History : The end of Ford’s saloon line (1962-2022)

In 2022, the Mondeo reached the end of the road and, with it, an unbroken 60-year line of popular Ford saloons which began in 1962.

Keith Adams looks back on why the Cortina and Sierra became so dominant, and reflects on how the brilliant Mondeo ended up being overtaken by events.

Ford Mondeo: End of an era

Ford Mondeo Vignale

The Ford Mondeo died in 2022, to be replaced by yet another family-sized faux off-roader, pretending to be an SUV. The timing was bitter-sweet, being almost 60 years to the day that its distant ancestor, the Cortina Mk1, was first introduced and a generation of drivers found a new sweetheart, while its undeniable success powered Ford for decades to come.

This might have been a sad end to a line of cars that enjoyed a lasting love affair with the British public, even if there were a few bumps along the way, but it was also an opportunity to celebrate Ford at its brilliant best. From the ruthless brilliance of the first Cortina to the urbane civility of the multi-billion-dollar Mondeo via the starkly aerodynamic Sierra, here’s a whistle-stop tour of them all.

Cortina establishes itself as a winner

The Ford Cortina Mk1 (below) was conceived in 1960 and developed in record time to meet the demands of an emerging class of UK car buyers. Overseen by Ford’s brilliant product man, Patrick Hennessey, it was laid out in Ford’s famous ‘Red Book’, was immaculately costed, beautifully engineered and perfectly judged. Launched in 1962, the Cortina ended up being Ford’s most successful post-War product in the UK.

The MkI established the breed – powered by the revvy 1.2- and 1.5-litre Kent engine, and rowed along by a beautifully slick gearchange, this big-booted saloon soon became the apple of every professional driver’s eye. Fleet managers loved its low running costs, while drivers loved its fashionable style and eager nature.

1962 Ford Consul Cortina

The 1966 Mk2 (above) was a more square-rigged remix of the original car. Its base engine grew to 1.3-litres and the range expanded to encompass the brilliantly-conceived 1600E. No longer was it a rival to the BMC 1100, and yet these two would fight for the top spot in the UK bestsellers’ chart. Between them, these two Cortinas sold a million-plus copies, and established Ford as the company to beat in the mid-market.

However, the Cortina really found its feet when it evolved into the 1970 Mk3 (below). For a start, it had a considerably wider engine range and longer wheelbase for a roomier interior – and, although the base model remained a 1.3-litre, the range-topper grew to 2.0-litres, replacing the old Corsair in the process. This was the first Cortina developed alongside the German Ford Taunus, bringing the two Design Teams much closer together, after the success of the Escort and Capri.

Its growth and that Coke-bottle style weren’t the only departures – the overhead cam Pinto engines made their Cortina debut, the McPherson strut suspension was dropped, and the fleet-manager model ladder came in. Now you could buy Base, L, XL, GT and GXL models, and buyers lapped it up.

This was the tipping point which saw the Cortina become the undisputed best-selling car in the UK. Early refinement and suspension issues were soon fixed, and it would go on to enjoy a six-year run, where its position as the number one fleet – and family – car seemed unassailable, and more than 1.1 million examples were built.

A steady driver

Driving a base model 1.3-litre today is an interesting experience. The low-set seat and well-positioned pedals and gearstick result in a quite alien driving position compared with today’s car, with a wonderful view over the ridged bonnet. The sparse instrumentation is a letdown for those aspiring for GXL levels of luxury, but it’s a workmanlike driving environment that’s perfect for those spending long days here. Firing it up doesn’t disappoint – the Kent engine is smooth and muted here, while snicking it into first reminds you why you love Ford gearboxes. Pulling away soon exposes this engine’s lack of enough power and torque for the Cortina’s large body.

It’s willing and eager, but just not muscular enough to keep up with the cut and thrust of modern traffic. Instead, just relax, build up speed, and adopt a cruising mindset. The steering is light and precise, but low gearing doesn’t aid quick cornering – which is no bad thing considering the amount of bodyroll when you get to the first bend. Ride quality is acceptable, but it’s no fan of potholes and other surface imperfections. But let’s not be too hard on this one… it was built for a junior-level rep to plough the motorway in, and it’s perfectly up to that task. As a classic, it’s a brilliant experience, as people just stop and stare, while you just float serenely on.

On to the Cortina Mk4

Ford never stands still, though – in 1976, the Cortina Mk4 was unveiled, featuring a familiar platform and engines, but boasting smart new styling that was now shared with the German Ford Taunus. The real significance of this was that this became the first Cortina that could be imported from Germany – a boon in strike-torn Britain.

The model range was a familiar mix – base, L, GL, S and Ghia – with the addition of a new 2.3-litre V6 range topper. All the Cortina qualities were present and correct – a slick gearchange, big boot, comfortable ride and excellent motorway presence.

The final facelift came just three years later, when the Cortina 80 was rolled out. A new roofline, improved seats and a larger glass area were the main areas of improvement. It was a useful update that proved more than enough to see the end of the Cortina’s days in 1982 riding high in the charts. When it went out of production, with another 1.1 million copies built, a nation literally mourned, as the car that charted the rise in living standards in the 1960s and ‘70s was finally put out to pasture.

