Rare Canadian Import: 1973 Ford Cortina Mk III Estate

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Developed by Ford of Europe, the Cortina Mk III proved one of the most popular cars to hit the British market during the 1970s. The company exported the vehicle to several foreign markets, including Canada. The seller located this rare Estate in that country, purchasing it sight unseen. It proved to be not all that the previous owner promised, and disenchantment has led them to decide to part with the Cortina after only a short period. They are candid about its condition, meaning that the buyer won’t fall into the same trap they did. Located in Plum, Pennsylvania, the seller has listed the Estate for sale here on Craigslist. They have set the sale price at $14,000. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Pat L. for spotting this gem for us.

With the Mk I and Mk II Cortinas proving a sales success, the Mk III needed to be an excellent car to continue that trend. While the first two models had been the brainchild of Ford of Britain, a merger between that arm, Ford Germany, and the Irish Henry Ford and Son Ltd divisions in 1967 brought considerable engineering expertise to the project. Rather than creating the Cortina for Britain and a separate model for other markets, they pooled their resources to develop the Mk III model. The platform proved a success, selling in huge numbers on the Continent. It found wide acceptance in other markets, including Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. When the seller located this Cortina for sale in Canada, its previous owner told them that its Stardust Silver paint was original and that the wagon had undergone no restoration work. When the car arrived in their driveway, the truth proved quite different. They say that there is evidence of bodywork and that the Cortina has received some repaint work. However, it’s not all bad news. The panels and underside remain solid, suggesting that the Cortina is a rust-free classic. There are no noticeable dings or bruises, and the paint seems to shine pretty nicely. There are no glaring issues with the exterior trim, with no physical damage or evidence of corrosion. The glass looks excellent and taken at face value, this looks relatively promising.

The Cortina’s interior presentation is impressive, with its Red vinyl upholstery showing no evidence of significant wear or physical damage. The seller supplies no photos of the cargo area, which is a shame since this is one of the most prone aspects of any station wagon interior. The carpet exhibits some wear and fading around the driver’s feet, which is typical. If buyers crave perfection, they may need to source a replacement carpet set from a foreign supplier, but they will find themselves spoiled for choice. Companies in the UK and Australia retain supplies in the correct colors in stock, and many will ship internationally. The dash and pad are spotless, and there are no cracks on the wheel. The interior isn’t loaded with luxury features, although a pushbutton radio is a welcome inclusion.

Ford of Europe offered the Cortina for export with a 1.6-liter “Kent” four-cylinder engine or a 2.0-liter “Pinto” OHC Four. This Estate features the larger motor that would produce 97hp. The power feeds to the rear wheels via a three-speed automatic transmission, while this wagon also scores power front disc brakes. At 2,436lbs, the Cortina Estate is not an outrageously heavy vehicle. However, the transmission hampers performance, with the Estate capable of covering the ¼ mile in 19.4 seconds. If the original owner had selected the four-speed manual transmission, that time would drop to a flat 18 seconds. Interestingly, the performance figures for the Cortina Estate are almost identical to the equivalent Pinto. It’s also worth noting that foreign Cortinas often featured larger engines to suit their market needs. Buyers in South Africa could order a Cortina with an “Essex” V4 or V6 under the hood. Ford Australia successfully shoehorned a 3.3-liter or 4.1-liter straight-six into the Cortina’s engine bay thanks to some creative engineering and a hood bulge to clear these taller motors. I’ve had the privilege of driving an Australian Cortina with the largest engine and can confirm that while it was seriously fast in a straight line, it possessed all of the handling finesse of your average ocean liner! The seller indicates that the previous owner advertised the Estate with a genuine 11,000 miles showing on its odometer. However, the included service history reveals that the wagon had 30,000 miles on the clock in 1974! Therefore, it is safe to assume that it has rolled over at some point. The seller doesn’t supply information on how this classic runs or drives, but the tidy presentation of the engine bay and bulletproof nature of the “Pinto” four provides cause to remain quietly optimistic. Even if it proves in need of some work, parts are readily available and affordable.

