A Car for Sunday: 1971 Ford Cortina Mk3

Once ubiquitous on the streets of the British Isles, the Mk3 Cortina is now vanishingly rare, and worthy of reappraisal.

1971 Ford Cortina Mk3. Image: The author

Walking through the lanes of the Suffolk market town I call home recently, I happened upon a car that I haven’t seen in the metal for many years. It was an arresting sight.

The car in question was a 1971 Ford Cortina, an early example of the Mk3 generation of Ford’s family stalwart. It was a four-door saloon, resplendent in dark metallic green. The lack of any additional badging on the boot lid and an absence of brightwork indicated that it was an entry-level base model. The cod-heraldic shields on the lower front wings behind the wheel arches proudly proclaimed it was a 1300, the smallest engine option available.

The 1970 Cortina Mk3 was a significant advance in style over the 1966 Mk2, itself a cautious reboot of the 1961 original. The Mk3’s wheelbase was extended by 3” (76mm) to 101” (2,565mm) which significantly improved rear legroom. Contrary to appearances, its overall length actually shrunk by ¼” (6mm) to 167¾” (4,261mm) in saloon form.

The rather staid upright lines of the Mk2 were replaced with a bang-on-trend sinuous Coke-Bottle waistline, heavily curved side glasses and a semi-fastback profile, with broad C-pillars flowing smoothly into the rear quarters and boot lid. The bonnet sported a prominent raised centre section, with a matching step in the grille and indent in the front bumper. One might be tempted to call this a power-bulge, but that would be writing a cheque that the weedy 1,297cc 60bhp (45kW) OHV Kent engine, carried over from the Mk2, would struggle to cash.

It was with the launch of the Mk3 that Ford really perfected the structure and nomenclature of its range hierarchy, ensuring that there was a Cortina for every purse, if not purpose, to misquote one time GM chief executive, Alfred P. Sloan Jr. The range started with the base model, simply branded Cortina with no suffix. There followed in ascending order L, XL, GT and GXL models. The latter pair were priced similarly but the GT had a sporting bias, while the GXL was steeped in luxury trimmings and equipment.

1971 Ford Cortina Mk3. Image: The author

Well, not quite. The differences between each model in the hierarchy tended to be rather minor and were mainly aesthetic rather than substantive. Additional exterior brightwork, side rubbing strips, rubber bumper inserts and over-riders(1), twin rather than single headlamps and, finally, that ultimate signifier of luxury, the black vinyl roof. Inside, cloth upholstery replaced vinyl, (plastic) wood-effect inserts embellished the dashboard and door trims, a push-button radio replaced a manually tuned unit, and a clock and rev-counter supplemented the otherwise sparse basic instrumentation. These higher trim levels were offered with the option of more powerful 1.6 and 2.0-litre engines, which added more go to the show.

Today, however, we need not concern ourselves with any of these permutations, as the Cortina we are examining is as basic and unadorned as they came, and the more interesting for it. The condition of the car might fairly be described as useable everyday classic. It was by no means concours, but perfectly respectable.  There was not a hint of rust in sight, but plenty of evidence of recent paintwork, so the usual horrors might be lurking beneath, depending on the extent and quality of the refurbishment work.

What minimal exterior trim was originally fitted was all present and correct, although the bright inserts around the windscreen and rear window were rather discoloured. The base model Cortina did not even have exterior wing or door mirrors fitted as standard, so this example had a couple of aftermarket items clamped around the leading edge of the door skins, which obviated the need for drilling into the bodywork. The pressed aluminium(?) front grille had survived remarkably unscathed for over half a century. The front bumper looked perfect, but the rear was noticeably pitted, or elegantly patinated(2), in the lexicon of classic car buffs.

Inside, the tan coloured vinyl upholstery looked to be in reasonable shape, although the drivers seat had been replaced(3) by one with a different embossed pattern, probably from an L version. In either case, the non-perforated surface would be an uncomfortably sweaty perch in hot weather.

