Spoiled For Choice: 1968 Ford Cortina Estate

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The owner of this 1968 Ford Cortina Estate had originally intended to perform an Ecoboost transplant on the car, but a change of plans means that he has now decided to part with the car. Barn Finder Roger referred this little classic through to us, so thank you for that Roger. These are a great little car, and there is a world of possibilities open to the new owner. Located in Clarkston, Michigan, you will find the Cortina listed for sale here on Craigslist. This Cortina could be yours for a mere $4,900 OBO.

The photos of the Cortina are limited, but they do show some promise. The owner says that the car is complete, and items such as the bumpers and wheels are with the car. Rust seems to be confined to the bottoms of the front fenders, and some around the vehicle’s jacking points. There also seems to be a little bit beginning to show just above the tail-light on the driver’s side, but this isn’t uncommon and should be easy to fix. The rest of the car looks nice and solid, and it does look like it could be used as it currently stands.

The interior of the Cortina is essentially quite good, and apart from a crack in the dash pad and some fading of the carpet, looks like it would clean up okay. As a general rule, the vinyl on the seats of these little cars is quite hard-wearing, and finding one with the seats in this sort of order isn’t unusual.

It’s under the hood where things can get really interesting with a Cortina. It’s a bit hard to tell, but I think the engine fitted to this car is the 1,300cc crossflow engine, although a 1,600 was also available. The car doesn’t currently run, as the carburetor and tank have been removed, but the owner says that the engine turns freely, and is confident that it would take little to get it running again. The other alternative would be to slot in another engine, and a 2.0-liter “Pinto” engine is actually an easy swap. I have seen them fitted with a 3.0-liter V6 “Essex” engine as well, but these are getting to be a bit rare. I’ve never investigated the Ecoboost idea, but it does sound intriguing. The owner states that the car could be used as it is once running, but suggests that there might be some suspension rubbers that would best be replaced before it hits the road.

Given the fact that this Cortina Estate is a complete car, it might not take much to get it back on the road. The pushrod engines that are fitted to these as standard are pretty robust and a bit of careful tuning can extract some reasonable performance out of them. It would come down to a matter of choice, and for the next owner of this Cortina, there would seem to be plenty of those available.

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  1. HoA Howard AMember

    There’s probably half a dozen people that know what a Cortina was, and 5 are from England. My old man had a sedan like this. A Mark ll 2door Saloon, to be exact. They were ok cars, nothing fancy, really. Good motors, although a bit weak for the US, and sure was as good as most other foreign cars of the time. Asian cars were just gaining steam in the late ’60’s. If your old man was anything like mine, there wasn’t much choice in a small car if you refused to buy a Asian, Italian, or German car. These or Renaults were about it. Cool find.

    Like 10
    • Derek

      Scotland, too! England’s just one of the southern bits.

      Estates are quite rare these days. Strut tops look good, too.

      Like 5
    • Bobinott

      OK Howard, so you and I make two. Who are the other four? Seriously, my first car was a Mk 2 Cortina GT. I like this wagon, but I would want to fit some of the GT bits, like the short shifter and the gorgeous full gauge wood trimmed dash. The Kent family of Ford engines is great, reliable, and easy to breathe on, especially the 1600 which has been the basis of Formula Ford racing for 50 years. If I was going to do an engine swap, I might look at a DOHC Zetec 2.0 from a Focus. Then you would have a sort of updated Lotus Cortina.

      Like 0
  2. Todd FitchStaff

    Nice one, Adam! We had one of these (same color, sedan) when I was growing up. My Mom enjoyed European stick-shift cars, but they didn’t fare well in the Northwest Pennsylvania salt. After the Cortina came a Fiat 850 coupe then a (German) ’73 Mercury Capri that became my first car. Thanks for the memories!

    Like 4
  3. Bob_S

    This car was on craigslist for a year or two prior to this person buying it and it was priced anywhere from $2500 to $5500. Now it’s all taken apart and he wants $4900. A good rule of thumb is NEVER buy someones else jigsaw puzzle unless you are willing to spend a lot of time and money figuring out how to put it back together.

    Growing up we had 2 MKI and 2 MK II. I personally have owned 3 MKII. One in college, and about 10yrs ago I had a 2 dr street car and a 2 dr GT race car. Cortinas are fun cars but the MK I’s are the only ones that are worth any real money. The exception for the MK II’s are the Lotus-Cortina MK II.

    Like 7
  4. local_sheriff

    I never really knew these were imported into the US at all, and I simply love the ad seller did include in his posting. From an era before photo-shopping was available, I wonder how long that specific Cortina lasted after the shot was taken?
    Considering 60s/70s British auto workers were more into strikes than focusing on building a quality product only a few of these US Cortinas can have survived? Mk2 wagons are rare even in Europe and may look abit awkward compared to the sedans.The EcoBoost seems like a very clever idea, and would probably give this little Brit more oomph than it could ever dream of. However being old-school I’d think it would be cool to turn it into a never-released Lotus Cortina Estate

    Like 7
  5. Chris In Australia

    Any engine would be an improvement over that 1300 “Kent” Wheezy, gutless slugs. Australia got the Mk 2 in 2 & 4 door form, never the wagon, though I’ve seen one or two.

    Like 5
    • local_sheriff

      Any idea whether Cortina Mk2’s were manufactured locally in Australia back then or were they sourced from Europe?

