I own an April 1974 Dolomite Sprint which has now done in excess of 30,000 miles.
I was very disappointed to read of your own experiences as my example has been very reliable and indeed is the only car that I have owned that I still enjoy driving after two years of use.
The car in my opinion has a superb performance and whilst I would admit that it does not handle as easily as an Escort for example, it will corner very well provided that the driver has the courage and ability to “set the car up” prior to a corner, keep the power on through the corner and indeed if this is done the attitude of the car can be controlled through the throttle.
I would agree that the car in standard form will understeer but I have found that by raising the front tyre pressures by approximately 2./3 lb. per sq. inch this will produce an almost neutral handling characteristic.
The car does appear to be very sensitive to changes in tyre pressure.
My example has also suffered from clutch problems but this has been an annoying fault rather than one that has left me stranded. Even when the car was new the master cylinder rubbers needed to be replaced and the clutch only seemed to disengage when pushed flat to the floor. Now at over 30,000 miles the synchromesh has worn on the third gear and it is necessary to double-declutch to effect smooth changes when using third gear.
Overdrive is essential and I regularly get approximately 30 miles per gal. when driving normally.
I also experienced wheel balancing problems but this turned out to be the Dunlop SP Sport tyres and three were replaced free of charge by Dunlops. No further problems have been experienced.
Finally, with regard to the reference to the Cortina 1600E, I also have owned such a car and quite honestly feel that the Dolomite is in an entirely different class. I am sorry that your own car has not had the reliability and performance that one would expect from such a fine British car.
Crowthorne, Berks, R. D. GILLHAM