CORTINA 2.3 DU­RATEC

Clas­sic Mk2 given Resto Mod treat­ment.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Words Daniel Be­vis Pho­tos Adrian Brannan

The spec­tre of the Resto Mod walks tall in mod­ern car cul­ture. As much as there’s a re­lent­less fo­cus on new car de­vel­op­ment, par­tic­u­larly with man­u­fac­tur­ers clam­our­ing to pro­duce the most de­sir­able and in­ter­est­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles and hy­brids, so there’s an in­creas­ing keen­ness to cel­e­brate their her­itage, as new ver­sions of old cars are big busi­ness. Jaguar are at it, and so are As­ton Martin, along with count­less oth­ers, while the af­ter­mar­ket pos­i­tively buzzes with Resto Mod firms, and this is backed up by myr­iad TV shows ex­tolling the virtues of re-imag­in­ing old cars with mod­ern me­chan­i­cals. From Gas Mon­key to GoblinWorks, this stuff re­ally coins it in.

But this isn’t a tale of money or busi­ness acu­men. This is the story of a Cortina, span­ning three gen­er­a­tions of the same fam­ily, be­ing re­fracted through a mod­ern fil­ter by en­thu­si­asts with rose-tints over their for­ward-fac­ing view.

“This wasn’t in­spired by any other Resto Mod, it’s just a ful­fil­ment of my own vi­sion re­ally,” proud owner, Elfed tells us, cast­ing a fond eye over his mag­nif­i­cent cre­ation. “I’ve al­ways been a fan of stan­dard-look­ing cars with very sub­tle ex­te­rior mod­i­fi­ca­tions; it’s what’s un­der the skin that has al­ways in­ter­ested me in terms of power, ride, and han­dling. I wanted to build a rel­a­tively stan­dard-look­ing Cortina with mod­ern run­ning gear.”

So it’s as much about be­ing a sleeper as it is a Resto Mod — the dif­fer­ence here is that this sleeper has been fin­ished with Singer-like lev­els of en­gi­neer­ing per­fec­tion and fit-and-fin­ish, a true credit to the work of all in­volved and an ap­pro­pri­ate trib­ute to its gen­er­a­tions of re­lated cu­ra­tors.

Long line

“As a fam­ily, we’re very much into cars,” Elfed elab­o­rates. “My fa­ther, who owned this Cortina be­fore me, al­ways liked per­for­mance cars, and my son, Gwyn is very much into fast French cars, own­ing a 205 GTi-6 and 306 Ral­lye. I’ve al­ways had an in­ter­est in cars, which

started from my days com­pet­ing in road ral­lies dur­ing the late ’70s. Back then I ral­lied a Hill­man Imp and have since had a range of per­for­mance cars, it’s very much a pas­sion.”

The Cortina has been in the fam­ily since it was three years old and, sup­plied by Red Garage, Llangefni, it’s al­ways been on An­gle­sey with a lo­cal ‘JC’ num­ber. After many years of fam­ily GT mo­tor­ing, the Mk2 was passed to Elfed in the late-1980s, at which point he set about restor­ing it with a full re­spray… and couldn’t re­sist mod­i­fy­ing it a lit­tle, too. You can see where the seeds of all this were sown, can’t you? John Hard­man En­gi­neer­ing was roped in to aid with the ad­di­tion of a 711M-block 1600 Cross­flow, twin We­ber 40s and a Type-9 con­ver­sion, and the car was used and en­joyed be­fore be­ing laid up in 1993.

The pe­riod after this is what we can imag­ine as the Cortina’s con­tem­pla­tion phase, lan­guish­ing in the shad­ows and pon­der­ing the na­ture of ex­is­tence, be­fore fi­nally be­ing ex­humed in late 2016. And what did Elfed find after this near-quar­ter-cen­tury hia­tus? Rust. Quite a lot of rust.

“The car’s been ex­ten­sively re­stored, with a lot of fresh steel welded in,” he ex­plains. “The goal ini­tially was to get it ready for 2017 in time for its 50th birth­day — and I wanted the car ready for my Dad, who’d bought it all those years ago, to have a drive in. So the first step was to re­store the body, and this task was as­signed to Ian Rogers Bodyshop based in Hawar­den, Ch­ester. The shell was stripped, any rot cut out and re­paired, and it was then fully re­sprayed in­side and out in Vene­tian Red. The un­der­side was coated in Rap­tor sealant, also in red. Ian has done a fan­tas­tic job on the paint­work, it re­ally is a credit to him, and all new door seals, rub­bers and so on were sourced and fit­ted, too.

