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Best Selling Brit: 1968 Ford Cortina GT

Ford is often thought of as the quintessential American automotive brand and with good reason considering the legacy of Henry Ford and the Marques’ origin. But Ford has been a European player too, especially in Great Britain where their Cortina, like this 1968 example, held sway for so many years.  A fairly common sight at one time, but not often today, we have an American spec GT model for review. It is located in Oakland, California and is available, here on eBay for a no reserve current bid of $7,655 with 32 bids tendered so far.

Being a 1968 model means that our Cortina find is actually a Mark II, a variation that was produced between 1966 and 1970. According to the BBC, it was Britain’s most popular car for 1967 and a distinction that would continue for many years. Body styles included a two and four-door sedan and a station wagon. From ’67 through ’70, Ford – U.S. imported Cortinas modified for American standards, the most obvious, being left-hand drive. Total imports during those years amounted to 70K units and then the domestically produced Pinto picked up in 1971 where the Cortina left off. Total Cortina production, which commenced in 1962, continued into 1982 with total production, over its twenty-year span, of just shy of 3M copies.

I like this car! And this is not the type of vehicle that I usually cotton to (of course it’s dark green and that gets me every time). The seller tells us that this is a San Francisco bay area vehicle and it was put into storage in 1979. Instead of just paraphrasing the seller’s comments, I’ll just quote him, “The original Alpine Green paint looks glorious on this car. The body is straight with no rust or corrosion. The underside is very solid. There are little dings here and there but no damage or major dents. The paint shines beautifully. The original chrome bumpers shine great. All of the original Lucas lights are in good shape. All of the original glass is in good shape with no cracks“.  Other than a few body dings, some dented trim, and a noted minor scrape or two, the body presents very well with no sign of anything that would be of concern. In examining the front clip, I see a lot of ’68 Ford Falcon in the design – doubtful that’s just a coincidence. Want more? Here’s a walkaround video.

The interior is quite smart looking – all business actually. The black vinyl upholstery of this 65K mile sedan shows no sign of wear with only the console lid giving an indication of use, probably due to a pointed elbow. The instrument panel is a nice departure from the austereness found in domestic cars of this era (Falcon?) though that radio is a bit of a distracting reach to the right. Note the horn cap “nub”, a common feature of ’67 Ford domestic products. The cut-in door speakers are an unfortunate addition but a very common “upgrade” back when.

Power is provided by a “Crossflow” 93 HP, 1600 CC, inline four-cylinder engine with a gear-rowing four-speed manual transmission. The seller adds, “the high compression 1600 GT motor fires up and runs strong. The motor has recently had the fluids changed after storage It’s a good running engine that sounds good, especially with the factory 4 into 1 header. The 4-speed manual shifts smooth in all gears and reverse“. The seller advises that the brakes are good but the struts should be replaced. Here’s this Cortina in action. Looks and sounds like a fun drive!

Until I saw this listing, I had completely forgotten about Ford’s Cortina – I can’t remember the last time that I saw one. Sometimes a long out-of-production import can throw up a caution for a potential owner. But considering the number of Cortinas produced, and the fact that they were Ford products, keeping an old one running is probably not too big a challenge, wouldn’t you agree?

Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    Nice car. When I saw LHD I thought it might be a export. Little did I know we were that country. The Cortina was the UK people mover and loved and raced by many. I bet there are some UK bidders hoping this comes back

    Like 4
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Remember watching a few of these racing. Inside wheel off the pavement in the corners. Not a ton of power but this little car could be pushed into a corner very hard and stay put. This is a very cool little terror on the track. Looks as it was cared for.

