The Mk2 Cortina arrived in October 1966 accompanied by the slogan 'New Cortina is more Cortina' – the car being 6.4cm wider than its predecessor. Initially launched with the same engine range as the Mk1, in 1968 the Mk2 received the technically superior and more efficient 'Kent' Crossflow engines in 1298cc and 1598cc form.
Two-door and four-door saloon versions were again offered in base, Deluxe, Super and GT trims and a few months after the introduction of the saloon versions, an estate was launched – at the time the class-leader for loading capacity.
At the Paris Motor Show in October 1967, Ford pulled the wraps off the brute Cortina 1600E. Featuring the GT 1600 Kent engine along with the Lotus Cortina’s lowered suspension, luxury walnut trim and sports steering wheel, the car soon gained an iconic status and is still highly sought after to this day.
In the aftermath of the Mk1 Lotus Cortina, with the public linking its competition successes with Lotus and its shortcomings with the Blue Oval badge, Ford set about regaining control of their range-topping performance car. It was decided to develop the Mk2 Lotus Cortina in-house at Boreham (Ford’s competition department) and build it at Dagenham alongside Mk2 Cortina GTs, in order to make the Mk2 Lotus Cortina more cost effective.
The Mk2 Lotus Cortina was launched in March 1967 – six months after the rest of the Mk2 range. Power was now up to 109bhp from a sprightly 1557cc twin-cam straight four engine almost identical to that used in the Escort Twin Cam in 1968, which helped propel the Mk2 Lotus Cortina from 0-60mph in 11.0 sec.
Ford's new Cortina was slightly more popular than the Mk1 despite internal competition coming from the 1600E and Escort Twin Cam, as well as external competition. However, it was the Escort Twin Cam that proved to be the downturn of the Mk2 Cortina, as even though it was produced until 1970, interest began to wane as the Escort’s popularity grew, particularly in motorsport where the Escort began to assert its dominance.
The Mk3 Cortina had its debut in 1970. It was a radical departure from the ‘square-box’ lines of its ancestors and heavily inspired by the contemporary ‘Coke bottle’ design language at the time. The first joint-venture of Ford of Europe after the merging of the Blue Oval’s UK and German divisions, the car marked the blending of German Taunus and British Cortina platforms.
Five trim levels were available with a 1.3-litre, 1.6-litre and new 2.0-litre overhead-cam engines offered. The familiar MacPherson strut front suspension was replaced with a more conventional double wishbone arrangement and coil springs replacing leaf springs at the rear. A flagship replacement for the Mk3 1600E arrived in 1973 with the launch of the 2000E – reverting back to the classy interior offered by the 1600E and ditching the faux wood-grain trim offered by the GXL.
In 1976 the Mk4 Cortina was unveiled, boasting a more conventional design than its predecessor to supposedly win favour with fleet buyers. This series spawned the first range-topping Ghia model, which replaced the 2000E.
The Ford Cologne 2.3-litre V6 engine also appeared in 1977. Despite being a smoother, more refined lump than the 2.0-litre Pinto unit, the Cologne V6 never sold particularly well in the UK, owing in part to being thirstier on fuel and more expensive to insure. A choice of base, L, GL, S and Ghia trims were available. When production ceased in 1979, the Mk4 Cortina was Britain’s best-selling car during its production run, but major rust problems combined with the car being a popular choice for banger racing mean the Mk4 has become one of the rarest Cortinas.