What is my model?

What’s my model?

Here are the easiest ways to identify early Cortina’s.  We will also outline some common terms enthusiasts use to describe the different models and show you some images of key areas that can help you determine details about your car, or a car you are looking at purchasing.

Exterior information can also be used to identify Lotus Cortina models, but interior dash layout are completely different and unique to Lotus.

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There are three commonly recognised versions of the Mk1 Cortina.  Early cars are loosely split into 1963 and 1964 cars before a major update around 1965 with the introduction of the aero-flow model.

1962 to late 1963

Starting with the earliest model MK1 sometimes called ‘Consul’, ‘pre-aeroflow’ (or ‘pre-airflow’) Cortina. Very few 1962 models survive and they are slightly different in some key areas, but they are so rare we will not bore you with details – but please contact us if you need advice.
The main things to look for when identifying a 1963 built car is the dash. A strip or bar type speedo was used with the top speed indicated at 100 mph. No temperature gauge was used in these models, just a warning light.
Very early GT’s produced in 1963 had 110mph bar speedo’s, a pod style tacho off the steering column, and a temp gauge beside the speedo.  Two extra gauges were fitted in the centre console for oil pressure and amp’s. All 1963 cars had chrome fascia trim across the entire dash (including the glove box).

On the outside, some early cars we have seen had a flat rear panel where the fuel filler neck protrudes.

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1964

The exterior of the Consul Cortina was virtually the same through to 1964 with cars retaining the same grills and front ‘oval’ style indicators not integrated into the grill.

The easiest/quickest way to determine a 64 car from a 63 car is the dash.

2 and 3 pod dash images…

However, dash parts are interchangeable between early cars, so be careful and use all the available evidence to determine what you have.  There are other differences which are more difficult to pick like different rear bumper mounting points, bonnet and boot badges and the inside of the boot has a different support brace to later models.

1963 and 1964 cars had funky indicator, horn and headlight switches mounted on the steering column and substituted the chrome fascia trim for a ‘Cortina’ badge on the glovebox.  Importantly, the steering columns were substantially longer on these early cars and cannot be easily swapped with later model cars unless you also swap over indicator switches, steering wheels and such.

Indicator/horn/headlight image

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1965 onwards.

These cars are more common, presumably because more were sold.  Significant updates to both the interior and exterior was made from earlier model Cortina’s.  Major revision to the dash means late cars are commonly referred to as ‘aeroflow’ models due to vastly improved interior ventilation.

Images: Exterior of the ‘aeroflow’ Cortina

The major exterior change was the park lights and front grill. While early models had square holes in the grill, aeroflow models had finer rectangular slots in the grill.

2 x photos of grills

The grill shape was also slightly different, encompassing a trapazoid shaped indicator and park light. These indicator/park lights had separate park and orange indicator light lens.

‘CORTINA’ is spelt out on the front edge of the bonnet on later cars, but of course, bonnets are easily swapped between cars and some people, like us, remove the letters and weld up the holes to prevent rust along the leading edge.
On the boot, the ‘Cortina’ badge was mounted to right side of the car unlike the early models which was in the centre and employed a different font.

Image of late rear badge

One major caveat to all this is that much can happen to a car in over 50 years of being driven, crashed, repaired, tweaked, customised and personalised.  We have seen many a car with miss-matched combinations of body tags, body numbers, exteriors/interiors, gauges and other panels over the years, so be careful if you are purchasing a car.  The best way to tell will be by the body numbers and the balance of the evidence.  If you are unsure and really need to know, before purchasing a ‘special’ car for example, get an expert to check it out.  Keep in mind that Lotus’ need a special kind of expert…

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The difference between MK1 & MK2
Hardly worth a mention really but the easiest way is to look at the entire car.  MK1 Cortina’s have shape, style, ‘pizazz’ if you will.  Mk2’s mostly lack  these traits.  MK2 Cortinas are very square in shape and it’s very easy to tell the difference between the two.

Here is some pictorial evidence.

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Highlights of the Ford Cortina in Britain

21 September 1962
Cortina 2 door 1200 introduced
October 1962
Production of the 4 door started
January 1963
Optional 1500 engine and Super was introduced
March 1963
1200 and 1500 estate cars introduced
April 1963
GT version with more power, disk brakes & remote control gear change
September 1963
Circular instruments for all models, grease points eliminated
December 1963
Borg Warner auto transmission with regular 1500 engine
September 1964
Aero flow ventilation introduced, new grill & disk brakes
September 1965
Estate cars have simulated wood replaced with chrome trim. Front quarters light fixed on all models. Steering column gear change no longer available, standard saloons to special order only.
21st October 1966
The first of the MK2 Cortinas introduced.

There was a substantial lag between the above dates and Australian assembled cars as the CKD (Complete Knock Down) kits made there way here.  For example, there are many Aussie Mk1 Cortina’s assembled in 1967 and have a mash of Mk1 and Mk2 body numbers, tags and even colours.     Our tarmac rally car being an example of a 67 built Mk1.

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