A Tale Of Two Cortinas

Personal memories from the time when these cars were new (or at least not as old as they are now).
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Sideways
Posts: 572
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:58 pm
Location: Delta BC Canada

A Tale Of Two Cortinas

Post by Sideways »

Found this while cleaning up files etc...can only post 3 pics at a time so...long and boring but is IS about Cortinas (mostly).

A Tale Of Two (Lotus) Cortinas.

It was the best of cars, it was the worst of cars…okay, I’ll stop there, apologies Mr Dickens – besides, it - the Mk1 Cortina, was never the worst of cars. It was the summer of 1976, I was in the last few months of my 9 year stint in the RAF, stationed at that time at RAF Henlow and had just sold (for £1150) my Innocenti Mini Cooper 1300 Export (such a long name for such a short car and yes, we did dress that way back then.)

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I was now using my much abused 1966 S2 Elan (bought for £200, 1975) as my daily driver but that was soon to be too small for our needs, so that was sold (£380 after a tidy up, 1976) as well.
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Next...
Sideways
Posts: 572
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:58 pm
Location: Delta BC Canada

Re: A Tale Of Two Cortinas

Post by Sideways »

Chapter 2

We are getting to the Cortinas, patience… I am pulling most of this info from a diary my wife kept for that year as we were newly pregnant.
Still needed some basic transportation so we picked up a wee basic Mini which would not stay in gear for £8 (just needed new engine steady bushes, less than £1) sold for £63 six months later
I have no idea why I enjoyed sitting on cars back then but apparently I did.

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Being demobbed in a few months meant that all of the “stuff” my bride of 5 years and I had gathered would not have fitted in the Elan, and nor was it ever going to fit in a Mini so the hunt was on for something a bit larger since part of the “stuff” we had accumulated was a Hoover Twin Tub washing machine which definitely would not fit in the Elan.

I had had a Mk1 Cortina GT prior to my NATO tour and found it to a delightful driving car, so the hunt was on for another but at that time a few Mk1 Lotus Cortinas were on the market and given my love for all things Lotus we went on the hunt for one, using the Exchange & Mart, the paper version, the Internet was still a long way off. Look up the ads., find a phone booth, contact the seller, go see the car, negotiate, often over a beer or two and then do the deal.

Found one June 25, 1976 (pulling this info from the aforementioned diary that the now infanticipating wife was keeping for that year) seller wanted £310 for the car (a 1965) but finally managed to negotiate him down to £275 which included 5 brand new tires – the going rate for Mk1 Lotus Cortinas at that time was in the £450-500 range but this particular one had been repainted – very, very badly – in black, hence the final price.

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This was me prepping it for the repaint – it wasn’t QUITE that bad when I bought it!
Okay, that should do the trick but then we re-assessed the amount of our belongings and determined that something larger than a Mk1 Lotus Cortina was needed, so we bought…another Mk1 Lotus Cortina, this one a ’66 on July 17, 1976.
This is the only photo I could find of the white LC, wife and new small person in the foreground and Lotus Cortina in the background.
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(We sold, the white, literally the night before we emigrated for £340 and a round of drinks, in a pub.)

We were headed to Brands Hatch that day July 17, 1976 to watch the qualifying etc for the Grand Prix, so we handed over a cheque for the white Cortina, got the keys and the relevant paperwork and left the car in the owner’s driveway, went to Brands, and picked the car up on the way back from Brands, life was – yes - simpler back then.

A week or so later we were on our way from RAF Henlow to Dundee Scotland, our original and now temporary home prior to emigrating to Canada in March of 1977. My wife at that time was 7 months pregnant and being vertically challenged the only way she could drive the car was with the seat all the way forward and without a seatbelt!
Yes, life was simpler back then, if not safer!

We decided that, given her condition and the distance to be covered (450 miles) in a car she had not yet driven she would be the lead car, taking things nice and easy.

As if.

About an hour into the drive we were soon exceeding the speed limit of 70mph until we came to the many roundabouts/circles where she slowed to a reasonable 60mph before getting back to a cruising speed of 70mph or so, stopping only for pee breaks and tea breaks.

Reached our destination and I got a temporary job while waiting for the emigration to be finalised and a couple of weeks into that employment, I met up with my brother for a beer or two and he mentioned that he had seen me hurrying home one lunchtime in the white Lotus Cortina – I had sold the black Cortina for £240 (now painted white but as a rolling chassis as I had kept the drivetrain as a spare) and my brother was accompanied at that time by a friend, a knowledgeable car enthusiast who excitedly declared to my brother…

Friend “Wow, did you see that – that’s a Lotus Cortina, you don’t see many of them around!”
Brother “Yes, and you what, that’s my young brother’s car”
Friend “Wow (again) really? I’d love to have one of those”
Brother “And you know what else – he has two of them!”
Muffled sob from Friend…

And that, is the Tale of the Two (Lotus) Cortinas.
PS, all prices shown are simply there for reference purposes, the prices of all of these cars have increased in the last few decades...except maybe that Mini
angliagt
Posts: 884
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:01 pm
Location: Roanoke,Virginia

Re: A Tale Of Two Cortinas

Post by angliagt »

Great story & pictures! Thanks for sharing.
Those were some good times - I couldn't afford
all of the cars that I'd owned in in the past nowa-
days.
Remember - Nobody EVER says "COOL PRIUS!"
Sideways
Posts: 572
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:58 pm
Location: Delta BC Canada

Re: A Tale Of Two Cortinas

Post by Sideways »

angliagt wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 5:40 am Great story & pictures! Thanks for sharing.
Those were some good times - I couldn't afford
all of the cars that I'd owned in in the past nowa-
days.
:D I would share the story of the time my S1 Esprit burned to a crisp but it was not a Ford, so...
Brett Wilkie
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Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:42 pm
Location: Vancouver British Columbia Canada

Re: A Tale Of Two Cortinas

Post by Brett Wilkie »

Good story, one day I will put together a bit on how I came to own my Lotus Cortina but it's not a very exciting read. It is one of those being in the right place at the right time story.
Anglia 100e modified
Prefect 100e stock
Sideways
Posts: 572
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:58 pm
Location: Delta BC Canada

Re: A Tale Of Two Cortinas

Post by Sideways »

Brett Wilkie wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:50 am Good story, one day I will put together a bit on how I came to own my Lotus Cortina but it's not a very exciting read. It is one of those being in the right place at the right time story.
Its all part of the history of these cars so, throw it on the page! :D
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