Guide Price: £33,000 - £40,000
∙Fully restored Crayford Lotus Cortina
∙Two owners from new
∙Presented in exceptional order
If you’re talking about hot saloons there are two words that go together better than most and those are ‘Lotus’ and ‘Cortina’. In the early 1960s Lotus was already fettling Ford engines for its road and race cars and thanks to Ford’s desire to compete in Group 2 racing it arranged for a collaboration with Lotus to fit 1,000 of its tweaked engines to the Mk1 Ford Cortina. It was a soaraway success on both road and track driven by the top drivers of the day including the great Jim Clark and Jack Sears. An image of a Lotus Cortina waggling a front wheel in the air while cornering remains one of motorsport’s most iconic images.
Given how well the Mk1 Cortina had been received in its Lotus guise it was hardly surprising that Ford would set about developing a Mk2 Lotus Cortina, but this time it would be built by Ford. It was perhaps a slightly more refined machine than the Mk1 and doesn’t quite have the same competition pedigree, as the Escort soon became Ford’s weapon of choice for its competition department. Nevertheless, the Mk2 Lotus Cortina is still a hugely desirable machine.
The formula remained the same for the Mk2 Cortina as for the Mk1 with the fitment of a Lotus fettled twin-cam with a capacity of 1,558cc which developed 109bhp in Mk2 guise. The Mk2 Lotus Cortina is a rare car in its own right but one of the rarest models of all were those converted by Crayford to create the Convertible.
It’s thought that around 20 Mk2 Lotus Cortinas were converted by Crayford and while no one is certain of the number of cars that survive it is believed to be as few as eight, making this fully restored example a very rare beast indeed.
First registered in 1968 and supplied by Ford dealers Crouches Garage of Ashford it remained with its first registered owner until 2015 when it was acquired by its current keeper. Originally finished in Alpine green with a tan interior it was resprayed in black and gold in the 1970s at which time it is thought the engine block was replaced with a later type unit which is more durable than the original. At about this time it’s said that the speedo packed up with an indicated figure of around 24,000 miles and a new item was installed.
The Cortina was then used for summer outings before the owner moved and the Crayford went into dry storage where it remained from the mid 1980s until 2010. Since it came into the current custodian’s ownership in 2015 the Lotus Cortina has been comprehensively restored in the classic Lotus Cortina colour scheme of white with a green side stripe and a black hood and interior.
The Lotus Cortina doesn’t come with an extensive amount of paperwork, much of its early history has been mislaid over the years, but what is clear from the V5C registration document is that there have been just two registered owners from its first registration in 1968 and both have cherished the car and used it sparingly.
The paperwork that remains with the car mostly relates to when it emerged from storage in 2010 when it was treated to a partial engine rebuild due to a burnt exhaust valve. New valve inserts were fitted and the head was rebuilt and mated with the block. Further work was done shortly after this to rebuild the brakes and to repair the fuel pump.
There are some MoT certificates dating from tests in 2010-2012 which show the Lotus Cortina to have been averaging less than 200 miles per year while the on-line MoT history system shows the car was intermittently tested during 2014 and 2016, again with a low annual mileage.
More recent paperwork consists of workshop notes and invoices from renowned Ford parts supplier Burton for a variety of service related parts. There is also an invoice for a complete exhaust system for the car. There is a V5C in the owner’s name and the Lotus Cortina is MoT and VED exempt.
The black interior is in excellent condition and the seats look as if they’ve hardly ever been sat in. The door trim panels are in similarly excellent fettle. The black carpet is also in good condition but could perhaps do with a little bit of tidying where the transmission tunnel meets the lower dashboard.
The wooden dash presents very well with a recently varnished finish and appears to be free from any cracks or peeling veneer. The instruments and dials are in good condition, too. A three spoke wood-rimmed Cortina steering wheel adds a great finishing touch to the interior. There’s no stereo fitted – with the glorious Lotus Twin Cam up front providing all the music that’s needed from this desirable and rare drop-top.
Having recently been the recipient of a full respray the bodywork of the Lotus Cortina is in excellent condition with crisp shut lines and a satisfying depth to the paint. It might have been a little subtler when it was in its original green and during the 1970s when it sported black and gold JPS colours it would have had a period charm but there’s no better colour scheme for a Lotus Cortina than the classic white with a green stripe.
The chromework is generally in excellent condition, too with a flawless finish on the bumpers with nice original patina to the badgework. The chrome around the screen and the quarterlights is in good condition, too.
The hood itself has been replaced and appears to be in good condition although if you’re used to a car’s hood electrically disappearing on the touch of button then the Crayford’s hood will need a little more effort to unfurl. The frame appears to be in good condition and the hood does fold down neatly enough and the rear screen is clear too.
The wheels are period Minilite style Mistral wheels made by Carmona and they suit the car well. They appear to have been recently painted and have no kerb marks to them. Some of the tyres are exhibiting some minor cracking to the sidewalls so we’d recommend replacement prior to the car being used as its maker intended.
We weren’t able to road test the car but it started on the button after a period of inactivity and the engine settles down to a throaty idle and sounds great without an air filter to silence those twin Weber carbs. Under the bonnet it’s exceptionally clean and has obviously been treated to some fettling to ensure the twin-cam runs as well as it looks.
Recent work includes a full service and a carburettor rebuild along with sorting out the timing, adjusting the shims and fitting a new coil and distributor.
The Ford Cortina Lotus Twin Cam has a huge appeal in any of its guises but this one is exceedingly rare and is guaranteed to turn heads wherever it goes. With perhaps less than 10 examples known to exist it’s about as rare as it’s possible to get.
Not only is it a hugely rare car, it’s also in exceptional condition looking resplendent in its classic Lotus Cortina colour scheme. Not only that, but the interior looks and feel brilliant when you’re sitting behind that three-spoke steering wheel and you can’t help but feel that this really is a machine that’s perfect for some summer evening top down cruising while that twin cam plays all the right tunes.
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