The Fabulous Ford Cortina at 50

01 December 2012
imports_CCGB_newvanguardsmk316gxl_31868.gif New Vanguards Mk3 1.6 GXL Cortina in Flame Red
As a postscript to the in-depth features appearing the the May to September issues of Diecast Collector magazine we round off our celebrations of 50 years of the Ford Cortina with news on some additions to the current ranges of 1/43 scale models on offer to collectors. ...

As a postscript to the in-depth features appearing the the May to September issues of Diecast Collector magazine we round off our celebrations of 50 years of the Ford Cortina with news on some additions to the current ranges of 1/43 scale models on offer to collectors.

The aim of this final article is to discuss some reader feedback and comment received since the series started and take a look at new models subsequently released plus some anticipated ones as well. I have suggested some possible future releases here and please feel free to have your say in our forum, what Cortinas would you like manufacturers to produce next? If you have missed the previous features in the series, please click here to order back issues.

Reader feedback

No-one pointed out any errors or omissions which was a relief! Mick Haven wrote in to raise the issue of Mk1 Lotus front bumpers, which were normally quarter bumpers taken from the rear of the Thames 307E van, so full bumper Lotus models are incorrect. But for the record, 168 Lotus Mk1b road cars used full bumpers for export to the US in a brief episode after LHD production started from 1965. This included PRP 74D, the basis of the MotorPro code 3 historic rally model and one of three Californian re-imports with PRP 87D and PRP 124D rebuilt by David Sutton Motorsport for retro-rallying, although now with normal Lotus bumpers.

This theme also explains why Politoys and Vanguards Mk1 saloons with full bumpers look slightly odd - they have an incorrect wraparound which did apply for the quarter bumpers, but never for full bumpers which were always straight. The effect is small but once spotted is noticeable, and also occurs slightly on Trofeu’s 1964 EAS Super.

Updates and additions

1. Some solid information was found at last about the French firm Eligor, stating that it was established in 1975 with early releases using redundant ex-Norev tooling. Therefore its extensive Mk1a Cortina series did not originate in the 1960s as suggested in the opening instalment (May 2012), and the revised chronology is: i] early-mid 1960s - Norev plastic Cortina Mk1a No 84, ii] 1971 - Norev Jet Car diecast Cortina Mk1a No N705, iii] 1975 or onwards - Eligor Cortina Mk1a range with numbers 1102-1105 and 2010-11. Further information remains frustratingly elusive, but it seems as if its first ranges used 10xx for old cars and 11xx for 1960s-70s models, in which case the initial 1102-05 Cortina sequences would have been some of its earliest launches.

2. The redundant moulds from the plastic 1/41 Politoys Mk1a No 78 were after all shipped to Mexico and reused locally by McGregor (branded as MC.GREGOR) after Politoys replaced its plastic version with the diecast No 508 (May 2012). On the basis of a sole mid-blue example seen on eBay, changes were limited to a new spoked wheel design (probably generic to McGregor and inaccurate for any real Cortina) and a restamped baseplate ‘Hecho En Mexico’, though retaining the Politoys No 78 script. This reuse applied for several other plastic Politoys moulds and the models are rare and expensive – the unboxed eBay Cortina had lost a door and had other damage but was being offered for over £58 plus shipping. This Mexican venture does not affect the 1990s Russian reuse of the tooling for the diecast No 508 by Novoexport as previously discussed.

3. The registration of the MotorPro Code 3 historic rally conversion is PRP 74D, as visible in the photos and accurate for the real car, not 64D as stated in the text. (September 2012).

4. The silver partwork IXO/Altaya Taunus TC3 equivalent of the Cortina Mk5 seems to have been used in various partwork series by country, so may become more common. Alongside the Spanish numberplates on the example illustrated in the September 2012 instalment, one eBay example has surfaced with Portuguese plates.

5. Several examples of the white partwork IXO Taunus TC3 for the Polish De Agostini series have been checked and show a low production quality, including chipped paint and clumsy component fit so that for instance the wipers do not lie on the windscreen. This is a substandard model compared to the other IXO/Altaya issues.

 New models released

There have been five Vanguards models so far released since I first started compiling this series and therefore not featured previously:

1. VA07309 Mk1b Super, Seafoam blue (certificated edition size 1000) KTO 959E, based on a preserved car registered in April 1967, several months after the Mk2 launch. It has neat Super detailing, but a strange slightly luminous greenish tinge.

