Crossflow Power: 1968 Ford Cortina 1600 GT MkII

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In 1960, Patrick Hennessey, who ran Ford of Britain, was visiting the mothership in Detroit. He discovered that Ford had foisted the four-cylinder saloon project called “Cardinal” to its German division. (This car later became the Taunus 12M and it was directed against the VW, with limited success.) Hennessey convinced Ford that his division needed a similar car, to compete with Vauxhall and Austin/Morris. With a nod from the top, development was swift, and in 1962, the Ford Cortina was launched. The Cortina was the best-selling car in Britain for several years running. Here on craigslist is a one-owner 1968 Ford Cortina Mk II 1600 GT project car, with an asking price of $6800. This car is located in San Diego, California. Thanks to Rob for the great tip!

The Cortina was produced from 1962 through 1982 in five generations. Almost 3 million were sold in Britain, and more than a million were exported. Cheap to buy, cheap to keep, and available in many configurations, the Cortina could tote the family or rally the Alps. Ford’s link with Lotus burnished the Cortina’s credentials further, though the Lotus Cortina was specifically designed for competition. Still, the 1600 cc Kent crossflow engine in this car will be no slouch. The in-line four-cylinder makes over 90 hp, and the car weighs less than 2000 lbs. Performance parts are easy to acquire, too. The gearbox is a four-speed manual. We’re not told whether this motor runs, though the seller notes that the transmission shifts well. The keys have gone missing, but it has a clean title and the original pink slip.

After many years baking in the sun, the interior is about as tattered as I’ve ever seen. From the trunk, you can actually see sunlight through the rear seats where the vinyl has sagged away from the seat frames. The door panels look like they’re doing some sort of dance. On the other hand, only the radio and carpets are missing – I guess that’s good news!

The wheels are mismatched and the driver’s side door window is gone. Neither bumper is straight and the grille trim is wavy. On the other hand, the seller reports that the body has rust only in the trunk behind the wheel. The color – Alpina Green – is original according to the VIN. The GT two-door body style is the most desirable of the bunch. It also happens to be the most popular version for sale here in the States, with at least a few comparables. Here’s a nice example that sold for $23k just a few weeks ago. Here’s one in an auction that’s underway now. Will this seller need to negotiate to move this one off his lawn?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. HoA Howard AMember

    Just when I’ve seen enough Corvettes and Firebirds, along comes a knee jerker, and a major tip of the hat to Michelle and BFs. Memories from the dusty abyss, thought never to be seen again, magically appear once again. In this case, the lowly Cortina. I say lowly, not in quality, but probably one of the least understood small cars.
    The redundant story of my old man buying wrecked cars, is worthy here again. In ’71, the old man picked up a ’68 Cortina 2 door, just like this. it wasn’t a GT( more on that in a sec), a base 1600( I think) and an automatic,,,stuffed hard in the right door.( That accident must have been intense) He had it repaired and we used it to go to school. It was a lackluster thing, but dependable, great mileage, not too bad inside, reasonable heater, certainly better than any Asian car, yet fell on deaf ears. They were good cars. I don’t even know who sold them. One day, during school, some hooligan skipping school in dads hijacked Buick, came barreling along the row of parked cars at speed, wiping out 4 of them, yep, including the poor Cortina, and that was that.
    The GT was actually a very competitive car, and a blast to drive, I bet. Unfortunately, the Cortina never amounted to much here, even though, I believe the Pinto used many of the Cortinas parts. I couldn’t even begin to think who would have parts, except an eccentric British fellow across the pond. Got quite a dreamer( seller) here, folks.
    Regardless, thanks for the memories, Michelle!!

    Like 9
    • misterlouMember

      Lots of support for these cars. A small but committed group in the US already ferreted out this car, purchased by a flipper at an auction down south of San Diego. Strong scene in the UK and Ford still selling new blocks for the age-old crossflow.

      Like 7
      • Derek

        The new blocks might be due to the continuing popularity of the 1600 Formula Ford racing series, despite Ford’s attempt to move it onto newer engines.

        Like 1
  2. mike

    As a Cortina MK11 owner this one is a sad mess.It’s an early 68 with the high dash.Owner needs to lower price I hate to say.

    Like 5
  3. Mark

    These were also built in Australia & there are still a lot around. Some now have a V8 conversion.

    Like 3
    • angliagt angliagtMember

      But those were all 4 doors.

      Like 0
  4. Martin Horrocks

    Agree with @mike that the asking oprice is optimistic, but then again, the engine and box are expensive to source these days, so….

    Given the state of the interior and SD location, this is saying Carrera Panamericana type build to me _ stripped and caged.

    MK2 Cortina is a good buy against the Mk1. When introduced, MK2 Ciortina was considered a step up over the Mk1, just that with roaetint hindsight all we remember is hero race drivers 3 wheeling the MK1 Lotus Cortina to victory…..

