Wednesday January 10, 2018
There are some cars that just look ‘right’ and the fourth generation Cortina belongs in that elite category. In 1976 the major Ford-related news was, of course, the new Fiesta but the nation’s fleet managers and sales representatives were more concerned with the replacement of the Cortina Mk. III. After all, how could there be any improvement on the car that was as much a part of the 1970s business world as Luncheon Vouchers and nylon suits in a fashionable shade of brown? But the Mk. IV went one stage further, for now ‘All models have carpet, cigar lighter, driver’s door mirror (remote control on the Ghia), hazard warning flashers…’ Truly the new age of luxury had arrived.
The Ford Cortina Mk. IV was also built in Germany as the Taunus TC2; the latter being introduced in January 1976, some eight months before its British counterpart. The platform and the wheelbase were the same as the Mk. III, but compared with the older model, the Uwe Bahnsen designed body had a more extensive glass area and even a front spoiler. There was also a wide range of models, commencing with the two-door 1300 “Standard” with its fixed front seat backrests and ultra-sensible PVC upholstery. The brochure also listed ‘Illumination for rear number plate’ and ‘Black grained fascia finish’ as some of its other features that you would gain for your £2,045…
Such a Cortina was, of course, an incentive to work hard and one day obtain the keys to £3,273 worth of company Jupiter Red 2.0 Litre Ghia with its tinted glass, vinyl roof and push-button radio to listen to Tony Blackburn while travelling along the M4. For the first time in 13 years, there was no Cortina GT for the nation’s medallion men were now offered the S with its twin halogen driving lamps, gas-filled dampers and “Cadiz” fabric seats. There was also was an array of practical estates, the list of optional extras now even included ‘headlamp pressure jet wash’ and Bristol Street Motors could sell you a handsome Crayford Convertible. From 1977 onwards, the GL, S and Ghia were available with a 2.3 Litre V6 power plant, a development that owners of the original 1962 Consul Cortina 1200 would have regarded as science fiction.
Autocar thought that the Mk. IV was ‘set fair for even more success’ than the Mk. III and the timing of its debut was crucial, providing Ford with a very strong rival for Vauxhall’s new Cavalier. Other competitors may have boasted larger boots or more refined suspensions, but Ford had perfectly judged the needs of its key markets with its latest Cortina. When What Car tested a 1.6 GL in 1979 they found it to be ‘roomy, efficiently and neatly laid out and a reasonable performer’ – all of which helped to make the Mk. IV the best-selling car in the UK from 1977 to 1979.
The Mk. IV was superseded by the “Cortina 80”- aka the “Mk. V” – in August 1979 and today they are a rather exclusive sight. For countless enthusiasts – including myself, any late 1970s Cortina is a welcome sight at a classic car gathering, inducing waves of nostalgia for a time when The Professionals was the highlight of Friday night television. And the Ghia – albeit in Tanus guise – even had the distinction of being used by Karl Stromberg’s over-acting henchmen in The Spy Who Loved Me -