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© 2001 David Griffith
FORD MK3 CORTINA WEBSITE
Australia

New Car Scoop: The first Cortina Six: source- Wheels June 1972 (sent in by Matthew Woolard)

This is the "real Cortina Six with bonnet power bulge and four headlights. Its not for Bathurst in 1972 but is a straight out challenge to the Torana sixes. If you want a six-cylinder Cortina get your order in now. The long-awaited straight six Cortina WILL BE released in June/July but in very limited numbers. Prototype testing is still going on and it is possible the new cars will be held back even later. With a complete change in series production regulations for 1973 this would have meant building a car for the tail end of just one season - a waste of development manpower.

Demand is so strong for the TC Cortina fours and the new Falcons that the Broadmeadows plant is working overtime trying to meet dealer orders - there just isnt sufficient capacity to build vast numbers of the six. These are the first genuine pictures of the Cortina Six. They reveal two distinct body changes over the four cylinder models. Most important is a power bulge in the bonnet which is a dead give-away for the six-cylinder engine. Second is the fitting of four headlights. We saw two cars - a sedan and station wagon - and they both carried the bonnet bulge and four headlights. Otherwise there will only be small changes to the tail-lights and badge work. This means Ford has been able to slot in the six cylinder engine without changing the cars overall length and wheelbase. A major achievement when you remember GMH had to lengthen the Torana wheelbase by 4.2 inches to accommodate the six-cylinder engine. But there have been modifications under the hood and in the suspension department.

Strong negative camber on the front wheels is immediately obvious and the tyres seem to be of a wider section on wider wheels. They may even be on 14 instead of 13-inch wheels. Spring and shocker rates have been increased to cope with the additional power and weight of the six-cylinder models and also to improve the Cortinas bouncy ride. Retaining the same wheelbase has meant the tight, 31.5 ft turning circle hasnt altered - a big feature because the full-sized Holden and Falcon now turn in 40 feet. Ford will offer the car with three engines initially. The base model will be powered by the 130 bhp, 200 cid engine with three-speed steering column gear change. Optional will be both versions of the 250 engine, the single barrel unit with 155 bhp and the two-barrel [for the GT model] with 170 bhp.

Power bulge and four headlights reveal presence of straight six engine under Cortina skin. Strong negative camber and big section tyres are necessary for good handling/ride compromise. Ford engineers slotted the six-cylinder engine in without enlarging the Cortinas wheelbase. [refer to picture] The 250 model rates the three-speed box but the GT gets a four on the floor unit which will be optional with the other engines. Automatic transmission will also be available throughout the range. Ford has been experimenting with four-barrel versions of the 250 - these produce close to 200 bhp [148kw] - but has decided against going ahead with this. It might be brought back in a race special for next years Bathurst. Having a 200 cid engine as the base unit gives Ford a measurable superiority over the smallest Torana six engine which is only 138 cid. In fact, the smallest Cortina six engine is just two cubic inches smaller than the biggest Torana six engine.

Shoehorning the engine into the compartment initially designed for the four hasn't meant a great deal of modification. The firewall has been reshaped and the radiator moved forward a fraction but otherwise the changes are minor. The sump has been revised to clear the front cross member but in every other detail the engines will be exactly as they are in Falcons. Inside the cars will follow current TC Cortina layout with few minor modifications, most of them to serve to identify the more expensive six-cylinder range. Fords decision to build six-cylinder versions of the station wagon plugs the gap left in its wagon range when the XA wagon was released with a 116-inch wheelbase.

The Cortina six wagon will be almost exactly the same size as the first Falcon wagon. Ford is planning to slip the sixes to the showrooms in much the same way it does with the GTHO each year. There will be an official Press function but there won't be a great blowing of trumpets in the advertising columns. The lack of cars makes this pointless. Mid-year looks like being a very busy time for the go-getters from Broadmeadows. Not only will there be the new sixes but the Phase Four GTHO is scheduled for release in June and the dealers have been informed the two-door Falcon coupe is due for public release in July. Cortina six wagon caught on Ford's high speed bowl at You Yangs.

This article was typed by Matthew Woolard.


