In the last, and first update on our 1965 Ford Cortina GT, we were giddy with the thrill of having just bought a car. But not just any car, a car with a roll cage. And as we all know, roll cages make cars cooler. Yes, our Cortina GT was everything we were looking for. We wanted a car with a bit of competition credibility, as we have plans to campaign said car throughout 2020. When we found this car within the Car & Classic listings, it just made sense. It was a proven rally car, it had all the right, FIA pleasing kit and FIA relevant paperwork. It was perfect. Except for the fact it wasn’t.
KMB505C back in her rallying days
As it happened, closer inspection of the car revealed that it was held together mostly by spit and optimism. The rear spring hangers were non-existent, the inner wings were shot, as was the firewall. The doors were goosed at the bottoms, the bonnet was bent, the boot floor had holes, the sills needed work, the… you get the idea. There was a lot of rot. Rot we were originally planning to cut it out ourselves, but then, this car it going to be hurled around many a UK and European circuit, so did we really want to just patch it up with our amateur TIG skills? No. No we did not. Enter stage left the incredibly talented team at Norfolk Premier Coachworks.
The guys here have established themselves by carrying out restoration works of some of the finest classics out there, though their speciality is old Porsches. So, not a lot in common with our battered old Cortina. But even so, they jumped at the chance to make Project ‘65 whole again, after they’d found more holes, again. See what we did there?
The Cortina was completely stripped back, leaving it as nothing more than a bare shell. From there, all the rot was cut out and new, freshly fabricated parts were welded in. The work is nothing short of astounding, and now the car looks almost factory fresh. And yes, we’ve gone for standard specification, as this is what the FIA dictates for the class in which we want to campaign the car.
As for the doors and bonnet, these have been replaced and now, like the body, they are in primer and awaiting paint. We’ll be going for the same Alan Mann red and gold homage as it was previously – we love that look.
As it stands, the guys at Norfolk Premier Coachworks are fitting up a new boot floor, a new back half of the Safety Devices cage to satisfy new FIA ROPS regs and also a new rear firewall. Once they’re happy with that, it will be time for paint.
With the car in bits, it made sense for us to send the engine home to Joe at Throbnozzle Racing, also known as the man who originally fettled it some years back. There was nothing inherently wrong with the engine, it was a running and driving car and it pulled well. However, given that we’re taking the car off the gravel and putting it on the track, it made sense to give the old lump a bit of a tickle and get a bit more power out of it.
The engine when we bought the car was what Joe at Throbnozzle refers to as ‘Mk IIIV’. This meant it was bored out to 1,475cc from 1,340cc, it had an A2 cam, modified cylinder head for better gas flow and of course, it had the twin carbs. All in all, it was around 90bhp. Good, but not good enough.
Joe has taken the engine apart now, and was happy to report that it is in good health, and as such will respond well to a bit more modification. This will take it to ‘Mk IX’ specification. The new engine, based on a 116E five-bearing unit will have a new, forged pistons and uprated rods. Thanks to revised stroke, the capacity will be the maximum allowed for the car’s designated class – 1,498cc. There will be an A6 crank, steel rocker gear, a baffled sump as before and of course, those shouty Weber twin-40 carbs. Joes will build everything up after having digitally dyno testing the setup to confirm it works. The end goal is 120-125bhp, with a nice, smooth delivery of power, but with lots of low down torque so as to better aid the Cortina when we’re pedalling it out of the bends.
As we type, Joe is working on the engine, and when it’s complete we’ll do a full breakdown of what’s been done. This is just a tease for now, as is that look at the shell as it currently sits. By the next update, we’re hoping the old girl will be looking more like a car again, and as such, she’ll be that much closer to getting out on track.