By the time Ford launched the Cortina MKIV in autumn 1976 Britain was used to mid-range Fords being market leaders. Ford thus wisely played it safe; choosing to reskin the MK3 rather than create a car from scratch. The car had been previewed some months earlier by Ford of Germany’s Taunus, which was identical to the Cortina in almost every way. A popular fleet car and the most popular new car in the UK throughout production, numbers were decimated by the contempt of familiarity and the curse of daily use, but several Ford MKIV Cortinas still survive.
Engine - 1993cc/4-cyl/OHC
Power - 98bhp@5200rpm
Torque - 111lb/ft@3500rpm
Top Speed - 100mph
0-60mph – 11 seconds
Economy – 24 mpg (urban cycle)
Gearbox – 4 speed manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Unless you bought an estate, the bodyshell was one aspect of Cortina MKIV that broke with the MK3 (Estates used the same shell). The sharp suit of the MKIV was ideal for the late 70s; where the MK3 was transatlantic in the extreme, the MKIV was ideal for the sales rep who wanted to break from this tradition and be individual…for about thirty seconds. It’s a mass market 1970s car, so they do rust. Check the valances, sills, doors, and jacking points first – the enemies of Cortina longevity. The fuel filler neck, scuttle, and boot floor are other common rot traps, but as many Cortinas will have had a hard life in past years as a family or fleet car it makes sense to check everywhere. If there’s metal, there’s potential for nasties!
By and large, the range is the same as was proved in the MK3 – Kents and Pintos, with the addition of the German Cologne V6 in 2.3 litre form. Parts will be easy to source, as all these engines were used in other Ford products from the Fiesta and Escort to the Granada. Kent engines (1.3) are known for noisy tappets. Cologne V6s are also tappetty, but the main issue is the fibre timing gears, the teeth of which can break. Steel replacements are available and commonly fitted. The Pinto (1.6 and 2.0) is most common but also the one which needs most attention paying upon inspection. Oil must be changed every 5000 miles; failure to do so can lead to a clogged oil spray bar, oil starvation, and eventually rapid camshaft wear. Pinto timing belts must be changed at 30000 miles. Best all round bet is probably the 2.0; combining modern performance with relatively reasonable economy and an enviable parts supply.
Again, this was carried straight over from the MK3 – a proven drivetrain which gives few issues in service. In addition, the fact that parts were common to Cortinas III, IV, and 80 ensures that there is a healthy stock of spares for those who may need them. Four speed boxes are reliable, but many owners have fitted 5 speed boxes from Sierras in place of the original. The design of this box can leave 5th starved of oil if the level isn’t maintained – check it regularly! The differential itself poses no issues, but the casing has been known to rust. The resultant leaks can lead to the diff running dry, so keep an eye on the oil level in the diff too. Front ball joints and track rod ends can wear; check for heavy steering on the test drive. Worn void bushes on the rear trailing arms can adversely affect handling – replace with poly bushes; rubber ones have a short life span.
You get the picture by now; a late MK3 Cortina carry-over. The MKIV used the same dashboard as the 1975 MK3 facelift, so from the driver’s seat was a familiar place for those changing their company cars. Door trims and seats were similar, and whilst the interior was two inches longer than in the MK3, it retained a similar feel due to the amount of carry-over items. It’s a fleet Ford, so unsurprisingly there’s a trim level for everybody from the newest salesman on the firm (Base) to the fleet manager (Ghia). Two-doors are rare, so trim for these may be harder to source.
Most people looking to buy a Cortina will do so out of sentiment; your brother, your dad, your granddad, your next door neighbour, or your favourite schoolteacher will have owned one. It might have been a 1.6L on the firm, or a metallic 2.3 Ghia bought as a retirement treat. Cars like this; street furniture which has long been forgotten, are bought to inspire memories and make one feel about eight years old again.
There’s more. A nice Cortina will draw the crowds far more effectively than any Porsche, for people actually remember them when they were common. Every fill-up, every meal stop, every shopping trip becomes a chance to meet new people. A once-common classic like a Cortina is the easiest way to make new friends – beware if you’re introvert!