20 Miles And Never Registered 1963 Ford Cortina

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very familiar with the export-only models the big U.S. automakers have shipped to various countries around the world. Ford in particular has had a prolific export-only program which included the Consul, Zephyr, Corsair, Granada, Del Ray, Laser, and Cortina, just to name a few. This one is a 1963 Cortina which can be found here on mathewsons.co.uk. The car will be sold at auction on Friday, December 10th. What makes this car so unique? Well, it is essentially brand new. Yep, it was delivered to a Scottish dealer and never sold, leaving just over 20 miles on the odometer since new! Let’s take a closer look at this time capsule and thanks to misterlou for the tip on this unique ride.

The red interior combined with the Windsor Grey body color is a great combination. The auction website states “…the car was never sold. It was then left forgotten in the corner of the dealership for years.” It’s hard to fathom a car dealer letting a car sit for years without discounting it and moving on, but it does happen.

As you can see from the engine compartment, although the car wasn’t driven, it appears to have been stored in less than ideal conditions. Unfortunately, surface rust has crept into a lot of the cars’ sheet metal. There’s also little doubt that the rubber bits, gaskets, and plastic are all dried out and brittle. The 1498cc engine will most likely need a full rebuild to be strong again.

The current owner purchased the car in 1989, but there are no details of the history for the past 30+ years.

Overall, this isn’t a bad-looking car. The styling is certainly unique from other vehicles of the same era. The taillights are almost Ford Falcon-like with a little ’58 Chevrolet Biscayne styling to the trunk. I hope this car gets a second lease on life. What would you do with a 20-mile classic?  Restore, preserve or drive as-is?


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  1. RayT Member

    I doubt you could drive this car AT ALL “as-is.” There would be a lengthy list of things to be cleaned/replaced/checked before it would be worth turning the key, much less expecting anything from brakes, tires, etc.

    By the same token, 1963 PVC and rubber are not at all new. Better to call them “unused” and leave them that way, unless you want to risk them crumbling under you. It’s also safe to say the paint will not “rub out….”

    My ex-wife had a ’66 (or thereabouts) Cortina in Canada, and it was quite a nice little driver. I could easily imagine putting one to daily use and enjoying it, though the front strut towers had a bad habit of failing official inspections due to rust. Fortunately, an acceptable repair (involving a large plate bolted/welded to the top of the assembly which was then covered in what looked like tar) was not expensive.

    I’d be willing to bet some UK collector will step up with a healthy bid, but if I were to buy a “20-mile” car for a large pile of coin, I’d want it shiny. And driveable. If someone gave it to me, I’d think it worthwhile to freshen it up, drive it, and not really care how many miles it had on the clock when I got it.

    Like 12
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    My thought upon seeing this car:

    Here we have an unused car which is approaching 60 years old. If the headline hadn’t said “20 miles” and if you just looked at the pics, you might assume it is a nicely maintained car, used but not abused, which needs cleaned up. You would probably not guess it is unused.

    Which brings me to my point: sometimes when a very low mileage thirty or forty year old car shows up on Barn Finds, we will look at the interior or (especially) the underhood and jump to the conclusion that, because it doesn’t look just like new, that the mileage claim is bogus. Here is a prime example how things really are. Unless storage conditions are ideal (which rarely happens), ‘things’ naturally deteriorate. Plastics, textiles, unfinished metal, even painted metal.

    I’ve been to car museums, and looked at a low-mileage car, and thought “it looks good, but maybe a bit dingy.” And that’s under good storage conditions. Cars get dirty and finishes and materials deteriorate.

    Back to this car: I hope a collector cleans it up and finds a way to let people see it.

    Like 21
    • Bill McCoskey


      All over the 1960s UK there were little shops that sold petrol and new cars, and most of the shop areas were quite dingy and often unheated. I’ve seen many shops where unloved and unused things like rare cars were shoved to the back, or worse ended up outside in what I would call a “cold jungle” atmosphere. [I’ve never seen cars rust so quickly and so totally as in England.] Not at all surprised this car, as dirty as it is, has so little miles on it. Compared to what I’m used to seeing in back areas of English garages, this car is very clean!

      If you want to see just how badly cars rot in the UK due to “the damp”, check out a YouTube creator known as “The Bearded Explorer”, and select his visits to automotive junkyards.

      Like 4
      • Ward William

        Don’t forget the great UK car cancer, heavily salted roads.

        It’s clearly been stored in a non airtight location but I would still not be surprised to see it restored and then placed in a museum. We had these in Australia too and they were a decent reliable little car that won a bunch of rallies back in the day. Interesting twist for me is that this was from where my dad grew up before emigrating to Australia as a young bucktoothed Scots lad.

  3. Allen L

    Likely end up being used for historic racing, think Goodwood.

    Like 7
  4. Derek

    I agree; this’ll become a racer with a Lotus motor PDQ, especially since it’s a 2-door.

    Any idea of the dealer that it came from? Alexanders (in Edinburgh) had a Mk 4 Cortina that they’d robbed for parts that was the last new one sold here.

