Ford Cortina Mk. 2

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Ford Cortina Mk. 2

Ford Cortina

Ford Cortina Mk. II

1966 - 1972
United Kingdom
4 cyl.
1599 cc
88 bhp
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
Number Built:
80,000 +
3 star
Ford Cortina Mk. II
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3

New Cortina Is More Cortina

The second incarnation of the Cortina was designed by Roy Haynes, and launched on the 18th October 1966, four years after the original. Although the launch was accompanied by the slogan "New Cortina is more Cortina", the car, at 168 inches (430 cm) in length, was fractionally shorter than before. But it was wider by some 2.5 inches (6.4 cm), and this extra girth along with the curved side panels provided more interior space.

Other improvements included a smaller turning circle, softer suspension, self-adjusting brakes and clutch together with the availability on the smaller-engined models, for the UK and some other markets, of a new five bearing 1300cc engine. A stripped-out 1200cc version running the engine of the Ford Anglia Super was also available for certain markets where the 1300cc engine attracted a higher rate of tax.

The model line-up included two-door and four-door sedans in base, Deluxe, Super, GT and, later, 1600E trims. A few months after the introduction of the sedan versions, a four-door wagon was launched, released on the UK market on 15 February 1967: much was made at the time of its class topping load capacity.

The Cortina 1600E, a higher trim version, was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in October 1967, a year after the arrived of the Cortina Mark II. It combined the lowered Lotus Cortina's suspension with the high-tune GT 1600 Kent engine, along with luxury trim featuring a burr walnut woodgrain-trimmed dashboard and door cappings, bucket seats, sports steering wheel, and full instrumentation inside, while a black grille, tail panel, front fog lights and plated Rostyle wheels featured outside.

The Crossflow Headed Cortina Engines

The 1500cc engines were at first carried over, but for 1967 they received a new crossflow cylinder head design, making them more efficient. The crossflow design featured redesigned cylinder heads with bowl-in-piston combustion chambers, and while the 1300cc unit retained its existing capacity the 1500cc engine was upped to 1600cc for both normal and GT versions.

The 1600 employed a new crankshaft providing a 77.6 mm. stroke as against the 73 mm. stroke of the 1500 and the balance weights of the crossflow engine were arranged in a different fashion to cancel out the greater reciprocating weights of pistons and rods. The crossflow heads were identical with the old reversed-flow bathtub head in that they employed the same bolt hole spacings and the same pushrod and overhead gear was retained - but here the similarity ended.

For those unfamilar with the terminology, which is now somewhat forgotten in modern nomenclature, cross-flow means precisely what it says - the intake of petrol and air from the carburettor moves straight across the top of the cylinders from one side to the other. The inlet ports curve in from the right hand side of the engine between the pairs of pushrods and with the valves offset about the transverse axis of the cylinders the gas flow proved to be at least as good as that found with an inclined valve crossflow head.

Understanding The Cross-Flow Head

In straightforward terms for the non-technically minded motorist all this simply meant an increase in performance with little or no penalty in fuel consumption. In the 1300 engine the increase in power was approximately eight percent, with the standard 1600cc the figure was an approximate 15.3 percent and for the GT version - about ten per cent. In performance figures this meant that the 1300 would deliver 63 bhp with a maximum speed of 85 mph as against the previous figures of 58 bhp and 80 mph. The standard 1600 went to 75 bhp with a top speed figure of close to 90 mph against the old figures of 65 bhp and 85 mph while the GT could run to an honest 96 mph from its new 92 bhp against its old top of 94 mph with 83.5 bhp.

At the time the re-engining of the Cortina range was considered by Ford to be a relatively minor step and as such it received little of the usual new product build-up. The cars, other than the engines, received no restyling treatment and to all intents and purposes were bodily identical to their 1967 predecessors. Ford did not follow the inclined-in-head style of valve layout, but arranged them vertically along the engine axis. Ford engineers claimed that this set-up gave equal returns in performance as the more complicated inclined valve design.

The simple arrangement, with the valves offset to the transverse axis of the cylinder produced an excellent gas-flow by inducing a spiral movement in the mixture around the vertical axis which, if opposed valves were used, would have necessitated the additional complication of tangential ports. Thermal efficiency was also very high for the time, so high that Ford claimed figures on a 9:1 compression ratio comparable to those achieved on 10:1. The 1300 and 1600 heads were identical except for the size of the inlet passages. To reduce the risk of valve and piston burning the 1600 head was machined to recess the valve seats and bring them closer to the water passages.

Full-Circle, Three Groove Valve Cotters

And in another first, Ford employed full-circle, three groove valve cotters which did not clamp against the valve, allowing rotation at speeds up to 15 rpm. By this means stem and seat life was considerably increased. The pistons, with their built-in combustion chamber, were the most interesting feature of the new engine. They were of aluminium alloy with solid, tin plated skirts. Because of the extra strength of the crown, which now absorbed far greater combustion forces than the old flat-tops, there was a weight penalty of 60 grammes. Each engine (the 1300 and 1600) required its own piston with appropriate bowl depth and shape (in the 1600 to compensate for valve seat relieving described earlier).

In the design of the Cortina piston with its in-built combustion chamber, thermal conduction was an important consideration. The crown had a greater surface area than the normal flat-top and it therefore absorbed more heat. This heat had to be dispersed through the piston rings and Ford achieved this without excessive blow-by, which the FoMoCo engineers claimed to be virtually unchanged from the old unit. Of the two engines the 1300 had the greater life expectancy. All common bearing sizes were designed for the stresses imposed on the 1600 engine, these being considerably less on the small motor. The big-ends were split horizontally on the centre line and bearing material was either copper-lead or the tougher aluminium-tin. Apart from centre distance the con-rods for both the 1300 and 1600 engines were identical, and here too the 1300 gained by utilizing the larger motor's components.

The Lotus Cortina Mk 2

Like the Mk 1 Cortina, there was also a Lotus version of the Mk 2, but this time it was produced in-house at Ford. But there was one car better than the GT, and better than the Lotus. That car was the 1600E which came out in late 1967. Given the many mechanical improvements made to the car, it was not surprising that the Cortina enjoyed healthy sales here in Australia, and would be crowned as Britain's most popular new car in 1967, achieving the goal that Ford had been trying to achieve since it set out to create the original Cortina back in 1960. Ford New Zealand developed its own variant of this model called the GTE.

For 1969 the Mark II range was given subtle revisions, with separate "FORD" block letters mounted on the bonnet and boot lids, a blacked out grille and chrome strips on top and below the taillights running the full width of the tail panel marking them out. A 3.0-litre Essex V6-engined variant was developed privately in South Africa by Basil Green Motors, and was sold through the Grosvenor Ford network of dealers as the Cortina Perana; a similar model appeared later in Britain and was known as the Cortina Savage. The Savage was available with 1600E trim in all three body styles, while her South African stablemate was offered only as 4-door saloon initially with GT trim and later E trim. These days, it is the Perana Capri that is best remembered from the small South African firm.
Ford Cortina Mk2

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Also see:

Cortina Mk.II Model Lineup
Cortina Mk.II GT
Cortina Mk.II Savage
Cortina 1600e
Cortina Mk.II Specifications
Cortina Mk.II Brochure
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