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1963-1970 Ford (GB) Lotus-Cortina


The 1963-1970 Ford (GB) Lotus-Cortina was a brilliant "homologation special" based on Ford of England's mass-market Cortina sedan, created by Colin Chapman for racing and rallying duty. The main difference between the bread-and-butter models and this "production" flyer (offered only in two-door form) was the engine, a conversion of the sturdy Ford GB four-cylinder unit with a Lotus-designed twincam cylinder head. Lightweight body panels and a rather complicated rear suspension (which proved unreliable and was later simplified) were also featured.

The first-generation "Mark I" models were assembled by Lotus with Ford-supplied components, and retained the current Cortina's angular styling. The situation was reversed beginning with the restyled Mark II Cortina introduced in 1967, and the Lotus variant was put together at Dagenham with far fewer special components. Both series were identified by a black grille, Lotus emblems, distinctive green bodyside striping against white body paint, a lower ride height, and wider-than-stock wheels and tires.

The interiors were basically the same as for concurrent Cortina GTs, with full instrumentation, bucket seats, and all-black color scheme, but a wood-rimmed, Lotus-badged steering wheel was fitted to most examples. The Lotus-Cortina was quite fast for a 1.6-liter sedan of the 1960s (105 mph top speed), and was Ford's main weapon on the international rally circuit until it was succeeded by the smaller Escort Twin-Cam in 1969.

The Mark I model was sold in limited numbers through Ford import dealers in the U.S. The Mark II was never officially brought in, but a few may have sneaked across our borders before the regulatory curtain fell on cars that couldn't meet federal emissions and safety standards.

Pluses of the 1963-1970 Ford (GB) Lotus-Cortina:

  • Active Lotus club
  • High appreciation potential
  • Lotus image rub-off
  • Many body parts and some mechanical pieces still available
  • Not expensive
  • Pocket-rocket performance
  • Pretty rare in U.S.
  • Race history
  • Terrific handling

Minuses of the 1963-1970 Ford (GB) Lotus-Cortina:

  • Engine demands careful tuning
  • Hard to find in good, unmodified condition
  • Limited U.S. availability
  • Mark I models fragile
  • Mark II models less distinctive
  • Non-aluminum body panels rust badly
  • Very ordinary production body

Production of the 1963-1970 Ford (GB) Lotus-Cortina:

  • Mark I: 2,927
  • Mark II: approx. 4,000 (Ford-built)

Specifications of the 1963-1970 Ford (GB) Lotus-Cortina:
Wheelbase, inches: 98.0
Length, inches: 168.0

Weight, pounds: 1,820 (Mark I), 2,010 (Mark II)
Price, new
: $2,548 U.S. equivalent in 1964

Engines for the 1963-1970 Ford (GB) Lotus-Cortina:

TypeSize
Horsepower
Years
dohc 14
1,558 cc (95 cid)
105/110
1963-1970

Want more information about classic cars? See: