The Cortina GT was cooked up after the standard cars had their design settled, and so was released a little later in April 1963, available in two and four-door form, a two-door costing £749. No estate version was available, unless you were a member of the Kenyan police force (as Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up). With basically the same mechanicals as the Capri GT, the GT's engine was developed by Cosworth. The 1500 was boosted up to 78 bhp at 5200 rpm, with the help of a double-barrel Weber carby (for a nice sound), a new camshaft profile (a high lift Cosworth number), a reworked head with larger inlet and exhaust valves, special pistons, a tubular exhaust manifold, and a compression ratio increased to 9.1:1. To go with this the engine was fitted with stronger pistons and copper lead bearing shells. This engine was good for pushing the GT up to 95 mph, while still capable of achieving over 25 mpg.
A new gearbox with a 'remote' gearchange was used, but it still had the standard Cortina ratios, with second a bit low, and a large gap between second and third. A heavy-duty clutch was used, and a larger diameter driveshaft. The braking combination was 9.5" front discs and 9 x 1.75" rear drums, as used on the Lotus-Cortina. Underneath the car had revised spring rates. Wheels were still steel pressings, with 4" rims wrapped in 5.60 - 13" crossply rubber, 0.4" wider than the standard cars. Radials weren't available. Many cars were fitted with wider steel rims not long after being bought (and radial tyres, no doubt), with Boreham offering 4.5" rims and 5.5" Lotus-Cortina rims. Some owners also purchased an 'uprated second' gear ratio kit from Boreham, which lifted the top speed in 2nd from 42 mph to 50 mph. These ratios never became a part of the production line Mk.I GTs.
The interior was based on the Cortina Deluxe. Until the autumn of 1963 the GT had a tacho mounted in a pod on the steering column, while the oil pressure and ammeter gauges were located in a severely un-ergonomic place, a centre console mounted on the transmission tunnel, which also doubled as a means of hiding the remote gearchange mechanism. Appearance-wise the GT didn't look a whole lot different from the standard Cortina. When the car first appeared, the only means of identification from the exterior was the slightly wider tyres, and 'GT' badges at the ends of the rear quarter panels.
The Cortina GT revealed itself to be a bit of a goer
in rallying, at least after a few modifications, such as new tyres and
gear ratios, but had problems with getting its undersized 8 gallon fuel
tank all banged up, and Ford's engineers also found they'd been a bit
keen with minimising bodyweight, when the early two-door GTs started
to, uh, get wrinkles and creases in their body after only a few events.
This was remedied by Ford making cars with 'export specification' body
shells available through a new 'Special Vehicle Order' department.
The first series of Cortina GTs were produced up to
September 1963, at which point the interior was redesigned. Through
the remainder of 1963 and into 1964 the tacho was flush-mounted in a
new dash, along with the auxiliary instruments. From October 1964 onwards
GTs rolled out with yet another dashboard, along with the new wide grille
and 'Aeroflow' ventilation that came with the standard range. The speedometer
and tacho were now mounted behind the steering wheel, with the auxiliary
instruments in a row in the middle of the dash, resulting in both the
most functional and good looking dash to land in the Mk.I. 'Cortina'
replaced 'Consul' on the bonnet lid, and a 'Cortina GT' badge was added
to the boot lid. The GT was also fitted with twin radius arms to locate
the rear axle. A Super GT model for export markets was also being produced
at this time, which was basically a GT with the trim from the Super
Deluxe. By this time a two-door GT cost £750, and a four-door £768.
When production wound up in autumn 1966, it is estimated
that 100,000 to 120,000 GTs had been built, making the car a great sales
success. Ford's records are very poor, and this is the figure estimated
by well-known sporting Ford researcher Graham Robson. An interesting
statistic is that about 70% of the two-doors produced wound up in export
markets, whereas the four-door was a lot more popular domestically.
The GT was announced in April 1963, and was homologated, along with some helpful parts, into Group 2 pretty quickly, in fact so quickly one was raced by Pat Moss in the Tulip Rally before the end of the month. The white Boreham rally GTs didn't take long to be a success, and was soon kicking Sunbeam Rapier butts off the winner's dais, racking up lots of class victories. The first notable successes were 4th in the Acropolis Rally and 2nd in the Touring category of the Alpine Rally at the hands of Henry Taylor. He then took a Lotus-engined GT to 4th in the Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally.
In 1964 the GT was homologated into Group 1 with goodies
like twin Webers, a second fuel tank behind the rear seat, and Lotus-Cortina
gear ratios. In a famous victory for the GT, a new set of six white
cars were entered in the 1964 East African Safari. Four of these cars
finished, giving Ford the Manufacturer's team prize, and with Mike Armstrong's
car coming 3rd outright, and Peter Hughes of Kenya driving KHS 600 to
outright victory. All this had gotten a bit too exciting for Vic Elford,
who defected from Triumph, and he quickly got into the action in a new
red car, and won the Touring category of the Alpine Rally outright,
and finished 3rd outright in the RAC Rally of that year. He would have
probably finished first if he hadn't been so keen and kept running off
Not all the success lay with the works GTs, however. Roger Clark made a dramatic entrance to rallying as a privateer in his own GT, winning the 1964 Scottish Rally, the 1965 Scottish Rally, and the 1965 Gulf London Rally, plus a 3rd on the 1965 Circuit of Ireland. Needless to say, Ford signed him up. Also in 1965 a GT won the Canadian Winter Rally.
