. It wasn’t the best formula for reliable daily driver though so, although popular, not a lot were sold. Andy already mentioned the relative rarity of these cars. Luckily, many of the parts are standard Cortina and there are plenty of specialists out there to provide the Lotus bits. This car needs some cosmetic attention as already mentioned. The dash pad needs replaced and there’s a little rust on one fender and some sun damage on another. Obviously, Kevin loved this car and enjoyed it to its fullest. The dash plaques and long-term ownership prove that point.

Cortina

Hopefully we can help Andy find an owner who is equally enthusiastic. A lot of work has already been done to get the car running again and I don’t think it would take much to make this a respectable driver. You can email Andy here if you’re interested in giving this very special Cortina a good home. Just be sure to tell ’em that Barn Finds sent ya!

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Comments

  1. LD71 :D

    Very nice, had a 65 myself, had been changed to a Pinto motor along the way, as so many had. Would love to have this one my garage LD71 😀

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  2. Tobias Mahrenholz

    To my understanding it would be a shame to restore this car. As a first owner car with the privilege of knowing the story behind it, the minor issues concerning faded colour are truly patina as well as the dash. If that car would be touched for rebuild, it’s lost forever and would just be another brand new car looking like a classic.

    Dare to let these old ladies have some wrinkles and let them tell their story!!!!!

    Too sad I don’t have the money for this unique piece of history 🙁

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  3. MikeG

    What a cool ride. I love the lines, cars like this and the Datsun 510 are awesome little track cars.

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  4. Dave Wright

    These were fun before they were “discovered” great little sleepers but in my thinking have become too expensive. Just because something is rare does not make it desireable. They were competitors of the little Alfa sedans……that had a better motor…..the Datsun’s………..and the BMW’s of there era that were probably the best of the bunch. There are many choices. I remember when these were very reasonable and they were fun then. This one has a nice story that might make it sell faster but adds little to actual value.

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    • Jesse Jesse Staff

      This car is on a completely different level than a 2002 or 510 though Dave. Have you seen what GTAs are going for these days? Are you sure you aren’t confusing this with the Cortina GT? I could see those being affordable sleepers back in the day.

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      • Ol Shel

        They’re only “on a different level” because rich old men say they are. On the track, the ‘inferior’ car spanks the ones that the elitists prefer.

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      • Jesse Jesse Staff

        These actually dominated on the track. Look up their race history and I think you’ll be surprised.

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  5. Chris

    Kind of a sad story, at least the guy got to see it one more time. A reminder, buy your classic now and enjoy it now.

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  6. MountainMan

    Very cool. These are such good looking little cars

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  7. Jeff Jeff Staff

    Tremendous find and even better story. How many rot-free, single-owned Cortinas are left? LHD to boot? This is a special car and I am sure it will go to a deserving home. Good luck to the seller.

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  8. Rancho Bella

    If this is a 100 % factory Lotus (Colin Chapman car) that is a good thing. I could have sworn I say a price before and now I don’t. Or, is it my old eyes again?

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  9. MacVaugh

    That is a plain Cortina grill. It should be black like the one shown in the scanned period photograph.

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    • Michael Rogers

      I’ve owned many EnFo’s including a 66 Lotus Cortina and several GT and plain Cortys, being British, they sometimes didn’t come out quite the same as the rest. “We ran out of black paint Govner–” So git on with it, we want to ship it today!
      I’ve had Anglias that while usually having 997cc engines, occasionally got a 1340cc that was used in the next line on the Counsel. There was EnFords ‘speed shop’ Bornham that would make up whatever you wanted. Want a alloy diff–no problem mate!
      My 63 Capri GT came with a Cosworth Mk-IX engine, close gears etc.

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  10. jim s

    there are video of these racing with the inside front tire being up in the air as they go thru the corners. someone is going to get a great car with a lot of history to go along with it.

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  11. Jamie Jamie Staff

    I really, really wish I were in the market. What a cool car!!!

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  12. Rod Davis

    Nice semi original car…It’s been ‘updated’ in several areas,interior and such. It’s highly unlikely that the engine has not had work done on it in the past…the original twincam engine had many problems in the street versions. We race one today with VARA, the same one I bought new from C. Bob Autry Mtrs. in Long Beach. I’ve owned several over the years so, I’m not just guessing at this. Values of these LC’s have gone berserk in the last few years. A complete rust bucket ‘parts car’ went to NZ for $39k last year. Several are on the market for twice that amount. A Lotus Cortina in anywhere close to original condition, as this one seems to be, should sell well in the $50 to $75k range. Sure wish I had kept three or four of mine…

    To the comments about the OEM grill not being black…they were simply sprayed with a very low quality paint and it flaked off within a couple years without upkeep. Same for the green stripe…low quality paint with little prep…faded quickly. My first LC had been stored on Bill Strop’s lot on Signal Hill and was faded on the showroom when I picked it up. Part of why I am so amazed at the little LC’s collectible value these days…

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  13. Rod Davis

    One additional comment….The guys at Santos do acceptable work. I’ve seen several of their cars and all seem to be well done. Keep in mind that if you want this to stay in this condition, you are nuts. It’s not original enough for that. Restore it properly and you will have a six figure investment in a few years.

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  14. David Axisa, England

    how much? it’s still a left hand drive, a bit less desirable.

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    • Jesse Jesse Staff

      You can contact Andy directly to discuss price. It may be less desirable over there, but over here it’s perfect!

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  15. Andy

    Thank You Barn Finds. The car went to a great new home today! I hope the new owner enjoys it for 39 years as Kevin did.
    Andy

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    • Woodie Man

      You’re a good friend.

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