    Like 5
  3. Howard A Member

    I’m one of the most vocal curmudgeons here, I keep coming back to Barn Finds, because of all the memories, memories I KNOW you people have, but don’t relate them, for fear of retribution, maybe, you can probably tell, my old man was quite vocal, something that has been toned down a bit, but hard to erase, and I’m not alone, I’m sure. Many had abusive fathers. Anyway, the last 3 posts ( this, the ’65 Chevy, and the Chrysler), ALL hit a major nerve,,,with me, and some say they are “tired” of my posts, perhaps they feel left out, I have all the memories, they have none. Not at all the intent.
    For the record, Barn Finds is the last site I make any comments to now, and sometimes that is shaky, at best, but I DO want to say, with a few exceptions, BFs has some really cool people here, and that’s what brings me back, and probably will for years to come.
    That aside, until I get booted here too, sit back and enjoy, if you will. THIS was the car my old man bought in the early 70s, a 2 door, not near as fancy, oh yeah, this IS fancy for a Cortina, practically a “Lotus” version,, stuffed hard in the right door. He had it repaired, and we used it to go to school( we were tired of the 4CV ending up on the HS steps). for a couple weeks. One day, some kid in his old mans “deuce and a quarter”, plowed into 4 parked cars at speed ( in a school zone, mind you) and one of the cars he totaled, was the poor Cortina. It was a good car, nothing fancy, but as good as anything from Asia, I thought it was much better than the Pinto, but splitting hairs there. Great find and sorry about the babbling.

    Like 18
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Babble on Howard, most are great memories!

      Like 11
    • Hall-z Member

      I always love your posts, Howard. You have so much knowledge and great memories. Please keep posting.
      We had a few of these little cars when I was a kid. Actually, I hung around with a group of guys that raced them at a little oval track here in Denver. I really wanted one of the wagons they had in the garage lot once I turned 16. It had a big 2×6 for a rear bumper. Some parts were hard to get in those days, but wood and a few lag bolts could be found. We also used to repair exhaust holes with empty Coors cans. My mom was not too thrilled with the idea of my first car being one that needed these types of repairs, though, so no Cortina for me (I ended up with a beastly Valiant).
      These are great little cars and a blast to ride in. The inline-four up front driving the rear wheels made them like little sports sedans.

      Like 3
  4. Big C

    My dad traded in his ’64 Cortina on a used ’68 GT. It was his work car! I remember when he taught me how drive a stick shift in this car. I was around 10 at the time. Driving around the back parking lot, while mom shopped at the strip mall. For 1600cc’s, this thing was no slouch. Sadly, he worked in the steel mills in Cleveland, and the iron dust, mixed with the winter salt, rotted this thing out in about 4 years. He sold it in ’73, for cheap, and bought a Pinto. I’ve never forgot the Cortina, and still look for a coupe every once and a while. They ain’t cheap no more!

    Like 5
  5. Derek

    These are great wee things. The engines are what’s used in Formula Ford 1600 to this day. And yes; like Morris Minors and so on, you can keep very tired ones going – just!

    The fron’t bumper’s sitting at quite a jaunty angle, but.

    Like 1
  6. mike

    Very nice Series 2 survivor.Mine is a 68 2dr GT.The radio is a pain on the right side of dash…and no glove box.In the driving video you can see the steering box needs adjusted though…not hard to do.Hopefully the next caretaker keeps her stock.

    Like 2
  7. Craig Walker

    The total production of cortinas from mk1-5 (62-82) was closer to 4 1/4 million.
    I at present own 7 5 mk3’s & 2 mk5’s the later are 1 owned by my late father from new in 81 the other #9 of only 28 convertible’s made.
    We’ve had at least one as a daily since the 72 version bought in late 73.

    Like 3
    • Jim Koscs

      I might be able to interest my editor in a story on your Cortina collection. If you are interested, contact me jimkwriter@gmail.com Google my name + Hagerty to see stories I’ve done.

      Like 1
  8. JoeNYWF64

    I don’t think this car shares anything with the Falcon or even the Aussie Falcon, except the bulbs & fluids. lol
    One look under the hood told me this is no cousin of the Falcon. & all that space lost around the entire perimeter of the motor has me scratching my head, & means that the battery has to be NEXT to the motor! Odd.
    The optional v6 must be 1 tight fit in there.

