Ford Consul Cortina Mk.I
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
In the late 1950’s it was apparent that the aging Anglia 105E
would no longer be able to maintain it’s market share, and an all new car would be needed to help Ford compete against the likes of the Vauxhall Victor
and Hillman Minx. The car was code-named “The Archbishop”, the brief to build a car that would take Ford to the number #1 position in the sales charts in the small car segment.
And to do that, the engineers knew that they would have to keep the costs down, while ensuring the new car was a lively performer (particularly given the competition now included the BMC Mini. It is testament to the ingenuity in the Cortina’s original design that some 15% of the body weight was saved over the outgoing Anglia, and it used 20% fewer body parts. And of course the usual means of keeping costs down, using the parts-bin from other cars, was also used.
The styling was completed in a short 9 months, although the rear tail light set-up took some time to finalise, with Detroit now favouring a rounded design. Next, Ford needed to come up with a new name for the Archbishop, the inspiration coming from the 1956 Winter Olympics, which were held in the Italian winter resort 'Cortina di Ampezzo'.
The Mark I Cortina
Production of the Mk.I started in June 1962
, and was launched in the UK in September the same year, where it was originally known as the ‘Consul Cortina’. Powering them was the familiar Kent 1000cc engine carried over from the Anglia, although the engine had been stroked to 1198 cc. It was an oversquare design, reducing piston
travel per revolution, cutting down on wear, allowing higher revs, and able to be made relatively smaller and lighter.
There were two models on offer, the Standard and Deluxe, the two door version being joined by the 4 door in October 1962. The Standard was a pretty utilitarian affair, featuring only a simple painted grille and headlamp garnish. Much more attractive was the Deluxe, and as it was only a little more expensive this is the car most Cortina buyers opted for.
In January 1963
Ford released the Super Deluxe in both two and four-door iterations. They also released the 1500cc (1498cc) engine as an option, although it was standard fitment to the Super Deluxe. The 1500cc engine featured a 5 bearing crankshaft, as opposed to the 1200's three bearings. The design was typical of the time, traditional and well liked by the mechanics. The 4-speed gear shift was floor mounted, there was a live rear axle and leaf springs
, and the steering
was a recirculating ball system.
The Cortina "Woody" Wagons
In May 1963
Ford added to the successful Cortina range two attractive station wagons with extraordinary carrying capacity. Each had four doors and a single-piece lift-up tailgate which made loading easy and gave protection from rain while loading and unloading The deluxe has single colour or two-tone exterior finish and a 1200cc three-bearing engine. The 1500cc five-bearing engine was optional at extra cost. The Super had simulated wood panels along the sides and across the rear panel in a special material called DI-NOC specially imported from the US. The Cortina “Woody” had the 1500cc five-bearing engine as standard equipment.
With two bench seats for five persons in use there was a rear floor area of 12.5 sq ft or a total baggage volume of 27 cu ft. With the rear seat folded away there was a total floor area for baggage of 21.5 sq ft or a total usable volume of 56 cu ft. A particularly good feature was the total length of the load space available when the rear seat was folded flat - 77.5 in. Thus there was sleeping area for two six foot people. Headroom for passengers in the rear seat was 35 in and the total hip room between doors was 54 in. The rear floor was finished in body colour and galvanised for protection against rust. The spare wheel carried under the floor was in a special cradle and was lowered by a winch operated by the wheel-brace without disturbing the luggage. Height from rear floor to roof at the loading point was 31 in.
The deluxe with 1200cc engine, developing 53 bhp SAE, had separate front seats and a floor gear change. Bench front seat and steering column shift were optional at extra cost. Axle ratio was 4.44 to 1. Maximum speed was 76 mph and touring fuel consumption was 35mpg. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph was said to take 25 sec. The Super with 1500cc engine developing 64 bhp SAE was claimed to do 82 mph with touring fuel consumption of 32 mpg and go from 0 to 60 mph 20.5 sec. The Super had bench seat and steering column shift. Buckets and floor shift were optional. Axle ratio on Super (and on de luxe with 1500cc engine) was 3.9 to 1 with option of 4.1 to 1. Both models had drum brakes
9 in by 11 in front, 8 in by 11 in rear. Hand brake was floor mounted with bucket seats, under facia with bench seat. Tyres were 6.00 by 13 six-ply.
Both models had four speed gear boxes fully synchronised Interior pile was in PVC and floor covering was moulded rubber on deluxe, pile carpets on Super. Heater, cigarette lighter, windscreen washer and vanity mirror on passenger's visor were standard on Super, optional on de luxe. Rear seat cushions were foam rubber. Instrument panel was padded. Grouped in front of the driver were the speedometer
, odometer, fuel gauge plus warning lights for main beam, temperature, oil pressure and turn indicators. In front of the passengers was a lidded glove box.
The Automatic Cortina
In December 1963
Ford released the Borg-Warner automatic, it being available as an option on any cars fitted with the 1500cc engine, excluding of course the GT. The following year Ford integrated flow-through ventilation, this necessitating a complete re-design of the dash. And, in keeping up with the offerings from the Japanese competition, a heater and windscreen washer system became standard kit on all models excluding the Standard.
the word ‘Consul’ was dropped, soon after the Standard model being discontinued. The production run would finish in September 1965
, with the remainder being sold until September 1966
. By that time, over 1,000,000 Cortina’s had been manufactured. Australian Cortina’s were designated the 220 (1200 2-door), 240 (1500 2-door), 440 (1500 4-door) and GT. In 1965
there was also a GT 500 manufactured, it being homologation special GT designed for the 1965 Armstrong 500