5 WAYS TO MAKE IT BETTER
1 SWAP OR NOT
Replacing the 1200 engine with the 1500 is popular, though some are now swapping back to preserve originality. Another option is the 1300 unit from the Cortina MkII, which pretty much drops straight in.
2 SIMPLE UPGRADES
There are plenty of modest upgrades available that’ll benefit reliability and performance if swapping engines isn’t your bag. £100 or less will get you an easy-fit electronic ignition system, and it’s worth considering a stainless steel exhaust for increased longevity – budget £250-300. Spending £40 on a K&N air filter is a cheap way to better breathing, too.
3 KEEP IT MAINTAINED
MkI engines will soldier on for many miles with regular fettling, so keep on top of servicing. Parts are cheap, there’s lots of room to work, and a simple toolkit is all that’s needed, so there’s no excuse for neglect. Fresh oil and filter every 3000 miles will reduce wear, while the cooling system will benefit from a flush and refill every other year.
4 BETTER BRAKES
Swapping the earlier front drum brakes for discs is common, though quite a few things need to be changed and costs/availability can vary. It’s worth fitting a remote servo – new ones are around £100 – and making the most of the existing braking set-up by fitting radial tyres.
5 OVERHAUL THE STOPPERS
Still on braking matters, if you’re not sure how old components are, or the car’s been standing for an extended period, then a thorough overhaul is advisable. Around £50 will bag new wheel cylinders all round, but an overhaul kit is less than half that for both axles. Replace the flexible hoses, too – they’re less than a tenner each.