Sierra – the slow starter that came good

The Cortina was a winning machine, and it would take a brave soul to change its formula. Bob Lutz was that man, and in 1978 Project Toni was conceived to replace the boxy Cortina. He wanted something advanced and aerodynamic and to really move the company into the 1980s with a bang. The styling was overseen by Uwe Bahnsen, who admired fastback designs, and so after a $1.2 billion development programme, the Ford Sierra was launched in September 1982.

The styling was a startling departure from what came before, and at the time it burst onto the scene, it rivalled the sleekest designs from Citroën  aerodynamically. It was offered as a hatchback – in this most conservative of market sectors – and an estate car, with no saloon alternative. Inside, the driver was greeted by a super-modern dashboard that was ergonomically designed like a BMW, which in some models featured a trip computer. But would buyers relate to it in the same way as they had the Cortina?

Ford Sierra

The real surprise was what lay under the skin, because the Sierra didn’t make the transition to front-wheel drive at that point, contrary the widespread industry moves in this direction. Despite its avant garde styling, the rear-wheel-drive Sierra retained the Cortina’s engine line-up, with the suspension updated to McPherson struts at the front and a coil-sprung independent set-up at the rear, just like a Granada.

So, it looked the part, and sold very well indeed. In Europe at least. Over the channel, the Sierra outsold its predecessor four-to-one. However, in the UK, everyone still loved the Cortina too much – so much so that its radical-looking replacement failed to ignite the public’s imagination, and it soon earned the nickname ‘jellymould’. In 1982 and ’83, the Ford Escort took the mantle of the country’s best-selling car and, worse still, the conservatively-styled Vauxhall Cavalier began to outsell the Sierra!

From the days of Ford’s domination of the fleet market, this was a disaster. The firm continually updated the model range, losing the odd-looking entry-level models with their slotted grille, and adding aerodynamic tweaks designed to improve the car’s crosswind instability. A tax-friendly 1.8-litre engine was launched, four-wheel drive added to the mix, and sporting models came and went, including the legendary RS Cosworth.

In the background, Ford pressed ahead with a facelift to answer buyers’ criticisms. In 1987, the second-generation Sierra arrived – at a cost of a cool £228 million – ushering a less stark-looking front-end design and, by popular demand, introducing a saloon version, dubbed the Sierra Sapphire. As facelifts go, this one was masterful, turning around the car’s fortunes brilliantly. The sales slump was reversed, and thanks to a programme of continuous improvements right through to the end of the line in 1993, it went toe-to-toe with – and ultimately beat – the Vauxhall Cavalier. The Sierra had truly come of age after its most shaky of starts.

Ford Sierra Sapphire

Sierra on the road

Driving a Sierra today serves to show the differences – and similarities – with the Cortina. But fire it up, and the similarities begin to come to the fore – and although the 1.8-litre CVH engine under the bonnet of this one shares nothing with the Cortina’s Kent unit, there’s the same sense of quiet calm, the same excellent driving position, and a desire to get to the motorway and take residence in the outside lane.

Acceleration is much more purposeful, even if the initial feeling of refinement soon wears off as the revs rise. But it’s on the run to the motorway where the Sierra wins you over. The steering is similarly light and full of road feel, and the gearchange is direct and positive, even if a little less mechanical feeling than the Cortina. It’s in corners, where the Sierra really comes alive, combining decent levels of grip and excellent body control, with a soft and well-damped ride. Brakes, too, feel more than capable of keeping things in check.

By the time we hit the motorway, it’s clear that the Sierra is an excellent all-round proposition. Quick enough to be useful, possessing excellent handling, and capable of covering distances in a quiet and comfortable way – just like the Cortina before it. These days, the Sierra’s rarity means that it turns heads, but it took a lot longer to reach classic status than the Cortina did. You can put that down to aerodynamic styling that was years ahead of its time, and still looked contemporary well into the 1990s. It’s a shame that, by the time this was recognised by enthusiasts, most had long since shuffled off this mortal coil.

Mondeo: the not-so-brave-new world

Ford Mondeo
Launched in 1993, the Ford Mondeo was the culmination of a five-year, £3 billion investment led by British Chief Engineer Richard Parry-Jones and has seen total sales of 1,400,000

The Sierra’s failure to continue the Cortina’s domination of the UK charts was a big deal for Ford, prompting a management shake-up and a new attitude across the company. As early as 1985, plans for its replacement were taking shape under the codename CDW27 – and, unlike the European Sierra and the British Cortina before it, this would be a world car, designed to be sold in all of Ford’s territories. The new car would embrace advanced engineering under the skin, including front-wheel drive and, following the Sierra’s sales wobbles, it would feature much more conservative interior and exterior design.

Ford’s Design Studios in California, Cologne, Dearborn and Turin were tasked with creating the best design, but it was the German design that won out. By 1989, the programme was at full speed, with a new generation of 16-valve engines designed to power it, and a thorough test and development programme ensued to ensure that Ford’s new $4 billion model range would be nothing other than the best in class.

When it was launched in April 1993, there would be no shock and awe as there was a decade earlier. Instead, the Mondeo was criticised for its conservative styling. The range was all there though, with saloon, hatchback and estates all available from the outset. All were powered by the new Zetec family of 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre petrol engines as well as the 1.8-litre turbodiesel. For those who wanted a sporting version, a warm 2.0Si would have to do – at least until the V6 turned up in 1995.