1971 Ford Cortina Mk3 Dashboard. Image: thejalopy.com

The dashboard was a stylish affair, at least in early 1970’s terms, with two symmetrical inverted U-shaped mouldings either side of the centre tunnel. The one in front of the driver contained three deeply inset circular dials, with a central speedometer flanked by fuel and temperature gauges. The same space in front of the passenger contained a tall, wide but shallow(4) glove box.

Unfortunately, form was placed ahead of function and there was no room left for the Mk2’s excellent swivelling eyeball face-level ventilation outlets. Instead, the Mk3 had long narrow grilles immediately beneath the dashboard top moulding(5). One peculiarity of the Mk3 Cortina was its noticeably elliptical steering wheel.

Back in the 1970’s, Mk3 Cortinas were literally everywhere and barely attracted a second glance, especially base-spec examples like this one. Now, however, its lack of ornamentation provided the opportunity to appreciate the car’s contours and form, and there’s quite a lot to take in.

One detail that intrigues and appeals to me is seen in the rear three-quarter aspect, where the roof flows down the C-pillars into the rear wings in a smooth continuous sweep, with not a hint of a joint to be seen. It’s a lovely detail that looks classy and expensive, and so much nicer than the fussy C-pillar treatments that are almost universal today. Another nice detail is the complex pressing that forms the peak in the front wings containing the indicators.  It may not be razor-sharp like Volkswagen’s current efforts, but it’s still satisfying. The lack of front and rear quarter windows lends the DLO a pleasingly clean and uncluttered look.

1971 Ford Cortina Mk3. Image: The author

The raised centre section of the bonnet, continued through the grille and down to an indent in the bumper, gives the front end some character. Unlike the similar, but narrower and rather pinched looking arrangement on the contemporary Ford Taunus TC, it is nicely proportioned. That said, the front end was clearly designed primarily to suit the twin 5¾” headlamps of the GT and GXL versions. The single 7” items on this example do not sit so happily within the grille. At the rear, the small light clusters are very neatly incorporated into the corners of the wing and, uniquely on a Cortina, the boot opens down to bumper level(6).

Coming across a car I had largely forgotten about gave me the opportunity to study it anew and appreciate its refreshingly clean but not at all characterless design. It may not be regarded as any sort of classic, but it stands as a quiet rebuke to today’s overwrought and fussy automotive designs and their authors.

Author’s note: DTW contributor Richard Herriott has previously written a more formal analysis of the Cortina Mk3’s style, which may be found here.

(1) These actually fitted beneath the bumper, so are technically under-riders.

(2) A useful phrase I use occasionally to describe my own less than pristine appearance these days.

(3) Ford seats of this era had a reputation for being poorly padded and collapsing prematurely.

(4) Measured from front to back.

(5) The 1973 facelifted Mk3 would receive a new dashboard, which saw the return of the eyeball vents. This dashboard would be carried forward into the Mk4 and Mk5, the latter formally designated the ‘Cortina 80’.

(6) The Cortina Mk4 reverted to a fixed rear panel and high-level boot opening. Ford PR types excused this retrograde step by saying that it made it easier to see when the boot was fully loaded!

 

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

55 thoughts on “A Car for Sunday: 1971 Ford Cortina Mk3”

  1. A good morning to the elegantly patinated gentleman who delights us with so many articles here. I remember the Mk3 Cortina, or Taunus as it was called in the rest of Europe quite well. My granddad had a coupé in GXL trim with a V6 engine. I’m not sure if it was the 2.0 or 2.3 version. The car in the photo has the same colour and vinyl roof as his did.

    Unfortunately the car got totaled in a massive car pile up, that seriously injured many people and sadly there were casualties to report as well. My granddad escaped unharmed, but when my dad picked him up on the way home they were involved in another crash that nearly totaled my dad’s one year old Simca 1308 GLS. I can still vividly picture the damaged Simca, even though I was only 4 years old at the time.

