Ford Consul Cortina Estate

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Ford Consul Cortina Estate

Ford Cortina

Ford Consul-Cortina Estate / Wagon

1962 - 1966
United Kingdom
4 cyl. Kent
48.5 bhp
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
78 mph
Number Built:
3 star
Ford Consul-Cortina Estate / Wagon
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3

Economical, Well Built and Popular

The Estate Wagon version of the Consul-Cortina was very popular at release - and for good reason - it was an exceptionally good and well packaged car. It was economical too, with an overall fuel consumption figure of around 20 mpg, rising to around 25 on the open highway, and around 18 mpg in city traffic. And unlike the GT, it ran on the cheaper regular fuel while the GT needed premium. It was a willing performer too – not near the performance of the GT – but enough to make it a pleasant drive and ensure you could keep up with traffic around-town traffic. Unfortunately, however, it was out of its element on the open road.

The transmission on the wagon was direct, which strangely made it a little better than that fitted to the GT, which needed a linkage to enable its placement in the centre console. The direct-acting shift lever allowed quick, smooth, positive shifts. The overall ratios are well spaced and allowed the driver to take full advantage of the engine's torque and horsepower curves. The balk-ring synchromesh was unbeatable, being fairly quiet, with just a slight hint of gear whine at high cruising speeds.

The brakes were only average, however, being drums to all 4 wheels. These did a reasonable job of pulling up the Cortina, and remained reasonably fade resistant, but they would be considered pretty poor by todays standards. It was a shame that Ford chose to only fit the disc/drum setup to the GT. Road testers of the time noted a slight amount of sponginess in the wagon's brake pedal after a little punishment, which meant the brakes were hot but otherwise okay.

On the Road

During 60-mph panic stops the wagon's rear wheels would tend to judder as you approached the point of lock-up. Fortunately, the brakes gave plenty of warning before they did lock, so you knew never to exceeded that point. A less experienced driver may not have realised the warning signs, and if you let the rear wheels lock and they did start to judder, you would have little or no control over the car. The handbrake was located between the front seats.

The basic engine was, at the time, recognised as one of the more advanced in-line Fours then in production. It used a considerably over-square design, the bore was quite large in relation to the stroke. The five-main-bearing crankshaft was extremely stiff, which greatly improved overall reliability. And on the Estate you could option, at no extra cost, a 4.1–to–1 rear axle in place of the standard 3.9 to 1. The engine remained smooth through its entire rpm range too. There was a 6000 rpm red line, but brief excursions past that were possible, and the engines would do this quite willingly. Because of its short stroke, low-end torque was on the lazy side, so top-gear performance between 25-30 mph was sluggish, and third gear was best used.

Suspension wise, the Cortina Estate used conventional, semi-elliptic springs at the rear, along with a rigid axle and lever units. Front suspension was of the McPherson strut type. This had a single lower arm (forged) in conjunction with a leading arm stabiliser strut for positive laterai location. No upper arm, as such, was used. The spindle was part of a large tubular upright strut that was also the shock absorber. A high-mounted coil spring encircled the strut.

Behind the Wheel

The ride was pretty good for a short-wheelbase car. There was very little of the pitching or harshness usually found in a car of this size. There was of course some basic understeer on slow corners, but nothing excessive. Body lean was slight even under extreme cornering loads thanks to Fords use of an anti-roll bar at the front. Like the rest of the Cortina range, the Estate demonstrated very predictable handling behaviour. The quality of coachwork showed a high degree of quality control. As Ford rightly pointed out to journalists, no lead was used anywhere in the body. The panels either fitted as they should or they were discarded. The same degree of quality was evident in the interiors, the Estate having a two-tone material and rubber floor-mats.

The individual front seats were well padded and provided good support. The seat backs in the wagon had contour to them, and many felt they were even better than those fitted to the GT. Whatever the case, they were comfortable and fine for children or adults provided the journey was not too long. Seat adjustment was fairly limited, but leg room was adequate. Instruments consisted of a speedo, fuel level and temperature gauges, with warning lights for oil and generator. Most of the controls and levers were within easy reach of the driver, except for the cigarette lighter, which was too far to the right. A steering post quadrant housed the horn button, headlight switch, and turn indicator lever. Estates offered the option of fake wood side and tailgate trim, aping American-style estates, for a short time.

The Mark 1a Consul-Cortina

There were two main variations of the Mark 1. The Mark 1a possessed elliptical front side-lights, whereas the Mark 1b had a re-designed front grill incorporating the squarer side-lights. Advertising of the revised version, which appeared at the London Motor Show in October 1964, made much of the newly introduced "Aeroflow" through-flow ventilation, evidenced by the extractor vents on the rear pillars. A subsequent test on a warm day involving the four different Cortina models manufactured between 1964 and 1979 determined that the air delivery from the simple eye-ball outlets on the 1964 Mark I Cortina was actually greater than that on the Mark II, the Mark III or the Mark IV.

The dashboard, instruments and controls were revised, for a the second time, having already been reworked in October 1963 when round instruments replaced the strip speedometer with which the car had been launched: twelve years later, however, the painted steel dashboard, its "knobs scattered all over the place and its heater controls stuck underneath as a very obvious afterthought" on the 1964 Mark I Cortina was felt to have aged much less well than the car's ventilation system. It was also in 1964 that front disc brakes became standard across the range.
Consul-Cortina GT

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Also see:

Ford Consul Cortina Mk.I Technical Specifications
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