Ford Cortina GT500

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Ford Cortina GT500

Ford Cortina GT500

Ford Cortina GT500

4 cyl.
98 bhp @ 6000 rpm
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
103.6 mph
Number Built:
5 star
Ford Cortina GT500
Ford Cortina GT500
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5


A car seldom remembered these days, except perhaps for the Cortina aficionados, is the wonderful Cortina GT500. The brainchild of Harry Firth, the GT500 was manufactured by Ford Australia to satisfy homologation rules to allow it to race in  the Armstrong 500.

The Lotus-Cortina would have fitted the bill perfectly, however as the rules were at the time, 250 would have needed to have been imported to allow it to qualify.

The GT500 was a strictly local affair, the rules stipulating that only 100 needed to be built. The donor unit was the GT 1500, Firth then adding a new cam, reshaping the combustion chamber, raising the compression to 9.5:1.

The flywheel was lightened, the head modified, even the little end bearings came in for revision to allow better reliability at high engine revs (with all of these modifications, the engine could spin out to 7000+ rpm).

The biggest competition the Cortina GT500 faced at the Mount came from the BMC Mini, however with some additional cunning from Firth, the GT500 ended up with a huge advantage.

An auxiliary 8.5 litre fuel tank was added to the Cortina, located immediately behind the rear window. It even had it’s own separate filler, allowing the GT500’s twin tanks to be filled simultaneously, reducing any required pit time.

To keep the front disc brakes cool, large air scoops were added under the front bumper. Unfortunately this had the adverse affect of also permitting copious amounts of water to hit the brakes in wet conditions.

And so dominant was the Cortina GT 500 that that homologation rules were changed, lifting the minimum number of locally manufactured cars to match that for imported models, 250.

The time of the Cortina’s dominance at the mount was coming to an end, making way for the legendary Falcon GT’s models to come.

1965 Armstrong 500 Cortina GT500 Placings
1st Ford Cortina GT500
2nd Ford Cortina GT500
3rd Morris Cooper "S"
Class A (Cars up to £920):
1st Ford Cortina 220
2nd Ford Cortina 220
3rd Ford Cortina 220
Class B (Cars £920 to £1020):
1st Ford Cortina 240
2nd Toyota Corona
3rd Toyota Corona
Class C (Cars £1021 to £1300):
1st Morris Cooper "S"
2nd Morris Cooper "S"
3rd Morris Cooper "S"
Class C (Cars £1301 to £2000):
1st Ford Cortina GT500
2nd Ford Cortina GT500
3rd Ford Cortina GT500
Time taken for 500 miles by winning Cortina 7 hours, 16 minutes and 45 seconds. Fastest lap time by Cortina 3 minutes, 13.6 seconds. Fastest speed for Cortina 120 mph.

Ford Build The Most Publicly Proven Cars In Australia

taken from original sales folder for the GT500, 1965

It has indeed turned out to be the "best year yet to go Ford" - "The best year yet to sell Ford". Because, this year, Ford have proven publicly (more than any other Australian automotive manufacturer ever has) that their products have no equals in their respective classes for power, performance, stamina, strength, reliability, braking ability and roadability.

An outstanding example of demonstration in full public glare was the 70,000 Mile Durability-Run in May, when the Falcon proved its capabilities with the whole of Australia looking on. And, in the process, demonstrated achievements as yet unmatched by any other family sedan in Australia.

When the Armstrong 500 came along, it was Cortina's turn. The event has always been tailor-made for the Cortina/Morris Cooper/Triumph class of car.

Because of this, Ford decided the 1965 "Armstrong" was a unique opportunity to prove in public, not only that the Cortina could achieve "the impossible" (the "hat-trick")...but that, in addition, the Cortina's could win classes across the board. The result spedaks for itself.

And the reasons why Ford have entered into, and held, public performance tests for their products is important: to learn from this experience how to improve even further the performance, dependability, and safety of its products.

Nothing tests a car like competitive-type events. And Ford's record this year has proved conculsively that "ford-built" means "Better Built".

Great Sales Story

Cortina's outstanding wins in the 1965 Armstrong 500 again provide you with an enviable selling story for your prospects - particularly those in today's youth market, which is both performance-conscious and large in number.

Here Are the Points To Sell

1. The whole of the Cortina range is basically the same, in design and engineering, as the Cortina GT500.

2. Modifications to the GT500 are not made to a degree where the inherent qualties of Cortina are changed. (Proof of this is the fact that the 220's handled, cornered and braked with the same high degree of efficiency as the GT500's - even finishing ahed of 2 of them.

3. To the prospect who may be considering Viva, Morris Mini and Morris Mini Deluxe, VW (not even entered this year after last year's poor showing), and the Japanese Bellet and Corona, you can offer them: (a) better performance (b) more room (c) unsurpassed economy, and (d) lower-cost, fixed price parts and servicing, at (e) a fully competitive price.

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Also see:

Ford Cortina GT500 Technical Specifications
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Posted Recently
I've read other reviews where the author blamed wheels,tyres & brakes on the eh's not winning in 64.bottom line is, the cortinas dominated world wide for a number of years.i remember holden beating their bags over toranas beating gt falcons that used the wrong brake pads & tyres that handed victory to holden, but the cortinas beat bigger opposition too.
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