Black Plate 1966 Ford Cortina GT

As the 1960s dawned, Ford of Britain was working away feverishly developing a new family-sized car that was not only capable of seating two adults and two to three children but would be inexpensive to produce and to sell. In charge of the design was Roy Brown Jr. who had, fairly or unfairly, been sent in virtual exile to Britain following the failure of the Edsel. Brown designed a simple and clean body, and Ford of Britain was able to unveil the Cortina in 1962. Barn Finder misterlou spotted this 1966 Cortina for us, so thank you so much for that misterlou. This one isn’t just any old Cortina but is a 1966 Cortina GT. When considering the Cortina Mark I in isolation, the GT is second only to the Lotus Cortina in desirability. Located in Vista, California, the Cortina is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set an asking price of $22,500 for this little British classic.

For Ford of Britain, the styling of the Mark I marked a change of direction for the company. This wasn’t because it was radical in any way, but because it was a simple and crisp design, with huge expanses of glass, and none of the eccentricity that was to be found on cars like the Anglia 105E. Available in both two and four-door variants, the Cortina met its design brief of being able to carry a family in a degree of comfort. Our feature car is a 2-door variant, and it seems to have avoided the rust issues that can really plague these little cars, particularly in wetter climates. This one is a black plate car, so it is believed that it has spent its life in Southern California. If so, that would help to explain the fact that the only rust that the owner can identify is a few bubbles on the front fenders. The rest of the car appears to be clean, so that’s one battle that the new owner shouldn’t have to fight.

While the Southern Californian climate can be an enormous help when trying to preserve the original steel of any classic car, it can wreak havoc on plastics and interior trim. Our Cortina is no exception to this rule, and there will be some work to be done if the car is going to show at its best. On the positive side of the ledger, the interior is original and unmolested, and even the original factory radio sits undisturbed in the dash. Unfortunately, that California sun has done unspeakable damage to the dash pad, while the seats will also require new covers, and the carpet will also need to be replaced. The metal-work on the dash looks like it might need a freshen up, but the remaining interior trim looks like it is pretty good. One item that I’ve always liked on the Mark I GT is that great little cluster of gauges in the center of the dash. I had the privilege of driving a 1965 GT for a few weeks at one point, and those gauges don’t just look good, but they are easy to read at a mere glance.

I’m really disappointed that we don’t get any photos of the engine, but we do get a fair amount of information. The 1,498cc 4-cylinder engine was introduced into the Cortina range in 1963, and in standard form, it produced 60hp. For the GT version, this engine was given a bit of a boost, thanks to it receiving an upgraded cylinder head, tubular headers, a different camshaft, and a dual-throat Webber carburetor. The result was a boost to 78hp, which was extremely obvious in such a light car. The engine in this Cortina is said to be unmodified, but it has been given a pretty thorough check, and the owner claims that it is in good condition. Manual versions of the Cortina featured a 4-speed transmission, and the owner refers to this as a 1965 Lotus Cortina semi-close ratio unit. I believe that he means that it is a transmission where the standard GT ratios for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gears were fitted to a Lotus transmission to make it more tractable for street use. Either way, the owner does say that the car runs and drives well, although it has only had limited use over the past few years.

If this Cortina GT is as solid and rust-free as the owner claims, then it is a good prospect for restoration. The fact that it is mechanically strong is also a positive, while the work required to bring the interior up to scratch should easily be able to be accomplished in a home workshop. The GT isn’t as rare or as desirable as the Lotus, but what it lacks in performance is more than made up for by the fact that it is easier to maintain, and parts are both easier and cheaper to source. Is it worth the asking price? I’m not completely sure, but wouldn’t be at all surprised if somebody snaps this one up. What do you think?


  1. Howard A Member

    California, again. Newsflash,,nobody,( like the shiny trailer) but NOBODY is going to spend that kind of money for this kind of car, I don’t care how rare it may seem. 1st, I like Cortinas, my old man had one, a 2 door white one, only the next series. Compared to the Fiat, it was a Cadillac, but compared to anything else, it wasn’t much better. It was a cheap, tinny thing, and the Kent motor spun and spun, but couldn’t get out of it’s own way. The “GT” mods don’t impress me much. A Pinto was a better car, if that tells you anything,,,and $22g’s? SMH, they’ve got to be kidding, but apparently, they’re not.

    Like 14
  2. Little_Cars Little Cars Member

    “Amusing” spare tire, according to the CL write up. Obviously written by a big fan of Cortinas. Only thing I like on these early cars are the cool taillights. Is it worth $22k anywhere but southern California? 60 hp would make for an amusing drive onto the trailer.

    Like 3
  3. cold340t

    My neighbor is a Cortina hoarder. Even Jay Leno sent a parts guy to buy from him for his resto’s a few years ago. He has 2 Lotus & several GT’s. Luvs to drag his little Blue in the low 14’/high 13’s. Impressive for a 50yr. old 4cyl.!
    Still, price is a bit high for this car. Nice though.

