Cortina with class

Ford Cortina, last model with comedian Alexei Sayle

ANYONE who was driving in the 1970s and 1980s has to have a soft spot for the Ford Cortina.

It has already been hailed as Ford's masterpiece of all time, arriving at a time when Britain wanted a classy but affordable and roomy saloon. And Ford delivered massively.

It became a best seller overnight and from its early days in the 1960s to it retirement in the 1980s it was king of family cars.

Many love and admire the early Cortinas, but my firm favourite was the very last, the Mark V.

The Mark V was announced on August 24, 1979 and was an upgraded Mark IV with revised headlights featuring larger turn indicators.

There was a wider slatted grille said to be more aerodynamically efficient, a flattened roof, larger glass area, slimmer rear pillars with revised vent covers, larger slatted tail lights on saloons and upgraded trim. It was all about bringing the Cortina into line Ford's then current design language.

It was still well priced because you could get a basic 1.3-litre for £3,475.

But of all of them my absolute favourite Cortina drive was the £5,989 V6 featuring a 2,293cc with 116bhp on tap.

This was a real ton-up Cortina with the capability of reaching 109.6mph with a 0-60mph sprint factor of 10.3 seconds.

And economy was not bad for a six-cylinder with a recorded 30.7mpg.

Cleverly Ford saw the potential of this car as a true pocket-premium executive express and no base versions were offered in this country. There was only the GL or top end Ghia option to choose from.

I remember the V6 as a superbly smooth car, with plenty of torque and a some very advanced handling properties. When it was coming to the end of its days I had to ask why? There were years left in this model which in my view totally eclipsed its successor, the jelly-mould shaped Sierra.

The final production model of the Cortina was the Crusader special edition which was available as a 1.3-litre, 1.6-litre, and 2.0-litre saloons or 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre estates.

The Crusader was a final run-out model in 1982.

Up to and including 1981, the Cortina was the top selling car in Britain. Even during its final production year, 1982, the Cortina was Britain's second best selling car and most popular large family car.

There was a mystique about the Cortina fuelled by comedian Alexei Sayle who was a devoted fan and leapt to fame with his hit number, 'Ullo John! Gotta a New Motor?'.

There were still a few Cortinas on forecourts as late as 1987, with one final unregistered GL leaving a Derbyshire dealership in 2005.

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