With American Muscle Cars, convertible versions are highly sought after by enthusiasts, and the same is probably true with cars produced globally. This Mark 2 not only has the Lotus package but has also been converted into a drophead by Crayford. The seller claims this vehicle is 1 of only 25 produced with this combination however another source indicates more than 40 were built. A nice set of Minilites have been fitted which really give it a great look. Reportedly this Ford has been registered to 3 owners since 1967 and was recently treated to a new top. The paint and brightwork appear in phenomenal condition.
Crayford had only converted about 50 Mark 1s when Ford announced there would be an all new Cortina debuting in October of 1966. Consequently the Mark 2 Crayford prototype was developed in great haste in order to debut at the same auto show where the new Cortina was first presented to the public. The launch was successful and around 400 Mark 2 Cortinas were converted in total. This first-year 1.6 litre example appears in near perfect condition and looks to be correct except for the wheels.
When the Mark 2 began production, the Lotus variant was assembled in-house at the Dagenham factory with certain Lotus-supplied bits and was marketed as the Ford Cortina Lotus as opposed to the Lotus Cortina, as the Mark 1 was known. It seems like an minor distinction however to Ford is was very important. Ford wanted the public to see the vehicle as a Ford product rather than a Lotus conversion because the public perceived that, with the Mark 1, the winning aspects were attributable to Lotus while any problems were the fault of Ford.
All Mark 2 Cortina Lotuses started with a body shell intended for export as these featured stronger welds around the suspension mounting points. These Fords did not have a different rear suspension like early Mark 1 Lotus Cortinas, however the GT-based suspension was “super-tuned” being stiffened and lowered a further 1 inch. In fact, all Lotus-badged cars were the subject of considerable testing and improvement performed by the newly created Ford competition section at Boreham Airfield in Essex.
To accommodate the large airbox the Lotus nomenclature on the cam cover was moved from the longitudinal position as seen in the Mark 1 to a transverse position near the front as shown above. Ford modified the short-block in house and fitted the Lotus cylinder head and associated intake and exhaust bits themselves. The specification of the engine was the same as the Mark 1 with the Special Equipment tune which gave 115 HP. The gearbox was also modified for better reliability by Ford’s racing specialists.
This particular vehicle features a wood fascia and it certainly makes the interior look fantastic. Shift lever knob, steering wheel rim and dash fascia are all constructed of Walnut. Of course the Series 1 instrument layout was not as ergonomic as later Series cars however their presence in any form is certainly appreciated.
Many believe the Mark 2 Lotus variant was superior to the Mark 1 and the point is supported by the problems with the early Lotus-designed rear suspension – however the success of the Mark 1 on the track is irrefutable. There were improvements in the body structure with the Mark 2 and the chaps at Boreham put in many hours refining the entire package so perhaps it is true. When you combine the capability of the Cortina Lotus with the joy of top-down motoring this example is hard to beat. Find it for sale here at Cleevewood Garage in Downend, Bristol for GBP 39,995.