    Like 8
    • Nicholas Cape

      Looking for a Mk 1 if any body knows of one going for sale

  4. Francisco

    Love that dash. Why can’t they make cars with these kinds of gauges anymore?

    Like 4
  5. Ted

    I love these cars, and envision every one I see in the green and white racing livery and guaranteed guys, this one will be snapped up and on it’s way for a top to bottom restoration/rebirth for vintage racing. If you don’t follow what’s on in North America and the UK for vintage racing, especially with Goodwood in England, I highly recommend you check it out.

    Like 4
  6. Solosolo ken tilly Member

    I had a 1962 Ford “Consul” Cortina. No.1 off the production line and built in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and given to the M.D’s wife for three months until she decided she would rather have a 4 door. It was then sold by tender to a guy on the production line from whom I bought it in 1965. I did three round trips from Durban to Harare, a distance of 6000 miles, without any kind of trouble, however, at all other times it was a P.O.S. I eventually sold it in 1968 for about $20 and have been forever thankful that I no longer had to repair it. The acronyms “Fix Or Repair Daily” and “Found On Rubbish Dump” suited it down to the ground. I have owned many Fords since then and have loved every one of them, but the Cortina? No way do I ever want to own another, at any price.

    Like 5
    • Peter P

      Despite what others may think, the Mk 1 Corrina GT is actually rarer than a Cooper S – and look at the prices they fetch.
      My Dad has one when I was a kid and i got myself in a lot of trouble driving it in a spirited fashion!
      It was that car that led to my desire to get a Lotus Cortina much later in life.
      The engine responds to tuning, a set of Weber’s, Head Porting, and a raise in CR with a sprint cam will produce a healthy 120 to 140 HP with very good tractability.
      The gearbox is one of the slickest In period with great ratios, and was the same fitted to the Lotus Cortina, as were the excellent brakes.
      In summary I think the owner is underpricing this original rust free car. Somebody needs to snap it up !

      Like 1
  7. TimM

    Don’t know much about these cars! Looks pretty cool though and I wouldn’t mind having one!! I read almost all the comments because sometimes there’s a guy that really knows his stuff about a particular car and I like to hear the information!! I also see mega haters!! I can’t expect people not to hate when everyone that has a rusty POS in there back yard thinks is worth $50 grand! I’m not going to give my stuff away but I try to sell stuff reasonably!! The more I see on this site the more unreasonable it seems!!!

    Like 3
  8. mikec

    I had a 1963 Cortina GT back in 1966 here in UK – had to sell it in ’68 ‘cos I was getting married and needed the money. Fantastic car. Wish I could have kept it. Only buyer sadly was a scrapyard who broke them to sell to rally drivers.

  9. Dave Sammut Member

    When the 66 GT hit the streets in the US it’s performance was as good if not better than most of the British two seaters being sold. The gear ratios in a Lotus Cortina were closer than the GT, the GT had a big jump from second to third.
    These were fun cars with very little tweaking you could make one a formidable competitor on the streets back in the day. Tough call on the price but honestly it’s easier these days to find a MK 1 Lotus Cortina in this shape than a GT.

  10. Raymond Hurst Member

    Let me see. $22,000.00 for he car and another 10 or 20 to fix? You would then have a car worth between 5 and 15 on a good day. Great investment opportunity. Yeah, I will take a dozen at that price.

  11. Greg Shearon

    66 Cortina GT loved the car big following in those days in South Africa twin choke Weber’s skimmed head and cam changed.

  12. JagManBill

    If this car was nicely restored, you’d be looking at $25-$30,000. One local about a year ago in similar (actually at bit worse) offered/sold in 2 days for $9,000. I have a 64 2 door GT that is rusty in the rear lower quarters, interior is “there” and the engine is out but the car was converted to a 2.3 OHC Pinto motor and 5 spd. As – is and no motor I’ve been offered $6,000. While this guy may be a ways off, the market is coming to him.

    Also, you must remember that by 65/66 the only real difference between a LoCort and a Cort GT was what was under the hood (yeah I know there’s dash differences). Which is why so many of this year Cort GT’s “disappeared” when a rusty LoCort needed a new body.
    This may also be a case of “see honey…I have it up for sale”.

    • Raymond Hurst Member

      I stand corrected. Nothing wrong with furthering one’s education.

  13. Dave

    Had a new 1968/69 standard Cortina and it was a blast! It handled great for a sedan. No one could keep up with me through the curves in their domestic cars. And it had a back seat for me and my gal! LOL Price then was $1,900 brand new.

  14. Mitch Ross Member

    I had a 1969 GT with the 1600 Kent engine with a crossflow head and Weber carb stock. It felt real fast to my teenaged ass. Raced with modified Rabbits and held my own and boy was it fun throwing through the turns.

  15. Hotroddaddy

    About the only thing I can say about this car is that I like the Rambler like looks!

  16. Hotroddaddy

    About the only thing that I can say about this car is that I like the Rambler like looks!

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