Once drivers got behind the wheel, it was clear that the Mondeo was something special. Stung by criticism of the 1990 Escort, Ford had pulled out all the stops to ensure that the Mondeo would be a dynamic masterpiece – and, thanks to the leadership of Richard Parry Jones, this goal was met. Little did we know, the company car era as we knew it was drawing to a close just as the Mondeo began to hit its stride in the mid-1990s.

Ford Mondeo Mk2

Mondeo – a dynamic masterclass

Driving a Mondeo after the Sierra, and the progress has slowed down over that car’s leap from the Cortina. It’s organic to the point of anonymity on the outside, but manages to be lifted by its bright colour and aggressive bodykit – while on the inside, comprehensive instrumentation and figure-hugging seats firmly plant this as a drivers’ car. The driving position and visibility are both good, although it lacks the Sierra’s airiness.

Fire it up and within metres of pulling away, the Mondeo marks itself out as a proper driver’s car, and you can see where Ford’s £3bn development budget was spent. The gearchange is sublime in its smoothness and, although its less mechanically precise than the Cortina’s, it’s better than the once-lauded Sierra.

The steering, too, is wonderful – beautifully weighted, full of feel and direct. Acceleration is punchy, although it needs revs to get its best, with 4000rpm being where the wake-up call happens. A shame it sounds so dull…

Cornering is sublime. It’s a comfortable, well-damped ride, but doesn’t heel over in bends, with very little bodyroll to complain about. Basically, it feels like a modern car – all taut and tightly controlled – probably not what you want in a classic, but certainly impressive. It’s hard not to admire what Ford’s recently-deceased suspension guru Richard Parry-Jones achieved here, and it’s a shame that this most groundbreaking of Fords has been saddled with such forgettable styling.

Seismic shifts in the marketplace

Fleet managers widened their approved car lists, before switching to cash allowances, ushering in the era of the ‘user chooser’. Where once they’d be told they could have a Cortina and like it, now drivers could have Audis, BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes. As brilliant as it was, the Mondeo couldn’t compete.

Even as Tony Blair hailed ‘Mondeo Man’ as New Labour swept into power in 1997, the model had passed its peak. Receiving its first facelift the previous year, it gained the famous ‘Dame Edna’ front-end style that proved challenging for some. But its best years were now behind it. Times were changing fast, and Ford responded by offering bigger and better Mondeos in 2001, 2007 and 2014 after a series of delays. But sales continued to dwindle: in 2020, fewer than 2000 Mondeos were sold in the UK – someway short of the Cortina’s best year (1979), where it sold 194,000.

The writing had been on the wall since the mid-2000s, but it had been mortally wounded by the rise of the SUV as the large family car of choice. And with that – after a run of almost 60 years, Ford’s unbroken line of company car champions had come to an end.

Keith Adams


  1. Great read, although I’ve always struggled with the idea that the MkIII was a ‘considerably larger’ car than its predecessor – it was 7cm shorter according to online stats, albeit the wheelbase was longer. It was also nearly 3 inches shorter in height, albeit 2 inches wider. I always wonder why/how it went down in history as this much bigger car.

      • To be fair Keith, that wheelbase did mean quite a bit larger interior space – combined with the extra width, maybe it did feel a much bigger car inside.

    • It is more a case of perception, on the road thanks to its width and relative low height it does appear to be half a size bigger than both predecessor and along with it the Avenger, Hunter, Marina and Viva. That counted for something in the company car park.

  2. Like many people of a certain age, I have a soft spot for the original Cortina. It arrived at the right time and proved an enduring classic. That it is stll widely used in classic car racing is testament to both it’s efficacy and durability. For me, the Mk2 version somehow missed the mark; it was too bland, though the 1600E was undoubtedly the early pick-of-the-bunch. In Australia, the Cortina Mk3 range had the 2-litre motor or, alternatively, a choice between the 200 cu.in (3.3 litre) or the 250 cu.in (4.1 litre) straight sixes. Unsurprisingly, given it’s torque/power outputs (225 lb.ft @ 2400 rpm/131 hp @ 3750 rpm), the 250 cu.in engine, mated with the Borg-Waner 35 automatic gearbox, proved to be a popular choice for those seeking a mid-sized car. On the other hand, the extra weight affected the handling but, given that Australia has predominantly straight roads – the longest arrow-straight section is 146.6 km on the Eyre Highway, between Balladonia and Caiguna roadhouses in Western Australia – that fact was far less of an issue than it would have been in the UK. Having driven many times (including one time towing the Formula Vee across for a weekend’s racing) between Melbourne and Perth, a distance of 3,400 km each way, I can attest to the advantages of a relaxed long-legged tourer.

    • Early TC brochures refer to the old 1600 crossflow being the base engine, I’ve read a road test of one, and I’ve seen a few in wrecks over the years, but they weren’t common. Aussies never go for the smaller one if a bigger is available! I’m not sure whether the 1600/2000 lineup continued until the sixes were available, or if the 1600 was dropped earlier.

      • Agreed; we always go for one with a decent-sized donk here in Oz; understandable, given our distances! I have the feeling that the 1600 was dropped early, but my memory can’t substantiate that now.
        By the time the Mk V Cortina arrived in Oz (April 1980) the visually-similar but larger XD Falcon had already arrived and the poorly-selling Cortina was dropped in 1982, around the same time as the XE Falcon hit the market.

