Monday January 8, 2018
If some 55 years ago, you were in the market for family transport that could seat five, carry a large quantity of samples cases and have looks that were trans-Atlantic without being exaggerated, this short film would have provided a few ideas. Here was a new Ford contemporary lines that cried out to be enhanced by whitewall tyres, a car with powerful brakes and reasonable fuel economy. Yes, a new Consul Cortina De Luxe demanded to be driven through the countryside to the accompaniment of 1962-vintage cocktail jazz. N.B. There was also a more modestly equipped basic version but that was mainly for hire car operators and travelling salesmen who were not in favour with the MD.
In fact, if you look at the PR material for the original incarnation of the Ford Cortina, the underlying theme is that here was a medium-sized saloon that was more affordable than the likes of the Hillman Minx Series IIIC, the Vauxhall Victor FB or the Austin A60 Cambridge/Morris Oxford VI – and with a rather more youthful image. The extremely enthusiastic narrator in this promotional short refers to the Cortina as a ‘small car’ - although it was longer than the Hillman – as it is taken through its paces. The Australian market advertisements went so far as to state that here was a car that ‘Drives Like Fun! Saves Like Crazy!’ and US Ford dealers also sold the Cortina as an alternative to the VW Beetle or the Renault Dauphine. Potential buyers were assured that it was more than capable of being driven on the freeway and that ‘it feels like a sports car’.
By 1963, Ford boasted that the Cortina offered ‘big car – everything – at small-car costs!’ and the range was greatly expanded; there was the Lotus, which will have its own blog in the next few months, and the slightly more attainable GT. The idea for using this particular logo on a performance version of the Cortina apparently came about when a Ford employee was dispatched to Halfords to find an attractive badge and one labelled ‘GT’ caught his eye. For the ambitious type who thought himself the 007 of the local shopping precinct, there was the Super and the Estate, the first factory-built five-door wagon to be sold by Ford GB. The De Luxe Estate became the star of Dual Carriage, which concerned a holiday to Cornwall and a young couple who cannot resist performing a modest twist around a Cortina De Luxe station wagon, such is its innate hipness - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfz6s99vyQE and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeiGgQ5ieZc. More thrilling still was the Super Estate, with the exterior decorated in Di-Noc, the finest available plastic “wood”.
In the following year, Peter Hughes and William Young won the East African Safari in their Cortina GT, an achievement which Ford naturally celebrated. In autumn 1964 the Consul prefix was dropped, there was a new grille and an Areoflow ventilation system – ‘one of the most important advances in recent years in comfort and safety’. The Mk. I was replaced by the Mk. II in October 1966 and of all the forms of publicity for this genuinely iconic Ford, one predominates – well, in my mind at least. And after witnessing this unforgettable moment of British cinema at your local ABC, who would drop their Strawberry Mivvi in amazement? http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/1354236/Carry-On-Cabby-Movie-Clip-GlamCabs.html