Ford Corsair

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Ford Corsair

1963 - 1970
United Kingdom
1.5 Kent L4 and V4
1663cc / 1999cc V4
45 kW + (L4)
4-speed man.
Top Speed:
95 mph (V4 2.0)
Number Built:
3 star
Ford Corsair
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3


Introduced at the 1963 London Motor Show, the Corsair was one of the four model Consul range, and shared many of its mechanical components with the Cortina, Classic and Capri.

The Corsair had unusual and quite bold styling for its day, with a sharp horizontal V-shaped crease at the very front of the car into which round headlights were inset. This gave the car an apparently aerodynamic shape.

The jet-like styling extended to the rear where sharply pointed vertical light clusters hinted at fins. The overall styling was clearly inspired by the early 1960's Ford Thunderbird, though in transferring the look to a British family car, the overall effect was something of an acquired taste.

With the vinyl roofed Corsair 2000E Ford attempted to compete on price half a class up in the category dominated (in the UK) by the Rover 2000 and Triumph 2000.The car was initially offered with the larger 60 bhp (45 kW), single carburettor, 1.5 Litre Kent engine thatt was also used in the smaller Ford Cortina, in standard and GT form.

In 1964 twins Tony and Michael Brookes' team in a Kent engined (straight four) Corsair GT set 13 World Speed records at Monza in Italy averaging over 100 mph (160 km/h) for 15,000 miles (24,000 km) in the under 1500 cc class.

The range was revised in 1965, adopting new V4 engines some enthusiasts claim spoiled rather than enhanced the car, as it had an out of balance couple, making it rough at idle and coarse on the road. This was available in 1663 cc form at first, but later in 1966, a larger 2.0 litre version was offered.

The Car That Is Seen But Not Heard

The original claim made by the Ford Marketing department for the V4 was "The Car That Is Seen But Not Heard", which was gilding the lily considerably.  This was soon replaced with the more appropriate "I've got a V in my bonnet".

Ford Corvair V4
The Corsair V4 was not as quiet as the Ford Marketing Department would have had you believe...
A wagon/estate version by Abbott was added to the range on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show in March 1966 and, in 1967, the Corsair underwent the Executive treatment like its smaller Cortina sibling, giving the 2000E model with de-chromed flanks, which necessitated non styled-in door handles, Rostyle wheels, a vinyl roof and upgraded cabin fittings.

The 2000E, priced at GBP£ 1,008 in 1967, was positioned as a cut price alternative to the Rover 2000, the introduction of which had effectively defined a new market segment for four cylinder executive sedans in the UK three years earlier: the Corsair 2000E comfortably undercut the GBP£ 1,357 Rover 2000 and, indeed, the less ambitiously priced Humber Sceptre then retailing at an advertised GBP£ 1,047.

The Corsair's performance was underwhelming, with a top speed in its 2.0 L V4 version of about 95 mph (153 km/h), not much faster than the original 1500GT version of 1964.

While enthusiasts sought increased performance, a popular story circulated that if the car were driven at speeds over 80 mph (129 km/h), its wedge-shaped nose would generate sufficient lift to make the vehicle dangerously unstable.

It is more than likely this story is an urban myth. Indeed, the myth was seemingly laid to rest when Corsair set World records at Monza, running at 100 mph (160 km/h) for hour upon hour without the slightest apparent effect.

The Corsair was replaced by the Mk 3 Cortina in 1970, at which time the enlarged Cortina became Ford's midsized car, and a new smaller model, the Escort filled in the size below. The new Ford Capri took on the performance and sporty aspirations of the company.

Over its six-year production, 310,000 Corsairs were built. There was also a convertible version built by Crayford, which is now very rare and highly sought after as a classic. Two-door Corsair saloons are also rare, being only briefly available in the UK, although two-door production continued for some export markets.

Ford Corsair 2000E

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Ford Europe Specifications
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