The mildly derogatory term ‘Repmobile’ conjures up images of a medium-sized, medium-specification saloon or hatchback hammering along some endless motorway on a dreary weekday under leaden skies. The driver is a man sporting a shirt and tie, his suit jacket limply hanging from the coat hook behind his ear. Whether they be Vectras, Cortinas, Mondeos, Carinas or Sierras, for the motoring enthusiast, such cars represent a mostly barren field of interest. But far away and many years ago, Ford South Africa turned at least some of them into decidedly more stimulating steeds.
In Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe, the 2.3 litre V6 was as far as it went for the Cortina Mk5 and its Germanic twin, the Taunus TC3. Most sales reps would remain confined to the 1.6-litre four, although, if they exceeded their targets consistently and by a sufficient margin, a 2-litre version fitted with some extra trinkets might be their reward.
A retrospective on a car that went from cynical marketing exercise to icon for a generation of drivers.
That Ford chose to produce the Capri was as logical as night following day. The US Ford Mustang, launched five years earlier and, like the Capri, based largely on a humble sedan (the Falcon), had been a huge sales success. Ford had expected to shift around 100,000 Mustangs annually, but 400,000 were sold in its first year and a further 600,000 in its second year of production. Little wonder that, on seeing these numbers, Ford Europe decided to Continue reading “A Promise Fulfilled (Part One)”
“Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared”.
Dystopian paranoia and reactionary politics were the order of play as this turbulent decade faded out. Having become inured to kidnappings, airline hijackings and low-level terrorism, 1979 witnessed the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and the ascent to power of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher led the Conservative Party to power, proving Britain could Continue reading “Anniversary Waltz – Never Get Out of the Boat”
This may very well be a transcript of an article from 1977 concerning the motoring week of renowned motoring journalist, Archie Vicar.
(The original text is from the Oldham Evening Chronicle, Nov. 30, 1977. The original photos were by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to a copyright dispute, stock images have been used)
Just back from Frankfurt where the annual car show takes place. Was delayed en route midway down la Belle France (around Burgundy, of course) so I missed the show by some margin. But – I did speak to some of the exhibitors afterwards, allowing me to take an interesting jaunt around Germany and France in Ford’s excellent new 2.3 litre Cortina V6 Ghia which, to quote the advertisement, offers “smooth performance and refinement in a car that’s built to last“.
Rust is often a problem for cars but Ford’s 17 stage body protection means Cortina owners have one less thing to worry about! The gearbox was a delight, one which “so often sets the standards others are judged by“. After several days at the wheel in all kinds of foul weather, the Cortina looked as rust free as when I collected it at Ford’s HQ in Cologne (fine beers!). So, on Monday it was Stuttgart to Continue reading “Vintage Motoring: Archie Vicar’s Motoring Week”
Generally I prefer to avoid memoirs of car ownership except en passant. I will try to do so here when having a small look at the afterlife of the 1984 Buick Century.
The reason I am in any way concerned with a car like this is that for a year and a half I owned such a vehicle, almost exactly like the one in the main photo. It differed only in that it had plate sized-rust patches on both front doors.
This one is just a single photo. The car drove off before I could get more shots and plus also the driver sat inside and didn’t seem like the kind of person who would appreciate my interest.
I have blurred the driver’s face, just in case. Normally I don’t photograph people in cars or cars if there are people in them.
Now: In 1983 Toyota presented the E80, the fifth generation of their answer to the VW Golf and Ford Escort. That makes it mainstream in the extreme. A look back at the previous four generations of Corollas shows cars that are studiously nothing much to look at. Maybe the second generation (1970-1974) had a touch of the American about it, not unlike the Cortina. Even that faint whiff of personality faded away for version three which managed to Continue reading “Sprint to the Middle, Walk to the Start”
Some time back I promised that I would return to the topic of the form language exemplified by the 1970 Ford Cortina. Well, here we are.
Prompting this much-delayed exegesis is the coincidence of an academic paper (Carbon, 2010) which I came across (check out Google Scholar) and the fact that someone parked a new Mazda3 outside my front door.
To start with the easy part, we can talk about the concepts of angular and curved. Two prototypical examples might be the VW Beetle (rated as very curved in Carbon’s paper) and angular as embodied by the 1968 Carabo Concept (Carbon showed a 1986 Alfa Romeo 75, please note). So, where does the 1970 Ford Cortina fit in? What is it like? Continue reading “1970 Ford Cortina Revisited: Form”
Ascona could be a place that takes you to other places, as in the driver’s seat of the Opel Ascona (1970-1988) or it could be the town in the Locarno district of Switzerland. I have to admit that until very recently in my life the Opel’s Swiss association lingered at the very far back of my mind. It lurked somewhere with Portuguese kings and medieval musical instruments.
For most of my time on earth Ascona meant not a nice Swiss town but an unremarkable shape that usually rusted by the side of the road. Opel must have had in mind the image of a pretty lakeside village with roots deep in the Bronze age but which is first mentioned in 1224 as Burgus de Scona. Until the end of the 19th century Asconans occupied themselves with fishing and agriculture but they also sometimes went forth as masons to Continue reading “Theme: Places – Ascona”
The BMC Mini and the Ford Cortina represented two contradictory strands of the British character.
Soon after its release, Ford, notoriously, took apart a Mini and realised what BMC hadn’t worked out, that each car sold would lose the company money. It wasn’t going to make the same mistake. Ford Germany inherited the abandoned front-drive ‘Cardinal’ project from the USA to become the Taunus 12M, but Ford Britain were having none of this fancy stuff and its ‘Archbishop’ (ho, ho) project was very, very conventional. But what the first (Consul) Cortina did offer was a lot of up-to-date looking car for the money. Less well recorded is that BMC, returning the favour, bought a new Cortina, took it apart and were appalled at the bodyshell’s lack of torsional stiffness. But even had this fact been publicised, it’s unlikely that it would have affected the Ford’s success. Continue reading “Ford Cortina Mark IV at Forty. Time for a comeback?”
What do the Triumph Toledo, the Ford Taunus and the Rover 75 have in common?
For a very long time the general trend in automotive drivetrain layouts has been to move from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. It started in earnest in the 60’s with smaller cars from mainstream manufacturers though of course the pioneers were specialists, Citroen and Lancia. Thus a trickle of front-wheel drive superminis exploited the packaging efficiency of front-wheel drive and showed the way forward. Then the Golf/Kadett/Escort class yielded as follows: 1974 for the Golf, 1979 for the Kadett and 1980 for the Escort. Things took a little longer to Continue reading “Throwbacks: Examples and Non-Examples”
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. Continue reading “Theme : Evolution – The Missing Links 6”