Back in the day, before Ford had achieved the success it went on to enjoy with the Escorts and rallying acclaim of the 70’s and 80’s, it didn’t really do sporty models. It didn’t really do convertibles either. So, in one of history’s finest collaborations, the Lotus Cortina Crayford Convertible was born.
The Cortina was a popular car, many of them became UK best-sellers. Initially launched in 1962, the Mk I lasted from Love Me Do almost up the completion of Sgt Pepper, then came along the ‘Cream of the Cortina’s’ in the shape of the Mark II. It was affordable motoring for the family. But they lacked a sporty model. Ford had some rally ambitions and Colin Chapman at Lotus had been designing a twin-cam version of the Ford Kent unit. It seems only natural that Ford ask them to drop it into a Cortina MkI which they did. Lotus also redesigned the suspension and steering, and the car quickly became a hit, scooping up several trophies in the rallies of the day.
For the MkII, Lotus shipped the engines to Ford and handed over the assembly duties. The power was now up to 109bhp from a sprightly 1557 cc twin-cam straight four engine, helping propel the MkII Lotus Cortina to 0-60 mph in 10 seconds.
There were 34,093 Mark II Lotus Cortinas produced, but only a very small subset of those were sent to Crayford. In fact that number is said to be as small as 20, and of those, there are thought to be just seven or eight still around today.
Made in 1967, this car left the showroom as a brand-new convertible.
Not much is known of its first 15 years other than its first three owners had clocked up 100,000 miles between them. In 1984 it was purchased by its fourth owner who sometime between 1984 and 1994 he had every panel on the car replaced – doors, wings, inner tubes, inner sills, inner wings, slam panel etc. It was a smart move, because now, having had careful owners since, the car looks immaculate, and every time it’s taken to the Crayford Show by the current owner, it unsurprisingly wins Car of the Year award.
The fifth owner also had an engine rebuild, carried out in 1999 by Nick Stagg Engineering of Bristol. The current owner purchased it in July 2006 and a year or so later, had it stripped back to bare metal and re-sprayed in the original Ermine White, complete with the iconic Sherwood Green side stripe. The interior was replaced with new carpets, seats, rear and front parcel shelves, most of which was carried out by Aldridge Trimming of Wolverhampton. The roof was also replaced with one made from mohair and as the car is garaged and only taken out in the dry, it looks like new.
In 2019 the owner, unhappy with the way it was running, took it to Hi-Tek Motorsport who upon testing the compression identified piston problems. As the engine needed removing the owner told them to replace anything that was needed so water pump, pistons, jets and distributor were all replaced, as well as upgrading to an electronic ignition. The car now ticks over at 1000 revs and hardly moves from the needle when idle. It reportedly runs the best it ever has under his ownership.
The car has been used for 2 weddings in the last 15 years and has been trailered to a couple of car shows to share the beauty. It’s a very sheltered life, and with a few extra years on him now, the owner feels the car should be enjoyed by someone that will get a little more use out of her.
The car comes with MOTs dating back to 1975 as the previous two owners were just as keen to keep a good paperwork trail as the current owner is.
The original owner’s handbook and Workshop manual (1969) have also been kept together with a host of original car club magazines, some which feature this very car. There is a big stack of receipts for smaller items too.
The current owner is a close ebay watcher, and as a result many items in the car have been replaced or upgraded. Ashtrays, switches, gear knobs, you name it, if it’s spotted in better condition, the owner has acquired it and brought it home to make ever so slight improvements to this car.
Having won so many awards you could be forgiven for thinking it’s not possible to improve upon, but in case you hadn’t picked up on it yet, the owner has been in pursuit of perfection.
The car includes the original jack, jack handle and spare wheel and the whole car is tidier than a Barratt Homes marketing suite.
The condition of car is fantastic. Not just clean, but pristine. The whole body was examined, and trying to find imperfections was like trying to find a needle in a bunch of identical needles. Two minor cracks were just about noticeable (with the aid of good light) where the boot meets the rear window, illustrated in the photos.
Unable to get the car on a ramp, inspection from the ground appeared clean and tidy.
There is one small dent, however it is a very slight and hardly noticeable dent, no bigger than a 5p coin.
The car started first time from cold and the engine purred beautifully and settled nicely at idle. A road test as a passenger proved the car to be very responsive with smooth gear changes and a healthy and sporty sounding twin-cam engine. Given the car has only done 200 or so miles since the rebuild, it’s not surprising
The mechanics of the soft-top worked exceptionally well. The wheels have been replaced with Minilites and the steering wheel upgraded to a similar one of the period. The speedo has also been replaced.
The car will come with come with a full MOT upon sale.
There are literally only a handful of these in existence and they’ve always been sought after. But to see such a rare car preserved like this is a real joy. And putting all the future value and collectability discussion aside, with the roof down this car comes into its own, it’s a super-cool soft-top. Small, smart, agile with bags of serious motorsport heritage, it’s an exciting drive, and although occasionally they do come up for sale, they simply don’t look like this.
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1967 Ford Lotus Cortina Mark II Crayford Convertible
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