    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      I didn’t say it did share anything with the Falcon. What I did say is “I see a lot of ’68 Ford Falcon in the design” specifically the front clip.

      JO

      Like 8
  9. Stan

    Cool, wish Ford offered a Cortina like car today.

    Like 8
  10. DON

    These were good cars , but as an import to me they seemed like an answer to a question that nobody asked . Ford already had good selling compacts with the Falcon/Mustang , a good mid size range and full size range cars , so there didnt seem to be a need for another car line. Many people at that time shied away from import cars too , and I’m sure that hurt their sales. I’m surprised at the number that were imported ; I never saw one around until the early 1980s when someone dragged in a long dead and rotted Cortina out of the woods and into our salvage yard.
    I know over in the UK they were very popular and did well in racing too. My Scottish uncles, however , both drove Ford Corsairs , so I never got to ride in a Cortina when we went over to visit

    Like 3
    • Big C

      Ford didn’t have a 4 cylinder domestic to compete against VW, Renault, etc. Thus, the Anglia was brought over, then the Cortina.

      Like 2
  11. luke arnott Member

    If you couldn’t afford a Lotus version,the best one was the 1600E.

  12. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car. I consider it a damn shame that the Ford Cortina didn’t sell well here in the USA. My favourites are the MkII Cortina (shown here), and the MkIV Cortina.

    Like 1
  13. gary duncan Member

    My Dad was a Ford dealer in Blacksburg, Va . I had to remove Cosmoline. From the Cortinias. Lots of Kerosine and Rubbing. Gary Duncan

    Like 1
  14. Jim in FL Member

    I had a ’65 Cortina back in the mid 70’s. 6cyl Stick. Thought it was a pretty cool car until a ’68 Caprice crossed my path with a lethargic 307 Automatic.
    Did this just before the gas shortages of the 70’s
    Hindsight kicked in. Shoulda never parted with the Cortina.
    sigh….

    • Rick

      If there was a six cylinder in your Cortina it must have been swapped in after the car left the factory. Ford only offered four cylinder engines in the Cortina back in those years.

      Like 1
    • freakinutz Member

      There were some Mk1’s that had a V6 put in them. They were called Cortina Savages. You could put a V8 in that engine bay, although they would be too heavy. Perhaps a Rover V8 would work or domestically, the small Buick V8, which I believe had connections to the Rover V8.

      Like 1
      • luke arnott Member

        The Rover V8 was based on the Buick engine.

        Like 3
  15. Derek

    In the late 79’s my future father in law asked me to go with him to look at a second hand Lotus Cortina he was considering buying. I think it was a mark 1. As an 18 year old lad this was a dream of a car. It was cheap and he bought it.
    I drove it home for him. I thought about running away with it. Great looking, great to drive.

  16. freakinutz Member

    I’ll add my 2 cents worth regarding Cortina’s. First, the Mk2 came into existence in 1967, following the end of the Mk1 production run in 1966. The early Mk2’s in 1967 came with the 1500 engine that the Mk1 had. It was non crossflow and the talk is that Ford had them and wanted to use them, perhaps until the full development of the 1600 cross flow. In the Mk2 variant, the 1600e and Lotus Cortina, never made it to the States. They were shipped out of England, just not to the US. I do believe a few were exported as new to Canada, but definitely not the US. The Mk1 LC’s were sold here. The Mk2 came in 2 basic configuratrions, a Deluxe and a GT. Both models came in either 2 door or 4 door configurations, but the GT’s were always 4 speeds. The Deluxe could be had in either a 4 speed or a 3 speed Borg Warner automatic. The 67 GT’s had a raised instrument pod that put the gauges basically on top of the dash. The remainder years, 68,69,70 all sat in the dash as indicated in this interior.

    This is a very clean car. If I didn’t already have a 68 mk2 deluxe, I’d be looking at it. I’m in SF so just overseas from Oakland. My first car was a 66 Mk1 GT which I sold to purchase a 64 Mk1 RHD Lotus Cortina. I stupidly sold that car, but back then, who knew?