    Like 2
  5. Arthur Brown

    My first car. Car and Driver called it a mini AFX for it’s acceleration. Mine outran MG midgets. Sadly flipped it on 280; south of Bingham. Not worth what he’s asking and I loved mine.

    Like 1
  6. DaveMember

    Everything you would need to sort this car is pretty much available. The question is that at this starting price are you better off finding an already restored or better starting point one. Two door GT is a nice car to start with. I think this is a 67. I know with previous Cortinas that I’ve owned the DMV back in the day recorded the year based on when the car sold. Regardless, could be a fun project if there is wiggle room in the price.

    Like 0
  7. MK U

    Owned one of these, a GT, in the early 70s. Had an engine issue, so it was cheap. Got it home, pulled the engine by standing on the strut towers and lifting it by hand with two chains, like Hercules. Got my hand caught between the exhaust manifold and the engine while I was doing this: blood everywhere and a scar to this day. Couldn’t stop though and finally it was laying on the ground before I went off for stitches and the inevitable tetanus shot! Eventually got it upstairs to my apartment where it underwent a kitchen floor “overhaul”. One piston was holed so I ordered a new set from JC Whitney. They were junk….really ugly. Plus they were for a 1500 engine not my 1600. Finally picked up a proper used piston from a local Formula Ford racer. Threw it back together with minimal help from my brother who had driven down to Austin to “help”….he ended up drinking all my beer and regaling me with tales of his first sexual encounter. Good grief. Car was pretty good…..headers (factory?) and Koni shocks. Nice interior but the steering wheel was unnaturally high. Later sold it to some grad student from Belgium A few weeks late, it burned a valve and he wanted his money back….told him that wasn’t how we did things.

    Like 6
  8. Jim ZMember

    Wow, this Cortina is really roasted!!
    In the early 70’s I had a 65 Cortina that had a great interior with wood grain inserts. Ran well but not a lot of power. Traded it for a ’68 Chev Caprice just before the gas crunch hit…what was i thinking??

    Like 2
  9. Dr Ron

    My cousin up in the Michigan UP had a 69 GT four speed same color as this one…
    His warm up act to destroying it was rolling his 64 Corvair ala Ralph Nader’s nightmares…
    I spent a few weeks up there partying with him in the summer of 1972.
    He literally rallied that Cortina through the woods, usually chasing kids on dirt bikes.
    One lovely summer afternoon we were joyously chasing a couple dirt bikes through the woods on a new trail.
    All went well until Mike decided that we could fit between two trees on either side of the trail at the top of a hill.
    Mike was intent on not losing the dirt bikes and wasn’t about to debate as to whether or not he could thread the Cortina through the trees at 50 mph.
    Damn, we stopped quickly.
    He managed to get about one third of the car through the gap but it stopped at the door jamb hinges and there was no backing out.
    We were about ten miles from the nearest road so we decided to strip the car of anything of value that a set of wrenches, screwdriver, pliers and a hammer could liberate parts with..
    We tossed our booty and beer onto the back seat that we’d removed and used it like a sled to drag our tools, parts and beer back to civilization.
    About thirty-five years later Mike ventured back out to that trail on his KTM and the Cortina was still jammed there and the trees had grown into the recesses of the car.
    Now fifty-two years later it’s probably still there.
    And that was my last ride in a Cortina.
    Mike later managed to submerge his ‘74 Opel Manta in Lake Michigan.
    He does more walking than driving these days.

    Like 8
  10. BobinBend

    Bought one of these for $40 in 1974 from a buddy who had dropped a screw into the distributor. Once repaired, it was a fun little sedan to drive. It did split the heater core, dumping hot coolant into the passenger compartment one time, otherwise quite reliable..

    Like 1
  11. chrlsful

    seein this I imagine some guys my age, leather elbow patches’n pipes, w/rising blood pressure over in GB.

    Some of me mates do so over the square datsuns like it (were they the 510)?

    I’m neither (but have me own)!

    Aint cars great?
    – -Chad
    BTW: mine R the 50s/60s itilian ‘sports cars’, just like 90 y/o father’s is the 1st gen Bird.

    Like 0
  12. Big C

    Dad had a ’68 with the cool looking high dash. Bought it used from a Mercedes dealer. Ex race car with the cage removed. I learned to drive a stick shift in that car. It had some performance upgrades, but I was 9 when he got it, and don’t remember what they were. All I know is that every kid in the neighborhood wanted a ride in that thing. By ’74 it was rotted out, and he sold it to some kid for $175. By the time I started looking for one, in my 40’s? The good ones were out of my price range.

    Like 4
  13. Stephen Coe

    Dreams of big money, wow had a68 in 1970to 1979 fun. I did put a lotus head on mine stuff was cheap then.

    Like 1

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