Wagon with a Stiff Upper Lip: 1969 Ford Cortina

1969 Ford Cortina Estate

When I first saw the pictures of this Cortina Estate, the nose-in-the air attitude caused by a lack of drivetrain had me thinking of my very British father’s suggestion of “keeping a stiff upper lip” when faced with crisis. And this car is at that crisis point of being desirable enough to want, but rusty and incomplete enough to make one wonder if the time would be well-spent refurbishing it. Thanks to Mark D for calling our attention to this 1969 Ford Cortina Mk. II Estate. Find it here on Craigslist, where you can buy this beauty for $1200.

1969 Ford Cortina Wagon

When the Mk. II Cortina Estate was introduced in early 1967, Ford of Britain was flying high. The Mk. I Cortina had been a sales success, and the clean, Roy Haynes lines made the Mk. II look considerably more modern than its predecessor. The ample hatch and spacious (for its size) accommodations made the Mk. II the car to be imitated in its class in the UK (witness the Morris/Austin Marina, of which I currently race a 1975 example…honest…but that’s another story).

Ford Cortina Wagon

One of 21,496 Cortinas sold in the US in 1969, this example does wear a black California plate and is being sold there, so one would hope that the rust bug hadn’t attacked too much. Alas, looking at the hood and front valence, one can see that isn’t the case, and the two strange cuts on the rear right corner look like someone slipped with a chain saw. However, on the bright side, there are other British Fords in the pictures, including a Mk. II sedan next to the Estate, and the seller states they can supply an engine and gearbox if needed, as well as other Cortina parts.

Cortina Interior

No interior pictures are included, which is a shame as the ad says the car has the GT model’s four small center gauge dash pad. I’m guessing it looks like the pod in the picture above (courtesy of Flicker).

Ford Cortina Estate

The original list price would have been $2290 in 1969, and the car would have left the Dagenham factory with a 1600 cc Kent crossflow engine, which was used successfully in many racing and high-performance (for the time) applications. This Cortina was one of the last generations to be imported into the US market, as the introduction of the Pinto in 1971 signaled the demise of Cortina imports to the US, although the line continued through the 1982 Mk. V in the UK and was imported to Canada until 1974.

Ford Cortina MK II Estate

Is this a worthy candidate for refurbishment? Would you merely make it move and legal and drive as is? Or would you look for a better one?

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Comments

  1. Rick

    Like the fact it’s a Black Plate car!

  2. Brian

    Sort of a ’68 Ford Falcon and ’81 Toyota Wagon “Love Child” look isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, though – I like it – but where to come up with replacements for the missing and broken pieces? The new owner better love it, since the resto will involve alot of parts chasing, alot of shipping charges across the big pond, and very small financial reward when it comes time to cash out. I hate to think it, but modding it would probably be the most viable option.

  3. Brian

    Wait a minute, do I spy the headlight of an Anglia behind it? I’d pass on it for the Anglia!

  4. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Yes, that’s an Anglia, and it looks like a Consul on the other side. I’m guessing the current owner would be a good source of parts….

  5. Neil

    Just for a minute there, due to the rear suspension height and the front wheel arches, I thought it might be the very rare 1600e, but I don’t think it is after hitting CTRL+ in the browser quite a few times and squinting at the pictures!

    This would be an easy restoration in the UK – parts are plentiful and cheap and there is a good resto and mod scene for these older Fords. Across the Atlantic I think you would struggle with the interior and exterior trim pieces and would have to have a friendly British BF reader on-side to help out. Good luck finding replacement glass if you were unlucky enough to need it…

    I cannot imagine many are left on the roads in the USA so if you were to haul it out, halt any further rot and rust, and swap in your choice of cheap, domestic drivetrain you could have something quite different. There is plenty of room under the bonnet (sorry, hood!) to get something more interesting in there than the crossflow it originally came with.

