1973 Ford Cortina MkIII Big Six

Guide Price - £7,500  - £10,000


∙Rare South-African spec V6
∙Owned by single family from new
∙Low Miles

The Background

The last European car to be engineered by Harley Copp, the American car designer who came over to establish the Ford Engineering design unit in Brentwood, the Mark III Cortina was launched in 1970. It was internally designated ‘TC’ for ‘Taunus Cortina’ as the design was largely shared with the European market Taunus, built by Ford Germany, and was intended to replace both the Mark II Cortina and also the larger Corsair, which suffered from disappointing sales.

The styling was inspired by the ‘Coke Bottle’ design language that was popular in Detroit at the time and, in an attempt to cover both the Cortina and Corsair markets, came with a wide variety of engine sizes and trim levels.

The European model used a mix of Kent Crossflow and Pinto four-cylinder engines but the Ford outposts in the Southern Hemisphere markets also saw the use of V4, V6 and straight six engines. The example we see here hails from South Africa and was fitted with the 2.5 litre Essex V6, charmingly badged as the ‘Big Six’ mated to a four-speed manual gearbox. Finished in a Baby Blue colour that is believed to be unique to the South African market, it adds a twist of Lime to the classic Ford coke bottle.

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The History

This Cortina ‘Big Six’ L originates from one of the drier areas of South Africa and has been in the same family’s ownership since new. Never restored, it’s been imported to the UK by a Brit who has returned home after a decade of working in South Africa and who keeps himself occupied in retirement by finding rust-free classics and bringing them over. The import duty is paid and it is on the NOVA database, leaving it to the next owner to be registered as the first UK keeper. It will be supplied with a full year’s MOT.

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The Paperwork

The car will come with all the necessary paperwork to allow it to be UK registered, and an MOT certificate.

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The Interior

Back in the day, the ‘L’ trim level stood for ‘Luxe’ and although by modern standards there’s little in the way of extras that would mark it out as a luxury model, the deeply cowled dials, thin 2 spoke steering wheel, and brown vinyl upholstery have a level of US-inspired 70’s style about them. The condition is very good with the rear seats appearing hardly used and only the driver’s seat showing some splitting, which will be addressed before the sale. The carpets and headlining are in good order and all that’s needed is a period style radio.

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The Exterior 

Featuring a finish that is no doubt ideal for sunnier climes, the baby blue paint with white vinyl roof gives a different look to its UK sister cars, while the ‘Big Six’ decals provide a clue as to the extra potency that’s under the bonnet. The paintwork shows some patina but presents generally well.  The car is 100% original and has never been restored, though there are a few small areas where the paint might require further attention. The most notable of these is just behind the driver’s side rear door shut, where there are a number of stone chips that need treating.

There are also similar marks around the bonnet edge, front wing tops and front valance. 

Underneath, it’s superb having never been welded and is in incredible condition for a 49 year old Ford. A new MOT backs this up, which it has passed with no advisories. 

It is supplied on steel wheels with the correct Ford centre caps - the Big Six might have been a potent Cortina but it was also very subtle and the car is an entry-level Cortina L. 

Underneath looks to be solid as you would expect from the dry climate.

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The Mechanics 

While the engine bay could use some tidying, the car starts first time and drives well, with the V6 providing much more shove than we Europeans are used to from a Mark III Cortina and an arguably better soundtrack.

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The Appeal

With a classic design, steady values and a vibrant and varied classic Ford scene, there’s much to recommend any Mark III Cortina. But this example provides the opportunity to enjoy a spicier take on the recipe in colour scheme that you’d be very unlikely to encounter in the UK. With four doors and low mileage it’s a very usable classic that will surely be a conversation starter wherever you take it. 

Surely the most incredible thing about this car is its patina. It’s nearly 50 years old, but is 100% original and completely unrestored. It’s not perfect, but any cosmetic improvements the new owner chooses need to be done sympathetically to retain this car’s remarkable originality. 

It’s one of the first proper ‘Fast Fords’ and something very, very different that’s bound to be a talking point at shows. 

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1973
  • Make Ford
  • Model Cortina MkIII Big Six L
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 100,455 Miles
  • Engine size 2500
  • Location Norfolk
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
38 bids
  • ma•••• £10,000 15/06/21
  • ne•••• £9,900 15/06/21
  • ma•••• £9,800 15/06/21
  • ne•••• £9,700 15/06/21
  • ma•••• £9,600 15/06/21
  • ne•••• £9,500 15/06/21
  • ma•••• £9,400 15/06/21
  • ne•••• £9,300 15/06/21
  • ma•••• £9,200 15/06/21
  • ne•••• £9,100 15/06/21

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