The Ian Walker Cortina GT

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Tuning, that near-magical word so loosely used nowadays to describe all manner of operations varying from port-polishing to suspension-stiffening, was once the preserve of an exclusive band of men who relied more on their instinct than on electronic machines to extract from motor cars that extra edge of performance which was not there when they left the production lines. Nowadays, the situation is somewhat different and prospering tuning shops are to be found tucked away in countless motor establishments from the most bizarre, neon-lit show-piece to the tool-strewn, back street garage.

Despite the increase in both supply of and demand for performance tuning, the work is mainly carried out on behalf of the racing fraternity. Rallying, although catered for by many more commercial organisations than a year ago, remains a sport for which car preparation is looked upon as largely the preserve of the participants themselves. The reasons are several, but not the least of them is the fad that the choice of specialist equipment to be fitted to a rally car depends a great deal on personal preference and the number of available combinations are far too numerous to have modified cars on display in showrooms.

One of the tuning concerns which has become geared to rally preparation is the Ian Walker establishment at Finchley. Perhaps better known for its work in connection with racing, this stable offers a rally version of the Ford Cortina GT, but, with an obvious eye on the individual tastes of its customers, makes no definite pronouncement of its specification. The Walker Cortina GT is, rather, a flexible combination of a number of optional qualities, which is the reason why no single demonstration car exists as such. A Walker-tuned Cortina GT was entered. by the firm in the 1965 R.A.C. International Rally and it is this car, suitably restored after its pounding, which is the subject of this report.

The engine, which has already propelled the car over nearly 6,000 miles, is fitted with a cylinder head of the firm’s own design, skimmed and polished, and giving a compression ratio of 10.5 to 1. Larger valves are not fitted, but the inlet tracts are opened out. The camshaft, too, is to Walker’s own specification and each tappet has a clearance of 15 thou. The entire engine has been stripped and balanced, the crankshaft modified, Lotus-Cortina connecting rods fitted and Vandervell racing big-end and main bearing shells. The flywheel has been double-dowelled and a high pressure relief valve fitted to the high delivery oil pump. A special felt element is used in the oil filter. New plugs and points; and an electronic check, complete the treatment. The Weber carburetter remains unchanged.

During the test we found that the conversion slightly detracted from the low-down performance, a trait emphasised perhaps by the gear ratios which had been chosen for this car, but this was offset by the spirited urgency which it possessed whenever engine speed approached 4,000 r.p.m. Suspension stiffening and underbody protection are as vital to successful rallying as increasing the power output of the engine, and these facets of tuning have not been overlooked. At the front, uprated struts are fitted, together with lowered coil springs, an export-type cross-member and a sturdy anti-roll bar. The rear springs have been lowered by means of blocks, giving the car 2 in. less ground clearance, and the Adjustaride shock-absorbers have been considerable uprated. A substantial sump shield is also available, but this had been removed from the car before the test. Competition brake pads and linings and a servo unit are also fitted. Wheels are 4 1/2J fitted with 1.65 x 13 Pirelli Cinturatos. The laminated screen is wiped by Trico Speedblades.

The gearing most favoured by those who rally Cortina GT’s is that provided by a standard box fitted with an uprated second gear. This can be supplied, but the test car was fitted with the close-ratio box which is standard equipment on the Lotus Elan (ratios: 1st 2.510, 2nd 1.636, 3rd 1.230) and mates normally with a 3.9 rear axle. The rear axle ratio on the test car was 4.4. although 4.1 and 3.7 are available. The resultant uprating of bottom gear rendered driving in London more demanding a task than desirable and led us to the belief that this particular combination of car and gearbox would, in the hands of the uninitiated, lead to premature clutch wear. It is not a shopping car by any means. Another result of the choice of gearbox was an inability to make a really smart getaway, although once the clutch was fully engaged, comparatively high engine r.p.m. being used in the process, acceleration was smooth and progressive. This also affected its times on standing start tests, the figure for 0-30 m.p.h. actually being 0.1 sec, higher than that for a production model. Times from rest to higher speeds were, however, considerably improved although a gear change which became necessary in the last twenty yards or so of the standing 1/4-mile may well have affected that figure. For rallying, in which frequent stops are often necessary, we would certainly opt for the standard box with uprated 2nd gear.

A very attractive and extremely comfortable Avanti leather-covered steering wheel was fitted, having a diameter of 13 in. This combined well with the luxurious and body-gripping Pullman seat to produce a relaxed driving position with the gear lever nicely to hand. Some difficulty was at first experienced in selecting 1st gear and 2nd, but this was caused by the lever entering the neck of the reverse position even though it was not lifted. This could prove to be embarrassing in the heat of a special stage, but was quite manageable under normal driving conditions as soon as the cause was realised. It was disappointing to find that the Britax safety belts were pillar mounted. Low mountings are safer and, above all, far more comfortable to the wearer.

Lights; more than anything else perhaps; are items of which rallyists have varied opinions and Walker has no set positions for either the ancillary lamps themselves or for the switches which control them. A favourite position for switches on the Cortina is on the front-facing surface of the inter-seat cubbyhole, and rubber plugs gave the game away that this is where they had been mounted on the test car during the R.A.C. Rally. There were no extra lights, but a variety of lamps, both iodine quartz and conventional, are available, together with an easily accessible fuse box, heavy-duty battery, 28-amp regulator and a heavy-duty generator. The headlights of the test car had been replaced by Cibie 22 conventional units which produced a dip beam possessed of such a sharp cut-off that it was possible to fully illuminate the rear of a car in front with no stray light whatsoever entering its rear window. These units are characterised by concave lenses.

Among the other items which it is possible to have fitted to a Walker-tuned Cortina GT are oil coolers, long-range fuel tanks with shielding, fuel line and hydraulic line protecting pipes, lamp mounting frames, a variety of navigational instruments and such oddments as bonnet-retaining straps and T-junctions for speedometer drives. Needless to say, there can he no quoted price, for the cost of modification varies between £47 and £125.

Even in standard form, the Ford Cortina GT is a desirable motor car and a week spent with the Walker variety was indeed a pleasant one. The modified suspension and wide wheels produced a ride which did not appear to be any harder for its firm predictability. On smooth roads, cornering at speed was a joy. Breakaway, when it came, was completely anticipated and the application of opposite lock through the small-diameter steering wheel was quick and effective. We could not take the car in its unshielded state into the rough, but a rapid journey over a meandering gravel track—a private one, I hasten to add—proved that it was quite at home coping with unsealed surfaces.

Peak performance came at 6,000 r.p.m. (80 b.h.p. at the rear wheels) after which there was a rapid fall off in power, although 7,000 r.p.m. was possible in top. It was necessary, in order to avoid undue clutch-slipping, to use at least 4,000 r.p.m. when starting from rest, even at town traffic lights, but this, as has already been explained, would be entirely obviated by the use of alternative gear ratios. In just over 400 miles of pottering in London, airing it on the A20 and making fast laps of a private test circuit, the car returned a fuel (the best) consumption figure of 23 m.p.g. The throttle stop had been adjusted to a fast idling speed to prevent fluffing at tick-over. A quart of oil was added in this distance.

Despite the unsuitable overall transmission ratios, this version of the Walker GT produced a pleasant week’s motoring; one during which it became patently obvious why the Cortina has become so widely used by Britain’s rallyists as a base for at extremely competitive motor car.—G.P.

You may also like

Related products