Corgi Vanguards Cortina Mk5

06 February 2023
We review the new tooling and compare it with the previously-released Mk4 and Ixo's Taunus TC3.
Corgi Vanguards Cortina Mk5 Images

Corgi’s new Vanguards-branded Cortina Mk5 range marks the 60th anniversary of the original Consul Cortina Mk1 in September 1962, with the debut livery (No VA15001, curiously repeating the catalogue number of a Trumans Beer Thames Trader from Lledo’s pre-Corgi era) depicting the last ever UK-made Cortina, a run-out edition 1.6 Crusader. Now released, the model can be assessed to see whether it lives up to the hype.

This is the first ever Cortina Mk5 in mainstream diecast, although Ixo/Altaya offer an identical twin Taunus TC3 in both retail or partwork editions. My sporadic series of Cortina articles in this magazine has frequently highlighted the unfilled Mk5 gap, but strongly cautioned against trying to bodge a Mk5 from a Mk4 casting due to a myriad of differences, which are individually barely noticeable, but cumulatively would produce something which would just not look right.

Corgi’s progress bulletins recounted how a full LiDAR (Laser Imaging, Detection And Ranging) 3D scan was taken of this actual car, GHK 1Y built on 22 July 1982 and preserved in Ford’s Heritage Collection. The result should therefore be a brand new and pinpoint accurate casting, and with my rivet-counter’s head fully calibrated, the detailed differences from the Mk4 can be explored.

The Mk4 arrived in October 1976, a few months after its Taunus TC2 twin. The largely German-developed design was mechanically similar to its predecessors, but replaced bulbous shapes with straightened edges, flatter surfacing, a large airy cabin, and recurring rectangularity for key elements such as the grille, headlights, and bumpers. The result was successful, with 1.1 million Mk4s and TC2s sold in its 3-year life.

Ford’s customary, mid-life face-lift arrived in September 1979 as the Cortina ’80 - although everyone called it Mk5 - and Taunus TC3, instantly recognisable from the new bladed grille and larger front and rear lights. However, this extravagant revamp involved reconfiguring every body panel and consumed £50m (about £250m today) with re-tooling costs. Key objectives were a tauter appearance, with increased window areas giving a fuller cabin and sharper body edging.

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Peak roof height remained similar but a flattened top removed the previous slight doming allowing taller door frames and side windows and slightly steeper front and rear screen angles, the rear screen received sharp upper corners, a lower beltline along the side window base increased window depth, and overall glass area increased by 6%. The vents on the now taller rear pillars were enlarged and given a black emphasis, which resumed around the window outlines, the central bonnet feature line was removed to leave a flat main portion, and larger black bumpers and mirrors were integrated into the front door window corners. Alongside other smaller tweaks, the result was significantly fresher.

The Vanguards Mk4 casting, VA119xx, has now produced 18 liveries since 2012, including one A/B version and an unreleased number (VA11909). I’ve always felt that this collection looks slightly off-kilter, because the shallow front pillar angle seems to push the roof too far back and squashes the cabin. However, other shape elements were well executed, including components for precise version differentiation and some skilfully executed liveries.

Placing the Mk5 alongside the Mk4 - using the colour-matched VA11902 (the uncredited 2.0S from The Sweeney) - Corgi has successfully incorporated all the full-size differences outlined above, and this genuinely appears to be a fully new casting and not a disguised re-hash. Other hints include the body edging along the wing tops seeming much sharper and more distinct outlines for items such as doors, bonnet, boot and fuel cap. The overall impression is therefore much crisper. My bugbear about the windscreen pillar angle and squashed cabin is no longer apparent, and this glistening livery has gorgeously fine pinstripes, the small Daily Express-derived Crusader rear logo, a radio aerial stub on the front wing, a revised front valance, inset door handles, paler seat panels, wood veneer door cappings, and better wheel definition. A completely new baseplate, with unexpectedly different mechanical outlines, provides an improved exhaust with silencer. The only gripe is that mine has small paint runs and flecking.

The only previous MkV 1/43 scale diecast was Ixo’s TC3 range, with ten versions since 2010, mostly covered during previous Cortina instalments, including some abysmal partworks. The most convincing is the initial retail silver-green 1.6GL (CLC203) with French plates and yellow headlights, but detailing of lights, bumpers and similar elements is clumsier. Others include a Cortina-badged LHD Israeli police partwork, a dull metallic blue Whitebox 2.0GL “Brillant” mis-labelled as TC2, but was the Crusader’s German equivalent with reduced red pinstriping, and a red Greek partwork 2.0GL. This, bizarrely, has RHD interior - never used on any TC3s - but LHD wipers and Taunus boot badging.

To conclude, Corgi has created an excellent model, which accurately depicts the myriad of Mk5 differences, its launch livery is superb, and further releases can be eagerly anticipated. Corgi has, in fact, just announced the second Mk5 livery for release in Spring 2023 as VA15002, a plain 1982 Mk5 1.6GL in Cardinal Red with EVS 781Y plates.