    Like all of our cars of this era, it was not put together particularly well but it was *engineered* properly. When they are stripped down and put back together as they were originally designed on the drawing boards, they work fine but bean-counter cost-cutting and the influx of ultra-reliable Japanese competitors, such as the Corolla (who’s adverts actively played on the unreliability of British cars!) pushed a lot of people away from Ford, Vauxhall et.al.

    Anyway, sadly, I have a strong suspicion it will sit there, unloved and unwanted.

  6. sir mike

    first..Neil…1600E was only on the 2 and 4 door models.you could in England get a GT estate but was a special order through AVO.second.. the added dash picture is incorrect.you can see through windshield that it is not their.probably a late 68 through 70 GT dash where the gauge’s are lower in the dash.i did one of those before.there are used parts in the USA that could save this estate.plus a 302 ford mtr conversion has been done to others..most in Calif.
    hope it is saved.

    • Neil

      I am pretty sure that a very few 1600e estates were made as custom orders. What threw me there was that picture of the dash and I obviously skimmed the text without taking it in – I had it in my head that was the actual interior but the description is quite clear. Doh!

      I dumped the laptop and pulled up the pictures on my desktop 27″ monitor and the dash discrepancy is visible, as you quite rightly say and what looked like rolled arches turned out to be.. chrome trim.

      So.. a standard Cortina Deluxe then?

      • sir mike

        according to all my books on cortina’s no 1600E estates…only the special order GT estates.most if not all USA cortina’s had the chrome trim on the arches and rockers.was bolted on so a good place for rust to start..especially in the snow belt states..like mine.yes a 1600 deluxe model.but a friend has a 69 estate with a GT dash and motor/trans installed.also GT brakes…fun wagon…

      • Neil

        Well, even here in the UK, if you rolled around in one of these it would attract some attention.

        The 1600E is one of those things that attracts confirmation bias in anyone who is interested in cars of this era. I’ve been to car shows and heard people talk about the estate versions (they did have the strut tops strengthened / no, they left that off the estate version, etc. etc.!) but a lot of badge engineering went on back then by owners and it is easy to try to find things that confirm what you *want* to believe about something that pops up on the internet rather than what it *actually* is.

        Fords, and in fact, all cars of that era used the trim level to emphasis the class or position of the owner. The new graduate manager might get an L, and when he (women were pretty much just secretaries back then and had very little chance of a senior position in management, engineering, aerospace etc, despite their ability, so ‘he’ is very accurate!) went up a rank, so did the car’s trim level – GL, GLS, Ghia, Ghia X etc. By the 1980s this was gone, but the late 60s/early 70s muddling of class and money in the UK is very much reflected in the car lineups of the period.

        To get around this perception, subsequent owners could easily convert a blue-collar L into a middle management Ghia with a bit of wrenching and some interior parts from a write-off. And they did… Only in England, heh.

        I’ve owned all generations of Cortinas except the mk.I, as have most people my age, (until they could afford the insurance on a Capri, of course), and the E models had something of a mythical status even then. I just did a quick bit of digging and, whilst I will bow to your superior knowledge of USA exports, I am still going to believe that the estate I saw with an E badge on the C pillar and the tailgate was real, and that the owner wasn’t making the whole thing up!

      • sir mike

        neil…forgot one thing..friend also put the 1600e badges on his plus the FORD letters on the bonnet..let me know if you find that Ford did do a 1600E estate.maybe the books are wrong..

      • Neil

        If anyone is wondering why the humble Cortina, the mainstay of British company cars and affordable family transport for two decades, is worth mentioning in the ‘E’ variant… This isn’t for you, Mike – this is for people without your knowledge who are interested – this you already know!

        Most of the Cortina badges denoted tiny trim or option changes. The L was the barebones car, the GL might have a clock and a rear foglight, etc. Lower spec cars were full of switch blanks to remind the proletariat that they could have had an automatic aerial or front fog lights if only they’d gone to public school or been born into the right family.

        If you think I’m joking there is a well documented incident in our Civil Service where several junior staff members were found to have swivel chairs with arm rests where their rank only allowed them a swivel chair sans said arm rests. They were removed and replaced throughout the Service at great expense. We can’t have the plebs having arm rests on their seats…..

