Ford has been supplying gearheads with a steady stream of sports or performance cars for over a century, with each decade bringing its share of remarkable offerings to every market, worldwide. In the 60s, the passion for speed really took hold, and while America was blessed with the arrival of the 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350, the European branch of the company responded by offering the Lotus Cortina highly regulated.
Much like a homologation special, just like the incredible GR Yaris of this generation, the Lotus Cortina was a race car pretending to be an everyday road car. Ferociously quick from point to point, the lightweight, family-oriented racer rewrote the rulebook when it came to racing motorsport events and proved that a small-engine, nimble grocer could bleed the nose of its much more powerful competition. Considered one of the best classic Fords ever made, the Lotus Cortina is an exercise in how less definitely leads to more, and for those who haven’t yet appreciated its simple greatness, here are 10 things every gearhead should know. on the Lotus Cortine.
ten The original European sports sedan
The standard Ford Cortina, a car aimed at families and those in need of compact but spacious enough transport, was produced for twenty years and marked Ford’s intentions to unify its brand and manufacturing operations across Europe.
Knowing that with a few tweaks to the lightweight shell and stiff chassis it would potentially make a formidable racing car, Lotus jumped at the chance to create what became its first collaborative sports sedan, and a distinct automotive legend.
9 Mark One Magnificence
Assembled by Lotus, the Mark One Lotus Cortina was an instant winner and took first place at the prestigious 1964 British Saloon Car Championships with legendary British racing car driver Jim Clark at the wheel.
As a road car it was aimed at those looking for a passionate driving experience but also needed to put a family somewhere, offering excellent acceleration, superb handling and a rewarding experience when pushed through its limits. .
8 A glorious engine
The glorious twin-cam engine fitted under the bonnet of the Lotus Cortina is something of a living legend, its 1.5-litre block producing a respectable 105bhp, delivering levels of performance that redefine saloon benchmarks. European sports.
Thanks to its engine tuning and revised parts, the Twin Cam unit would allow the sports sedan to rush to 60 mph in a still brisk 8.6 seconds, passing through the quarter mile, a very quick for the time, 18 seconds.
7 Impressive performance
Boasting a low curb weight of 900kg, the Lotus Cortina made the most of its power as its 108 lb-ft of torque generated allowed the car to pull cleanly through the rev range, ensuring that the thrust was always available when needed.
With such a lightweight setup, Lotus’ highly revised suspension could carry speed through corners like no other car of the time, allowing it to cover ground at truly impressive speed without having to rely on pure power alone.
6 Mark 2 Reviews
Having excelled on the track to prove itself as a superior motorsport machine, the Mark One Cortina, while popular with road users, had not been particularly reliable, something Ford wanted to change with the second generation. .
Now fitted with a revised powertrain, the MK2 Lotus Cortina became more reliable, produced more power at 109 bhp, featured a larger fuel tank, updated interior with dashboard layout much sportier edge and a steering wheel trimmed in wood.
5 A benchmark in motorsport
Straight out of the traps, the Lotus Cortina set its own pace, taking the scalp of its much larger engined competition, such as Jaguar’s 3.8-litre-powered Mark II, 7-litre V8-powered Galaxie and even the Mustangs all fell before her.
Even away from the smooth asphalt of the saloon racing circuit, the Lotus Cortina continued to rack up the wins, proving just as nimble and capable on the mixed and loose surfaces offered in the highly competitive rally scene.
4 They need care
The Twin Cam unit installed in the Cortina is well regarded as a masterpiece, but one that requires careful and frequent servicing to ensure that it remains in pristine condition to avoid expensive repair bills or catastrophic engine failures.
Engine aside, the Lotus Cortina is also very susceptible to tin worm, with many of the original cars having been eaten away over time with a need for major body repairs or a complete re-hull being needed to get better. ensure a car is saved.
3 Highly desirable collector’s item
For those growing up in the 60s and 70s, a Lotus Cortina was a coveted vehicle, remaining well within the financial reach of those who were enthusiastic fans of performance cars who couldn’t afford a more prestigious marque.
Its solid reputation as an everyday hero has won the Lotus Cortina a legion of fans over the years, with the sporty saloon having found lifetime homes with a number of families as the car became a classic of collection.
2 An unpretentious sleeper
With a dismissive first glance, anyone drinking in the quirky classic design might miss the little Lotus badge that sets the car apart from its less capable siblings, with the car’s true performance potential secretly hidden behind styling simple.
In its standard Lotus-tuned form, the Cortina can still ruffle a few feathers today with performance figures matching a modest hot hatch, where it will raise eyebrows but is in the corners as its superior weight deficit does not can be matched by modern machinery.
1 An accessible slice of history
Unlike some of Ford’s historic special collaboration products or race-inspired road cars like the Shelby Mustang or Escort RS1600, the Lotus Cortina for now remains a fairly affordable classic for those looking to take the plunge.
A fully equipped pedigree race version can be had and purchased from around $40,000 with decent road variants going up to around $55,000 which isn’t much for such a lively and respected historic sports sedan. .
10 things you didn’t know about Lotus cars
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