Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 6

The Surprisingly Fast Family Car

Jeff Uren’s Personal Savage Estate :
Jeff Uren’s Personal Savage Estate :

Once, saloon and estate cars behaved soberly. Some of them got a bit spritely with the addition of a second carburetor and 1/2 inch wider tyres, and indeed I offered the 1962 Alfa Giulia as the partial template for the modern hot hatch/saloon a while back. Then, of course, there was the Lotus Cortina. The Mk2 Jaguar doesn’t count because it was always supposed to be fast anyway, so only surprised people who bought it in 2.4 litre form and found it slow.

Rover put its new V8 into the P6, but only in auto form until near the end of its long life and they mistakenly pitched it towards their clumsy preconception of the US market. Unlike today, the German industry generally showed remarkable restraint back then. The Neue Klasse BMW took a while to become surprisingly fast, the 2002 being the first that caught people’s attention. Pushing the idea of a family car, there is of course the glorious 300 SEL 6.3 V8 Mercedes. But there is a people’s alternative for the accolade of a missing link that led to RS Audis, M Series BMWs and AMG Mercedes, the Cortina Savage.

After the introduction of the Mark 2 Cortina near the end of 1966, ex race manger Jeff Uren decided to pop the 3 litre V6 from the new large Zodiac into the mid-sized Ford. The chassis was modified to accommodate this, and the conversions were highly professional, and with Ford’s blessing. In basic form, Ford’s pushrod Dagenham V6 unit was no Ferrari Dino competitor, and its 136 hp sounds rather meek today, but sub 10 seconds to 60 mph and a 110 mph top speed from a lazy, flexible engine were quite heady back then. Additionally there was the capacity for tuning, some later Weslake versions are supposed to have managed 218hp.

Later Uren did the same V6 shoehorning into Cortina Marks 3 to 5, Escorts and Transit vans and others, such as Crayford and Superspeed, followed the same route.

Savage Ad

9 thoughts on “Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 6”

  1. Yes, some remain certainly. The one at the top was for sale recently, and here’s a man who has restored one. Well over 1,000 Uren V6 transplants were done into various cars, but I don’t know how many were Cortinas. I believe he also marketed DIY kits.

    I found a suggestion that a one-off Lotus Cortina estate was built for a Ford director but, because it was an homologation special, the official version was strictly two door. After Ford embarrassed BMC by taking apart a Mini and concluding that they were losing money on each one built, BMC repaid the compliment by taking apart a Mark 1 Cortina and being truly appalled at the amount of body flex.

    Being available in 4 door form (usually based on a 1600E) and estate versions, the Savage seemed a far more practical owner proposition.

    1. I would never have assumed it was Richard. I put it in without comment since, generally, my view is that, unless you are the custodian of something of real cultural value, it’s your business what you do with it. And which cars have ‘cultural value’ we might discuss in a later thread.

      Speaking as someone who parks his own old car on London streets, and drives it as if it was a modern, I am entering into grey territory, but I find it an odd thing to do. However, the car looks otherwise well cared for, so we shouldn’t rush to judgement. Also the action takes place outside a pub, so maybe he woke up the next day with regrets.

      I remember that my thoughts on this sort of hooning are here, deep in the DTW Archives.

  2. I respect and intellectually agree with your point. Emotionally, less so. That this is so goes back to a deep-seated sense that people are properly custodians not owners. From all this arises my quaint political ideas as well. In practical terms, what the bloke does with the car is not important and for my sanity’s sake I should adopt more of your attitude! It could be that my RC upbringing left me prone to moralisation.

    1. It’s only an intellectual thing for me too. Emotionally I agree with you, and I was brought up an atheist. But, in the end, much as I’ve devoted so much of my time to them, I can’t pretend that, individually, cars aren’t anything but trivial and unimportant.

      A quick search on the internet will uncover historical pictures of what would be cherished cars today, being destroyed by banger racers. To some car people this might be on a par with ISIS destroying statues and temples in Nimrud and Palmyra, but,regrettable though it might be, cars were always supposed to have a finite life. Art and the results of mankind’s individual and collective endeavours are a bit more important, I believe, and when they are destroyed by bigots, or when they disappear into an plutocrats private collection, our collective history is diminished, and so are we.

      Today, of course, certain old cars have attained the status of artworks, and so ironically just as so many works of art are owned by people who care little for them, so are lots of cars owned by people who have the same disinterest. They are just totems of self-importance.

      Now what the fuck has all that got to do with a souped up Cortina?

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