    My granddad truly loved his Mk3 coupe. He briefly looked at a Capri, but in the end he bought a two door gold metallic Taunus mk4 with brown vinyl roof. It had a 2.0 V6. I don’t think my granddad had the same affection for his Mk4 as he did for the Mk3.

    1. After two heavy crashes in two consecutive journeys I admire your Grandfather’s courage in picking up a set of car keys again! I would have been left wondering which of the travel gods I had offended!!

    2. Good morning Freerk. Yikes, what an awful thing to happen! I’m not sure I’d want to leave the house again in those circumstances.

      The Taunus Coupé always intrigued me, as it seemed to overlap heavily with the Capri and must have taken some sales from it. Ford’s UK and German operations still enjoyed a large degree of autonomy, hence the Mk3 Cortina and Taunus TC shared much under the skin and yet had entirely different exteriors:


      At the time, I remember thinking that the Cortina was more stylish with its fashionable ‘coke-bottle’ waistline, but the Taunus was more a timeless design and anticipated the Mk4 reskin.

    3. I’m trying to picture my granddad’s train of thought he must have had at the time. It probably involves something like this: I’ve been trough this twice, it surely isn’t going to happen a third time. I’m named after him and inherited his love of cars and driving. Hopefully I inherited his courage too.

    4. After its sales start the Taunus TC very quickly had a bad reputation because of its many teething troubles. After fifteen months Ford Cologne started a programme that significantly improved product quality and was announced and advertised widely in its home country. One of the problems of the original cars was that its front door windows wouldn’t wind up properly at speeds above 120 kph when the glass would sit on the outside of the chromed window frame. To prevent this the revised version got a small black plastic triangle on the window frame rail running parallel to the A post about five or ten centimetres below the top of the window that helped to guide the glass back into the window frame. The yellow Taunus coupé in Freerk’s comment has this triangle and is a post-improvement car and the green saloon shown in the article does not. I’ve never seen a Cortina with this detail except for the yellow one above – is this original or a retrofit modification and did the Cortina Mk3 go through the same improvement process as the Taunus?
      Nobody would have bought a used Taunus TC without those small triangles but all modern ‘restored’ (bodged) examples come without them.

    5. That’s interesting, Dave. I remember noticing those black plastic wedges and guessed what they were for. I wonder if some restorers removed them for a ‘cleaner’ look, not realising their purpose?

    6. Does this mean there were Cortinas with and without those plastic wedges and Ford of Britain ran a quality improvement programme similar to the Taunus? Just asking because I’ve never seen a Cortina with this detail except for the yellow one pictured here.
      An uncle was what what we nowadays would call customer experience manager at a large Ford dealer and customer complaints about early Taunus TCs would drive him mad.

  2. I was reminded of the lost ubiquity of the Cortina during the summer when I merged onto a motorway between two of them. Being the meat in a Cortina sandwich was once a truly unmemorable state, now it was remarkable for being remarkable.
    I spent the rest of my journey humming the Sawdoctors’ “Red Cortina”, a song dedicated to the pleasures of nostalgia if ever there was one.

    1. What an excellent start to a Sunday morning! DTW mentions “The Saw Doctors”… Is this the first time I wonder? We need to know please.

    2. Good morning Michael and Mike. I’ll have to refer the question regarding the Saw Doctors to Eóin, who will certainly know the answer, as my knowledge of popular music is both sparse and embarrassingly lacking in taste and discrimination.

    3. Ah, the Saw Doctors, what memories. There they are, sat in their Red Cortina, driving on the N17, all the way to Tuam. Wonderful times in the west of Ireland.

    4. I can probably state with some authority that today is the first DTW mention of Irish hit combo, The Saw Doctors. Apart from that, I really am not well placed to comment.