Ford of Europe developed the Mk III Cortina for domestic and foreign markets, commencing the process in the late 1960s for the car to hit the showroom from the 1970 model year. That has often given me cause to ponder one of those “what might have been” scenarios. The company produced the car in two and four-door sedan variants and the Estate version we see here. Their experience with the Capri offered the possibility that a more sporting coupe or liftback version would be feasible, as the foreign market penetration made those variants financially viable. The key dimensions of the Cortina fall within a few inches of the equivalent Pinto models. Therefore, I have sometimes wondered why the parent company didn’t further develop and restyle the Cortina for North American market tastes and needs, rather than opting for the expensive process of creating a “clean slate” vehicle like the Pinto. The process would have been cheaper, and the engineering expertise possessed by European manufacturers in the compact and sub-compact markets may have seen the resultant cars avoid the pitfalls and negative publicity that tarnished the Pinto’s reputation. Hindsight is always 20:20 vision, but it is something worth contemplating. In the meantime, are you tempted to pursue this Cortina Estate further?

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  1. angliagt angliagtMember

    Something sketchy about this – it’s been posted before,
    but different locations,& (if I remember right) pulled in a no-
    reserve auction with bids.
    I had a ’72 MKIII that I bought near Victoria,British Columbia
    years ago.It’s now in Olympia,Washington,& was told that it’s for sale.

    Like 8
    • MtbBiz

      I personally checked this wagon out this past weekend.
      It has issues , but considering the model, its still worth it i think .

      Needs a master cylinder, looks to have a leaky line on DS
      Passenger rear drum looks like it may need a wheel cylinder.
      Rockers are def puttied up.
      Some other spots may be too, I’ll recheck with my body filler meter.
      Engines has bad valve/lifter? Ticks

      It could also be a bad cam
      Pass fender has a kink as it like the door went back too far( maybe door been replaced?
      Rear bumper has a kink.
      Theres a few other things im sure im missing..

      Like 0
  2. Derek

    I don’t recognise the air filter; those sold here had a round blue filter box (but then I haven’t seen one in 20 years!).

    There was a European variant called the Taunus, which had all the Cortina body shapes – and also a fastback, a bit like a smaller Mk 1 Granada.

    Like 2

    sure does resemble a pinto a lot. i’d like it more with a 351 Cleveland and a top loader. 😁

    Like 3
    • Garry

      In Australia, Ford shoe-horned a 250ci six into them!

      Like 1
  4. 4spdBernie 4spdBernie
  5. David Aikman

    Just a couple of bits in the european market they were reffered to as taunus and the mk3 1 was different body styling to the uk 1 and the taunus was also available as a fastback
    The v4 was never offered on a mk3 in any country but the uk and european markets aleo got a 1.3liter kent 4 cylinder which was too small for the car

    Like 2
    • Sheffieldcortinacentre

      The 2.0 Essex V4 was offered across the MK3 range in South Africa finally being replaced by the 2.0pinto with the introduction of the mk4cortina in 77.
      I’ve just written a long post re the cars & my own cortinas but the site seems to be treating my posts abit hit & miss?

      Like 5
      • Martin Horrocks

        I always assumed the V4 was a German engine. Looking into it, I see that you are right! Although Germany already had a V4 and Ford allowed Degenham to develop its own version…….so much for common sense!

        Like 0
  6. Sheffield cortina centre

    Thats the correct air filter for the north American market ,it should probably have had a smog pump to.
    I own 5 mk5’s here in the UK Inc an est with GT trim, one of a handful of pickup ‘s ( mine came to the UK when 2years old from South Africa where ford built them) a 2dr GT with a 302 & T5.
    Plus 2 Mk5 versions number 9 of the 28 convertibles made & 4 4dr saloon my late father bought new.
    The paint may have been done as there was a lot of problems with metallic paint adhesion when ford UK introduced to option in the late 60’s silver being one of the most troublesome.

    Like 7
    • Derek

      Fair enough; never seen one before. My favourite late Cortina (3 to 5) that I’ve driven was a Mk.5 2.3 Ghia 2-door. Lovely car.

      My absolute favourite Cortina that I’ve driven is a Mk.2 2-door GT with Lotus running gear. What a hoot…

      Like 2
      • Sheffield cortina centre

        Must’ve been a taunus or a southern Irish cortina as MK4/5 2drs in rhd were only available as 1.3 ohv base & L trim with a few 1.6 auto’s (on the government disability scheme).

        Like 1
      • Derek

        Must’ve been a 4-dr then, as it was sold new by Alexanders. It was almost 35 years ago, so forgive my misremembering! Silver with grey panels, if that part’s remembering right…!

