MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

1 NUCLEAR DIS­AR­MA­MENT MO­TI­VATED THE REAR LIGHT DE­SIGN

Nope. While the Cortina’s three­seg­ment rear lamps are of­ten re­ferred to as ‘ban the bomb’ lights and do bear a re­sem­blance to the Cam­paign for Nuclear Dis­ar­ma­ment (CND) logo, the real story is very dif­fer­ent. We’ll let their de­signer Charles Thomp­son tell the tale. ‘It was noth­ing to do with CND though. It was sim­ply that I didn’t have much time be­cause I was due to go into hos­pi­tal for an op­er­a­tion. So I di­vided a cir­cle into three seg­ments. Funny how things like that hap­pen. There was no real thought to it at all.’

2 THE PRESS LOVED IT

Ford sold more than four mil­lion Corti­nas over 20 years, and it’s re­garded as one of its big suc­cess sto­ries. But the mo­tor­ing me­dia was de­cid­edly luke­warm about it when the MkI was launched in 1962. It wasn’t front-wheel-drive like BMC’s Mini and 1100, it was me­chan­i­cally tra­di­tional and sim­ple with drum brakes and non-in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion, and the only fea­ture of merit seemed to be its light weight. Ford deal­er­ships wor­ried that the car wasn’t go­ing to sell, but they needn’t have wor­ried – com­pet­i­tive pric­ing and ef­fec­tive pro­mo­tion made the pub­lic love it, de­spite the con­ven­tion­al­ity.

3 THE NAME CAME FROM A CAFÉ

Did the Cortina name come about be­cause Ford’s prod­uct plan­ning de­part­ment head got his lunch from an Ital­ian sand­wich bar of that name? No. The moniker refers to the then fa­mously fash­ion­able Cortina d’Am­pezzo Ital­ian ski re­sort. The orig­i­nal ti­tle was Con­sul 225 for the 1200 model and Con­sul 255 for the 1500. The Cortina name – which un­for­tu­nately means ‘cur­tains’ in Span­ish – was set­tled on very late in the day.

Richard Gunn

‘Ban the bomb’ lights had noth­ing to do with the fa­mous CND logo.

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