      The music reference I tend towards when it comes to Ford’s once ubiquitous midliner is ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ from The Artic Monkeys’ 2013 album AM. The lyric goes… “I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
      Breathin’ in your dust, I wanna be your Ford Cortina I will never rust..”

      Good band, great record.

      The Cortina? Bit like the Saw Doctors really. Never much cared for them.

  3. Ah the Cortina… Memorable also for many car chases in The Sweeney, which I faithfully tried to emulate with my Corgi version of it.
    PS- I think they used the later version of Cortina, Mk4?

    1. In the DTW spirit of completeness, perhaps we should note that the song, whose performance by the Saw Doctors is mentioned above, is actually a John Cooper Clarke composition, originally published as a poem, and subsequently set to music on his (recommended) 1982 album, Zip Style Method ?

    2. Richardf: I think you were referring to the Artic Monkeys track – I somewhat doubt the Saw Doctors have adapted a John Cooper Clarke piece – I’m not certain the incomparable Mr. Clarke would necessarily be their style.

  4. I have owned one of these for a long time now, first purchased as a daily driver in around 2003, then taken off the road for a full restoration. It is a middle ranking XL facelift model, now repainted in the original ‘Roman Bronze!’

    1. Good morning Konikov. Great to see a Mk3 being properly restored. Thanks for sharing and good luck with the project!

    2. By the way, what a lovely dog! What breed is it?

    3. A Deutsche Dogge/Great Dane of the harlequin variety, I’d assume.

  5. The elegantly patinated Mr O’Callaghan reminds me, once again, of my age….. The Cortina’s ubiquity was, in its day, taken for granted – as Michael confirms. Not only was it the family car of choice for all Ford fans, it comfortably outnumbered it rival the Vauxhall Victor (the choice of those who were not Ford fans). And in an era dominated by the company car, it was always first choice for fleet managers – animated pub conversations centred around the minute detail differences in trim levels which assumed status indications out of all proportion to their reality. But that was daily life back then.

    How the world has changed – and how nice to be reminded of it by such a rare survivor. As for The Sweeney – it was usually a parked Cortina which got clipped by the Mk 2 Jag on its way to being destroyed, the Ford in pursuit being a Consul disguised as a Granada….. Bodie & Doyle, however, spent a lot of time in their XR3s & Capris chasing villains in Cortinas.

    1. I think it was a white Mark 2 Escort RS2000 rather than an XR3. But thank you for reminding me. I now have a slightly vacant and happy expression on my face.

  6. Good morning pj. The Sweeney was produced from 1975 to 1978 and the Cortina Mk4 was launched in 1976, so both may have appeared. The star car was, of course, the Consul 3000GT:

    Wasn’t it strange that Ford branded the 3000GT as a Consul rather than the supposedly more upmarket Granada? Maybe they thought it made it a better working-class hero?

  7. My father owned the Marks 2, 3 and 4 iterations so I retain an encyclopaedic recall of their specs even if I can’t remember now where I left my car keys. That basic Cortina saloon lacked the mid-grille “C” badge fitted to the L and XL so all could see your penury as you drove into the work car park. The range higher up bifurcated into XL and GT: the former having luxury trappings like plastic wood, the latter the sporty stuff including illegible extra gauges on a centre console. The GXL combined the two specs for the benefit of the plutocracy. Incidentally, I always thought Vauxhall’s coke bottles- the FD Victor and HB Viva- were far cleaner designs than the Fords.

    1. Of course the “coke-bottle” Victor pre-dated the Mk3 Cortina by four or five years, so the Ford was simply keeping-up with the competition.

