Tried to find something that happened at the same time as my partners birthday in order to make a card – discovered that the classic car of the 60s and 70s, beloved of the middle classes, the Cortina was also ‘born’ – does that mean my partner can now be called a ‘classic’?!
In September 1962, Ford’s new Cortina was launched. Costing £573 for the standard 1200 saloon, it became an instant best-seller and enjoyed a 20 year career in which 4.3-million examples were produced.
The last Cortina was assembled in July 1982, to be succeeded by the Sierra, by which time the entry-level model was priced at £4,515.
The Cortina was so successful and so different from other cars in the industry, that in Britain it inspired what became known as the Cortina class . Once established, at times one in every six cars being built in the UK was a Cortina. Along with the parallel success of the Escort from 1968, this helped Ford gain market leadership in Britain, which it has now maintained for more than 25 years.
In 20 years, four distinctly different generations of Cortina were put on the market each of them selling more than a million examples around the world.
Conceived in 1960, the new car, code named Archbishop until the Cortina name was adopted, was intended to fill out a range in which the Anglia 105E and Zephyr/Zodiac models were prominent.
When originally planned, Ford thought it could sell at least 100,000 Cortinas every year yet more than 260,000 Cortinas, with their trademark bodyside flutes and ‘ban the bomb’ badge-style rear lamps, were sold in the first full sales year, 1963.
The Cortina was the mainstay of Ford s assembly plant at Dagenham in Essex throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Many other Cortinas were also built in Ford plants overseas in Australia, South Africa, Amsterdam, Cork, and Genk (Belgium).