      • I can’t recall if the Australian TC 1600 continued after the sixes arrived but, in NZ, we had 1300 (dropped after two years) and 1600 OHVs and the 2000 OHC pre the 1974 facelift and the 1600 OHC after, with the 1300 OHV reappearing in 1975, with a slightly better specified base trim this time, as an ‘economy’ variant a couple years after the first oil crisis and the 1974 imposition of an engine size-based sales tax. Word soon got about it got worse mpg than the 2000 unless driven very sympathetically.
        Like Australia, we liked our larger engines and the 2000L company car special (I had one each of Mk3, 4 and 5) was an engine/trim combo not even offered in U.K. where 1600Ls dominated fleet sales.
        We had our cake and ate it, too. Thanks to exports – under the NAFTA free trade agreement (not the North American one) – of Ford NZ made front axle spindles and gearboxes from its transmission and chassis factory, the Kiwi blue oval secured enough import licence for overseas assembled cars to import large quantities of Australian made TDs, predominantly 2.0L sedans and wagons, but also some Ghia sixes, a very few of those with shoehorned-in, Australian made a/c, and other assorted sixes, again predominantly L trim.
        I also learned only relatively recently that, due to a shortage of the usual English made assembly kits, the Mk3 was actually launched in NZ in ‘71 with a batch of Australian built TCs ( I don’t recall seeing any in showrooms).
        Final fun fact: NZ was the last country worldwide to assemble Cortina, stopping sedans in 1983 to be replaced by the Mazda 626 based Telstar and wagons in 1984, succeeded by locally assembled CKD Sierra estates from Britain. The final Cortina kits were sourced from Ford’s Cork plant in Ireland which had a surplus, I understand.

  3. As a member of a Ford family, with four generations working at Dagenham, Dunton and Dearborn, it is a really sad day. However, Ford are retreating to the SUV/truck market in the states, and with so few sales in the rest of the world it is not a surprise the Mondeo/Fusion has been dropped. The car has been an excellent handling, comfortable, well built car for some time but the Ford badge meant it didn’t have the cache in Europe, and in the states it was to little to late against the Japanese/Korean domination in that market and not enough cache to take on the Germans. It is a shame, as I can remember Top Gear recommending it ahead of the Germans when the Mk3 came out.

    What Keith forgot to mention was the Cortina was the car that saved Ford in the UK. It was seen as, John Barber commentate to Motorsport Magazine, “You must assess where motor sport can help in areas where your company is weak. For example, in 1959, Ford had the Tin Lizzie image and young people were buying the Mini”. http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/may-1976/60/john-barber-discusses-his-enthusiasm-for-cars-and. The Ford Consul Classic had failed miserably, and the Cortina was designed to be cheaper, lighter and better. The rest is history. Yes it was not advanced as the AD016, but it was cheap to run and when it went wrong, cheap and easy to repair. It was perfect for the UK market at the right time, and as Lotus proved, simple engineering it may have been but it could easily become a winner without a huge amount of work.

    On a personal note, my favourite of the three named ranges was the MK3 Cortina. Both my grandathers had 3s, as did my dad who had a beautiful 2000E estate which was always my dad’s favourite car.

    • I would agree about Ford UK’s outdated image; one has to remember that in 1962, the year the Cortina was introduced, Ford were still producing the 100E side-valve Popular, complete with three-speed gearbox… That could trace its lineage back to 1932!

  4. Very good story and totally agree about the Mk 3 – it just looks bigger! It’s also my favourite. Used to tow a caravan with a 1.6 Estate and of course in those far off days you steered on the throttle – getting the whole outfit to drift round a roundabout was such a joy! I’m afraid most modern cars just don’t allow us such indulgences.
    End of an era with the Ford range is sad though and hastens us towards the super fast electric soulless, spiritless, characterless, ‘thing’. I guess the biggest ‘downer’ for the Ford was the blue oval – no contest compared with the propeller or four rings to tell our neighbours we’ve made it!

  5. Fantastic read and so sad that Mondeo production is ending in favour of more large fat unnecessary Crossover /SUV’s. Having had much experience of Cortina’s from MK3, 4 to the 80, they gave me much driving pleasure and I always felt they were powerful regardless of engine size.

    My favourites would be the MK3 2000E and later MKIV 2.0 Ghia though the run out versions of the Ghia also nice. Most of my driving was in company Cortina 1.6L Estates in MK3, IV and 80 bodystyle. Good times!

    Although I didn’t drive any MK2 Cortina’s, I always thought they were modern in their time (more so than BMC). The Cortina 1600E is rightfully a classic. I currently own my fourth Focus but unlikely I will buy any Ford Crossover / SUV to follow. RIP Mondeo!

  6. The first fast Ford was the Lotus Cortina, and it started the legend. Most people forget about the ultimate fast Cortinas, the Urens. Jeff Uren created some fabulous fast Cortinas from the Mk2 through to the Mk5. The ultimate Tecalemit versions with 218bhp were as quick as a v12 e-type from 0-60.

  7. Just a remark : the Sierra was designed by Patrick Le Quément who would then join VW and finally Renault from 1987 to 2009 !
    Bye-bye saloons, bye-bye gasoline, things are changing !

  8. The Mark 3 Mondeo was an excellent car that still looks good today and tens of thousands are still running. I shared driving duties on a 400 mile journey and the 1.8 LX we had as a hire car was one of the most relaxing, powerful and well put together cars I’ve ever been in. Also like all Fords, it had an excellent sound system to make the journey even better. Only drawback, my co driver made me pull over and change drivers as twice I’d exceeded 100 mph without realising.