    Like 1
    • Mikefromthehammer

      The typed letter says it was delivered to Townshead Garage, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire, in Scotland.

      Like 2
      • Derek

        Thanks, I’d found that by going to look at the ad after I’d typed that! My pal’s brother-in-law’s from there.

        Like 2
  5. Digital Man

    Tub it, frame it, big block Ford. Great sleeper.

    Like 3
    • Ward William

      No, you can still find clapped out old 60s Cortinas that would be more suited to chopping up. With only 20 miles on the clock, this is a museum piece once restored.

      Like 2
  6. Bob C.

    When I look at it from the side view, and squint my eyes, I see a 1961 to 63 Rambler American.

    Like 13
  7. mikeh

    20 miles, really? Obviously it was stored in a rock quarry.

    Like 5
  8. Al

    I can see this shipped to Europe to a WRC race team. I just don’t think it will last long enough for the FIA World Rally Championship in 2022.

    1963 cars are built somewhat tougher, the front wheels will not fall off as readily as they do today.

    However it could be excluded as it is too old, and therefore tougher to wreck.

    Like 5
  9. Daniel Farrell

    Someone will probably convert it to an imitation Lotus Cortina and got racing.

    Like 4
  10. Howard A Member

    Ahhhhhh, I just can’t get past those tail lights. The Martians eye in the original War of the Worlds looked just like that. Scared the hell out of me,,,as a kid.
    1st, wouldn’t it be 20 kilometers, and I don’t believe that either. 2nd, many rip on me for my simplistic views, but we should be so lucky that the world reverts back to a car like this. I know, fat chance and believe it or not, I think the Cortina was more of an upscale car for the Brits. Pretty sure these used an all synchro 4 speed on the column, unheard of at the time. Cool find, for sure.

    Like 5
    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      I don’t think the Brits ever made a four on the column in the Cortina range, Zephyrs and Zodiacs, yes. As for the speedo guage, it would be in miles in 1963 and we are still in miles in 2021, however, we have to buy our petrol in Litres! Makes it a bit difficult to work out your MPG. Also a Cortina was hardly an upscale car as it was made for the man in the street, not the hoi poloi. I have owned most all of the Mk’s of Cortina’s and none of them had any kind of “luxurious” features other than a slush box.

      Like 6
      • Peter Storen

        Howard is correct.Here in Oz,we had a ’63 Cortina Sedan with a ” 4 on the tree ” but I don’t think there was syncro on first gear. Re MPG and / or km / litre when calculating fuel consumption: divide litres by 4.5 to convert to gallons or multiply kms X 1.61 to convert to miles. Additionally , divide the cost of the fuel by kms or miles travelled to discover the cost per km or mile.The tank has to be filled every time fuel is bought in order to keep an accurate log.and be sure you’re sitting down when performing the cost calculations ! Happy motoring !

        Like 1
    • JagManBill

      4 on the floor – I’ve got a 65

      Like 1
  11. Mike T

    Not a US Ford vehicle. These are ENFO, Ford if England built for UK and global export

    Like 4
  12. Howie Mueler

    Way too many miles for me, i am looking for something with less than 10.

    Like 12
  13. Solosolo Solosolo Member

    @Peter Storren. I don’t have a problem converting the miles to kilometres, I just have a problem as to why the Brits have to make problems where there were none! All road signs are in miles, speedos are in miles, yet fuel is sold in litres. Most likely something the EU forced on us before Brexit.

    Like 1
    • Peter Storen

      Solosolo, The introduction of the metric system was ” worldwide ” in the early ’70s for countries which used the Imperial System of Measurements. I deemed it to be a scam at the time as both Imperial and Metric systems had been in use for centuries and people in the world of commerce were fluent in both.Consumers were cheated as packaging was re-labelled with metric measurement ,the containers held less than previously , and the prices went up.I visited the UK in 1980 and I think it was all-metric then.I suspect the Imperial system is being re-adopted to be in tune with Brexit. I am constantly amazed by the fact that the US retained its own system of measuring weights, distances , fluids and temperatures. Most Canadians at the time just assumed that the neighbours to the south were not clever enough to adapt to the changes or that the education standards weren’t up to the challenge.

      Like 1
      • GIRTH

        Neither the Imperial measurements nor the Metric system have been to the moon.

        Like 4
  14. chrlsful

    yeah, I C 64+ Falcon all over it (some Chevy II, wolwo on the top, but the Brit- cortina-peace-sign tail lights give it away). Many, end of the 50s, had that tail fin (bent out board), scolloped 1/4 panel seen in final pic…

    U mean these were made in us of a? funny, I never heard guys from the plants talk bout cars made export only. Still done? @ what % points of total made & change from the past? This is very interesting to me. Helps broaden the company, union and state/fed gov’ment story for me…

  15. Mike

    So pushing it around for 58 years will yield 20 miles. Interesting.

    Like 3
  16. Abi

    Where did this car spend all these years, in a greenhouse?

    Like 1
  17. Frank

    A Jim Clark race car!

  18. joenywf64

    Never waxed, &/or kept outside a lot too.

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