This section describes the 2 door 1600E Cortina. This has been separated out from the 4 door 1600E due to it’s rarety, and due to the similarity between the 2 door shell used for this car and the Lotus.

 

Introduction to the 1600E 2 door

The 2 door 1600E was produced for export only to European countries, and consequently was only made as standard in left hand drive form. However, a small handful of right hand drive cars are known to have been made, mainly for Ford executives, but one was commissioned especially for an RAF pilot posted to Germany…and that one still exists today. In November 2017 I found a RHD car in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe that was completely unknown, and have brought it back to the UK. It is the identical specification to the RAF pilot car, and is even the same Blue Mink colour. So now there are 2 known RHD survivors!

The 2 door 1600E was based on the 2 door GT, using a heavy duty shell, with all the 1600E enhancements.

It was introduced shortly after Series 2 production began, sometime around October 1968. It has the same chassis number identification as the GT, being 96 for the 2 door GT.

The 2 door 1600E was sold as the ‘luxury’ performance Cortina, alongside the GT, in a specially produced catalogue for Europe. This catalogue was printed for each country is it’s appropriate language. See below, the centrefold of the French catalogue.

 

 

The Lotus Cortina was primarily aimed at the UK market, where Lotus and the competition successes of both the Mk1 and Mk2 Lotus were most recognised. In other markets, the marque of Lotus was less well recognised, and the Lotus Cortina sales faired less well. Hence the 2 door 1600E was created to fill a niche in European markets created by lack of Lotus Cortina sales, and of course, the reason it wasn’t sold in the UK as it could have reduced the sales of Lotus Cortinas.

 

Production

The cars all started life at Dagenham, but in two different forms. Firstly, CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits were made early in the production of the Series 2 Cortina, and sent to European plants for building.  Fully built cars were made at Dagenham from January 1969, well into Series 2 production,  until July 1970, one month before the end of Mk2 Cortina production.

The earliest CKD car I’ve seen so far was a project car I had, and that had chassis number starting with CN96HS, which is CKD, 2 door GT, built in November 1968. I’m not sure yet if the November applies to when the kit left Dagenham, or when it left the Netherlands factory, fully built.

2749 2 door cars were made, with 1083 of those being fully built at Dagenham. The other 1666 were made in component form (CKD) at Dagenham. Only ‘a small handful’ of these cars were right hand drive, and it seems likely that there were less than 10 made.

Paris Motorshow, 1969. Note the name (Tudor) and the black grille and pinstripe.

 

Specification

Mechanically, the 2 door used the same components as the 4 door, with the 1600GT engine, the 2000E ratio single rail gearbox, the lowered Lotus suspension and the Lotus brakes.

The 2 door employed the dual braking system (as per LHD 4 door 1600E), with integral master cylinder and servo unit.

The trim was also the same as the 4 door (Code D234 for the black trim). The carpet was the same deep pile as the 4 door car, and the seats were the familiar Series 2 1600E versions, with tilt / recline front seats and split rear seats with fold down arm rest.

The door and rear panel wood capping was made specifically for the 2 door 1600E.

The ‘safety’ steering wheel was used for most of the cars.

The bodyshell is based on the heavy duty 2 door GT shell, as per the Lotus. This has the re-enforcement panels around the front struts, and the double skinned rear chassis rails at the rear. As for the Lotus, the 4 door 1600E and the earlier GT, the shell had the brackets for the anti-tramp bars. As for the Lotus and 4 door 1600E only, the front wing arches are rolled. The main difference between the 2 door 1600E shell and the Lotus Cortina shell is that the battery tray is mounted under the bonnet in the 1600E, and in the boot in the Lotus. A couple of other minor differences such as the water washer bottle (in a cage) on the Lotus replaces the washer ‘bladder’ on hooks on the 1600E.

On the few right hand drive cars made, there are only two known survivors, so identifying the specification from such a small sample may not be correct for all the RHD cars made! But those two are almost identical, having the dual circuit brakes with integral servo, which has meant that the battery tray is now on the left hand side, and the bladder type washer bag on hooks has been deleted, and replaced by a Tudor washer bottle much further back towards the bulkhead. That bottle is the same one as fitted to the Lotus Cortina.

 

Changes to Specification

The car was only available in Series 2 form. When launched, the 2 door car had full-chrome Rostyle wheels (of the Series 1 1600E), a black grille, a pin stripe down the side, and a black rear panel.

The full chrome wheels were soon dropped (latest March 1969) replaced by the standard Series 2 1600E Rostyles with chrome centre and painted rim.

For some markets, the pinstripe and black rear panel were deleted, and the black grill replaced by the standard back and silver grill for 1969. The pinstripe and black grill, and presumably the black rear panel certainly carried on in some markets until the end of production. See the photographs for the ‘1,000,000th export Cortina’, taken in July 1970, showing a 2 door 1600E in white being taken to Europe below a helicopter. It has the black grille and pinstripe, and presumably, the black rear panel.

The late models from March 1970 had the all-painted Rostyles, and reversing lights mounted on brackets further in on the rear valance (between the over-riders), as per the 4 door 1600E.

The millionth export Cortina in July 1970 just happened to be a 2 door 1600E. 

 

For publicity of this export achievement, the 2 door 1600E was taken to it’s new owner in Ostend, Belgium, by helicopter. I wonder if this car still exists.

Statistics

At 2749 units made, the 2 door 1600E was the most rare of all the Mk2 Cortinas out of the 1,013, 391 Mk2 Cortinas made. With 57,524 4 door 1600Es, and 4032 Lotus models made, the 2 door 1600E was a very small niche market for Ford UK.

 

Press photos of the 2 door 1600E, this time showing it with the standard GT grill and no pinstripe. It is believed that this was one of the cars built by a local Ford plant in Europe from a CKD kit, and that some markets, perhaps towards the end of production, dropped the extra cost of the black grill, black panel and pinstripe, as well as adopting painted Rostyle wheels.

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