    • I also drove an R reg Mondeo 1.8LX hire car for a couple of days in 1998. It easily exceeded 70mph on a quiet motorway without realising! I agree the 1982 run out Cortina Crusader was also a lovely car… Ghia inside spec and 2 tone paint at a cheaper price. The only Cortina I wasn’t keen on was the MKIV 1.3 litre!

  9. One has to wonder how much longer Ford will make smaller cars like the Fiesta and Focus for the UK/Euro/Asian and Aussie markets, especially as no longer offered in the USA to spread upgrade/development costs.

  10. I have owned a Cortina MK 1, MK 2, MK 3 and MK 4. Estates as well as saloons. Also Sierras and Escorts.Granada as well. All have been superb cars. I currently drive a Mondeo Titanium X 2 litre automatic diesel . It is a superb, trustworthy steed of a car that is a great drive, roomy inside with a substantial boot, super sound system andapowerful driver too. Very disappointed to hear of the demise of the Mondeo as the end of a superior lineage of comfortable and enjoyable family and business workhorses.
    I would simply like to thank Ford for all they have given to me in making my on road life over many years always a pleasurable experience starting with the Cortina MK1. End of a beautiful era. It seems to me that the much vaunted electric car future is a disingenuous marketing ploy to say the least and the reality may be far removed from the vision. Hope you don’ t have to change a battery: https://youtu.be/pfB1XXQN39M

  11. The Cortina was so popular in 1980 that at one stage it was outselling the entire British Leyland range. In 1980, one in seven new cars was a Cortina, and even when the car was axed in 1982, it was still the country’s fourth best selling car. This meant as there were so many Cortinas around, used values were always reasonable and someone looking for a fairly reliable, cheap to own family car had a huge choice from a base 1.3 to a 2.3 Ghia. Then when you went further up the range, you were made to feel special as the interiors were more luxurious. Run out models like the Crusader were real bargains, priced like an L, but with a Gha interior and two tone paint.

  12. Something I first noticed several years ago……you never see any surviving Sierras on the roads now, but you still see old Cortinas driving around. The parent has out-lasted the child.

    • We have two going around in Basildon, one a white gl and the other a blue azure, being used as daily motors still. There is also 1 mk 2 Granada, a mk3 Granada and one Crusader that are seen regularly. Not seen a montego, a passage or a cavalier for long while, though did see a senator the other day in full cd trim. Very nice

  13. I was one of the few who bought a brand new Mondeo in 2021, ST Line. Hugely practical and I really liked the way it looked but the interior was 10 years out of date, it ‘only’ did 45 MPG and just gave the impression Ford had given up developing the car which in part was the case I guess. I think I bought it as my father always had Sierra’s funnily enough back in the day but in truth, time has moved on. Handling was great though!

  14. I always rather liked the facelifted Mark 1 Mondeo, to me it took the bland original and made it much more stylish. Before getting a Mk1 Focus, I considered the far less sensible option of a V6 Mondeo!

    The Mondeo has suffered both from “German badged competition” but also because it ended up getting bigger and bigger, especially when the Mk4 became identical to the US fusion. The Mk1 was 176.4 inches, but the final Mk4 was 191.7, longer than a Scorpio.

  15. I had company Mk3, 4 and 5 2000Ls (export only) in New Zealand and later bought, did up and sold on a base Mk3 pre facelift 1600OHV example, all 100% reliable and very nice to drive. Cortina was much roomier inside than the growing number of Japanese D segment rivals and topped the fleet and private buyer sales charts for several years in the mid to late 1970s.
    The saloon was replaced in 1983 by the Telstar clone of the Mazda 626 in Australasia, Japan and some Asian markets; as there was no wagon, Ford NZ bought up surplus CKD kits from Cork and managed to keep the final versions of the 1600 base and 2000L wagons going until mid-1984 before beginning Sierra estate production. After three Telstar generations and two of the Sierra, the Mondeo was launched as a full import.
    Cortina was certainly one of Dagenham’s top exports to the former colonies; Ford Australia built its own versions, including variants with the straight six. And South African build included pickups and models with the three litre V6.

  16. Cortinas 1 and 2 were better than we thought at the time; Marks 3 and 4 would go into four wheel drift all too easily, and lock up front brakes without offering much pedal feel. The Girling servoes on the Sierra were much better, though the change to 4:1 boost ratio to match the Fiesta was possibly not well judged. The Sierra’s lift off oversteer was disconcerting, but my 2007 Mondeo ST 2.2D goes and handles very well, and does 55+ mpg. the only thing wrong with it is the badge – if you’re a badge snob. Hence the X-type, which was sadly let down by the tendency of the 4x4s to lunch their transfer cases at vast expense. I very much prefer a saloon or estate to a Slow Unwieldy Vehicle.

  17. The changes in car buying trends in recent years has left the Mondeo without a big enough markets.

    Somehow a round 60 years seems fitting for the Cortina – Sierra – Mondeo saga,

  18. The Sierra name only lasted 9 years, compared with 20 for the Cortina and 29 for the Mondeo. Of the three Ford family cars since 1962, this seems to be the one people have least affection for, unless it’s a Cosworth. I have been a passenger in a few Sierras and found the four cylinder cars noisy and low rent. although 2.3 V6 belonging to a local MP was a rapid cruiser and nice in Ghia form.