      Like 0
      • Garry Sharp

        Marks 1 to 4 Cortinas were assembled in Australia. Marks 3 & 4 received the 4.1 litre (250 ci) Ford Falcon motor. Those models had a longer wheelbase and, I believe, were unique to Oz. Thus, to a large extent, they must have been manufactured in Australia. This country had many experiences improving Pommy Cars, especially BMC/Leyland; it was Australian engineers who enlarged to B series BMC motor to 1622cc. Also the twin-cam Jaguar motors to 4.2 litres!

        Like 0
  6. Bob_S

    The USA Cortina’s never had the smaller engines. There except were only 2 or 3 MK I’s with the 1200cc imported in 62 and the rest were either 1500cc or 1600cc engines.

    My dad had one of the 1962 1200cc with a 4spd on the tree.

    Like 3
    • Solosolo UK ken tillyMember

      A 4 speed column change? That I have never even heard of and I’m a Brit.

      Like 2
      • HoA Howard AMember

        4 speed on the column was pretty popular. Saab used it, M-B used them too. Not many British cars that I know of. My old man’s had an automatic, but have seen Cortinas with column shift.

        Like 2
      • Bob_S

        He bought it to replace his 100E Prefect in 63 and kept it until 68/69, when bought a 67 MK II Cortina.

        Yes, and it had cables running from the steering column/shift linkage in the engine compartment to the gearbox shift rods. The cables were about as thick as your baby finger. It had a bench seat and was a very rare car in the States.

        Like 3
      • John

        Add Lancia Appia to the 4 on the tree column.

        Like 1
      • Richard R

        And the Peugeot 403 had column shift 4 speed.

        Like 0
      • Garry Sharp

        Mk 3 Ford Zephyr (Pommy) had 4 speed column change.

        Like 0
  7. PDXBryan

    For about 1/2 of that $4.9K I’d be seriously interested! Retro Ford could help someone get a Zetec or Duratec into this. That, along with the Lotus Cortina look local_sheriff mentioned, and you’d have a haulin’ hauler!

    Like 3
  8. angliagt angliagtMember

    That’s a 1600 engine.I had a MKII wagon a few years back.
    Most people I met said that they never knew they built a wagon.
    I’ve owned umpteen Cortinas,& they were well built & fairly
    simple to work on.

    Like 7
  9. Bob

    We had a 67 Cortina wagon when I was in High School. We lived in Manotic, just outside Ottawa Ontario and you had to know how to drive in the snow. That little wagon was a ton of fun drifting around the snow covered streets until one night I planted the rear quarter into a huge snow bank. I spent the rest of the night removing the inner panel in the back of the wagon then gently pushing the fender back out with my feet with only socks on so as not to do anymore damage. It wasn’t until a few years later, the day my Dad sold it did he notice the small, remnants of damage…I was, after all, responsible for washing and cleaning our cars. This would be fun to revive.

    Like 4
    • Bobinott

      @Bob, I grew up in Ottawa (next door to Manotick, to help the other readers). I used to come to Manotick Motors to lust over the Lotuses. I had a 1970 Cortina GT, and had looked at wagons before we bought that one. I wonder if we ever crossed path (quite possibly in a snowbank somewhere!). Cheers!

      Like 0
  10. Arthur Brown

    My first car – a ’67 1600 Gt with the headers and Weber 2 bbl carb. Car and Driver called it a mini gasser and it was a good little racer against sprites and spitfires. It was also easy to work on and how I learned to work on cars was combining mine with the remains of a high school classmate’s who had been side swiped by a drunk. His Formula Ford engine went into my lowered aftermarket suspension set up. WOOHOO! I loved it but $4900? This guy’s on crack!

    Like 4
  11. Bryan W Cohn

    Here is the really interesting detail about Ford 4 cylinder engines: From the original “Kent” 105E engine used in the Anglia starting in 1959 through the Zetec, to current Duratec plus the 2.0 & 2.3 liter OHC engines all used the same bolt pattern on the back of the block to gearbox mating surface.

    The Kent and 2.0/2.3 used the same motor mountings locations on the block as well. Can’t speak for the Zetec or Duratec but I’ve seen enough Zetec conversions to lead me to believe it too shared the same motor mount locations on the block.

    This is why its been so easy to adapt both Zetec and Duratec engines to both Kent and 2.0/2.3 liter powered racing cars the world over. So while I cannot speak to the gearbox holding up the easiest power solution is a salvage yard Zetec on side draft Webers as it bolts right in! Who needs an expensive Lotus Twin Cam when you can make more power for far far less with a Zetec?

    Like 3
  12. JagManBIll

    Got a 64 Mk1 here with a 2.0 OHC Pinto and Lotus gearbox. Puts out more hp than the Twink and waaay more reliable.

    Like 1
  13. PatrickM

    Imagine that!! A wooden lift kit. LOL.

    Like 0
  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Well, it’s been a few days and no bids. I guess no one wants to spend that much money on a disassembled car project.
    God bless America

    Like 0
  15. Steve

    Mk2’s aren’t nearly as popular as Mk1’s, and 4 doors and extra sheet metal on the rear doesn’t help this one. In its current state, the seller will be lucky to get half his ask.

    There are some well engineered engine conversion and suspension/steering upgrade kits available from the UK (e.g., Alan Dent). Zetec engine conversions are popular, but there are many other possibilities, preferably keeping engine weight on par with the original cast iron four to maintain stock weight distribution

    Like 0
  16. Solosolo UK ken tillyMember

    @Garry Sharp. I had number 9 off the production line in what was then Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and it was a real POS. The day after I bought it the column shift couldn’t select reverse gear so we had to push it out of the garage in able to get it back to the dealer. The pic is of a Mk 3 Ford Zodiac. (Not mine) The only difference is that the Zephyr only had two headlights, no wing mirrors and a different grille.

    Like 0

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