1966 Ford Lotus Cortina

The gulf between an assemblage of parts and a functioning, front-rank racer is immense and can be very expensive to cross

Ford was looking to race the Mk I Cortina in the Group 2 category, for which 1,000 “homologation specials” would be required. The obvious powerplant was the twin-cam version of the ubiquitous Ford “Kent” engine that Lotus genius Colin Chapman had already developed for use in the Elan. A deal was struck, and the Lotus Cortina (or Cortina Lotus in Ford-speak) was born in 1963.

The car was based on the two-door Cortina. In addition to the fitting of the 105-hp 1,558-cc twin-cam engine, the changes included a close-ratio gearbox, shorter front suspension struts, and trailing arms and coil springs with an A bracket at the rear. Wider 5.5J steel wheels were added, and lightweight aluminum panels were used for the doors, hood, and trunk lid. The cars also received front quarter bumpers, while Lotus badges were fitted to the rear wings and right side of the radiator grille. Interior amendments included: a new center-console to house the remote control gear lever, different seats and fascia, and a wood-rim steering wheel. All cars built at the Lotus factory were finished white with distinctive green side stripes. The Mk I model was made until 1966, during which time the most significant upgrades included the adoption of Ford’s new Airflow ventilation system and the replacement of the troublesome A bracket rear suspension with leaf springs and radius arms.

The right-hand-drive car offered is a late Mk I example made in 1966, but it was re-engineered as a competition car in 2008-09. Freshly finished in the classic white with green stripes color scheme, it is understood to have undergone a bare metal/ground-up restoration and to have been treated to many new parts. The car apparently comes with a large file of photos and bills relating to the work done, plus the all-important MSA Historic Technical Passport. Reputedly tested but as yet unraced, this fast Ford is said to be sorted and ready for the 2011 season.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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