  19. If you look at the actual figures the Cortina Mark 3 (4261mm) was shorter than the Mark 1 (4274mm). Ford killed the Mondeo themselves by growing it with every generation until it was far too big for most drivers. The final model Mondeo at 4859mm long was bigger than even a Mark 2 Granada at 4720mm.

    The best selling car has hovered around the 4 to 4.2m range since the Cortina took over from the BMC 1100 range. The current top-selling Fiesta (4050mm) is only a little shorter than the Cortina Mark 1 (4274mm)

  20. As mentioned above, the latest Mondeo is huge compared to all previous generations including the Granada and Zephyr/Zodiacs. But there again every car on the road has grown… especially the SUV battalion. I would still prefer a Focus / Mondeo Estate to a crossover / SUV

  21. A workmate, after many years and several BMWs bought a Ford Mondeo, his verdict, 100% satisfied with the Ford, the Mondeo a match for the BMW and a big saving in money, and none of the pretensions of the BMW sales process, and that eye watering options box ticking which whacks up the final price.

  22. We talk about the sad collapse of BL but no-one mentions that the same has happened to Ford UK. A tiny fraction of the original company remains and no Ford vehicle is made here. It shows the utter folly of allowing American cuckoos into our car market. They took market share, which denied British manufacturers sales and development money.

    This wouldn’t have been a problem if Ford was here for the long run but it isn’t. After the UK entered the common market, Ford favoured its German plants and continental facilities over the ones in the UK.

    The blunt reality is, a foreign owned company’s loyalty only extends to the next subsidy payment. Allow our industry to be sold off and go under is and was utter folly.

  23. How Forc have fallen, such a shame. In eighties they had 30% of market and sold nearly 600.000 cars a year in UK.
    In 2021 that was down to 7.5% and only 130.000 cars. That is indeed BL levels of decline. Vauxhall have suffered similar decline to just 5.5% from a peak of 18% in eighties. BL were at 44% peak in early seventies. The companies that still exist from that outfit JLR MINI now have about 7% if you dare to include MG its 9% second only to VW in UK

  24. It’s curious that so far there has been no mention of the original Cortina GT , which along with the Mini Cooper , the VX4/90 and particularly the Cooper S pioneered the small (ish) sporting saloon, and unlike the 1200s which were rough and noisy were really quite refined

  25. We all know the Mondy was being outsold by the ubiquitous BMW 3-Series by the early 2000s. Not that there was anything wrong with it if you’re a user-chooser rep looking to boost your status in the sometimes/generally (delete as appropriate) alpha-male world of field sales then you’re likely to want all your BIK company car tax payments to go on something a bit sexier than a Ford. With falling sales and the continuing growth of the quality Germans plus the SUV revolution I’m guessing Ford couldn’t see enough opportunity in continuing or replacing Mondeo in Europe.

    Meanwhile Ford had announced in 2018 that it was going to stop all its passenger cars in the US, leaving the Ecosport as the entry-level model in a line up of SUVs and trucks. Fiesta and Focus went in 2018, Fusion/Mondeo stopped production in US in July 2020. The only ‘car’ currently listed by Ford in the US is the Mustang (the V8, not the electric one).

  26. The sad thing is the last two generations of Mondeos were just as well made and good to drive as any premium branded cars and looked upmarket. I’m sure the ownership of Jaguar and Volvo in the nineties and noughties rubbed off on lesser Fords as the cars no longer felt downmarket, and refinement and build quality on the Focus was light years ahead of the noisy and cheap looking nineties Escorts.

  27. Fashion fashion.. well, with people having grown to fat slobs with sky high BMI, how do you get them decently in their cars?
    Let the car grow in BMI too and more importantly, put the car on stilettoes, they will be less of a joke getting in (and out) of their cars… just take a look at the ones who still get out of their cars to get their big max or other US franchised fa(s)t food….better do that out of a Joke than bini…
    By the end of this decade, there will be no saloon or hatchback left, high heeled execs do not hesitate to be chauffeur driven in Range Rover nowadays!!!

  28. I still think the MKIV Cortina in Ghia trim is one of the best looking cars ever. Yesterday I saw a new Mustang electric 5 door (pig ugly IMHO). Waste of the historic Mustang nameplate. Showing my age when I prefer traditional saloons, Estates & Hatchbacks.

    • Can’t be long I think. Might limp on as a badge engineered 508 if there is any proven demand, but I doubt it has long left.

      • And even the 508 became a hatchback to try and improve sales, while the C5X has “crossover elements”

        It’s only sales in China which seem to be keeping this class alive, hence the C5X and DS9 solely being made there

      • The Insignia is not listed in the Vauxhall UK website as a new car, only used, I assume the Insignia has been dropped from the range for sale, Skoda have the Octavia saloon and estate car in the current range, having ridden in an Octavia, I formed the opinion it is a very good car, the entry level Octavias are about £24000, a very competitive price, a lot of car for the money, undercutting the Peugeot 508 by £10000

  29. Ford owned the company car market in the late seventies and early eighties, which explains their huge market share as company car sales accounted for about 40% of new car sales. Fleet managers wanted simple cars that could pound a motorway all day, return 30 mpg, were easy to fix and were easy to sell at trade in time, Fords ticked all these boxes. Hydragas suspension, five speed transmissions and fwd, hallmarks of cars like the Austin Maxi, were seen as potentially troublesome and expensive to repair, and Ford’s simple engineering was seen as safer. Also the Mark 5 Cortina was quite a good looking car, particularly with metallic paint,

  30. @ Glenn – I go along with that. Also Ford’s huge dealer network meant that servicing & repairs were available in most small towns as well. The size of their range product covered all requirements. This current obsession with fat high SUV / Crossover types is beyond me.