    1. Chapeau, William, that is quite some list of Cortina related songs, most of which are completely unknown to me.

    2. Not forgetting the opening lines of the Elvis Presley song ‘Suspicious Minds’: “We’re cortina trap, I can’t walk out…”

    3. Very funny, Dale! 😁 I’m partial to a good (or even bad) pun!

    4. And a couple more to make it a Top 12.

      Ian Dury’s Billericay Dickie
      “Had a love affair with Nina
      In the back of my cortina
      A seasoned-up hyena
      Could not have been more obscener
      She took me to the cleaners
      And other misdemeanours
      But I got right up between her
      Rum and her Ribena”

      While maybe the ultimate tribute is/are The Cortinas. At my school we swore that our Economics student teacher was the drummer from them, though never confirmed either way.

      http://www.bristolarchiverecords.com/bands/The_CortinasQandA.html

  8. Mark 3 Cortinas were often the taxi home from the pub in the late 80s, usually the seats would be a harlequin mix of a variety of colours and textures of vinyl, presumably whatever was least worn at the scrapers.
    The low set back seat was a scramble to get out of.

    I always thought the rear door windows were odd looking, in these photos they aren’t as bad as my memory. I still find the curve of the rear door at the C pillar a bad match for the sharp corner at the top of the A and B pillars. The bright triangle at the corner of the window opening makes it look like Ford were proud of getting rid of a quarter window. To me it draws attention to the rear door being disproportionately longer than the front door.
    Just my opinion.
    I like the tail lights and the boot lid between them on this generation of Cortina and wonder how the Allegro which copies it looks so wrong.

    1. Hello Hummel. I also remember the Mk3 Cortina for having really poor seats. They were superficially soft and comfortable, but you soon bottomed out (and I wasn’t heavy) and then they gave you backache.

      Those tail lights are indeed really neat. They must have been just about as small as legally possible while incorporating everything required.

    2. The featured Cortina has the early version of the rear lights where the red forms a ‘C’ round the indicator and reversing lights. Facelifted ones, with the plastic front grilles, had the orange extended to the outer edge like a layer cake.

    3. Chapeau, Bernard, if there was an Olympics in car detail spotting, you would be a gold medal winner! I pride myself on my geekery, but that had completely passed me by. Here’s the facelifted car’s rear light unit.

      You have to wonder why Ford would spend money on such a marginal change, given that it was unlikely even to be noticed by the vast majority of potential buyers and, even then, it’s a moot point as to whether it is an improvement. Perhaps it improved the visibility of the indicator from the side?

  9. If I think for a minute about cars and popular culture, I find that whereas popular songs in the 1970s referred to quite a range from Cadillac to Ford via Benz, these days I feel rap culture has shifted the focus towards more ostentatious brands decisively. Fords and Vauxhalls were a larger part of popular culture (and cars generally) than now despite more of them being sold now than then. One case to be explored is how a shift from mass-industrial working class culture communicated in a small set of channels suited brands like Ford and Vauxhall. As with most of the rest of modern life, culture is fragmented so a reference carries less weight. Even if a popular drama on a terrestrial channel made a particular brand the focus of its main character´s transport needs I don´t suppose anyone one would notice much. Would the model be understood as clearly as Cortina? If I give my anti-hero a Subaru, for example, would anyone get the meaning of the association?

  10. I was once a front seat passenger in a Mk3, and it struck me that the windscreen header rail was rather too close to my head. My ‘own’ car at the time was an 1800 Landcrab, which was of course far more spacious.

  11. There’s plenty Cortina-related on YouTube, of course, but I like this Ford documentary about its development. The voice-over artist is Joss Ackland, I think.

    And thank you for the reminder for me to programme some presets in to my car’s radio. I’ve been lazy and have been scrolling through the stations which isn’t safe.

    To Richard’s point, Subaru = farmer / rural inhabitant to my mind. I think a modern (non-classic) car could still carry an association, though – especially if it was something a bit unusual.

    1. Deborah Harry (Blondie) name checks Subaru in “Rapture”. Not much rural association there; pure New York.

    2. Around where I live Subarus are very much cars for the urbanite and suburbanite. Perhaps I´d get my character to drive a Renault Safrane, just to throw listeners off the scent. In that vein, perhaps I´d start with the car and generate a character around that: what kind of person has a Renault Safrane in 2021.

