Condition: Straight, usable, and very orangey-brown
Advert: Bradley James Classics (via eBay)
The Lotus might be the cool one, and the Sierra that followed may have been recipient of more true performance variants, but there’s still something appealing about the humble Cortina.
The market seems to agree. While they’ve not rocketed off to the same heights as Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts, the price you’ll pay for a good ‘Tina is far more than the few hundred quid you might have expected a couple of decades ago.
For a final-generation MkV Cortina 1.6 like the car you see here, on sale at Bradley James Classics in Hampshire, that figure is between £3400 for a running, driving, but imperfect car, to £9400 for a concours example – as good, or perhaps better, than the kind you’d expect to see on the lawn at the Festival of the Unexceptional.
The latter figure makes the £8995 being asked for this 1981 Cortina 1.6 GL look perhaps a little steep – with some flaws visible in the photos, non-standard touches, and a few items in the MOT history that might need attention, it’s not a concours car, even if it has rarity on its side.
But the closer you can get to the £8000 we’d expect of an “excellent” car, the better. And there’s no doubting it looks excellent, both objectively and subjectively – the condition is definitely worthy of a classic car show, and the MkV’s shape is ageing very well indeed, with stocky details and well-balanced proportions that make it easy to see why its Sierra replacement was initially viewed with suspicion.
As a later Cortina the 1.6 you’ll find under the bonnet should be a Pinto, rather than the older Crossflow unit, and good for a power output in the mid-to-high 60s horsepower range. It’s still easy to find parts for old Ford lumps like this too (particularly Pintos, which were long a favourite of the tuning industry), and true to expectation the carburettor in this one looks fairly new and shiny, and is apparently now running a manual choke.
Inside it’s as brown as a 1970s living room suite, and that’s not a complaint. Some inevitable scrunching of the velour has taken place, but the rest looks more or less as it should be. We’re not overly keen on the steering wheel cover, but there’s no doubting it’s era-appropriate, and the aftermarket tachometer installed in the dashboard doesn’t look too out of place.
With minimal but not museum mileage and those usability tweaks, this Cortina’s the kind of classic you could happily use on the regular, and even if it never reaches Mk1 Escort values, you could be fairly confident that it won’t suddenly become worthless either.
We’d still rather like a Lotus Cortina, but you know what? We’d certainly not complain about a MkV like this one either.