    • One explanation for the obsession with SUV/Crossover types may be that the majority of those who drive such things aren’t old enough to remember the days of traditional saloons and hatchbacks. They simply don’t know that such a vehicle is possible – or sensible.

      • They you have the elderly, who find that a small crossover is ideal for ferrying the grandchildren with all their impedimenta. Easier to get in and out than a lower sedan, and a smaller footprint to manoeuvre into ever-tighter car parks. While a sedan or hatch may be much more fun to drive on the right road, all too often driving conditions don’t permit you to enjoy that chassis superiority.

    • Ford, just as much as British Leyland, had dealers almost everywhere in the seventies and eighties. In Cumbria the main dealership with three plate glass showrooms was CountyGarage( two of these showrooms are now owned by Arnold Clark), where most of the fleet trade was carried out, but there were also smaller dealerships in places like Brampton which mainly catered to private buyers, but would most likely be used by local company car drivers who needed a service or unexpected repair. Also having such a big dealer network and a huge parts back up meant Fords were cheap and easy to repair. another bonus for fleet managers.
      However, come the eighties and Vauxhall, which had a large dealer network as well, started to muscle in on Ford with the Mark 2 Cavalier, which was a better car to drive than the Cortina and Sierra, was more economical, and offered everything from a 1.3 base model to a very nice 1.8 SRi.

      • Indeed the Cavalier MK2 was a serious challenger to the outgoing Cortina and Sierra. Particularly the 1.6 GLS & 1.8 SRi versions. Those were the days…

  31. A few years back a NZ motoring journalist described the Mondeo as 90% as good as the equivalent Audi at half the price (the pricing was the case in NZ).

    • “Mondeo 90% of an Audi and 50% of the price”, I will add the Skoda Octavia to the summary, I do not own an Octavia, but I have ridden as a taxi passenger in them, the combination of interior space/legroom, their abilty to run at motorways speeds with ease and comfort, cab drivers tell me they are reliable and trouble-free, and they cost around £25000 new, what is the benefit of spending £40000+ on a Mercedes, very little as I see

      • @ cyclist, being owned by Volkswagen Audi has seen Skoda come on massively and in reliablility surveys, they are always near the top. I have owned two Fabias and had no trouble with them and the quality of the interior, the excellent suspension and quietness of the engine makes the Fabia feel more like premium badged car.. Mine is the 60 hp 1 litre model, but it will cruise happily all day at 70-80 mph, over 60 mpg ins possible on a long journey, and it only feels underpowered with two passengers and luggage.

      • Wife and I owned a 2019 Octavia VRS and a 2020 Mondeo ST Line at the same time. The Mondeo was a league above the Octavia in all ways, Octavia great as a Taxi as you refer, very spacious but it felt fairly ‘cheap’ which to be fair, it was I guess. People seem to love the VRS versions but to me, it was completely characterless hence after 6 months it went!

          • I have had four Octavia’s, one private and three as company cars. The three company cars all had significant faults. The first was returned under duty of care as it kept doing emergency stops after detecting imaginary obstacles. The second had a £1K panoramic roof that had a motor fail after one week, and then six visits to a dealer to try and make it open and shut properly, and they never succeeded. The third was a 1.5TSi eco, with the infamous ‘kangarooing’ and low starting torque issue. It was an utter pig. Skoda did a software update which helped by about 10%. It was dangerous at times as I never knew when I pulled out if it would go or bog down. Shame as the fuel economy was amazing for a petrol, once got 66MPG over 200 slow motorway smiles The Octavia is comfortable, spacious and well conceived, but also noisy (road noise)and unreliable in my experience. I wouldn’t have another and in fact didn’t when the last came up for replacement.

  32. I also believe that the change in the style of car is also down to a change in how we view our cars. Looking back to the ’70’s when I grew up in our middle class street I think most homes were one car families. It was the Dad that chose the car usually down to brand loyalty or company car policy. We had Maxis which my Dad bought from his Dad once they were two years old (GLC pensions must have been fantastic) and my neighbour, Cortinas as his company cars including a fantastic metallic brown Cortina mk4 1.6 GL.
    If I look down my street now every house has at least two cars. People don’t use their cars in the way they did when the saloon was king.
    I recently saw the first Morse episode. In it the villain runs an electronics company and has a 230 Mercedes but his wife drives a Metro. Now they would both have Range Rovers or X5s.
    I hate the SUV but it seems this is the way car design wants us to go.
    RIP Saloons

    • Yes, the Cortina MKIV in metallic brown (and Ghia trim) looked good in those days. Today’s Skoda’s are well above the quality level they used to be. A neighbour has a Scala / 21 reg and it looks the sort of car I would now consider in future.

  33. Ford is just another brand to today’s car owner and I think the love affair with German brands that started in the eighties has really hit Ford. Even the lowliest company car driver, who would accept a base model Cortina without question as it was new and free, will now demand an Audi A3 as all his neighbours buy German and Ford is too common.

    • Ford’s time for being successful and fashionable probably peaked in the 80s/early 90s, which is now more than 30 years ago.

