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British Fun in America: 1969 Ford Cortina

1969 Ford Cortina MK2

Looking at this old Ford, it is hard to see much potential. It is a terribly drab color and its styling is rather plan, but don’t let the looks fool you. This Ford has the potential to be a mighty race car with incredibly nimble handling. You see, this Ford is a British built Ford Cortina. Ford has a long history of building fun compact cars for the European market, which they then withhold from American streets. However, a small handful of Cortinas made it our way, but I doubt many of these cars have survived. I’ve seen a few of the remaining Cortinas and most are riddled with rust, but amazingly this one seems solid. It runs and drives as it should and is even still wearing its original blue California plates. The owner has decided it’s time to part ways with it and has listed it here on craigslist for $5,100 or best offer. Special thanks to Joe A for the tip!

Ford Cortina Survivor

Making this machine a rally or track car is going to involve adding some serious power. The Cortina was typically powered by Ford’s 1.3 liter Kent inline four, but a 1.6 liter was also available. The seller doesn’t state which motor this one has in it though. The Kent was known to be an extremely durable motor with plenty of potential. It wasn’t as feisty as the twin cam motor fitted in the Lotus Cortina, but with proper tuning it can be an impressive and reliable engine.

Ford Cortina Interior

The inside is immaculate and could be used as is. The Cortina came in several trim levels and this one appears to either be a middle level car or has had some trim pieces added at a later time. Either way I like the simplicity and style of this interior. I think I would be quite happy sitting in that driver’s seat! I wouldn’t mind having a wood rimmed steering wheel to match the shift knob and window cranks, but this leather wrapped wheel would work just fine.

Ford Cortina MkII

This Cortina is clearly a survivor that has been well cared for. It has a little rust in the bottom of the front fenders, but is otherwise rust free. The paint has obviously seen better days, but could be salvaged. I’m not the type to usually suggest or approve of a color change, especially when original paint is involved, but I wouldn’t mind seeing this car painted to look like the iconic Lotus Cortina. Of course it would be cheaper and easier to just polish this old paint up and leave it original. I guess it will be up to the next owner to decide which route to go on the exterior. Tune the engine, add a set of driving lamps, and this Cortina would be ready for some rally racing fun. Or leave it as is and enjoy driving one of the best handling Fords to come out of the late ’60s! So would you turn this into a Lotus Cortina clone or would you leave it original?


  1. m.canan

    Thanks for the site! The older I get it seems like these cars should be kept as original as much as possible..a little history. My humble opinion.

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  2. MH

    Leave it alone. There only original once.

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  3. sir mike

    very nice original 69 2dr deluxe.somebody added 1 or 2 guages in the dash..can’t quite see in the pictures… like the GT’s..should have put a GT tach in also.all USA MK2’s had the 1600 engine.this one came with a 1bb carb and wide ratio trans which are not that sporty.no real problem to convert the motor to GT specs but finding a GT gearbox can be a problem.shoud be a single rail for the year but you can use the earlier 3 rail with a driveshaft change..shorter..i have 2 MK2’s and love them.this one would be a great daily driver in a warmer less snowy climate.his price is well in line i think.

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  4. John b

    “It is a terribly drap color and styling is rather plane,” is only on the eyes of a narrow-minded writer.

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    • Josh Staff

      Hi John, I meant in its current condition the color is drab. If it shined again, I’m sure it would look great! I personally like the looks of the Cortina, but I think the Mk2’s styling just isn’t as attractive as the Mk1. As they say though, to each their own!

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  5. rancho bella

    Won’t last at the price. Although not a Mk1, it’ll do. When the paint is fresh the color is quite nice. This one is just tired out. I don’t think even a wet sand will bring it back. I’m thinking Ford Silver Jade is the color.

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    • Josh Staff

      I’ve managed to bring back some sad looking paint, of course it took a lot of careful wet sanding and meticulous polishing. Of course, it could be worse in person than these photos show, you won’t know until you see it up close. My real concern are those spots on the fenders, I can’t tell if they are touched up spots or if someone already sanded those areas. Any ideas? In the end it will probably be easier to just have the car repainted, which would allow you to fix the rust in the front fenders.