    Like 2
  17. freakinutz Member

    I forgot to add that word had it that Ford discontinued importing the Cortina because the Pinto was going to be their “small” car in the US. Now, I could be wrong, but I believe the earlier Pinto’s had the 1600 crossflow engine before the OHC engine was developed.

    Like 2
    • Rick

      Yes, the early Pintos had the 1600 engine, but I can’t recall if it was a crossflow type. That’s what exhaust fumes do to the memory over time. ;)

      Like 1
  18. TRK

    How very interesting. Just last night an old memory surfaced (presciently it almost seems) of speeding rides in a Cortina GT that belonged to a childhood friend’s father. I remember it seemed quick and low on corners (more so than big American cars) on local mountain roads. I was very impressed at the time. How strange that I should recall that experience, mention it to no one, and in less than 24 hours later a Cortina GT gets a mention on BarnFinfds. Are you guys psychic or something? LOL

    Like 2
  19. Cortina_Freak

    I have 3 Cortina’s 63′ Mk1 Deluxe two-door, 64′ Mk1 Estate, 70′ Mk2 GT two-door. Fun cars, not to hard to find parts for 86,000 cars were imported to the US between 64 and 70. I will be watching this one.

    Like 2
  20. karl

    Ford didnt need a 4cyl , gas was cheap, and most economy minded people would buy a six cylinder car . Chrysler had the Simca which sold poorly , and few people bought Renaults in the U.S. Chevy IIs could be ordered with a 4 ,but so few were sold that way most people dont even know it was available. Buick had some success with their Opel , but not enough to have a Big 3 company want to bring something else in , and the Asian imports were just a dot on the horizon sales wise. VW was an entity all to itself ; as different as it was , Even when the big 3 got around to building a 4cyl car to compete with the Beetle , they were just smaller versions of what they already had – front engine, rear drive ,straight axle platforms

    Like 1
  21. Arthur Brown

    My first car was a 67 GT with the 1600 engine as shown here including the headers and the raised instrument pod as mentioned. Car ad Driver called it a “mini-AFX” as I recall. It would definitely accelerate out on the inner highway around St. Louis. Beat Midget MGs soundly.

  22. Howie

    My parents had a wagon, fun car when it did not need a starter.

    Like 1
  23. Brian

    Hi, I grow up in the UK, not very exciting really as I’m British, but living in Texas now. My father had a Cortina and I’m guessing probably a Mk1 as it was 1967/8 and I doubt he was able to buy a new one at that time. I’m afraid it didn’t last long, he traded it in for a 1963 3.8L Mk2 Jaguar in British Racing Green (or Jag equivalent)!!

    Brian

    Like 1
  24. Miminite

    My dad would drag home different cars and we had 2 Cortinas along the way. ’68 & ’70. Both 2 doors with the ’70 being a GT. Great handling car compared to what most people had at that time.

    This was before the first gas crunch, but a teenager’s meager income went farther in this vs the hi mile family car (’65 Ford Galaxie 352 4 door) they gave me later on as didn’t want the abuse on their personal vehicles. Great memories, I’d look at this one but 2 too many doors.

    One of Jay Leno’s mechanics built an earlier yr Cortina and it’s covered in one of the shop updates.

  25. Just Wonderin' Member

    “Overall this Ford Cortina runs and drives like a 1968 Ford with 65k miles on it.”
    Hmmmm, just what does that statement mean?
    Is it stating excellence, or is it a stated warning of ‘let the buyer beware’?

  26. Mitch Ross Member

    My second car in my senior year of HS. 2 door version otherwise just like this car but dark maroon. Sweetest gearshift ever. Slid around corners under perfect control. Loved that car.

  27. Ward William

    It is worth much much more in the UK. Worth someone there buying it, bringing it “home” and converting it to RHD. You would more than double your money. This one is so mint, my breath tastes better just looking at it.

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