2. VA07310 Mk1b, chrome plated (certificated edition size 612) LCC 39 within the continuing series of chromed Vanguards models directly available only to Corgi Collector Club members, but examples are appearing on eBay. Updated equivalent of the Corgi Classics 1994 Connoisseur Collection model 98264 with current Vanguards features and detailing.

3. VA10309 Mk3 1.6 GXL, Flame red (certificated edition of 1600, not 1150 as originally announced) OLH 866L; incorrect E pillar badge – should be GXL - and incorrect grille paint; welcome return of under-riders, very neat 1600 wing badges for this rare 1.6 GXL version although actual car now has 2-litre engine and various accessories (RS wheels, extra lights).

4. VA11905 Mk4 2.0S, Signal yellow (edition announced as 2000 but certificate not numbered) PNO 546R from Sweeney 2 film. Exactly as VA11902 silver 2.0S PNO 548R from the Sweeney television series apart from a correct change from Ghia alloys to steel sports wheels, wing mirrors now fixed, and the vivid yellow livery.

5. VA11906 Mk4 2.3 Ghia; delicate Bermuda blue with black vinyl roof and interior (certificated edition 2000) YJF 18S. Identical to VA11900 Roman bronze Ghia apart from colour, plates and fixed wing mirrors; again should have tinted windows. It is directly available only to Corgi Collector Club members, but easily found on ebay.

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Anticipated models

These were predicted in the respective series instalments and might have appeared by this publishing date, with the addition of a white NEO Taunus TC2 2.0S [Cortina Mk4 equivalent] announced for October 2012 as a normal retail model, paralleling the orange dealer exclusive edition illustrated in Diecast Collector July 2012. This uses the same two-door body so would inherit unconvincing dumpy proportions but is likely to have good detailing. No further Vanguards Cortinas were announced in its January–June 2013 schedule, leaving the following list:

• Four Trofeu Mk1 Lotus rally liveries: 2203 - Mk1b 1966 RAC Rally (Söderström/Palm winner No 11), 2204 - Mk1b 1967 East African Safari (Roger Clark/Staepelaere, 18th, No 6), 2205 - Mk1a 1964 Tour de France (Elford/Seigle-Morris, 4th No 38), and BRL7 - Mk1b 1966 RAC Rally (Jim Clark/Melia, retired, No 8) and reported as featuring damaged bodywork to reflect the two heavy crashes which caused retirement.

• NEO45136 Taunus TC2 2.0S white (as above)

• A rumoured Atlas Editions Best of British Police partwork Mk3 in Essex Police livery using the Vanguards model. This annoyingly secretive series is ongoing and can be tracked by what appears on ebay.

 Possible future models to consider

Despite so many modelled Cortinas, there are clear gaps for particular types and specific cars. This includes some which have never been replicated and others where an older and/or unconvincing model leaves a gap for a proper rendition to current standards. Some ideas may be commercially naïve, so the items suggested here are a starter for debate and reactions.

• No Mk1 Standard with its simple slatted front grille painted in body colour has ever been modelled; both Mk1a and Mk1b versions were produced in limited numbers, distinguished by the Mk1b Aeroflow grilles on the rear pillar and revised boot badge position. This was not a glamorous choice nor a UK sales success, so its lack of use is understandable.

• A four-door Mk1 would allow a proper London Transport radio car model, although has the clear risk of encountering market fatigue, and one of the fabled four-door Lotuses which allegedly slipped out. Other four-door themes include the 1963 Bathurst Mk1a GT 1st and 3rd place cars to accompany the 1964 and 1965 models from Classic Carlectables, several privately-entered 1963-64 East African Safari Mk1as, and the LHD unregistered Mk1b driven down the former Olympic bob-sleigh run in the town of Cortina as a publicity stunt in 1964. Several Ford publicity and press cars could provide additional uses.

• A good Mk1 Lotus road car is always popular but no longer easily obtainable, as the Minichamps pair of Mk1as and the excellent Classic Carlectables Mk1b have largely vanished. Mk1a Ideas include Jim Clark’s personal road car 550 VAR – a well photographed preserved example, and one of two cars factory fitted with independent rear suspension from an Elan - and BMK 723A, originally owned by Bruce Reynolds and impounded for nearly 20 years after the Great Train Robbery until it was bought for the Lotus Collection by Colin Chapman. The result is that it has only covered about 4000 miles and is a famous time capsule example. For the Mk1b, a properly executed Mk1b Lotus police car in West Sussex livery could supersede the simplistic 1990s Corgi Classics attempt.