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  6. Paul

    I think that Ford Cortina is very beautiful, you have the climate there in California for them to survive outside longer than the UK. Beautiful example of 69

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  7. Vince Habel

    looks like a mini Falcon

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    • Brian

      I was thinking that, too. Since this also a Ford product of the same vintage, it’s probably a safe assumption that the styling is so simular between the two cars was not a coincidence. No worries about copyright infringement!

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  8. Dave

    This car reminds me of when I was a kid in the ’70’s and my folks took me to England to visit relatives, my uncle had one of these cortinas and as a 12 yr old at the time I thought it was the coolest car !! I remember bombing around Hastings with my uncle and my cousins in their Cortina !!! Thanks for showing this car, nice memories !!

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  9. Ian

    If that was in the UK there would be a huge fight for it at this price ! MUCH sought after over here-go well – handle very well (many rally and race wins ) and part of the build to the Cortina fable in the UK

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  10. bob

    Very nice Cortina GT here. http://annarbor.craigslist.org/cto/4751697693.html

    Admittedly asking more money, maybe too much money but a nice Cortina.

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  11. George

    Front end sure resembles the 68, 69 and 70 Falcons.

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  12. Gerald Elliott

    I have a 70 Ford Cortina GT , full race, which my son and I have road racing since 1971.
    She has a 2.3 SOHC , all Esslinger gear, putting out 260 HP with dual 50 DCO webers.
    We have only raced at our home track , Atlantic Motorsport Park , near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
    There are number of Mk II Cortinas in Norh America and I am fortunate in owning this Cortina. She is now a family Heirloom and hopefully my son and grand daughter will continue on in the future.
    Gerald Elliott

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  13. Joe

    I am the seller of this great little car. A friend told me about the posting here.
    Thank you for the kind comments. To be honest the paint is beyond a polish and I would not consider the interior immaculate but nice for an original car. It would be an easy car to repaint however if you kept the original green. Inside the trunk and inner fenders are very clean. I will try to post more photos to show engine and trunk. It is pretty incredible how solid this little car is, especially when most of these are so rusted. The color is Fern Green. It is similar to the vibrant greens they are using today on the Focus/Escape.

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    • jim s

      great find which should be sold by now but it is not. what a fun car to drive. it has been a very long time since i have seen one on the road. thanks

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  14. Rancho Bella

    Thanks for the update Joe. If folks weren’t around when these were new, they have no idea what a great little Ford these are.

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  15. Joe

    To the Seller and other Friends here at Barnfinds: I like it but don’t know much about these cars. What are the known problem areas of the MKII? What performance upgrades are suggested and where are they sold? Are parts all sourced from UK? This engine has over 120K I’d guess. How long do they last before a re-build? Thanks for any insight and tips.

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    • Rancho Bella

      There is a good following for Cortina’s. Here is the main thing to remember, Ford running gear. The manual trans is tough so it’s hard to hurt it. Ford started making the blocks again several years ago. I cannot address body parts or interior parts.
      People seems to forget these were sold new in showrooms throughout the U.S.

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  16. cliffyc

    Great car,in original condition. Not seen many MK2 Cortinas like this, as rust and time got the better of them. Usually 4 door models sold better here in UK. This just needs a set of Minilite or Rostyle (Rallye style in US?) wheels to really set it off. NIce find!.

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  17. Fnolis

    I grew up in a ’67 Mk2. Lots of good memories from it. Quite many used to be on the roads in Norway at the time. Prices are climbing for good examples like this. The rust finally stopped it from running in ’84 and it was replaced by a ’80 Taunus. Good find! Love to have one today!

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  18. guggie

    I had a 68 GT 1600 silver mink color , came nicely equipped radials ,disc brakes , close ratio 4 speed , rac/ pionon steering rally pac ( tac,timer ,clock) nice wheels ,rally lights. interior had buckets , center consol ,carpets .am/fm radio. Was rather quick and fun to drive, I put 40k miles on it in a year and a half ,no problems , went in to the Ford dealer for an oil change one day and drove out with a 70 Mustang fastback . Always kinda wish I had held on to it .

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  19. RickyM

    Lovely car ! Would have been quickly snapped up if for sale here in England. Like the little changes that made it different to ours – all red rear lights and the amber front lights by the front bumper.

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