"The Mk.3 Cortina in Australia - a justly neglected non-classic?"
by Andrew Hardie
Ford 'TC' XLE
Ford Cortina TC XLE
(Note vinyl roof, colour-coded wheel covers, bumper overriders, quad headlights and bonnet bulge)

In Australia the Mk.3 Cortina replaced the Mk.2 in late 1970, and the new model was and is more commonly known as the TC, as opposed to Mk.3. Available at first only in four-door sedan form (no two-door was ever available), it was well received by the motoring press. A base model Cortina L was A$2485, the XL - with the US Pinto 1998 cc engine - was $2570, and for $120 extra a GS pack could be purchased, basically an all show no go sporty dress-up kit. An XL can be identified by the chrome trim around the wheel arches. A 2000 XL (112 bhp @ 3500 rpm) with a GS pack could reach 113.6 mph and cover a quarter mile in 17.2 seconds, a big improvement over the Mk.II.

However, sales dropped away. Perhaps the increased dimensions meant it was too close in size to Ford Australias best selling model, the originally American-derived but now homegrown Falcon. Mk.II sales had been up to 17,000 a year, a substantial number given Australias relatively small population, but this dropped away to about 12,000 in 1971. The release of the station wagon (estate) in 1971 improved sales somewhat, but soon they were down again, with Japanese cars making strong inroads into the 4-cylinder market. The Cortina had also gained a bad reputation for poor quality and reliability, something the Japanese cars generally could not be accused of.

Ford assessed their situation. They had an English car with a few modifications to suit local design rules, and the local climate and manufacturing system. They also had no car to compete with General Motors Holdens mid-sized 6-cylinder Torana. The obvious answer was to put a six into the Cortina. About 500 Cortina V6s had been imported from the UK in 1971/72, but it was felt that the locally built straight sixes used in the Falcon were more reliable (Ford Australia had not enjoyed the Capri V6 experience), and the company of course had much expertise with the local sixes. In addition, more modifications would have been required to meet local design rules if the V6 had been used.

Both sixes (originally American designs) available for the Falcon were available - 200 ci (3.3L) and 250 ci (4.1L). To fit in the straight sixes the engine bay had to be lengthened. A new radiator support panel was designed, and mounted 3" further forward. A new bonnet with a slight bulge in it had to be fitted. The other way to externally identify a six was by its quad headlights. Other Falcon parts were used, including the 3-speed manual. The Falcons 3-speed auto was made an option, as was the 4-speed manual ($53 extra) from the lethal Falcon GT. The Falcon brake master cylinder, and steering and suspensions parts were also used.

The 6-cylinder models appeared in November 1972. The resulting car wash not blisteringly quicker than the 2000, but certainly ate up the long Australian roads with much less effort. By this time a 1600 L was $2590, a 2000 L was $2675, and the XL was $2815. The base-model six, a 3-speed manual 3.3L Cortina L, was $2895. This could be uprated to a 4.1L for $75. An XLE model was now also available, a luxury model, which sported such finery as a vinyl roof, snazzy hubcaps, and bumper overriders.

The six was a more relaxing car to drive, but, as could be expected,had a poorly balanced, sloppy front end. The six was contender in the 1972 Wheels Car of the Year award, the year when the leading Australian motoring magazine notoriously decreed there were "no suitable contenders". Sales did go up, but then down again, and sales of the sixes were being tripled by the Torana. Quality problems continued, and Ford Australia were having difficulty in getting components from the parent company.

December 1974 saw the release of the TD Cortina, the facelift that would be known in the UK as the Mk.3 Series 2 - new grille, instrument panel, exhaust, transmission linkage,better seating, ventilation, and articulated wiper arms. The Falcons steering column was fitted, while a bench seat was no longer available. The XLE picked up rectangular headlamps. Many of these changes were to address past problems, but Wheels had this to say:

"A big disappointment. We hoped for improvements beyond the obvious changes, but failed to find any... on anything but smooth bitumen the road-holding and handling is terrible and bits fall off. The brakes fade away and the steering wheel can be torn out of the drivers hands under hard braking on a loose surface. The 2000 engine, the package size, gear change, driving position, new dashboard and steering column stalks deserve something better."

Clearly they believed the six had all it deserved. A 4-cylinder manual L was $3516, the six-cylinder was $3786. The XL four was$3699, while the six was $3960. The wagon was an extra $291. Nothing much improved until the release of the TE Cortina in July 1977, which was followed by the TF in October 1980. These two cars are the Australian equivalents of the two Mk.4. models.