        The Cortina E was only one Cosworth tune-up short of a full Cortina Lotus. A humble family car with the Lotus suspension, a wood interior that only beavers could love, bucket seats, the full instrumentation that slightly confused me in the original listing.. in short, for its time, this was about as good as you could get without being a millionaire.

        Few were made, fewer survive due to our legendary thin English steel and lack of effective rust-proofing, fire-prone Lucas electrics and the fact that this car would take an average driver to the scene of the accident that much faster than the 1300cc family model.

        The 1600E estate is, essentially, the equivalent of the 90s Volvo 850T5/T5R.. if, if it exists. I’m certain I’ve seen one in the flesh but read everything we’ve said above to see why it might not be true! Ford certainly took custom orders back then – nowadays you get what you’re given but it’s not beyond the realms of impossibility that a few wealthy eccentrics wanted a Lotus Cortina estate and specced one.

        I have to admit, though, it might be wishful thinking on the part of enthusiasts of a certain age and a rumour mill, rather than fact. I’m going to have to chase this one down now….!

      • sir mike

        neil…over here we only got the mk1 and 2 cortina’s and the lotus cortina in mk1 only.got the pinto in place of the mk111…lucky us.have two mk11’s a 68GT from new and a 69 GT i saved 18+ yrs ago.

  7. jim s

    if you lived close a visit to view all the vehicles would be very interesting. i too think this is going to be used for parts. nice find

  8. rapple

    IF it had even a couple undamaged body panels, IF isn’t rusted out, IF it has a salvageable interior and IF the engine and gearbox the seller “can supply” comes at no additional cost, it MIGHT be worth the effort to try to bring it back to life. Otherwise, it’s just parts, like the others keeping it company in the weeds.

  9. Ian

    Viewing this from the UK this is quite a collection of UK Fords….2 Cortinas, an Anglia and a 100e. The 100e looks pretty far gone but a little X flow fits well. The Anglia and Cortinas would be saved for sure over here…..parts still generally pretty easy too
    I know several people this side with American cars and they get twitchy if parts don’t arrive in less that 48hrs from the US so part going the other way should be as easy !
    Hope these survive

  10. Don Andreina

    Nice looking wagon, I’d have it over the equivalent Hillman.

  11. RickyM

    The owner obviously loved his English Fords. Very rare in the US I would imagine. There is a big Old Skool Ford scene over here in England and these would be quickly snapped up I am sure if they were over here…….. Hopefully all these will be saved.

  12. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Thanks for all the great data, folks — sorry about the error on the dash! Always amazed at the expertise of readers!

    • sir mike

      that’s what we are here for….

  13. sir mike

    1-510-658-4268 no text and not a cell per ad…

  14. Mark Aitken

    If it was mine, I’d have 2 choices, a Lotus Mk2 Estate or a Later model, Duratec/Zetec or Cosworth as the UK aftermarket has all the needed parts available to convert them from FWD installation to RWD (Except Cosworth as it was ALWAYS RWD) Build the Ultimate Sleeper!

  15. Mark Aitken

    Another option could be to rebuild a SAVAGE with the Essex V6? Super Rare in UK never mind trying to get parts in California! Google Savage Ford Cortina, came with the option of a Large Webasto Roll back Fabric Roof!! Also would look good with Banded Steels or Dunlop D1/Minilite style rims but rims really are a personal thing, what I think looks Good doesn’t necessarily mean You will like them.

  16. Brent

    I purchased a 1970 mk2 GT from the gentleman with the estate. Once I got into it, it was a rustbucket due to sitting on that lot for 13years directly behind the estate. 3 years of massaging the body have passed and its about to go into the paint shop.Some parts can be sourced in the US for the mechanical side but body parts or interior parts have to come from old donor cars which I have 2 of or from the UK or Aussie. The estate is a cool looking car with the right ride hight and wheel combination.

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