        Like 0
  7. local_sheriff

    Both the Ford Cortina/Taunus and the Opel Rekord are two European offerings from this era that I’ve long wondered WTH weren’t introduced into the US market. They were readily available so they could’ve easily been adapted to production in the US.

    Yet GM and Ford decided to waste an unknown amount of $ to develop the Vega and Pinto – cars that caused so much reputational damage for decades! And this in a time when cars of the size of the TC and Rekord grew popular in the US and childhood diseases were already remedied. Had the Cortina only been available with the Cologne V6 it would’ve been able to move also

    Like 5
    • Sheffield cortina centre

      Due to Less stringent emissions the cortina was deemed not to need the V6 until the MK4/5 which gaiñed the the 2.3 cologne V6 ( then it was found of little benefit the slight weight increase canceling the power increase & using more fuel too for Similar all-round results as the 2.0 pinto engine) in Europe.
      The taunus TC1-3 used both the 2.0/2.3 colonge V6 from 1970 as well as the 2.0ohc!?!
      The 3.0 Essex V6 engined cortinas wether conversion ‘s in the UK (seen by ford as to capable of stealing sales of Capri/Granada V6’s) or factory built in South Africa where great all rounders.

      Like 3
      • local_sheriff

        Well you know; I drove quite a few 4cyl Taunuses of the TC1/2 gen in my teens – actually the very first car I drove at 14 was a ’77 Taunus 1.6. What they all lacked was power and I just can’t imagine how it was even possible to order it with a puny 1.3. Cortina MkIIIs were a rare sight around my neck of the woods but I always found them to look prettier due to their more pronounced Coke-profile.

        Now this ’85 Granada 2.3i V6 belonging to a friend(RIP Granada) wasn’t necessarily a powerhouse but at least offered more low end grunt and the distinctive Cologne V6 sound. It was highly common to install junkyard 2.8 in both Taunus/Granada and this V6 gave them the performance they deserved

        Like 0
  8. RichardinMaine

    Perfect for that Cosworth Twin Cam I used to have laying around.
    Or that perennial favorite, the Buick aluminum V8.

    Like 3
  9. Tony Hill

    Great find. These are were only imported into Canada for one year. I have just rotisserie completely restored 1972 2dr GT with pinto 2 litre engine with a fab 4 speed.17000 miles terrific car. Was green but now Yellow with black vynl roof. This was the standout colour when I left UK in mid 70s it turns heads today at any car show I take it to.

    Like 3
  10. Martinsane

    Got to ask how one would ascertain that the “underside is free of issues” when the CL ad has 5 pictures and zero of them are of the cars underbelly.

    Like 0
  11. Martin Horrocks

    It is a rare spec and desirable if you like that kind of thing, though poor value for money. Feels like you´d be buying someone else´s problem from the Craigslist posting.

    Like 1
  12. Chris LondishMember

    I agree with the writer of this article with the 200 and 250 ci crossflow 6cyl they were pretty quick although not a good handler, I had the duty of working on many in dealerships and was like most English Ford’s not suited to the harsh Australian climate were the vinyl interiors suffered cracking, the fronts end were only adjustable for toe in only we also had the cars fitted with the OHC 2 litre motor which was a profuse oil leaker, and the Borg Warner 4spd with the nylon fixing for the gear lever that would wear and fallout, although now they have garnered a bit of a following and some have been fitted with V8 for road and track work the last Cortinas the TF were rallied in a round Australia trial but succumb to suspension and other problems and I don’t finished which was there death knell here as Ford Australia stated adding Mazda based cars to their range

    Like 0
  13. 59Poncho

    Front fender design is Maverick

    Like 0
  14. Campbell L Usher

    The 250 straight 6 we got in Australia really went hard but a popular conversion here was the Windsor V8 , outstanding lol

    Like 1
  15. PeterfromOz

    There is one part of the engine design I wish all vehicle manufacturers would take note of. The engine is a single overhead camshaft and of non-interference design. The camshaft is driven by a rubber belt. Look at the blue cover over the belt drive. That cover can be removed without having to remove any pulley on the crank nose. As I remember our Australian covers were two-piece split at the pulley centre. One of my out-laws owned a few of these cars and one snapped the timing belt in a shopping centre. I changed the timing belt on the street in a few minutes. The timing belt tensioner pulley is just spring loaded and you just pull it back with a spanner. I wish all vehicles were designed the same.

