Cort in a moment...


Aletter this issue from Russell McIlwaine over in WA reminded me of old Cortinas and a bloke I knew who had one back in the day. That said, it can’t have been too new a car, because it was certainly well modified by the time Matey came to own it. Now, I have to be honest and say I was more into Holdens back then. The problem with that was I could only afford versions with a six-cylinder engine (which, in a big heavy HQ was a bit underdone). The upshot was I never really rated Fords at all, and was even more ignorant of Valiants.

But back to my pal’s Cortina (actually, he wasn’t my pal at all; more of an acquaintance. Especially not after his girlfriend dumped him and climbed into the passenger’s seat of my HQ Holden, anyway).

So let me paint you a word-picture of this TC. It was an XLE and it was bright orangey-red with a white vinyl roof. It had chromies all round and a poo-brown vinyl interior with that dreadful TC Cortina dashboard that sloped away from you at the bottom. Getting the idea?

But this Cortina’s secret weapon was all under the lid. There lurked a pre-crossflow 250-cube six backed up by a four-speed manual cogbox. And it was no stock 250, either. Nope, this one had a shaved head, extractors, 350 Holley and a small camshaft which we all – in our blissful ignorance – referred to as a half-race cam (whatever the hell that meant). I doubt that it would be anything special today but back then, this was just about the fastest car in this particular small town.

A much better mate borrowed the thing one night and picked me up to go somewhere or other (or nowhere, knowing us at the time). And from the moment we were rolling, I suddenly had a much better grasp of the phenomenon we know as torque. This thing went like the clappers. Couldn’t go around a corner or stop to save itself (or you, come to think of it) but point it at the horizon and it fair dinkum blasted off like there was no tomorrow.

Which, given its stoic refusal to change direction may well have been the case. Trust me, this thing put the ‘bus’ into blunderbuss.

But you know what? For all that it was a rocket, I wouldn’t have swapped it for my grey, drum-braked HQ for quids. See, my Holden had something that his Cortina didn’t: To wit, the lovely Debbie, who had formerly decorated that Cortina, and was blonde, had her own house and whose jumper resembled a dead-heat in a Zeppelin race. Ahem.