This site has been created with the ambition of it being the definitive library of information for the Lotus Cortina. It is free to access, it has no affiliations with any clubs, and it doesn’t advertise or represent any product or services whatsoever.
I started building the site in the summer of 2010 as there was so little information available for these cars, either on the web or in books. As the youngest cars are now over 40 years old, and the oldest is more than 50 years old, it is time to pull together information about them to describe the cars in the context of their time; how they came about, how they were advertised, what they achieved in racing and rallying and what books were available to support the car. There is also a section that will assist current owners in restoring their cars to original specification, and help prospective new owners understand what to look for when buying one.
The main factual information recorded on here has been derived from original documents: Ford and Lotus Press releases and dealer workshop notices, parts books, workshop manuals, sales documents and of course, many contemporary write-ups, road tests and reports from the leading automotive publishers in the day.
This is supplemented by personal accounts, obtained from folks who were ‘there’ at the time, together with specialist knowledge of the Race, Rally and Police cars. Additionally, considerable input is being made by many long term owners, collectors and restorers of these cars, which is building a definitive picture of authenticity for each variant of Lotus Cortina, Mk 1 and Mk 2.
To date, this website is the result of the collaboration and input from over 100 expert enthusiasts, and it will continue to grow for many years to come.
The only ‘modern’ photographs are of well known cars, taken to illustrate the different variants, together with the individual features of the Lotus Cortina over the 7 years of production.
The information here has been used by several authors in researching information on Lotus Cortinas for books and several magazine articles. I have been contacted by many hundreds of current owners of Lotus Cortinas, along with a similar number of ex-owners, race and rally drivers, prospective owners and general Lotus Cortina enthusiasts. All are very positive about the content and direction the site is taking, and of course, the success of the site is due to the contributions, large and small, made by some of the most knowledgeable folks in the world on the subject of Lotus Cortinas.
I’ve had some fantastic information provided by many of the genuine experts on the subject of Lotus Cortinas. Most of the contribution is acknowledged in the appropriate section. However, two chaps have provided information that goes across all sections.
Shortly after starting up the website, I was given access to perhaps one of the most complete Lotus Cortina archives in the world, owned by Jeff Fenton, who shares the ambition of making all this information available to owners and enthusiasts.
Jeff is well known in Lotus Cortina circles, having helped folks around the world define originality, and authenticate works cars. He has been a member of Club Lotus for as long as I have, since the ‘70s, and was the membership registrar of the Lotus Cortina Register for many years. His knowledge on the Mk 1 in particular is second to none, backed up by his hands on experience of restoring several Mk 1 Lotus Cortinas, including the ex-works rally car KPU 380 C.
Jeff provided the material and the credibility for the site to quickly get established, enthusing others to make contact and make a contribution earlier that would otherwise have been the case.
Graham Robson has also been most generous in sharing his incredible knowledge and experience, and has provided a wealth of information for this website.
Graham has been the most prolific automotive author with some 160 titles to his credit, together with countless articles for many magazines and clubs. His books concerning Ford and Lotus cars, together with the individuals and organisations that made it all happen at Lotus, Ford and Cosworth, are held as the definitive study of the subject.
And they are not dry academic studies of what happened, as he was there and knew everybody. His main motoring interest has always been rallying, and the main activity was in the Cortina GT, Lotus Cortina and Escort era.
His encyclopedic knowledge of the cars and the people, and what really went on in the 60s with these cars, has been recorded in many books and articles, supported by many photographs. This forms part of the archive that Graham has allowed to be reproduced here in order to add colour and real experience to the story of the Lotus Cortina.
Will Payton has put together the best collection of Lotus Cortinas in the world, and has the same passion I do for sharing knowledge….and sharing enthusiasm. When I first met Will he had two late Mk1 Lotus Cortinas, and has since added an early Mk1, a late Mk2 and undoubtedly the most important Lotus Cortina of them all, the ex-Jim Clark road car.
