from "Driving & Leisure" April 1970
Archibald Vicar compares Ford´s new Cortina with a selection of similar vehicles from other manufacturers so as to ascertain their relative advantages.
Photography by Charles Wadsway
When Harold MacMillan declared a few years ago that "you have never had it so good," he wasn´t thinking of motor cars but perhaps he could have been so doing. Mr and Mrs Average now enjoy the comforts of cosy semi-detached homes away from the bustle of the city and all around England´s towns and villages, the large new supermarkets centres that are sprouting are a clear sign of the advances made by modern England. It seems that things can only get better and better so our expectations are high.
Following this trend of the greater convenience available to the ordinary working class man as well as to professional chaps, our cars are now also better than ever before, with hitherto unimagined features fitted as standard to the present crop of family vehicles. Who amongst us could have conceived that a radio would be a normal accessory in a car? Who would have imagined reclining bucket seats would be available other than in exotic sports cars costing thousands of pounds? It is a brave new world and promises only more improvements to come!
This is the picture into which Ford´s new car is being placed. So, the question is, how have the good gentlemen at Ford responded to the challenges from their competitors at British Leyland and at Vauxhall? Does their car live up to the higher standards to which the British motorist has become accustomed? The response comes in the shapely form of the all-new "Cortina," an updated version of that trusty stalwart of contemporary motoring. This fine family car must do battle with Vauxhall´s Yankee-inspired Victor and BL´s unorthodox Austin Maxi. Which one is best and why?
"...a variety of different roads..."
To effect a test of the three cars, we donned our driving gloves and conducted them on a long route, commencing at Ford´s proving ground in Boreham Wood, Essex, to Leyland´s home in the heart of the British Midlands, via the modern "New Town" of Luton where Vauxhall assembles their cars. Along the way we tried a variety of different roads, from modern free-flowing motorway to local laneways that we might assess their handling, comfort and performance.
At Ford´s testing ground we picked a car representing the heart of the very extensive Cortina range, the saloon (in GT form) with the venerable 1.3 litre overhead cam Kent engine, a simple and robust straight 4-pot unit which surely any mechanic can service. The top speed is 88 miles per hour. In what seems to be a growing trend, the car is bigger than its predecessor, having a 101 inch wheelbase and being four inches broader about the beam. It has a good-sized 12-gallon fuel tank. The new model replaces both the old Cortina and the popular Corsair. Four dashing headlights and sporty Rostyle wheels visually differentiate the GT from the other mechanically-similar cars in the range. The styling is modern and rakish and will appeal even more to the keener driver. Inside, you will find a steeply reclined vinyl dashboard with sporty recessed dials showing speed and engine temperature. The car has coil suspension with telescopic dampers all round which will doubltess help getting to the supermarket at a good clip!