The TE and TF performed better, but it was a sign of how things had changed in the Australian market when the Cortinas replacement, the Mazda 626 clone, the Telstar, sold far better. Japanese cars were dominating the four-cylinder market, where once most fours sold were imported or locally assembled versions of UK or European Fords. Only in recent years has that trend started to reverse, with one example being that Ford now sells the Mondeo as its entry into the medium-sized market.

As we can see, the Mk.3, and even the Mk.4, have a poor image in Australia. They are still a common sight on the roads, but few are treated with any care, apart from those that are turned into street machines - they make undoubtedly good-looking examples. Ive yet to come across a restored Mk.3. Mk.1s and Mk.2s draw favourable recollections, but the Mk.3 seems to remain side-note in Australian motoring history. Perhaps in Australia it is the justly neglected non-classic?

© Andrew Hardie 1997


FORD CHASES AWAY THE FAULTS - from Wheels November 1973 (sent in by Matthew Woolard)

Ford of Britain has just released a new Cortina■Ford Australiaõs immediate reaction was "there will be no change for some considerable time." But Australia will see the improved Cortinaõs in April/May next year. MEL NICHOLS, in London, has the story.

FORD BRITAIN has released a new Cortina - with the main improvements concentrating on ride and handling. The new car also has a completely redesigned dashboard with new instrumentation, control layout and ventilation system. There is a new grille, and a lot of work has gone into making the car quieter. Overall, the aim is to make the Cortina look and feel much more sophisticated.

Front shotThe new model goes on sale in England this month. It isn't known when nor how many of the improvements will be incorporated into the Australian Cortina. Officially, Ford Australia says only: "There will be no change in our car for some considerable time," but local sources inside Ford indicate the new Cortina, incorporating most of the improvements, including the new interior, will go on sale in Australia in the second quarter of 1974. But sooner the better - because the õ74 modifications, particularly those to the control and instrument layout, improve the car a lot. Essentially, the "aircraft" type binnacle dashboard has been diced and replaced with a flat dashboard similar to that of the Cortinas that preceded the TC model and also the Fiat 132 sedan.

The accent is on simplicity and ease of driver comprehension. More importantly, the minor controls have all been switched over to a new stalk-operated system. This gives you indicators and horn on one stalk on the left of the steering column, and lights and wipers on two more stalks on the right of it. Like the dashboard, the ventilation system returns to a style almost identical to pre-TC Cortinas - Ford frankly admits the slit vents in the top sections of the dash that it introduced in the TC range donõt work well enough, and it has reverted back to the old "eyeball" outlets.

The Cortina has been given a very basic styling facelift: only the grille is changed, apart from a couple of jazz-up flashes across the boot panel on the higher-priced XL and E models. Instead of the basically blacked-out grille with one central chrome strip running across it, as on the current Australian Cortina, the new car has a more pronounced and wider central band of horizontal strips that flow across from side-to-side, giving the car a lower, more subtle appearance. The headlights are now rectangular halogen units on the XL, E and GT model, too, although whether or not the Australian car will use them is another matter. Ford Australia may prefer to stick with round headlights to maintain identification with the Falcon and Fairlane, rather than the Escort.

SuspensionUnderneath, the most work has gone into the suspension. Ford wanted to overcome criticism of the Cortina's harsh ride and as a result it has softened both the springs and shock absorbers, compensating by fitting anti-roll bars front and rear. Previously, a roll bar was on the front of only the GT and GXL models. To back up these modifications, the bushes which insulate the body from the suspension sub frame have been redesigned, increased in size and changed from rubber to micro-cellular polyurethane. The steering geometry has also been slightly altered. Under the bonnet, the only change is adoption of the 1 600cm3 American Pinto-type overhead cam engine instead of the old-pushrod 1 600. But the 1 600 TC Cortina sold so poorly in Australia it has been dropped so this change wonõt make any difference here. To match the new 1 600 engine, which develops 53.7Kw [72 bhp] at 5 500 rpm, the ratios of the four-speed gearbox have been re-thought, and are now closer.

To improve drive-train smoothness, the tailshaft is now a two-piece unit on all models. Since the Australian Cortina uses a Falcon drive-train, this isn't likely to affect our cars. As you get into the new Cortina, it seems more airy and modern than the current Australian model. This impression comes from the new dashboard, which doesnõt close in around you quite like the old binnacle-style job. The dashboard is well-planned and very functional-looking, but not at all unattractive. Coming across from the left it gives you first the passenger's eyeball event, then a wide, flat-lidded glovebox, a central section housing the heater/vent controls and the radio, a small section beside that for the cigarette lighter and two piano switches for the hazard flashes and heated rear window. Then comes the wide instrument panel, which houses a big tachometer, a smaller central split gauge for fuel and temperature then the big 120 mph speedo with the driverõs ventilation eyeball finishing it all off. The whole lot is topped by a clean and fairly hefty padding surround.