All of these cars are featured on this site, and each one of them is a stunning example of the variant. This isn’t by accident, as Will has hunted out the best cars available over the years, and then put many hundreds of hours of his own time into each one of them getting them just right.
I’ve spent many days with Will talking Lotus Cortinas, photographing his cars, going to events and generally sharing the enthusiasm. We have both learnt a lot more about these amazing cars in the past 5 years than we knew in the previous 35 !
I’ve had input from 4 main sources for the photographs in the library so far.
Ted Walker has very generously provided a wealth of photographs from his collection of millions of images of motor sport.
Cotterie Press have supplied photographs from both the Peter Darley and the Ian Catt collections. The books produced by Peter Darley, who was the Team Lotus photographer in the 60s, are without doubt the best available covering the Lotus Cortina in racing.
Maurice Rowe has provided some fantastic images which he caught whilst photographer for Motor Sport in the 1960s. Maurice doesn’t have a website, but he can always be found at the Club Lotus events during the year, together with some of the larger classic car races and shows.
The 4th supplier of images are primarily the magazines of the time, hence the somewhat grainy appearance of many of the pictures. I must confess that a few pictures I have obtained have come from folks or from other websites and remain uncredited. If your picture is here, please contact me as I would like to get your permission to use it properly, credit you with it and buy you a beer!
Note that currently you can’t easily save a copy of anything on here, but this is just for the early stages whilst I establish and sort out copyright (of the photograph owners) issues. I will be making most of the information on here downloadable as a pdf document in time. This will of course be free of any charge.
The photographs that are subject to copyright will not be downloadable. I claim no copyright whatsoever for any material in here. Most of the photographs and articles are either taken from magazines over 25 years old, or from my own collection of photographs, or with permission from the owner of the copyright (where known and credited). Please remember that this is a site for enthusiasts to use and undertake research. It is not being used in any way to profit from or to leverage anybody’s product or service.
Peter Huth and Ian Grant, 2nd in the ’68 East African Safari
What a stunning photograph!
CONTENT & STRUCTURE OF THE LIBRARY
The information is split into several sections:
Lotus Cortina Genesis
This is the story of how the Lotus Cortina came about, bringing two car companies together from opposite ends of the car manufacturing spectrum to create a car that provided a step change in fortune for both companies.
This section contains several very significant and rare documents which themselves reflect the excitement that surrounded the car, and the vast chasm of culture difference between Lotus and Ford.
Mk 1 Lotus Cortina / Mk 2 Lotus Cortina
These are two different sections, structured to provide the history of the development of the cars, how they were made, what the identification (chassis) plate means, together with a definition of what changes were made and when. There is a section on each main variant of each type of Lotus Cortina where detailed photographs are presented of the features and variations of the car.
Note that this information is pulled together from Ford publications such as the parts book, brochures and internal Ford and Lotus notifications, together with considerable input from individuals who have each had 30 plus years experience with these cars. Information is not recorded here until it has been authenticated by several such individuals to ensure that it is as correct as possible. As with all cars of course, there are exceptions to the norm, and with Lotus in particular, these exceptions can be the norm!
Brochures, Adverts, Salesman Packs, Press Packs
A look at how the Lotus Cortina was marketed through its life. To be more correct, the Cortina Lotus, as that is how both the Mk 1 and Mk 2 cars were referred to by Ford.
An examination of the press cars, the race and rally cars, the police cars and the interesting specials built. These sections have developed into quite a detailed study of each of the categories, thanks to the considerable input of many enthusiasts with incredible in-depth knowledge of their specific subject.
A collection of photographs and some descriptions of the significant marathon events held in the life of the Lotus Cortina. Again, this section has some fascinating content as it was written mainly by folks who participated in the London-Sydney and London-Mexico events.
The identification of the publications in which Lotus Cortinas were tested, together with some copies of those tests.
