1967 Ford Cortina Mk1 – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

There is nothing better than a classic car that is still being used hard. Of course, this is entirely dependent on the car in question. We wouldn’t be so keen to celebrate a 1937 Bentley being used as a tractor. However, classic cars being used in competition, for example, is something we can wholeheartedly celebrate. Cars are machines. They don’t know how old they are. As such, if you look after them and build them accordingly, a fifty year-old motor can be just as much fun a modern one. And this is something that is proven time and time again with events like Goodwood, Race Retro and so on. There is no shortage of cars out there, that are hungry for a good kicking on track. And then, of course, you have those that like to be a bit more dirty about bit. By which we mean classic rally cars like this Cortina, of course. 

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Classic rallying is a huge affair. There are myriad events up and down the county through which you can give the right classic car a damn good spanking through the pace notes. You could build a classic to suit this sort of motorsport, or you could buy one that has been built already. There are many to choose from, but for us there is no marque more synonymous with rallying than Ford. It’s at this point you might be expecting us to wheel out a Mk1 or Mk2 Escort, but no. Instead, we have a smashing Mk1 Ford Cortina two-door, which is pretty much ready to hit the stages. Just think of the fun you can have! 

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What is it? 

The car we have here is a 1967 Ford Cortina Mk1. Originally built for the Finland (hence being left-hand drive) it started life as a base Cortina. However, later in its life and no doubt due to the Fin’s propensity towards going fast, it was converted to 1500GT specification and used in some local events. From what we can gather, it has been a competition car for longer than it was just a normal Cortina. Motorsport is very much in the blood of this little car. And its motorsport evolution enticed a UK buyer, who shipped it here to use on UK events. He started to do some more work to it to make the car eligible for said events, but had to abandon the project due to ill health. The current owner had similar plans, and has done a great deal of work to the car but thanks to the impact of Covid, he too is letting the car go. 

Why is it a project? 

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It’s not quite the full rebuild or restoration project we normally have in this section. This car is running and driving and could be used as is. There is no MOT though (it’s exempt) so you might want to do that for added peace of mind. It’s UK registered though, and as we mentioned above, all manner of work has been done to it. There is a roll cage, bucket seats, the interior is totally stripped, there are harnesses fitted too. The current owner has done a lot of mechanical work, too. New wheels with gravel tyres, new brake cylinders on the rear, new cam, new fluids including coolant, new gearbox bearings, new bulbs and even a full set of window rubbers which now keep the interior as dry as a bone. All good stuff. It probably needs a good once over, and the engine might need a tune if it’s not been used in anger for a while – those carbs might have come out of balance. Some parts like the seats and harnesses may need upgrading to meet regulations, but that’s about it. It’s not a massive project by any means. 

Five things to look for: 

1) Rust

It’s an old Ford, so you need to have a look for rust. Hot spots on the Mk1 Cortina are, well, all of it. But rear suspension, sills, bulkhead, floors and pillars should all be checked with particular interest. 

2) Engine

The seller doesn’t say the spec of the engine. He does, however, state that the previous sporty cam bend the pushrods, and so it has a stock one fitted now. The engine seems to be running a pair of twin Webers or something of that ilk. But that’s all we can see. It would be wise to find out what’s been done, or if it’s just a stock 1,500GT lump.

3) Modifications 

We can see some of the work that has been done, but what about suspension, brakes, differential, transmission and the like? Have they been beefed up for competition use, or are you going to need to upgrade those parts? What about the fuel system in particular, has that been upgraded and made safer? Which leads us to…

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4) Dates

If you’re going to compete in this car, you need to have everything in date. This car comes with FIA paperwork, so that’s good. But are the seats in date, are the harnesses and cage? What about the fire extinguisher and the roll cage? If these need to be changed, it’s going to get expensive quickly. 

5) Body

Replacement panels are easy enough to obtain, but they’re not cheap. As such, it would pay to check the condition of the wings, doors, bonnet and boot to make sure what you have is useable. It all looks very presentable in the pictures, so we doubt anything needs changing. But even so, it never hurts to check first. 

What should you do with it? 

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Well, the writing is pretty much on the wall here, isn’t it? This Cortina has got buckets, harnesses and a roll cage, so rallying it is. Yeah, you could take all that stuff out and build back into being a road car, but where’s the fun in that? It would be a costly affair and at the end of it you’d wind up with a car less fun than when you started. The only real conversion you could look into would be that of turning it into a tarmac car. Different suspension, wheels, brakes etc. Then have it as a track day warrior. You could even up the engine specs, paint that yellow stripe gold and go for the full Alan Mann look. The world is very much your oyster, as long as your world has motorsport in it. 

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