The new instruments are beautifully lucid. Simple dials with white figures on black backgrounds and white needles, they look really good and work excellently. A new rheostat for the instrument lighting is just below the driverõs vent eyeball and is easy to reach. At night, the heater/vent controls in the middle of the dash are lit. The small warning lights for indicators left and right, oil pressure, headlight main beam and electrical failure are arranged neatly in a strip between the tach and speedo where they are easiest to see. Apart from the suspension improvements, the new stalk-operated minor controls are the õ74 carõs most important feature. Ford has picked a rather different system in that it uses three stalks instead of the more normal two. It takes quite a while to get used to this - the confusing part is having the indicator stalk on the left of the column, like that of a Fiat. Some people at the British Press release were criticising the placement because they said it was too much of a hassle having the indicator stalk worked by the hand that has to look after the gear changing or automatic selection. But really, itõs not a significant point once you get used to the layout. In feel and in reach from the wheel, the left stalk is excellent, placing the push-the-tip-in horn right at your fingertips. On the other side of the column, it is a little harder to reach the short stalk that turns the side lights and then the headlights on and the flashers. The longer stalk in front of it for the two-speed wipers is much better placed. In total the system works well, and the sooner we get it on the Australian car to replace those stupid toggle switches on the dashboard the better. How much better does the car ride and handle? Well, the ride feels immediately softer and more supple, though not by much, and there is a feeling of better body control as you move down the road.

InteriorObviously, with the new roll bars front and rear the body does not move about so much. In the corners, the car is tauter, more secure and pleasanter to drive. It hangs on well and is more precise, although there is still that centre vagueness in the rack and pinion steering, and a period of little feeling at all as you move the wheel across dead-centre. This is enough to let the car move about in moderate to strong winds above 60 mph on the open road. The modified steering geometry and revised suspension bushes eliminate harshness and a lot of feedback from the steering, making the car nicer to drive on rougher roads. But whether those modifications will be made on the Cortina Six and can cure its problems remains to be seen. Certainly, though you feel you can pitch the new 2-litre into the bends with more security and enjoy it more than before. Which all means that the car handles well. So far as the ride goes overall, it is better but it is still not really good. You benefit from the softer springing which makes cresting bumps a softer feeling because you come down more gently and your highway ride is more relaxed and supple. However, the basic design inefficiencies of the trailing arm/coil spring rear suspension are shown when you counteract ripply surfaces and you feel the shockers working pretty damned hard to keep it all under control. If they ever [and they will] get a little soft your backside is going to take a pounding. On bigger bumps you still get a degree of tail hop, although not as soon nor as much as before. There is about the same nose dive under brakes, but the car feels more secure now.

Interior 2For England, Ford has supplemented the new range with an "E" model, the equivalent of our XLE model. This car is a luxury package 2-litre with real wood on the fascia and door tops and a really beautiful new knitted nylon trim that Ford calls "Savannah". Soft and extremely comfy to sit in, as well as very pleasing to the eye in its pale shades, this trim really gives the E a luxury impression. It is a new material that Ford says has proven exceptionally strong and resistant to stains. However, it may not be suitable for Australiaõs hotter, harsher conditions. Taking about heat, the new ventilation outlet system is an improvement on the slit system of the Aussie car. You get more volume and you can direct it better. Conditions for judging the ventilation were appropriate: Merry Old England has been hot this summer. Iõve been thinking Iõm in Victoria, not the Olde Sod, for the past two months. Often with the heat it is quite muggy, rather like the way it is in a Sydney February, and on just such a day I found the new vents quite good. All up, Ford's õ74 changes to the Cortina are gimmick-free, honest-to-goodness improvements.

Nothing has been changed for changeõs sake, which is how it should be. Now itõs just a matter of waiting until the good points are incorporated into the Australian Cortina - although with the new and radically-changed Torana coming up soon to give the Cortina curry itõs a pretty safe bet Ford Australia will add in quite a few more modifications when it does upgrade our car.