Mk1 Ford Cortinas are definitely my favourite of the breed, but I have a soft spot for the Mk2. When I was growing up you still saw a fair few of these knocking around. They always seemed to be the scraggy ones, owned by blokes who’d clearly passed their test recently and these were a cheap set of wheels. Oh, how times change, eh? This meant they were usually sporting a Cherry Bomb and nearly always various shades on the outside.
More often than not the shade would be grey primer. And that would be interspersed with patches of smoothed-down filler, indicating a longed-for repaint that was, almost certainly, never coming. But they still looked cool. Well, cool to my young and impressionable eyes. If I looked back through my old school exercise books, I have no doubt that there would be more doodles of Cortinas than anything else. Always with a CB radio aerial sprouting from the boot, because everyone who was anyone had one of those back then.
My next-door neighbour, who was a few years older than I, had an H-reg 1600E – the same year as the car featured here. His wasn’t primer-coloured, though. His was red. Well, reddish – it was more than a little faded and sporting a black Everfex roof. It was also forever needing some form of repair, so it was, in any objective sense, an old nail, but I thought it was the chuffing bee’s knees. My God I loved it, and I loved popping out to ‘help’ him do jobs, which, looking back, was probably more of a hindrance. But there I was, pumping the brake pedal to bleed the brakes after fitting a new master cylinder, or assisting with slotting the engine back in after yet another rebuild.
The jobs were many and varied, as you can imagine, and it was a big part of bolstering my already burgeoning love of cars. And if I close my eyes, even now, I can still smell the interior. That special old-car smell; the combination of vinyl and carpet, harbouring 20 years of odours from a life well lived, combined with hints of used engine oil and petrol. It sounds disgusting, doesn't it? But it's probably the best smell in the world.
So I was very happy to see a Mk2 Cortina 1600E pop up in the classifieds today. It’s not my ideal colour, admittedly, and I’d much rather see it sporting a set of Rostyle wheels, but you can't have everything. Especially when it comes to old and rare cars. And Mk2 1600Es are surprisingly rare these days. I thought more would've survived but, according to howmanyleft.co.uk, there are just 466 remaining and only 305 of those are taxed. Does that make £19k for this one seem reasonable? I mean, it’s a fast Ford after all. Admittedly, not one that's actually very quick, but it's fast in name at least. And compared with a Mk1 or Mk2 Escort with any sort of sporting pretence, it’s half to two-thirds the price.
It's a proper classic, too. It’s got spotlights and lots of chrome outside, and inside there’s wood and many dials – including the extra voltmeter that’s tucked away behind the steering wheel. It’ll be an event to take out too because it’s so far removed from today’s anodyne boxes. It also appears to be in good condition, and the advert certainly describes a car that’s been loved deeply by its various custodians over the years. This one even got that respray back in 1990, unlike the many others I remember from my youth.
Specification | Mk2 Ford Cortina 1600E
Engine: 1,599cc, four-cylinder, naturally aspirated
Transmission: four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 88 @ 5,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 97 @ 3,600rpm
Recorded mileage: 44,000
Year registered: 1970
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £19,995
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