      Riddance Goode (BBC4, 22.15-23.00)
      A mysterious discrepancy in a thirty year old accounts ledger leads Goode (Gayle Sterning) to an apparently deserted hotel in a former fishing town in Scotland. Dan Cussons (Ben Cussons) is unable to find a replacement fuel pump for Goode so she borrow´s her step-father´s car. Will it be able to complete the journey? Directed by Ann Mainwairing.

    3. The Boss himself makes reference to Fuji Heavy Industries’ best known product line in “Pink Cadillac” (originally the B-Side of “Dancing in the Dark”):

      “But my love is bigger than a Honda
      Yeah, it’s bigger than a Subaru”.

      From the context it’s not wholly clear whether his love is primarily for the Pink Cadillac or its owner.

    4. And of course The Fountains of Wayne ” ’92 Subaru”.

  12. I was a junior manager in the 70s and company car was a basic 1300 as per the one in the intro. Serious lack of power and handled like a cart. I did however fit a towbar and “just” managed to tow a Thomson T line caravan. Happy days!

    1. These day the equivalent is what, exactly? Is it a base model 3 series or is it some other kind of car entirely? I just don´t know. These people do: ´https://www.whatcar.com/best/most-popular-company-cars-2021/n22666
      The Golf (1), Corsa (2) and Cashcow (3) take the podium in the UK, apparently. The Focus is in there along with the 3 series and a Volvo. It´s quite diverse now. The 3 is the only saloon. And exclusivity is not a factor any more either. The heir to the Cortina´s throne is the 3 series. How long before people decide it´s too banal?

    2. Good evening Alfred. Welcome to DTW and thanks for sharing your memories of the Mk3, which you describe perfectly as regards power and handling! If we drove one today, I think we would be shocked to be reminded of how much cars have progressed in half a century.

    3. Out of curiosity I had another look at the Golf, Astra and Focus dashboards. Does anyone else think Ford over-tomatoed the ketchup? It is very busy-looking. WhatCar accused it of being low-rent which I don´t believe; that´s over-statement. I do think it is very complex and curlicued. Peugeot´s 308 is formally distinctive – does it work well? None of them float my ship though. All of them are way too complex. Lucky old me, I don´t need to buy an new car though, thankfully.

    4. Hi Richard. Ford seems to have trouble with its dashboards. They always seem to be trailing behind current fashions. The 2002 Fiesta Mk5 had one that was hard and hollow when soft-touch, slush-moulded plastics were becoming the norm. The Mk6 had the Nokia 3310 style button-fest in the centre when smartphones were rapidly replacing old feature phones. The current Fiesta is ok, but the ‘perceived quality’ of the materials remains a rung below the best.

      As for the current Focus, the dashboard looks a bit busy and overstyled to my eyes, with poor integration of the different elements:

    5. That´s the image I saw. There are pointy and round things and very few large surfaces. It is not much on example of variety in unity which people tend to prefer. To be fair, a lot of interiors have the same problem. My Peugeot 406 is not good example either but a lot simpler than this shape festival.

  13. Hi Daniel,

    In response to your earlier question regarding the dog, I believe it is a Great Dane, but happy to be corrected by someone more in the know!

  14. My dad had a series of Cortinas as company cars in the 70s – starting with a MkII in dark blue, and then MkIIIs in sherbet bon-bon-yellow, followed by a sky blue, both solid hues, and both in L trim. He then went on to have a Mk4 and Mk5 before moving onto Montegos (as the Siera was suffering from a reputation for expensive insurance repairs at the time).

