Ford of Britain announced the new MkII Cortina on 18th October on their feature stand at the 1966 British International Motor Show, at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

Building on the success of the original car, Ford told us New Cortina is More Cortina. Listing points such as More Style, More Space, More Comfort, More Power, More Looks, More Room, More Go, and More Car for your Money as selling points, they had much to shout about.

Ford ran full page adverts in all the national newspapers on launch day, the campaign centring around Miss Cortina and her family. For the campaign photographs is was model Colleen Fitzpatrick who was hired to play Miss Cortina, and dealers were encouraged to hold Miss Cortina beauty pageants at their own launch parties with the specially commissioned song “New Cortina” playing from record players and speakers hidden in the new cars boot space.

Ford also made a special arrangement with Pedigree Dolls Ltd which meant for a limited time “Sindy” was given a Miss Cortina makeover. A rare item now highly sought by collectors.

Early advertising brochures

There were three new Cortinas at the launch, the 1300 Deluxe, the 1500 Super and the 1500 GT, each in either two door or four door body shells. Paint colour options included two brand new metalic colours for all models, Blue Mink and Saluki Bronze.

The new 1300cc engine of the Deluxe was rated at 57.5 BHP (representing an increase of 3.5 BHP over the 1200cc fitted in the old model) and and 74.5 lbs/feet (an increase of 5.5lbs/feet). This gave the Deluxe a new top speed of 79mph with a 0-60 time 22 seconds. Touring fuel consumption was a claimed 37.5 MPG.

The new Cortina was the same length and height as its predecessor but slightly wider, with the use of curved side glass there was an extra 2 1/2 inches of shoulder room. The seats had been redesigned with comfort in mind, boot capacity had increased slightly to 21 cubic feet and 10 gallon petrol tanks replaced the earlier 8 gallon units. Also increased were the front and rear tracks, the rear by 1 1/2 inches, the front by 2 1/2 inches, allowing for more stability and a tighter turning circle of 30 feet, almost 5 feet less than the previous model.

The Aeroflow system was boosted with enlarged rear extraction vents to give a 20% increase in air flow through the car, making possible a complete change of air every 40 seconds. The options list included the 1500cc engine for the deluxe, manual column gear change with a front bench seat, and also automatic transmissions for Deluxe and Super models, reclining seats for the Supers and GTs, and overriders, white wall tyres and radios for all models.

The Super gained a vinyl covered dashboard over the Deluxe, with the GT getting a centrally mounted binnacle to house an ammeter and also temperature, fuel and oil gauges, a tachometer taking its place next to the speedometer in front of the driver.

1300 Deluxe

The Deluxe interior fitted with the optional push button radio and cigar lighter.

1500 Super

A Super fitted with the optional manual column gear change and front bench seat.

1500 GT

Part of what had made the MkI Cortina so successful was the product planning and cost controls that had been initiated by Terry (later Sir Terrence) Beckett, then Ford’s Director of Car Division. In order to maximise company profits every single part had been strictly costed, it was no different for the MkII.

Roy Haynes, Ford’s Chief Stylist for the MkII, explained to us that if the number plate lamp unit for the MkI had cost 75p each, then that was to be the budget for the MkII lamp. It was the same across the whole car. Roy’s team could change just about whatever they wanted as long as the new part would cost no more than the earlier equivalent piece. However, if they came up with parts that would cost more than before – the larger, and therefore more expensive, glass area due to the lower waist line for example – then other parts had to cost less to make up the difference overall.

Costs were also kept down by reusing parts from other earlier cars in the Ford range. Some came straight out of the parts bin, things such as light switches, steering wheels, arm rests, interior lights, and the window winders that Roy himself had originally designed for the 105e Anglia some years earlier.

Other earlier parts were used but were revised and upgraded, the engines for example. The pre-crossflow Kent engines that had been used in the MkI were to stay though the smaller 1200cc capacity had grown to 1300cc. All engines now featured a five bearing crankshaft with a six bolt flywheel fixing replacing the four bolt version of the MkIs. With new dimensions for the layshafts (to suit the new crank shafts) the gearboxes continued much as before but GTs now had a new integral remote gear change.

Chassis rails and floors were basically the same, but developments from the engineering dept made sure they weren’t exact matches, the forward mounting point for the rear springs was moved downwards to help the ride and handling. Other engineering developments aimed at better ride and handling included the wider track and softer springing.

According to Roy Haynes, he and his team had been so careful with the planning and cost controls the MkII “body in white”, the finished complete but un-painted body shell, became the first production Ford to weigh in at less than 500lbs and cost less than £100.

With the same cost controls applied across all other areas of the car, when the MkII went on sale it cost just £8 more than the outgoing model, this despite the reported development costs of £12milion.