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Cortina went out on a roll; CLASSIC CARS This week: Ford Cortina Mark V.


SO MUCH has been written about the early Ford Cortinas that the last model of this great range slipped away with hardly a whimper - yet it was one of the finest cars Ford ever made.

In 1979 the final version, the MkV started rolling out from Dagenham in the UK, Genk in Belgium and from factories in Amsterdam and Cork.

Here was the epitome of Ford know-how encapsulated in a roomy body with square - shouldered lines, but with a style that the opposition just could not emulate.

The MkV when new just said success about its driver. Of course those were the days of the massive company fleets and many sales were being driven by this factor.

But opposition from manufacturers like Vauxhall was beginning to tell and the golden year of 1967 with 290,927 sales was not repeated.

And in the wake of the oil crisis in 1975 it hit a low of 141,060 units.

There was no doubt that the Cortina needed a hefty push into the 1980s and Ford was convinced that the MkV had the right recipe to do the trick. There was really nothing wrong with the Mk IV's platform and it was chosen to form the basis of the new model.

The Cortina began to look more like the Granada and there was a major effort to improve quality. To end its days, the model was given a hefty shove upmarket.

Cortina drivers had been getting mightily annoyed by the previous models' readiness to rust. Ford was not on its own in this respect as a number of its competitors had the same problem.

Oriental makes were beginning to improve on rust-proofing and so it was time for Ford to address the problem So Cortina bodies began to be wax injected and were given chip-resistant pvc underbody protection.

There was still the usual array of engine options including a rather underpowered 1300, a decent 1600 and a 2000.

But the greatest Cortina Mk V of all was the V6 2,293cc.

This was the real final fling for Cortina and it was magnificent.

The V6 turned out 116bhp - tame by today's standards - and could top 109mph. It could hit 60mph from a standstill in 10.3 seconds and still return around 30mpg.

Ford put a lot of power dressing in its flagship cars before the Cortina was finally ousted by the unattractive Sierra in 1982. I remember driving one of the V6s when it was new and for pure smoothness it could give a modern 3.0-litre a run for its money.

By far the best version was the Ghia with cut pile carpets, cloth-faced door casings, wooden door cappings and much more. As far as I am concerned it was the best Cortina of them all. Others may fly the flag for the old 1600E but the V6 was my favourite.

It was a sad day indeed when Ford Chairman Sam Toy drove the final Cortina off the line at Dagenham on July 22, 1982, 20 years after the first one had enthralled the British motoring public and after 4,279,079 of all five marks had been built.


SAD DAY - Ford chairman Sam Toy drives the final Cortina off the line at Dagenham on July 22, 1982
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 8, 2008
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