Ford Corsair V4 / Cortina GT - A Comparison



Mine are in-line,
Yours in a vee,
A Cersair for you?
A Cortina for me!

One of the important announcements of the Motor Show period was Ford of Dagenham’s adoption of new 6o’ V4 engines for the Corsair range. We duly arranged to road-test a Corsair GT with the 2-litre version of the new engine but on the day before we were due to take it over it suffered a mechanical derangement and was in any case, we gather, sadly down on performance.

Anxious that Motor Sport should try a car with the new vee engine, a 1,668-c.c. 76-b.h.p. Corsair was substituted. We decided not to submit this to the full road-test procedure, because the higher performance GT version will come to us in due course when its teething troubles are overcome. However, this eye-catching white Firestone-shod Corsair 1.7 served us without fault for 1,000 miles. It is a comfortable car, equipped to appeal to the masses and, like all Fords, represents the best possible value in reliable transportation. But I liked it a lot less than the Ford Cortina GT I have been using regularly. The new engine was much noisier when accelerating than I had expected, nor was it as smooth-running as I had hoped, although it revved freely, an indicated 6o M.p.h. coming up easily in 3rd gear. The gear ratios are quite close, for it is possible to see 50 m.p.h. on the speedometer in 2nd gear but at anything over 30 the engine sounds very feverish. The car feels as if it could do with more power, nor did it provide the economy of running for which the Cortina GT is notable, general motoring about consuming premium petrol at the rate of a gallon every 23.5 miles. whereas the Cortina GT, driven moderately hard, returns 28-31 m.p.g. Certainly this new V4 engine used no oil in 1,000 miles and it started faultlessly. The dip-stick, at the front n/s of the new engine, is not particularly accessible.

The Corsair has better-looking seats than the Cortina (those of the latter’s are softer), but I prefer the instrumentation or the latter and dislike the coloured arcs or half-circles which serve as turn-indicator, generator and oil warning lights on the Corsair. The gear-change is good, with well-placed central lever, but notchy for getting into 1st gear when stationary. The steering, although normally lighter than that of the Cortina, is spongy and stiffens up when on lock combatting the considerable understeer. The half-horn-ring is sometimes ” lost ” at crucial moments, for the wheel requites over four turns, lock-to-lock. Of this, about half-a-turn is sponge and the castor action is rather sudden. There is strong understeer, embarrassing at times with such low-geared steering, and the feel of the car has deteriorated, perhaps due to the additional three-quarters of a cwt over the front wheels.

The brakes work well, but the facia hand-brake is awkwardly placed for pulling out with the left hand, and the Switches being on a panel under and recessed from the main facia, are slightly difficult to find. The suspension is not outstanding, Only the greater weight of the Corsair (engine weight is up by 70 lb.) damping out some of the up and down ride of the Cortina, and the car lurches on sharp corners. The bad-road, back-seat ride, is abominable.

I missed that lidded oddments-stowage well between the seats which is so useful on the Cortina GT; the heater control quadrant in the centre of the facia looks uninspiring and the levers functioned stiffly. But it is satisfactory that the opening quarter-lights of the Cortina have been replaced in the Corsair by fixed glasses, which is as it should be with Ford’s excellent Aeroflow ventilation system, which works admirably with all windows closed. Its controls arc more conveniently located, on the facia, than those of a Cortina.

The clutch is heavy and the throttle connections such that a smooth start was difficult to achieve, while I was not enamoured of a fuel gauge which read empty when some three gallons remained in the tank, so that the overall range of 228 miles was reduced to nearer 158 miles for those who feel anxiety when the gauge reads zero. The fuel filler is beneath the spring-loaded near number-plate, so that refueling from a can requires three hands and pump attendants have to make a separate trip, after replacing the hose, to secure the filler cap.

The neat dials of the Cortina GT include an ammeter and oil pressure gauge, which are lacking in the 1.7-litre Corsair and I prefer the knob-tuned Ford radio of the former to the press-button radio with which the Corsair was equipped. A minor point is that the longer, tubular rails of the Corsair’s external door handles are less easy to handle than the shorter ones of the Cortina.

The Corsair is, of course, the smarter car, but personally I would prefer to have a Cortina GT (£783), one of which has recently served me for 4,000 miles without an iota of trouble, and save £2. But the 2-litre Corsair GT may well be a very different proposition, and I think the new vee configuration of Ford’s latest engines will work out well, with time for development, because at the smaller throttle-openings this 1.7-litre version was impressively smooth and the torque was such that very useful top-gear pick-up was there for Mr. Disinterested who so seldom changes down. Filially, the Cortina GT I have been using just goes on and on without failing, in the traditional Ford mannor. Primarily, Dagenham sells dependable transport.—W.B