Ford Lotus Cortina

Revered thanks to Jim Clark – and still in demand today

The car above rolled off the Ford assembly line as a humdrum Cortina 1500 saloon, in dark green, and began its second life at the workshops of British Touring Car Championship front-runner Team Dynamics. “It wasn’t exactly a wreck,” says owner Steve Soper, “but it hadn’t been cared for terribly well. I commissioned the guys at Dynamics because I’ve known them for about 35 years and they work to a very high standard.

“I’d owned a Lotus Cortina previously, bought ready to race, but sold it because I fancied having one built from the ground up. We had the newly acquired shell acid-dipped and started from there. I let Dynamics do all the technical stuff, but helped out with the build programme where I could. When I used to race for manufacturer teams, my only real involvement with the car was turning up at the track, jumping in and driving. With this, I feel much more engaged because I watched the whole thing come together and had an active, hands-on role in its creation.

“It made its debut at last year’s Donington Historic Festival and I had a pretty good season – I wasn’t beaten by another Cortina in any of the races I finished. When the Banks brothers turned up with their Alfa GTA, however, I knew I’d have a fight on my hands. I think they beat me three times and I beat them once. The most satisfying weekend was probably Zandvoort, where I started 36th after a troubled practice but came through to win.”

The car is currently for sale for £125,000 to finance future projects, but while awaiting a buyer Soper wheeled it out once more at the 76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting.

“I know people struggle to get their heads around six-figure sums being spent on Cortinas,” he says, “but in the context of modern historic racing there aren’t many more cost-effective options – except perhaps a Mini Cooper, and I’m sure the difference isn’t all that great. In my dreams I’d love to have a go in a Jaguar E-type, but that’s at a level I simply can’t afford.”

What’s next? He’s not saying… yet.

Price new: £1,100 3s 1d (road car) Price now: £55,000-60,000 (road); £80,000-120,000 (racer) Rivals: Alfa Romeo GTA; BMW 1800 Ti Heritage: Early homologation special; created to make Ford look cool