Monday November 20, 2017
The Ford Cortina Mk. III is possibly the most uber-1970s car in British motoring history, a vehicle to be mentioned in the same breath as Amazin Rasin Bars, The Goodies, Watney’s Red Barrel, Noddy Holder crooning Coz I Love You and the Raleigh Chopper.
Just one look at the GT on the Pride of Ownership stand at the Lancashire Insurance Classic Motor Show and visitors of a certain age will instantly recall the heady aromas of Hai Karate and Rothmans.
The Mk. III made its debut at the 1970 Earls Court Motor Show and was heralded by a promotional film whose script has to be heard to be believed. ‘She doesn’t care that the seats have been ergonomically designed with extra legroom in the front – she just knows she’s comfortable’ and, best/worst of all ‘she only knows its easier to hear the nice things he says – in the new Cortina’.
Ford intended it to replace both the Cortina Mk. II and the Corsair and despite the sheer presence of its Coke-Bottle styled body, it was slightly under 14 feet in length.
It was also the first Cortina not to be offered with a steering column gear change option and to strongly resemble its German counterpart
Although the Taunus TC did feature a subtly different body and there were no less than 35 different trim options.
In the average staff car park of the early 1970s, you might find a junior sales representative with a 1300 two-door who aspired to become, one day, the regional manager and thus gain the keys to that 2-Litre GXL.
By 1972 Car magazine thought that the flagship Cortina was ‘rather garish but this obviously appeals to many buyers judging from the numbers seen on the roads’ and in that same year, a 1600 Estate achieved cinematic immortality when it co-starred with Sid James in the big screen version of Bless This House.
The line-up was made slightly less complicated by the deletion of the 2-Litre base and two-door L, shortly followed by the 2-Litre GT and GXL; the latter two also somewhat overlapped with the Capri.
Late 1973 saw the range facelifted and the GXL replaced by the 2000E, which featured an interior that brought new dimensions to the term ‘plush’ and a 1974 Estate version was, if anything, even more attractive.
In the autumn of 1975, there was a further update with a black grille and VFM ‘Value for Money’ additions.
If you need to gain an idea of the level of equipment of the cheaper Cortinas, this advert boasts of how there was now a heated rear window and a brake servo as standard!
The Mk. IV succeeded the Mk. III in late 1976 and by the early 1990s they starting to become a rare sight on the road.
Today, of course, they are a sought-after classic and Mark Rogers, the owner of the handsome GT on the Pride of Ownership display is often asked one near-inevitable question – ‘Is that the Life on Mars car?’