GRAFTERS: Mk3 Cortina

Your projects: James’ Cortina is more Big Cat than Blue Oval, the Mk3 be­ing saved from the scrap­per thanks to a healthy dose of Jaguar XKR space, pace and grace.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Words Marc Stret­ton Pho­tos Adrian Bran­nan

Ford on top, Jaguar un­der­neath.


Ap­proach­ing James’s Mk3 Cortina, you’d not see too much more than a solid look­ing Mk3 project well un­der way. Open the bon­net and the first ques­tion asked would be… how did you fit that Jaguar su­per­charger on a Ford V6? But de­spite the Cos­worth badges on the engine that’s no BOA, it’s the whole V8 engine from a big cat XKR, as is the chas­sis, floor­pan, sus­pen­sion, brakes, and trans­mis­sion. Yes, in sim­ple terms this build is a Mk3 Cortina body grafted (no pun in­tended) on to the plat­form of the 400 bhp su­per­charged Jag’s plat­form. ‘Sim­ple’ how­ever is pos­si­bly the most in­cor­rect word to de­scribe this car, as the, plan­ning, fab­ri­ca­tion and com­plex re­work­ing of the car is far be­yond most peo­ples’ imag­i­na­tions and ca­pa­bil­i­ties, with the only met­al­work on the Cortina un­al­tered in some way be­ing the roof panel.

All four wings are stretched to fit the Jag’s width, the floor­pan and chas­sis was short­ened to fit the Ford’s length and the front end had to be rad­i­cally stretched to fit in not one, but four, ra­di­a­tors and two oil cool­ers. Then there’s the elec­tron­ics and electrics to fig­ure out, and the de­tails of the fi­nal fin­ish to plot, source parts for and put to­gether.

And some­how James has got to this stage of the build in less than 12 months so far with his com­ple­tion time in­ten­tion be­ing a run down Santa Pod’s strip come the Clas­sic Ford Show on June 4. We can’t wait to see that!

How did you even come to think of this project?

It wasn’t planned like this! My ini­tial thoughts were to see how easy it would be to get the com­plete Jag engine into a Cortina, with thoughts of re­plac­ing the Cossie in one of my other Mk3s… and things just went from there.

So why the Jag engine?

A friend who is in the re­cov­ery busi­ness pulled in the donor XKR, which had been hit in the back, then smashed into the car in front and had a whack in the side for good mea­sure. The car was wrecked but then 400 bhp engine was un­dam­aged, so it seemed like a good idea to see what could be done with it.

Where did the green 1600XL come in to the story?

I’d owned the car for many years, hav­ing bought it as a spares source for my other Cortina. It was very far gone, but I couldn’t bring my­self to scrap it. The plan was merely to use this as a mule to work out if a V8 engine trans­plant was pos­si­ble. When the idea for us­ing the com­plete Jag base came in, it made sense to use the green car rather than chop­ping about a solid Mk3.

And just how do you go about graft­ing a Cortina body onto a Jaguar plat­form?

As far as the fab­ri­ca­tion goes, I used the Jaguar’s front end com­plete, but short­ened it. The main floor­pan is Jag too, with some com­plex met­al­work to tie it in to the Cortina sills. The boot floor is com­pletely new metal with some trailer arches made in to wheel tubs.

That’s all?

No, not by a long way... The Jaguar rear axle is 8 inches wider than the Cortina, so the rear doors, arches and quar­ter pan­els have been pulled out 4 inches each side, by cut­ting, pulling and in­fill­ing strips of new metal. The front wings needed to be stretched out 2 inches each side too, and are mounted on mas­sively re­worked in­ner wings.

Then there’s the wheel­base, which luck­ily isn’t too far away from the Cortina’s, and fits through slight ex­ten­sion and re­shap­ing of the whee­larch pro­files.

So the run­ning gear is all Jaguar?

Yes, all the sus­pen­sion, power steer­ing, the au­to­matic gear­box, right through to the rear axle. And that means I’ve kept all the elec­tron­ics too, so it’ll have all the mod­ern driver aids like ABS and trac­tion con­trol. The wiring loom is the Jag one too, with an ad­di­tional hand­made loom added in for the light­ing cir­cuit.