• Many racing Mk1 Lotus gaps remain, especially for Jim Clark, such as a good rendition of the 1965 BSCC car JTW 498C and the 1966 BSCC racers PHK 614D & 615D (which were also driven by Graham Hill and others), or a proper version of Clark’s 1966 BSCC car KPU 396C, so that Corgi’s inept 96764 can be quietly forgotten. All these were Mk1bs. Other name drivers include Graham Hill who drove 1966 BSCC cars as above, or Jackie Stewart, who won the 1964 Marlboro 12 hours in the US with a Mk1a.

• No ordinary Mk2 Lotus model in the iconic white/green scheme has ever appeared but featured on 80% of full size production, often with period black sill stripes, and has several launch and press car possibilities. Another idea is DEV 565G, the gold Mk 2 presented to Lotus boss Colin Chapman by Ford to mark their joint successes in the 1960s. Colin used it as his everyday car but after his death it was forgotten until the Chapman Collection was assembled. When that was sold off, it was bought by Jamie Kitman, a famous New York-based car journalist and collector, and became the only known MK2 Lotus in the USA. It appears in a blink-and-miss-it night sequence in episode 1 of the US Pan-Am TV series (2011). Vanguards have captured the most obvious motorsport candidates during the Mk2’s fairly short-lived competition career, leaving no particular suggestions here.

• A four-door saloon casting would open up the much revered 1600E in which high collector interest is likely; Ford provided every member of the England 1970 World Cup football team with a white 1600E, all with consecutive registrations from GWC 1H and door logos. Other possibilities come from police usage such as GTs in Cheshire (as translated into a 2 door by Vanguards VA04116) and a Ford police-spec demonstrator, CNO 73G. This could also lead to a 4 door Lotus of which two were specially made, using 1600E bodyshells so containing all the Lotus suspension fixtures and body strengthening, and supplied to Mid-Anglia Constabulary (covering Cambridgeshire) with local June 1970 plates OEB580H and 581H; 580H survives and has been restored to its original livery. Lesser 4 door Mk2 police cars were used in several Commonwealth and colonial territories - Oxford has picked up on the Bermuda police in 1/76 scale, but Hong Kong, for instance offers an opportunity

• An obvious film livery comes from Get Carter, where Michael Caine’s hitman travels to Newcastle and rents a blue four-door deluxe Mk2 to screech dramatically around Tyneside; its unusual attribute is to switch registrations between YBB 371H and YBB 372H at various points in the film. However, the dark blue four-door deluxe (ULP 272F) extensively featured in Confessions of a Driving Instructor is unlikely to attract manufacturer interest.

• A more obscure possibility is a two-door 1600E, of which 2749 were produced after the 1968 facelift from CKD assembly in Antwerp for LHD European markets, but never sold in Britain. A handful have been repatriated, including a restored white example CMG 585H which has received magazine and show attention.

• Although there has never been a Mk5 Cortina model - only the IXO Taunus TC3 equivalent - there are few obvious ideas, as the later Cortinas lost their early glamour and most appearances onscreen tend to emphasise its mundanity Almost any British TV series or film for 20 years after 1970 with exterior sequences would contain Cortinas in some way or other, but if they were used in major roles, it was usually to emphasise how average their owners were. There are, however, a couple of more glamorous roles which Vanguards could pursue - if they overcome their marketing inhibitions - for further Sweeney squad cars. These Mk3 4 doors are the dark blue XL 2-litre NHK 296M used in series 1 & 2 - which appeared with and without roof lights - and the facelift white GT 2-litre NWC 300P from series 3.

The ‘Dagenham dustbin’ became part of so many people’s lives, delivering efficient transport without unnecessary complication but with some degree of panache, and explaining its appeal through to the present. In May 2012, possibly Britain’s last ‘brand new’ Cortina, a Mk5 2.0GL with 93 recorded delivery miles sold in Dundee for £18,000, over three times its original showroom price of £5,500. However, most Cortinas rusted badly, which leads to its final accolade as the second most scrapped car in Britain in the mid 1990s. In perhaps the only scenario it ever beat the Cortina, the Morris Marina came first.

Join the debate - go to our forum site and let us have your thoughts and ideas for future Cortina releases.