The 1962-66 Cortina Mark I was a landmark product for Ford of Britain. Watch the engineers torture-test their new creation in this nifty factory film. Introduced to the public on October 20, 1962, the Cortina Mk I represented a major step forward at Ford of Britain—it was “a miracle of packaging, manufacturing efficiency, and price,” proclaimed Auto Express. Initially, a front-wheel-drive system as used by Ford of Germany’s Taunus was considered by the Dagenham engineers, but then rejected in favor of a conventional rear-drive platform. Handsomely styled by Roy Brown Jr., the American designer responsible for the vivacious Edsel, the Cortina was offered in an ambitious variety of body styles—-coupe, sedan, and estate wagon—and in a plethora of models and trim levels, including a GT and a potent Lotus model.
A popular car in its day, the Cortina (initially called the Consul Cortina, but the Consul label was soon dropped) was produced in more than one million copies in the Mk I version through 1966, and millions more in the successor Mk II through Mk V models through 1982. Take note of the performance statistics in the film. They may not seem terribly exciting today, but they were impressive indeed for an affordable British car of the early 1960s. A series of small but capable four-cylinder engines and a light, modern unit-construction chassis enabled the zippy performance numbers. Let’s tighten our belts and ride along with the Ford test drivers.