COMES A CONSUL CORTINA
Ford's latest small car is the start of a determined bid to capture the small car market.
Pat Hayes, 'Australian Motor Sports', October 1963
It faces tough competition
Our experts pointed out that there were some pretty good cars among that lot, cars which people tended to get so enthusiastic over that they formed a solid block which bought and bought again. I doubt if many of the keener types who own VW's or Morris 850's ever consider any other make in the same class when their current cars look like running out of breath even though they might buy a larger, more expensive car.
"Very ordinary" specifications
All this time Ford executives sat back with knowing smiles and said nothing - even to the point of disclaiming any such project. Then, late last month, Melbourne journalists were invited to Calder Raceway, 16 miles from the city, to see and drive the new Cortina.
At first sight the Cortina's lines are pleasing. Clean styling, with the front somewhat similar to the Consul Classic and at the rear a pair of just visible fins, gives a distinctive modern appearance.
The roofline finishes in the squared off "Thunderbird" line which is gradually becoming the done thing on all Ford cars throughout the world. Rear tail lights are huge, stainless steel rimmed circles which are divided into three segments for brake, parking and indicator lights. A fluted panel running down the side of the car helps relieve the slab-sided effect and adds strengthening to panels to stop fatigue and "drumming".
Motor puts out 48 b.h.p.
All in all, the Cortina is a simple car with, apart from the gearbox, no really new features and a marked similarity to other vehicles produced by Ford of England. Where then did the £16 million and four year's development it took to get the car on the road go?
Careful design is evident
The Cortina is lighter than its opponents and we are told that a lot of research money went inot testing bodies which would stand up to severe punishment without being too heavy. At 1744 lbs. the Cortina's engine does not have to work too hard to produce both good performance and good petrol consumption.
Driving position is superb
Lights, indicators and horn are operated by a series of switches located on a thick "stalk" which projects to the right of the two-spoked dished steering wheel.
Fast laps at Calder
Handling is good, although some suspension modifications would be needed before the car could be entered in competition. Driven hard through corners the Cortina showed a tendancy to oversteer and would slowly allow the tail to drift out if a corner was attacked too fast. So slowly did the tail slide that it was possible to try several different techniques - more or less power and more or less lock - before eventually straightening out. At no time did the tail break away viscously.
This, in my opinion, is a big safety factor. Long before any serious trouble starts the car signals to the driver that perhaps he is taking the wrong line or is going, perhaps, a wee bit too fast. He then has ample time to do something about it.
Brakes will not fade
There was no opportunity to take any accurate acceleration figures but I would say that Ford's figure of 26 seconds from standstill to 60 m.p.h. would be pretty close to the mark and again ahead of most of the opposition.
Light, positive gearbox
Our knowledgeable sages are still not too sure about the Cortina's future in Australia but at least they admit its specifications offer plenty of competition for its opponents. For myself, I think it is an ordinary car for an ordinary price (about £950) which has been built with particular care and which does a better than average job.