1963 Ford Cortina "Green Goddess"
The most original first-gen Cortina you’ll ever find anywhereby Jonathan Lopez, on
Originally revealed in October of 1962, just a couple weeks away from the London Motor Show, Ford brought the Cortina to the masses as an affordable, cheap-to-produce, and cheap-to-run compact. Ford produced the Cortina for two decades, between 1962 and 1982, putting out five generations in that timespan. Thanks to its easily accessible pricing and promotion in films like Carry on Cabby, the Cortina was immensely popular, becoming England’s best-selling car in the ‘70s. The first generation alone sold over a million units, and the Cortina still enjoys a widespread enthusiast movement in the U.K. Now, there’s an outrageously well-maintained first-gen Cortina going up for auction, and it’s got less than 20,000 miles on the odometer, original everything, and looks like it just rolled out from the factory this morning.
This green old-school four-door comes in the top-spec 1500 GT trim from the 1963 model year, and it’s going under the hammer at the Historics at Brooklands classic car auction, near Weybridge, England, later next month. On average, the “Green Goddess” has traveled just a mile a day in the 53 years it’s been on the road, and should tempt any collector looking to get his hands on a British Ford classic.
Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Cortina “Green Goddess.”
1963 Ford Cortina "Green Goddess"
The first-generation Ford Cortina was offered in a variety of body styles, including a two-door saloon, five-door wagon, and this – a four-door sedan. The man behind the look is Roy Brown Jr., an American car designer who also penned the Ford Zephyr and the 1955 Lincoln Futura (a.k.a., the Batmobile).
The design is classic three box, all tradition and sleek lines, a piece of work that’s very clearly from the early ‘60s.
The design is classic three box, all tradition and sleek lines, a piece of work that’s very clearly from the early ‘60s. The most interesting section is the front fascia, where round headlights get a chrome surround, and the grille offers squared mesh. There are rectangular ancillary lights, and oval corner lamps. The bumper is a solid piece of polished metal, while a raised strip on the hood suggests just a hint of sportiness.
In profile, the Cortina is straight as an arrow. The roofline is slightly angled into the rear cargo area, but not really enough to offset the overall boxiness. Towards the rear, the fenders hide the top portions of the tires.
Finally, the rear end is pointed slightly at the edges, while the taillights are divided into three sections by more chrome. The rear bumper echoes the front in its design, and a single exhaust tip is located on the left-hand side.
This particular Cortina is painted in Goodwood Green, a hue that lends it the “Green Goddess” nickname.
|Wheelbase||2,489 mm (98 Inches)|
|Length||4,274 mm (168.25 Inches)|
|Width||1,588 mm (62.5 Inches)|
|Height||1,435 mm (56.5 Inches)|
The interior of the “Green Goddess” is remarkably fresh, and looks totally free of wear, including in the carpeting, seats, and trim – pretty incredible when you consider it’s been on the road for over five decades.
The upholstery is finished in beige, which extends across the seats, door panels, and up and over the dash, even making its way onto the steering column. Metal sections are finished in the same green color as the exterior.
Standout features include an “early strip speedometer” located behind the steering wheel, as well as a “pod-mounted” tachometer located on the left of the steering column, which goes up to 7,000 rpm. The steering wheel is a period-correct Le Leston Grand Prix unit, but the original steering wheel is included with the car. The original tools and jack are also included with car, all of which are polished and show no imperfections whatsoever.
The first-gen Ford Cortina was offered with both a 1.2-liter and 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine. Also known as the Ford Kent family of powerplants, these engines utilize pushrods plus overhead valves in a “pre-crossflow” design, wherein both the intake and exhaust ports are positioned on the same side of the head.
To back its sporty intentions, the top-spec 1500 GT used the larger, 1,498 cc engine (hence the 1500 moniker), plus it featured tubular exhaust headers, a Weber double-barrel carburetor, larger ports, and a new camshaft profile. The result of all these upgrades was 78 horsepower, besting the penultimate 1500 Super trim level by 18 horsepower. Additional trim levels include the Standard and the Deluxe, making for four total trim levels.
While not exactly mind blowing, 78 horsepower was enough to propel the Cortina 1500 GT to 60 mph in 14 seconds – acceleration that the press release characterizes as “zesty.”
This particular Ford Cortina received a new stainless steel exhaust system in 1990, but it’s highly unlikely the engine produces more than its original 78 horsepower.
Routing the power to the rear axle is a four-speed manual gearbox, but the Cortina was also offered with a three-speed automatic.
Chassis And Handling
The “Green Goddess” Cortina bears the chassis number ARE 163A, and like all 1500 GT models, gets a lowered suspension as standard with a semi-elliptic set-up in the rear.
Curb weight is rated at 787 kg (1,736 pounds).
This incredibly well maintained Cortina will go up for sale on Saturday, August 20th, at the Historics at Brooklands classic car auction near Weybridge, England. It’ll hit the block alongside 140 other classic cars and motorcycles.
Built in Dagenham, the “Green Goddess” was first registered on July 4th, 1963. In the 53 years it’s been on the road, it’s enjoyed only two previous owners. The most recent owner bought the car nearly three decades ago.
Just 19,422 original miles are registered on the odometer, and the car has collected several different concours awards.
Simply put, it’s believed to be “the finest and most original Mk. 1 Cortina remaining today.”
When it hit showrooms in the early ‘60s, pricing was 748 pounds. Now, estimates at auction range between 24,000 and 28,000 pounds.
The Morris Oxford nameplate was first put to use in 1913, but was shelved in 1935, only to return in 1948. The car continued production until 1971. In the early ‘60s, the Cortina bested the Oxford in the 0-to-60 mph sprint by a full five seconds.
Produced between 1957 and 1978, the Vauxhall Victor was a series of four-door sedans and five-door wagons aimed at serving British families. Going up against the ’63 Cortina was the FB Series Victor and VX4/90, which spanned the ’61 to ’64 model years, and employed either a 1.5- or 1.6-liter inline-four cylinder engine for motivation.
Like enthusiasts of any make or model, the two owners behind this Cortina show a level of care and attention that borders on obsession. That much is obvious just by looking at pictures of the car’s current state, but one story in particular perfectly demonstrates the dedication behind its maintenance.
One of the original owners was so painstakingly fastidious with the car that the mechanic who performed the upkeep recalls a time when the owner refused to drive it home after service because it was raining, instead choosing to walk back. He picked it up three days later once the roads were finally dry.
Now that’s devotion, and the story goes a long way in backing claims to the car’s “time-warp condition.”