Ford Cortinas – 1200 and 1500
I read with interest your comments concerning the Editorial Cortina GT. My employers have just replaced one of the early Cortina 1200s with the latest 1500 version. The 1200 covered 46,000-odd miles, most of the time at the limit of its performance. The 21 months of intimacy was not without incident. One of the most alarming of these was the tendency of the throttle linkage to become unhitched after bouts of heavy braking. It appears that the rubber mountings of the engine were sufficiently flexible to allow the linkage to be pulled from its nylon bush under severe retardation. This happened about five times, and on four of these the engine "died" but on the other occasion the engine raced, and quick resort was made to the ignition key. 'he other odd things which "happened" are as follows:––
(1) The pulley fixed to the end of the crankshaft, driving dynamo and fan, parted company from the central boss. It seems that this pulley was made in sandwich form and spot welded, and presumably vibration was the cause. This happened twice in one month.
(2) Two timing-chain tensioners were replaced—there was presumably a design fault here.
(3) Silencer and exhaust piping was replaced because flanges had parted company, probably connected with the aforementioned engine movement under heavy braking.
(4) The engine undershield flopped down, as on the Editorial GT, dragging in the dust, and I, too, had helpful headlamp flashes and pointing fingers drawing my attention to the fact.
(5) The starter motor on occasions refused to engage; this was due to a bent shaft. The motor was replaced.
From the driving angle, I would agree about the seating position. This is too low but has been improved on the latest versions. The plastic upholstery, unbreathing, produced pools of sweat in the hot weather and was very uncomfortable, but this was altered on succeeding models by introduction of a woven fabric.
The gearbox was as sweet as a bird, the syncromesh being very efficient, allowing gear changes sans clutch. The modification of drilling an oil channel was carried out, but I should point out that if the gearbox was likely to seize it would have done so long before because all revs were used frequently.
The brakes (drum) were poor—not necessarily in themselves— but more that they were inadequate for the car's collosal performance. Here again the feed-back channels to Ford of Britain must work well because the latest versions have wonderful front disc brakes.
The performance of this vehicle was indeed tremendous for a 1200, and on one occasion on the Stevenage By-pass 100 m.p.h. was seen on the clock. Admittedly, this was probably at least 10 m.p.h. fast and conditions were probably favourable, but it does emphasise that the engine is first class. The overall petrol consumption was probably not better than 32 m.p.g. but, bearing in mind the usage, I do not think this was too bad.
No trouble was experienced with instruments but I felt that the right-hand stalk controlling lamps and direction indicators was poor in design. On occasions it was possible to inadvertently cancel a direction signal when gloves were being worn, but the latest version has been improved in this respect.
Bodywork was very good, bearing in mind the price range. "Mine" received washes once per week and was traded in with a new coat of silicone wax polish—the general condition receiving favourable comments from the transport section concerned. I did, however, have trouble with the driver's door. On one occasion the "dog" which is released when the push-button is used, failed to clear, and I spent an embarrassed 16 minutes breaking into the car in the middle of London with a thin piece of wood! The hinge on the driver's quarter-light snapped and the whole unit had to be replaced. The windscreen was inclined to shed tears at the bottom corners in heavy rain, but otherwise no rain entered the car.
I too, found the gap between 2nd and 3rd gears was large, but presumably this was the result of a compromise by the Ford engineers. The 3rd gear held up to 60 plus and was useful for passing the "mimsers."
The appearance of the range I would claim is fine, and I find the appearance of the tail most pleasing, being somewhat reminiscent of the latest Mercedes range—but of course much cheaper! The large rear lamps also seem to blend well—and didn't I see Cortina rear lamps on the hairy Lola-Ford GT?
To sum up, I feel that the conception of the Cortina range was brilliant; after all, the basics of frame strength and engine reliability must be responsible for the brilliant competition successes Ford have enjoyed (or should I say earned?).
The latest car supplied by my employers seems, on brief encounter (800 miles to date), to be the logical development of the original—all the features I found wanting on the original have been put right—but what about that front-end pulley?
Many thanks for your excellent magazine, which I enjoy monthly, the first port of call being the "Letters from Readers." Long may you continue to provide the only worthwhile voice in motoring matters.
Peter Staples – Maidstone.