The identification and description of the books and change notices produced by Ford in order to support the Lotus Cortina.
Works Car Studies
Looking in detail at some stunning cars, including Jim Clark’s road going Mk 1 with independent suspension, and one of the Team Lotus race cars.
Mk 1 Road Car Studies
A photographic record of authentic Pre-Aeroflow and Aeroflow cars, showing the general features and the features that differentiate the variants. This section will form part of the ‘definition’ of the Mk1 cars. The purpose of this section is to fully identify the components and structures that make this variant 100% authentic. (as it left the factory).
Mk 2 Road Car Studies
A photographic record of authentic Series 1 and Series 2 cars, showing the general features and the features that differentiate the variants. This section will form part of the ‘definition’ of the Mk 2 cars. The purpose of this section is to fully identify the components and structures that make this variant 100% authentic. (as it left the factory).
Buying, Restoring and Running
Whilst this site is about the history and originality of Lotus Cortina, I am often asked about buying, running and restoring a Lotus Cortina.
There is a lot of rubbish on forums about fakes / clones / replicas / not a ‘real’ Lotus Cortina / re-shells, and I thought it was time to put forward a grown-up discussion about these issues. This has been developed from many conversations with owners, auctioneers, restorers, race car builders and government authorities, and I hope it puts forward an objective view of the issues.
I am also creating checklists for each variant of each model to help buyers understand what’s in front of them.
As the value of the cars has increased, so have the standards of restoration. This area is explored with extensive photographs, showing some amazing levels of skill to return cars from something that would have been scrapped 10 years ago into a show winner.
I’ve also gathered together the contact details for the clubs and suppliers who support the Lotus Cortina.
AUTHENTICATION OF A LOTUS CORTINA
I get a few emails a month asking me to authenticate a given car. Whilst I am very happy to help, I do point out that authenticating a car from a few photos cannot be done, as a full authentication is about the Provenance of the car as much as examining the car itself. It is also not just about the bodyshell, but the hundreds of smaller items that should be present to make the car fully authentic for a given variant.
It is intended that there will be enough photographs of each variant of the cars for owners / prospective owners to check ‘their’ cars against what it should look like. A new section, Buying / Restoring / Running discusses the issues of provenance, accurate restoration, re-shelling, originality and values, together with downloadable checklists per variant of car. This will enable a prospective buyer to go a long way in re-assuring themselves that the car in front of them is what the owner is claiming. You will soon be able to take your tablet / iBook along to see a car, and compare the photos in the library to the car you’re looking at.
The best approach would be to take someone along with you (as well as your tablet and checklist!) who really knows their Lotus Cortinas, but that may not always be practical, especially with auction time constraints or living outside the UK, where cars to compare and expert help may not be close by.
The structure of this website allows any amount of additional photographs and descriptions to be added, and the more complete the information, the more useful it will be. Some of the content is currently a bit crude, but it’s in the right ‘bucket’ for enhancing / refining as more information is gathered.
Thanks to all for your continued support. I know from your comments that this sort of information on the Lotus Cortina has been a long time coming, and that it is appreciated and being actively used. It seems that the 15 years or so of ‘secrecy’ about the cars has done a fair bit of harm to the reputation of the cars, as well as leaving the potential next generation of owners completely in the dark with regard to just how important the Lotus Cortina was, what it achieved, and what it should look like. Hopefully, this library will start to shine a bit of light.
If you have something you’d like to share with the Lotus Cortina community by adding it to this site, then please get in contact with me (Mark Kempson) at email@example.com Just a snippet, a photograph or an idea to make the site more useful…it all adds up!
You can also contact me on Facebook directly:
And take part in Facebook discussions on Lotus Cortinas. There is only one site to go to for the Mk1, the Lotus Cortina Mk1 Group, and it is the most energetic and enthusiastic site for the Lotus Cortinas I’ve ever seen
A Facebook site is now needed for the Mk2 !!