News : Ford Cortina’s 50th celebrated at Goodwood

Ford Cortina at the Goodwood Revival (Adam Beresford)
Ford Cortina at the Goodwood Revival (Adam Beresford)

This weekend the world’s most popular historic race meeting, the Goodwood Revival, will celebrate 50 years of the Ford Cortina with a display of some rare Mark I models outside the RAC Earls Court exhibition. The Cortina was Britain’s best-selling car for 10 of the 20 years it was on sale and laid the foundation for later generations of successful Ford family cars.  A total of 2.8m Cortinas were sold in the UK, from launch in 1962.

A white and green 1965 Lotus Cortina will star on the Ford stand in the RAC Earls Court exhibition alongside a 1953 Ford Prefect. The Cortina line-up at Revival also includes a Crayford Convertible, Goodwood’s ‘Glamcabs’, and a unique Cortina design project – the Saxon coupe. In addition, two Ford GT40 course cars will be in action throughout the weekend.  These two cars have always belonged to Ford: a 1969 road-going GT40 MK III and a 1964 GT40 MK I race car bodied in the style of the 1966 Le Mans race winner.

Cortina in Motor sport

First in rallying, then in saloon car racing, the Cortina immediately punched above its weight in motorsport. Formula 1 World Champion Jim Clark used a Lotus-Cortina to win the British Saloon Car Championship in 1964 and a team of factory-prepared Cortina GTs also dominated the world’s most demanding rally – the East African Safari – in the same year.

In motor racing the 1558cc, twin-cam engined, Lotus-Cortina showed that the use of a powerful engine, strong but lightweight construction and driver-friendly handling could be a winning combination. Lotus Cortinas won scores of races – not only in Britain, but in Europe and in North America – and on the rare occasions when they were beaten it was invariably by 4.7-litre or even 7.0-litre V8 engined cars which also carried a Ford badge.

Even before the Lotus-Cortina arrived on the track, the Cortina GT was a race-winning car, not only in Britain (where Jack Sears won the British Championship) but in the prestigious 12 Hour race at Marlboro in the USA. In its first full season, 1964, not only did Jim Clark’s Team Lotus win the British Championship, but Sir John Whitmore’s Alan Mann Racing example won five events in Europe.

Keith Adams
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  1. A fitting tribute to the Cortina MK1. These cars were well out of production before I started driving but their reputation is well earned and documented.

    I drove a variety of later Cortina’s (mainly MK3, 4 & 5). Four of my favourites would be the Lotus Cortina MK2 and 1600E, followed by the MK3 2000E and MK4 2000Ghia.

  2. Well ADO16s were treated to badge engineering MG style & it is, of course, also the 50th anniversary of the launch of the iconic MGB so perhaps MG Motor would seize upon the marketing opportunity!

  3. #4 I know what you mean, I remember distinctly the first time I saw a fwd escort: location, time, like yesterday…. Where did it all go???

  4. @10 Steve… I agree in any case about “time going so fast”. I think as we get older ourselves the years speed up! Driving the last Cortinas I did seems like only a decade ago but was in 1986.

  5. Ah the Mk1 Tina, complete with those infamous tail lights. Glamorous name, unusual launch down a bobsled run, and a serious sporting pedigree. Wasn’t therte a burgundy 4 door in that naff C4 soap Brookside too?

  6. @7:

    I’m slightly ashamed that I should actually know the answer to this, but:

    It was a Mk1 “Lotus Cortina” and a Mk2 “Cortina Lotus”.

    Anorak moment passed! 😉

  7. No, the anorak moment has not passed….

    “Glamcabs” were early Mk1 Cortinas, not the later style of Mk1. How could they have made such a hideous and obvious error?!!

    More tablets please nurse!

  8. Carry On Cabby used some of the pre-production Mk1 Cortinas leant by Ford.

    A smart more publicitywise, even if some were 2 door saloons.

  9. My family had two 1600Es and these were the BMW 3 series of their day, a sporting, well equipped small saloon that especially looked the part with a vinyl roof, sports wheels and spotlights.

  10. @5 Good God! This, Mike, really is an example of ‘where has the time gone?’. 30 years since the Crusader. Can’t believe it!!

  11. Goodwood have done the ‘Glamcabs’ thing to death now, assume they still need to get the value out of their stock of Mk1 Cortys? When will get get some sectioned Mk3 Zephyr 6’s in and do a Z Cars recreation 🙂

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