The history of Ford Cortina began on 20 September 1962. That day, a new family car manufactured by the Ford of Britain was introduced to the public with the aim to sweep up buyers of Morris Oxfords and Vauxhall Victors.
It took 21 months to approve the original body style of Cortina and by the time the car was introduced, it has four different 1.2-litre types: two-door salon Cortina, four-door salon Cortina, as well as Standard and De Luxe specification. By the end of 1962, about 67, 000 of Cortina’s were produced.
Still, the manufacturers have decided to make several derivatives, so in the beginning of spring of 1963 1.5-litre Cortina Super was introduced. On April 1963, 78bhp/1.5-litre Cortina GT was added to the range.
At the same time, the Ford of Britain worked on new Lotus Cortina, a two-door saloon car with a 105bhp/twin-overhead-camshaft engine and coil spring rear suspension.Originally created for motorsport, the car saw its first success in September 1963.
Later, some changes and improvements were made and 1964 and 1965 saw renewed versions of Lotus Cortina. By the summer of 1966 million of Lotus Cortinas were produced in the UK.
Later this year, on October 1966, the Mk II was introduced. It has a completely new body style, but the same to Lotus basic platform and running gear. In February 1967 the estate car version appeared, followed by the new Lotus-Cortina in March. The Mk II saw more improvements in October 1967 and in 1969. The latest updates included new cross-flow 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre engines, as well as the new manual transmissions, new fascias, and reclining seats. In a four-year period, over million of Cortina Mk2 were manufactured.
In October 1970, the Cortina Mk3 was introduced. It was wider and lower than previous models, had a 3.5 longer wheelbase and a new family of ‘Pinto’ overhead-camshaft engine. In 1973 the design was renewed. The car was equipped with smaller versions of the ‘Pinto’ engine, as well as new grille styling, and a new fascia. In 1976, the new ‘economy’ version was introduced due to the hard economic situation in the country. It is worth to mention, that Mk III had become the best-selling model in the UK. Still, the Ford of Britain was on the way for a new model, the Mk IV.
The Mk IV was introduced in September 1976. The shape was new, more angular than ever before. The Cortina Mk4 had the same to its predecessor well-proven platform and running gear. As all the versions introduced before, it was available in wide range of saloons and estate cars. After a year on sale, the Mk IV appeared at the top of British sales charts. In 1979 nearly 194, 000 cars were sold in the UK, making 1979 the best year of Cortina sales.
In September 1979, Cortina 80 was introduced. Cortina enthusiasts and costumes called the new car Ford Cortina Mk5, though it was not its official name.It is worth to mention that the Cortina 80 made the whole Cortina range remain as the best-sellers until the mid of 1982.
The new Cortina 80 was quite similar to its predecessor, the Mk IV. Still, lots of improvements were made, including more glass area in the cabin, a lightened shell and subtle changes to the grille. What is more, the car was equipped with improved, more powerful and more economical engines. There were at least 20 derivatives available on the market, including Base, L, GL and Ghia equipment packs, saloon and estate car types. The wide range of Cortina’s types guaranteed the car great success on the market. It was sold as well as any other Cortina version. With the introduction of two special editions, the Carousel and the Crusader in 1981 and 1982, the car saw the top of success.
Ford Cortina’s career lasted for 20 years, until July 22, 1982, when the last British-build Cortina was completed at the Dagenham plant in Essex. Since the first Cortina was introduced in 1962, more than 4.3 million cars were produced.