    Like 4
    • Shaun Martin

      Yes absolutely 👍 what I don’t get though is that the largest camshaft journal is on the rear of the engine, meaning the cylinder head has to be removed to fit the new camshaft (after the oil feed spray bar fails) . I mean the drive load is on the front of the camshaft not the rear. Lost count of how many camshaft jobs I did on these (50 years ago OMG)👨🏻‍🦳

      Like 1
      • PeterfromOz

        The engine could have been designed for east-west location and the ancillary drive pulley location was at the other end. I once had a Renault where the engine was designed to fit at the rear of the car but in a later model the it was fitted in the front. The camshaft drove the fan and generator at its opposite end. There were all sorts of issues including one of the fixes was to remove the oil groove in one half of one of the shell bearings on the crank. As I recall, the crown wheel was reversed as the engine was spinning in the wrong direction.

        Like 0
  16. Louis Q Chen

    These pictures of the Cortina brought back lots of memories for me! We were living in Germany 1971-West Germany then…. ours was a 2dr. & manual. It was a good car…I told my father beware of all British cars but we lucked out with this one! We kept it for two years-the length of service for my father’s foreign service stint. It was a decent car, too bad we couldn’t ship the Cortina back to the USA, we probably had kept it.

    Like 1
  17. Steven Cimini

    Reminds me of the first car that I had driven in high school. A 1970 Cortina 1600 GT. It had the four speed. Fun to drive my friends around in. My Dad had bought it originally as a used car.

    Like 0
  18. chrlsful

    bent6 essix evolved from the tannus bent4. Love to play w/the latter as never got my hands on 1. The kent4’d be fun too as it’s a cross flow. My up-evolved essix has as much low rev tq as my equal sized i6 & it comes on same low end (not much HP tho) 15hun’red RPM. But still I love the Lima4, the pinto carb w/it is tops too. Many use it on wide variety of motors/sizes/makes (the 32/36 Weber progressive or H/W 5200 [left/right swaped]). Plenty of car fun in this era (’60s/80s), at this location (GB/usa), in these sizes (2-4L,1T to 2,200 lbs) !!!

    Like 0
  19. Michael Riecken

    I watched this car on eBay this past winter. Listed in Canada. Sold no reserve
    for around $11 USD if I remember. Then popped up again, this time location was Las Vegas. I e-mailed the seller some questions & got a half-baked response BUT stating it was still in Canada. ???
    SOLD no reserve AGAIN only to pop up a few weeks later with a Buy-It-Now price of $14,000. I figured something was fishy. Glad I only had only a curious interest… 🙄

    Like 0
  20. MitchRossMember

    The Cortina was sold in Canada in 1973 as well.It had the extended 5 mph front bumper similar to the 1973 Capri.

    Like 0
  21. Jim S

    I read the craigslist ad. It still amazes me that there are people who would buy a used car, mail order from an internet ad from a stranger; without seeing the car in person; or at least have a reputable, knowledgeable in-person inspection service verify it.

    Like 0
  22. Phil

    I remember seeing a Cortina III on a street in downtown Toronto circa 1980, and find it curious that the model was only imported for such an exceptionally short span. That is an excellent point where the author presents the hypothetical scenario “what if” had Ford opted to Federalize the Cortina / Taunus rather than design the Pinto from scratch. I remember a high school classmate who had a Pinto, and it was so damn claustraphobic with cramped back seat and terrible visibility, like many American cars of the early 1970s. I suspect the Cortina was much more hospitable, and perhaps too nice that it would canibalize sales from larger Ford models (Maverick?). Some sort of American pride and that GM was developing the Vega in the USA rather than relying on Opel or other captive import. I never understood that when these companies did attempt “world cars” like the Chevette and the Escort, they were completely different from the original European relation, if much of any “DNA” was actually shared. Opels were quite respected cars here, and though exchange rates / inflation in the mid-1970s made importation of German cars at that price point less lucrative, I don’t understand why they didn’t just build them here. One thought that comes to mind could be the precision machining tolerences that the Germans worked with as compared to the US. That was one reason why an Opel Diplomat-based Cadillac Seville was out of the running as that GM range-topper was developed. If GM wasn’t going to utilize such exacting tolerence on such a lavish and expensive vehicle, it certainly wouldn’t on an economy car that they had been disdainful of for a couple of decades already. At least Ford imported the Capri for Lincoln Mercury dealerships, and then the rather smart Fiesta long after GM abandoned any captive imports from Europe.

    Like 0

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