The History Of The Ford Cortina

Ford Cortina Front






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2013 sees the 51st anniversary since the first ever Cortina rolled off the production line at Ford’s Dagenham plant.  The UK’s best selling car throughout the entire 1970’s, it stayed in production for a mammoth twenty years between 1962 and 1982.  In order to celebrate its success, the guys at CVI take a look at its various incarnations throughout this period, and its place as one of the highest ever-selling cars in the UK.

Mark I (1962-1966)

Launched in the September of 1962, the new Ford Cortina was aimed at the family market, and featured at that year’s London Motor Show.  Originally available with a 1.2l or 1.5l 4-cylinder engine, as either a two or four-door saloon, or a four-door estate, the Mark I Cortina originally marketed at just £639. It was initially designed to be economical to run and inexpensive to produce on a mass-scale.  Throughout its production, the Cortina was in an almost constant state of evolution, particularly when it came to its engine.  The standard 1.2-litre was considered insufficient for the needs of its average purchaser, and versions of the Cortina Super were developed in response.

Mark II (1966-1970)

Ford Cortina side blue







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By 1966 a new version of the Cortina was ready for launch.  Under the slogan “New Cortina is more Cortina”, the car quickly became the most popular new car of 1967.  Amongst its improvements were; increased interior space, a smaller turning-circle, self-adjusting brakes and clutch and softer suspension.  For the UK and some other markets, a new five bearing 1300 cc engine was also available. 

TC Mark III (1970-1976)

Ford Cortina front side








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With the new decade came the new and improved TC Mark III Ford Cortina.  With a renewed focus on its aesthetics, the ‘coke bottle’ shape heavily influenced the design.  Its weight had also increased, providing a safer ride for its passengers.  A strike by Ford workers in 1971 ensured slow starting sales but, with production back underway, the Mark III became Britain’s biggest selling car.  Forty years on, it is now considered a rare classic car. 

Mark IV (1976-1979)

The biggest change with the Mark IV model came in the shape of its new Ghia engine.  Reverting to a more conventional design, it continued its domination of the UK car market.  Much heavier than its predecessor, it also featured much larger windows for increased visibility and a brighter interior.

Mark V (1979-1982)

Ford Cortina late model







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The fifth and final incarnation of the Cortina was launched in 1979.  Now available in its basic 1.3l model for £3,475, the Mark V featured a much wider grill to its front, and boasted engine improvements in both fuel economy and power output.  The Ford Cortina’s status as Britain’s biggest selling car was maintained between 1972 and 1981, and with over 2.5 million cars sold, cement its place as an integral part of the UK’s motoring history.