    It was interesting as a child, already in the spell of automobilia (my Mum swears that I could name most cars by the age of 5), to witness the progressive evolution that Ford exacted on the Cortina. Of course, I noticed the things that mattered to me as a child more than anything else. Hence, every one of them made my (older) sister car sick, which occasionally turned physical leaving nasty smells for whichever trip we were on. This was down to the pitch and sway one experienced of the rear suspension, and the fact that one sat low in a somewhat dark rear cabin with restricted views. She never had similar issues, interestingly, in Mum’s Austin 1300. The odd thing was that, apart from that, the rear seat itself always felt very comfortable, even when trimmed in vinyl (which the MkIIs and IIIs were) with a high and reclined seat back which still stands out to me – I have always assumed that this comfort was helped by the fact that the seat back was fixed and did not fold to help with the practicalities of luggage space.

    Then there was the development of the windscreen washers. On the earlier cars, this was actuated via a rubber button – not unlike a DS’s brake ‘pedal’ – to one side (I can’t recall which) of the pedal-box, which the driver had to tread on repeatedly to encourage the water/ screen wash onto the – erm – screen. This was so poor that my Dad tended to have a washing up bottle full of diluted screen wash to hand which he would sometimes apply by reaching our of the driver’s side window and squirt onto the screen. I think the Mk4 he had (in red) introduced an electric motor actuated via a prod on one of the control stalks protruding from the steering column.

    Finally, ICE (I mean, In Car Entertainment). All of Dad’s cars came with a radio. The earliest cars were just MW/ LW jobs with one or two speakers up front. In warm weather they were useless as the only way to reduce the level of heat in the car (and avoid the lingering smell of vomit) was to open the windows. The Mk5 came with 4 speakers and FM, which felt so sophisticated, but signal strength always seemed an issue.

    Happy, simple, motoring days.

  15. Thank you all for sharing your great Cortina memories, and your extensive knowledge of popular music, most of which was completely unknown to me. I cannot say that I’m a great deal wider, but a certainly enjoyed the read!

  16. I had three Mk3s in period – a 2000GXL and two 2000Es. None of them gave a moment’s trouble although the first 2000E (it had a plate on the slam panel reading “Made in Amsterdam”) started rusting after the first shower of rain. The second one, in Arizona Gold with brown vinyl roof and Webasto was really nice. I was never crazy about the looks which reminded me of a Victor FD which had survived a concrete block test! You might be rude about the 1300 engine but I recall a motorway trip on a very early 1.3 Mk4 and was very disappointed to find it was quieter and smoother than the 2.0.

    1. Hi Glyn, and thanks for sharing your Cortina Mk3 recollections with us. Regarding the engines, I’m not surprised by your observation. As I recall, the ‘Kent’ OHV engine was decently smooth and refined but the OHC ‘Pinto’ engine had a reputation as a rough old nail.

  17. The interior design of the mk3 ‘Tina is mini Dearborn at its finest. Similar designs could be found in GM products, the Opel GT and the Vauxhall Victor FE (The story of the Transcontinental as it was known is superbly told on Vauxpedia…) treated their owners to similar experiences.
    European interior design is pretty damned scary territory at the moment, simplicity is almost impossible to achieve. As soon as an unadorned surface is propsed management insists that a gargoyle be introduced. A pathological terror of the simple is running riot in design studios around the world.
    Parallels can be drawn to the prevalence of adornment beloved of Victorians and abhorred by William Morris. He gave us Art and Crafts, a return to value.
    A notable exception can be found at Land Rover, where simplicity reigns. There are rules at LR regarding interior design. Rules that ensure a feeling of security on board. A certain visual purity is insisted on. The design process is focused and Land Rover DNA is strong stuff…
    The scattergun approach will be employed elsewhere as long as design is subjugated to fashion and as long as bad taste sells. Would a simple design sell or be perceived as « lacking »?

    1. Good morning Rob. I couldn’t agree more with your observation and would extend it to cover exterior design as well. Elsewhere on DTW we have been discussing Nissan’s 100NX, 200SX and 300ZX coupés and I’m struck by how attractive these designs are. We probably took such designs for granted when they were current, but they throw into sharp focus the predominant fussy and overly ornamented designs that now clutter up the automotive landscape.

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