Ford by this time had incorporated as many Lotus-Cortina bits into the GT as they could without calling it a Lotus-Cortina, and the cars were now putting out around 120 bhp, a fair whack more than the 78 bhp of the factory showroom version. Nevertheless, a bona fide Lotus-Cortina could be made to pull around 150 bhp, and when the chassis was finally made solid enough to take rallying, it took over.
|Technical Specifications & Performance|
Ford's Mk.I Cortina GT deserves a special place in Australian motoring history because it announced Ford Australia's first move into the performance car field. Nearly identical to the UK GT, the Australian GT was developed with the 1963 Armstrong 500, Australia's foremost touring car ('tin tops') race, in mind. I'm unsure as to the full extent of the differences between the two cars (hoping for some help here), but an obvious one is the use of the stainless steel trim from the UK Super Deluxe model, which never sold in Australia.
The Armstrong 500 was, in those days, an endurance event for Australian-assembled production cars, with classes detemined by showroom cost (the GT was £1182). In its first ever competition outing, the GT cut a swathe through the field to score a win in the 1963 Armstrong 500, driven by Harry Firth and Bob Jane (future tyre peddler), giving the S4 EH Holden, amongst other cars, a whippin'. Cortina GTs came 1st and 3rd in Class C and outright, although outright victory was not recognised until the 1965 race. 100 GTs had been frantically registered previous to the event to meet the elegibility requirements.
1964 saw Ian Geoghegan win the Australian Touring Car Championship in a GT, and the GT won at Bathurst again in 1964, driven by Bob Jane and George Reynolds. Cortina GTs came in 1-2-3 in Class C and outright.
Lotus-Cortinas were being used successfully in other touring car races, but import limitations and race restrictions meant that Ford had to do a bit more homework for the 1965 Bathurst, and to fend off cars such as the HD Holden X2 and Mini Cooper, they cooked up the GT 500. The GT carried on, receiving a few updates along the way, such as a revised dash layout (the same as the GT 500), and trailing link type floating arms (for which no one makes any damn bushes) on the rear axle. By 1967 the GT was pulling 83.5 bhp at 5200 rpm, with a top speed of 110 mph and a standing quarter of 18.6 seconds ('Sports Car World' Dec. '67).
I'll leave the rhetoric to an Australian copywriter from 1966 (this is for real... I'm serious):
Yes, a name built on success. Just remember that when you overtake a fast/docile/velvety firm Cortina GT in your plush aristo-cart, and wave to the person sitting in it, who's enjoying the velvety ride, the glove grain upholsteries, and the knowledge that this is a sophisticated form of transportation. Wave, because it could be me...
I'd still like help here, but I've turned up a bit...
The GT was introduced to the US market for the 1964
model year, in two and four door form. The two-door was $2225, and the
four-door $2289. Like GTs in other foreign markets, such as Australia,
the car had the side chrome trim used on the UK Super model. There are
conflicting reports as to the output of the models available in the
US, some say 78 bhp, some say 84 bhp. US figures have the GT's performance
as 0-60 mph in 12.3 seconds, and the quarter-mile in 18.7 seconds. The
different size American gallon means a GT did 27 mpg.
The 1965 model (or 'Airflow' model) was introduced to the US market on September 1, 1964, and for this model only a two-door GT was available, with a drop in price (!) to $2162. Meanwhile, bhp was agreed all round to be 84, The greater output (and albeit greater weight) is reflected in the better 0-60 mph time of 12.1 seconds, but mileage decreased to 25 mpg.
For 1966 still only a two-door GT was available at $2122, another price drop (!!), but Jody Fonseca has written saying, "I recall reading in Road and Track's Misc. Ramblings column ca.1966, that the Cortina GT "was now available in four-door form by special order". Four-door GTs are VERY rare in the US." He also offers an insight into why the four-door Mk.I GT was only sold officially for one year: "The idea of a four-door performance car 'just ain't Amurricun'. " So they just sold badly and were dropped. The Mk.I GT sold through until mid-February 1967.
Anyway, here's some more advertising copy - I love this stuff...
In the gallery check out the two pictures from a 1965 Ford dealer brochure, sent in by Ron Bruner. He noted that the brochure strangely contained pictures of an Anglia van, which wasn't sold in the USA.
|Mk.I GT Images|
| Mk.II Cortina | Aftermarket
Cars | Show ' n ' Shine