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Ford Cortina Mk1 & Mk2 Tuning Guide

It’s easy to argue that the Cortina was one of the most important cars in Ford’s history. In every way it was bigger, faster, cheaper and more economical than any of its competitors. It even outshone a front wheel drive rival that Ford of Germany was developing at the time. It also gave Fords Motorsport program a huge boost when Lotus got involved, slotted in a twin-cam engine and tweaked the suspension to produce a car that instantly became a legend - the Lotus Cortina. The Mk2 was a refinement of an already successful product and as well as the sporting Lotus model Ford also introduced the highly desirable 1600E; which was luxury motoring at a reasonable price.

With Mk1 Cortinas all being fitted with either 1200 or 1500cc Pre-Crossflow engines and the Mk2 getting initially a 1300 and 1500 Pre-Crossflow and in 1968 the first of the Crossflow engines the obvious popular choice for this car is of course a modified 1600 Crossflow thanks to it being a straightforward fit. Zetec conversions are also popular but require a frontbowl sump to clear the steering gear. It is also entirely possible to fit a Duratec too, but this will involve some specialist fabrication work. Water rails and the like will still be required, though. We’ve seen Pintos and Cosworth YBs fitted in Mk1 and 2 Cortinas but this is in combination with modified Escort front suspension and as such is not a straightforward job.

If you’re sticking with a Crossflow then a 2000E gearbox will be just fine and fit in the standard tunnel, anything with more power would really benefit one of Fords larger gearboxes and as such the gearbox tunnel will need modifying to accommodate it. A Type-9 fivespeed gearbox is a good modification for anyone that wants to do some motorway cruising as having that extra gear on top just drops the revs down a bit more. We can offer a fully rebuilt five-speed gearbox and if you’re wanting to improve performance slightly we can also supply it with a modified first gear ratio. Our range of uprated gearboxes and gearsets will also suit pretty much any application that you are considering whether it’s just stronger gears for your Type-9 or a full on dog engagement gearbox. The "English" rear axle is slightly wider than that of the Escort’s and will still accept the same differential units so there are plenty of options for a limited slip differential depending upon what you will be using the car for.

We can offer a wide range of uprated bushes for the Cortina 1 & 2; which will tighten up the handling no end. We are also able to supply classic Gaz dampers, which will also improve things. Contact our sales team to find out exactly what suspension options we can offer you for your early Cortina. If of course you take the Escort suspension route, you are then open to a wide range of choices in terms of what you can spec for your car. The story is much the same with the brake system, we can offer uprated discs and pads for your Mk2 Cortina struts and a wide range of brake upgrade kits should you opt to go down the Escort suspension route. We of course stock remote brake servo kits which will instantly reduce the amount of effort that you need to push the brake pedal. We can also offer a bias pedal box, which moves the brake cylinders out of the engine bay.

Early Cortinas are highly desirable and even base models can summon a large amount of money but we think that a Zetec or Duratec powered Mk1 or 2 Cortina would make the ultimate modern day, classic, rep mobile.