Thinning the Herd: Six Ford Cortina Mk IIs

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A flock of six Ford Cortina Mk IIs is up for grabs in San Diego, California, basking in various states of completeness – with so many on offer, a prospective buyer will have no trouble piecing together at least one restoration candidate. The Cortina was conceived and built by Ford in Britain as a mechanically simple, lightweight family car. More than 993,000 were sold in Britain from 1962 through 1966 – the Cortina’s first generation. A few thousand made it to the States, snapped up by buyers looking for something smaller than what we in America called a “compact” in those days – the Ford Falcon. Sales improved in the US when the Mk II was introduced in 1967, but remained paltry especially when stacked up against the VW Bug. The three pictured above include a 1968 white Deluxe automatic (complete but not running), an extra body, and a 1968 red Deluxe (engine and gearbox removed but available). “Deluxe” was a misnomer, as that trim level was a bare click above the base model and below the Super and the GT; here’s another view of that red car.

Slow sales in the US were likely due to reliability issues compounded by the puzzled looks cast by Ford service personnel when confronted with these tiny four-cylinder cars. This 1969 four-door GT would have a 1.6 liter Kent crossflow four-cylinder decked with a downdraught Weber carburetor, good for about 93 hp. The standard gearbox was a four-speed manual, but a three-speed auto was available in the US. This car hasn’t been run in ten years, but it’s likely the pick of the litter.

This 1970 station wagon is a rarer body style, and it’s also been separated from its engine and gearbox though both are available. The new “estate” was introduced shortly after the saloon was updated in 1967; while it wouldn’t have gone racing like its two-door sedan siblings, Ford was quite proud of its roominess and comfort. The standard engine was a 1.5 liter. Oh yes, speaking of racing – I’m not even referring to the Lotus versions of the Cortina, another animal entirely. The regular run-of-the-mill Mk II saw success on roads and tracks all over the world, too.

This 1968 GT’s roof is dented, but the seller will pitch in an extra body to aid in its repair. In fact, he’s sounding fairly flexible here in the craigslist ad, with each car priced at $3500, or the whole lot of six cars for $15,500. Rob spotted this hoard of Cortinas for us – thanks, Rob! Now, anyone out there thinking of going vintage racing? Might be worth a trip to San Diego to shop this flock – the two GTs could form the core of a race effort, with one a primary car and the other for parts. What do you think?

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Comments

  1. HoA HoAMember

    Geez Louise, I mean Ms. Rand, I hope the upstairs neighbor didn’t hear that scream. And test.

    Like 1
    • HoA HoAMember

      Okay then, comment test complete, I think( before windy posts, I do that now) I sing the praises of this site of how more of my car memories have come back, and again, not sure how they do it, but it’s fun. Cortinas were good, not great , cars. They were a huge success in Britain, literally taking the place of the dated Mini, and sold almost a million 62-66. The ’68 was a bit pricey, at about $2100, when a VW was $1699, and not sure who sold them. Of all the Ford dealers I’ve been to, I never saw a row of Cortinas.
      I had 2 experiences. 1st time, I went on a trip to Israel in 1968, and the old man rented a new ’68 wagon. I was just a lad, but drove the car a little, and was familiar with the 4 speed column shift, from my parents friends Saab.
      2nd time, couple years later, just before my license, the old man bought a white ’68 2 door, like the one on stands. That had an automatic, and was stuffed hard in the right door. I’m sure he got it cheap. He had it repaired and my brother had his license, and we took it to school. I remember it was nothing special, low on power, but a dependable car. One day, yep, here it comes, while we were all doodling car drawings in study hall, we heard a mighty crash. Some doofus in his dads Electra, barreling down the street, lost it, and took out 4 parked cars,,,including the poor Cortina, front AND back this time, and dad junked it.The GTs were actually very competitive, giving 510 owners a run, but to be honest, aside from ours, I don’t think I ever saw another. Like Chevette and Opel, I believe Cortina parts showed up in Pintos and Capris, and were good units. I’m amazed someone actually would collect these, shows to go, you just never know what will turn up on BarnFinds and that someone collects them. I bet they went to great lengths to get these. Thanks for the mems.

      Like 6
  2. Big C

    Dad had ’64 Deluxe. Traded in his ’58 Anglia on it. I still remember the unique smell of the interior. Then he traded the Deluxe in on a ’68 GT. Ex race car with the 3 point harness, and holes where the roll cage was removed. That car screamed. Nobody had these cars in our suburban Ohio town. Or towns anywhere around us. I learned to drive in that car. 10 years old, learning the intricacies of the 4 speed, jerking around the parking lot of a May Co. I always loved that car. It rotted out by ’73, Dad drove it to the steel mill 6 days a week. And he sold it for his first Pinto. Good times!

    Like 4
  3. John EderMember

    In 1973, while in the USAF, I arrived in Denver on a Thursday, with orders to report to technical training on Monday. My car broke its timing chain on Friday. I needed a car and had $400 to my name. Looked in the classifieds and there was a Cortina for $400. I had never heard of one, and didn’t know how to drive a stick, but thus began my love affair with these cars that continues to this day. I have had one, off and on, for most of the time since. I currently have a Mk. II Estate GT, a very rare car made to order by Ford SVO in England back in the day. This stash reminds me of Bob Pratt (RIP) in Oakland who had a city lot (fenced) crammed with his Cortina collection (I bought an Estate from him). Most concentrations of Cortina fans seem to be on the West Coast- Pacific Northwest, San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego (perhaps rust ate them everywhere else). I buy most of my parts on eBay.uk, where parts are plentiful, reasonably priced and usually sold by really nice folks. I bought so many NOS parts from one guy in England that he jokingly said, “Why don’t you just buy a complete Cortina instead of buying one a piece at a time from me?” If you have a Cortina, watch for my obituary. My wife will likely pay you to haul the parts away. 😉

    Like 7
  4. John EderMember

    HOA’s remark about Ford dealers reminded me of dealing with the Ford dealer in Denver. Yes, the mechanics all headed for the men’s room when my Cortina showed up, but there was a old British guy who worked there named Monty (of course), who relished working on it- he was a skilled mechanic. Once I moved away, it was hard to find someone to work on it (I overheard one mechanic who was working on it on the phone ordering parts for a Datsun 510). After that experience, I bought a FSM, and got pretty good at performing my own repairs. These are simple, fun to drive automobiles.

    Like 4
    • Rick

      The mention of the mechanic thinking your Ford Cortina was a Datsun 510 brought memories of the time I dropped off my AMC Ambassador at Muffler Man for exhaust work. When I picked up the car the paper key tag said “Dodge Ambassador.”

      Like 2
  5. Freakinutz

    My first car was a 66 Mk1 GT with the 1500cc engine. It came with twin Weber carb and headers. Sold that and bought a 64 RHD Lotus Cortina. I let that go in 1974. 5 years ago I saw a 68 Mk2 Deluxe on the street and after chatting with the owner for a bit, he offered it to me. The Deluxe was the only model that came with an automatic as well as a four speed. The GT models only came with a 4 speed. Ford used leftover 1500 cc engines from the Mk1’s on the very early Mk2’s. Those are somewhat rare these days. The Mk2’s used 1600 cc cross flow engines, with a hotter cam for the GT configuration, along with dual barrel Weber and headers. The Mk2 Lotus Cortinas were never imported to the States.

    You could go to a Ford dealership and buy one. Made in England, Ford imported them to the States. 1970 was the last year (not many imported) as Ford was pushing their new Pinto, which initially came with the Kent engine. Production ended in 1985 with the Mk5.

    I know the seller. Good guy with a Cortina and Ford addiction.

    Like 4
  6. guggie13

    My brother totaled my new Saab 96 while I was away on a mission while in the USCG in 1968 , when I came home my Saab was replaced by 1968 Cortina Gt I was mad , it turned out that the Cortina was a good little car.

    Like 2
  7. mike

    The 1970 4dr looks very nice. Had one in 1972-3.I still have a 1968 GT that I bought new in Sept 68.And a 1969 GT for about 25yrs.Drice as often as I can.Just love them.Its a sickness they say…

    Like 2
  8. Martin Horrocks

    Nothing wrong with MKII Cortina. It raced well in Lotus form but was quickly made redundant by Escort twin cam. Still a good historic rally car, use the Kent crossflow and aim for a flexible 140bhp.

    After this model, Ford upsized the Cortina and it lost all sporting intent.

    Like 1
  9. ramblergarage

    My mom’s cousin had the wagon version of these. A snobby old bat, but I always liked the look of the car. In 68 my dad was looking for a first car for my older sister. We went to the fold dealer and looked at one of these. The dealer couldn’t sell it because they had removed the water pump on the new car to sell to a customer who had one. They couldn’t get the part so they took it off of the new car. Dad went and bought a used Opel for my sister.

    Like 0
    • John EderMember

      I sent a new fire apparatus to a Detroit Diesel dealer for warranty engine work (I was the service manager for a fire apparatus manufacturer) at the time. After it came back, I got a bill for what should have been a warranty repair. When I asked for justification, the DD dealer sent me the mechanic’s notes. They were charging me for removing several parts from my apparatus as they didn’t have them in stock, and then charged me again to install the parts on my apparatus when they arrived- all detailed in the work order that they sent to me. Who knew “R and R” meant “Ripoff and Replace”…They voided the invoice after we “talked”, and were pretty embarrassed by the whole situation.

      Like 0

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