      Many of today’s drivers weren’t even born then (or were nothing more than kids) so they will have no idea of what Ford were back then. To them, Ford is something from the past, and things have moved on – for better or worse.

      • To me, the Cortina was the car anyone looking for an honest recent used car would always consider. 40 years ago someone wanting a family car that anyone could fix and which was quite affordable would be off to his local Ford dealer to check out some Cortina 1.6Ls that a fleet manager had traded in. However, the rise of the Vauxhall Cavalier and the Cortina’s replacement with the controversial Sierra meant Cortina man might be looking at a used Cavalier next time, which had matured into a very good car and better than the Sierra. Then the rising affluence of the time meant cars such as the Audi 80 and basic BMW 3 series might be tempting if the buyer was willing to borrow some more.

  34. My first company cars were Escort’s (1.3L, 1.3 Pop and 1.4LX). True they were basic transport that did the job and a free perk / tool. These days everyone seems to want Audi’s, Bimmer’s and Merc’s (all particularly in Crossover SUV versions.) Sorry, I don’t find these offerings exciting anymore.

  35. Looks like Ford is exiting the small family car and supermin class as the Fiesta and Focus are soon to be axed. I believe the company now sees its future in crossovers, SUvs and the Ranger pick up truck, which has developed a big following among utility companies. Also Ford is making far more from its van range than cars in Europe, so possibly there isn’t much to be made from the Fiesta when the numerous versions of the Transit are added together.

    • I think the Focus ceases production by end 2024, so unlikely I will be buying another Ford after that? Shame. So, Perhaps a Golf or Skoda Scala…

  36. The Mondeo of course isn’t dead! – A new model has just gone on sale in China, based on the same C2 platform used by the current Focus, Kuga and others. Looks good to, but sadly not for Europe.

  37. Visiting the UK from Sweden this spring I was shocked at the state of the roads, many parts of Coventry looking like the roads I saw in the former Soviet Union in the 90s (admittedly Coventry’s city centre has been emulating the Soviet look for many decades) and found myself steering around potholes on the M1. So I can see the appeal of something with good ground clearance and fat alloy protecting tyres for today’s roads.

  38. Interesting that you should make the comparison of Coventry with the Soviet Union. Back in 1957/8 a Soviet Education Delegation toured the then-new Whitley Abbey Comprehensive School; I’m sure that they felt quite at home with the architectural style, though the choice of construction materials might have seemed unusual to them.

  39. I can say when I left Whitley Abbey Comprehensive School in 1983 its condition was very much inline with what I saw in the former Soviet Union in the 90s. It must have looked quite smart in 1958, with its lake and an arched bridge over the lake that the architect decided not to put guard rails on as it compromised the lines (what could possibly go wrong). I wonder how he would have felt about the holes that were kicked in the flimsy plasterboard walls or lake needing to be drained after vandilised heating oil tanks emptied their contents into it.

    • I attended a similar post war secondary school that had a music room shaped like a pyramid, overhead covered walkways between buildings, a purpose built language lab and a futuristic looking sixth form block. Looked excellent when it opened in 1968 to replace an antiquated town centre grammar school, but the whole school was built in a hurry with plenty of cost cutting and by the early eighties, some of the windows were completely rotten and had to be replaced and the roof leaked. No surprises, the school has since been demolished as parts of it were in a dangerous condition.

    • I’m saddened to hear your description of the school in 1983. The bridge did originally have white-painted tubular metal guard rails, topped with varnished wood. The lake, which long pre-dated the school, had nesting swans, moorhens and coots; there was also a fishing club and a school kayak. Initially there were three Houses – Stoneleigh, Warwick & Kenilworth – with Grove and Hood being added in 1957/8, as was the gymnasium and the arts/craft block. As you say, the actual fabric of the school was very flimsy, clearly built to a very tight budget.

  40. Whilst the market has moved against large non-premium saloons in recent years a chunk of blame for the Mondeos demise in European markets is that the current MK4 model just isnt very good. Launched as a Mondeo in Europe in 2014 it had already existed for 3 years as the Ford Fusion in other markets so was already long in the tooth. Optimised for US rental car markets its huge size, bland styling, cheap and nasty interior and soggy handling made it unpopular in sophisticated European markets and a poor relation to the original all conquering Richard Parry Jones Mondeo of 1993.

  41. Looking at all the pictures here, I still prefer the Cortina MK’s 2,3,4 & 5 (80), though perhaps that’s because I have experience of those rather than Sierra’s and Mondeo’s.

  42. Todays average VW group car is shockingly good. I continue to be tickled pink with my Skoda which is still thundering on after 260k miles with every last bit of electrics doing its job.

  43. I’ve had two Skodas and none have had any problems, although they were bought from new and changed at 3-4 years old. The best people to ask about Skodas are taxi drivers who mostly swear by the Octavia and Superb and can drive 20,000 miles a year with few issues. Also the company is now doing well in the vital SUV market with the Kamiq and Enyaq.
    Only problem for me with my SKodas is Cumbria only has one dealer, after Border Cars went bankrupt. This means a two hour round trip to have the car serviced, but the standard of customer care at Telfords is excellent, and many people from west Cumbria who bought Skodas from Border Cars have transferred happily to Telfords in Carlisle.

  44. Production of thé fiesta has ceased in Europe this month as well….fous Will be next for sure!

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