And you’ve kept the engine stan­dard?

In­ter­nally yes, but I have played with the man­age­ment, in­duc­tion, and ex­haust sys­tems, then changed the su­per­charger pul­ley and added a big­ger in­ter­cooler. I’m hop­ing that will add 20-25 per­cent, so maybe 500 bhp?


Talk­ing of cooling, what’s with the num­ber of ra­di­a­tors?

There’s the nor­mal wa­ter cooling ra­di­a­tor, plus ones for the auto gear­box, the su­per­charger and the power steer­ing! Add to that two oil cool­ers and it gets a bit tight un­der the front. I didn’t want to lengthen the front wings, but the lower valance is ex­tended for­ward 4 inches to cre­ate a bit more room.

How will the fi­nal ex­ter­nal look be?

The front-end is al­ready sorted with a front-hinged bon­net and lots of holes and mesh to al­low more air­flow through the engine bay. I’m go­ing for a Fern Green re­spray, and a stan­dard look with the chrome and the sin­gle head­lamps so the car will sur­prise a few peo­ple. One nice touch is that the wing badges light up or­ange as side re­peaters… this was done for a trick look, but also to ex­tin­guish an an­noy­ing dash­board warn­ing that came up with­out them!

The wheels look good too. What are they?

They’re some late steels banded to 10 inches at the front and 11 inches at the rear with Toyo Proxes tyres all round.

And on the in­side?

The idea is to get the Jag clocks and other in­stru­men­ta­tion into the orig­i­nal Cortina slop­ing dash. There’s a lot of space is­sues though, solved partly by mov­ing the heater sys­tem to be­hind the rear seats — which are fakes now with the Cortina’s rear cov­ers on board to look the part. The front seats are from a Mercedes CLK and the cabin will be fully car­peted.

Stupid ques­tion, but what has been the hard­est part so far?

Prob­a­bly get­ting the wings to stretch so far, while try­ing to keep the shell look­ing as orig­i­nal as pos­si­ble. I don’t want the wolf-in-sheep’s-cloth­ing idea to be given away by an ob­vi­ous wide-body look.

What do you see the Cortina be­ing used for?

I’ll be out in it quite a bit rather than just on spe­cial oc­ca­sions, and all be­ing well it should drive as well as the orig­i­nal Jag would have. And then there’s Crail dragstrip up here in Scot­land and Santa Pod to have some fun at.

And you def­i­nitely aim on be­ing at the 2017 Clas­sic Ford Show?

Oh yes, that re­ally shouldn’t be a prob­lem. The plan was ini­tialised about 12 months ago, but the real work only be­gan af­ter Clas­sic Ford Show 2016, and most of the hard graft is fin­ished, so watch this space!

Any­one you’d like to thank so far?

Yes, Ge­orge Bar­clay (aka Mous­tache) for much help, James Bal­main for the help and al­low­ing me to use his ex­cel­lent work­shop, and last but not least, Rab Nor­rie from RAB Re­cov­ery for sup­ply­ing the XKR donor car (07752 572309)

Nifty steels with trim rings will help keep the sleeper look.

Car: Mk3 Cortina 1600XL Start con­di­tion: Rusted-out spares car Con­di­tion now: Solid body hav­ing had ma­jor re­con­struc­tion with all run­ning gear in Time taken so far: 12 months Es­ti­mated date of com­ple­tion: Clas­sic Ford Show 2017

Name: James Drum­mond Age: 52 Job: Mo­tor me­chanic Lo­ca­tion: Fife

James orig­i­nally planned to see if the XKR’s su­per­charged V8 would fit,. It did, but then he got car­ried away...

Jag clocks will be mounted in the Mk3’s dis­tinc­tive dash — he couldn’t re­ally get rid of that now, could he? The rear seat cov­ers are stay­ing, but you can’t sit on them — the cool­ing sys­tem is now hid­den be­hind!

Boot floor is now flat. Note the much big­ger tubs to ac­com­mo­date the 11 inch-wide steel wheels.

Cortina’s At­las rear end has been swapped for the full Jaguar set-up.

Pow­ered by Cos­worth (with some help from Ford and Jaguar).

Mesh num­ber­plate aids cool­ing.

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