On track

Nat­u­rally this sort of process al­ways throws up a few hur­dles; the front quar­ter win­dow rub­bers, for ex­am­ple, had to be tracked down from Aus­tralia, and the quar­ter bumpers pre­sented their own unique chal­lenge. “We wanted to keep the ex­te­rior stan­dard-look­ing, with only the 8 inch Minilites and front quar­ter bumpers giv­ing a hint at the car be­ing mod­i­fied,” says Elfed. “Un­like the Mk1 Cortina, there are no off-theshelf quar­ter bumpers for the Mk2, so they were fab­ri­cated and shaped by John Hard­man.”

Yes, that old name was brought back into this car’s story to neatly book­end the saga of its restora­tions, and when it came to the me­chan­i­cals, John was as deeply in­volved as ever. Start­ing by fab­ri­cat­ing a cus­tom front cross­mem­ber to mount the en­gine and con­vert­ing the old Mk2 steer­ing box to a rack, he also added Corsa elec­tric power steer­ing (in­te­grated with the Cortina cowl­ing and ad­justable for weight­ing). The front sus­pen­sion is all Group 4 Mk2 Es­cort, with ad­justable Bil­stein coil-overs, ec­cen­tric top mounts, Rose-jointed bot­tom arms and Rose-jointed com­pres­sion kit. And, of course, there’s that en­gine swap.

“The orig­i­nal plan was to com­plete the tried-and-tested Zetec con­ver­sion,” Elfed re­calls. “How­ever, dis­cussing it with John he sug­gested the all-al­loy Du­ratec en­gine, due to its po­ten­tial for mak­ing great power from rel­a­tively sub­tle

up­grades, its re­li­a­bil­ity, and its light­weight con­struc­tion. It was also some­thing dif­fer­ent from the Zetec con­ver­sion.” So John fully re­built a Du­ratec mo­tor, mildly work­ing the head and fit­ting New­man cams, high-comp pis­tons and ARP rod bolts. On one side is a pair of We­ber 48s and on the other you’ll spot an Ash­ley ex­haust, with that trusty Type-9 hang­ing off the back, and it’s all over­seen by a DTA ECU. The rolling road proves its prow­ess: 228 bhp, and 218 lb.ft. “A cus­tom prop­shaft was man­u­fac­tured to mate to the At­las axle, and John nar­rowed the rear axle and fit­ted Group 4 shafts,” says Elfed. “This was to ac­com­mo­date the 8 inch-wide rear wheels. An LSD is fit­ted along with a rear disc brake con­ver­sion us­ing 2wd Cosworth parts, and the axle is fit­ted with anti-tramp bars, Lo­tus Cortina leaf springs and Bil­stein coil-overs.” A for­mi­da­ble set-up in­deed, and it’s the care and pre­ci­sion with which it’s all been fit­ted and fin­ished which pushes this build into the realms of high-end resto­mod per­fec­tion; it’s been built for hard use, but it’s mi­cron-per­fect in ev­ery de­tail.

“This is a fast road toy which also gets used for the oc­ca­sional show,” he con­firms. “It gets a lot of pos­i­tive re­ac­tions, with many peo­ple sur­prised by the sub­tle looks but mod­ern per­for­mance.” And that is the essence of the Resto Mod in a nut­shell. Keep your Singers and your mil­lion­pound Ea­gles — this remixed Cortina has been built with heart and pas­sion rather than to gen­er­ate rev­enue, and it’s more than happy to show the big boys how things are done.

Un­der­neath it’s clas­sic hot Es­cort, with a braced At­las and coil-overs, though Elfed’s kept the leaf springs. Like all good Resto Mods, the in­te­rior looks dis­tinctly fac­tory. Elfed’s added the early GT dash and some Clas­sic buck­ets. Front sus­pen­sion has been swapped for largely Es­cort items in­clud­ing a rack and World Cup cross­mem­ber. Elfed and son, Gwyn put ev­ery­thing into this build, and it shows.

The later shade of Vene­tian Red doesn’t dis­tract from the Mk2’s very clas­sic-look­ing ex­te­rior. Just how it should be. Gen­uine 8x13 Minilites re­ally look the part.

Built by John Hard­man, the 2.3-litre Du­ratec puts out a more than use­ful 213 bhp. Carbs keep it clas­sic but Elfed is switch­ing to throt­tle bod­ies. Even the boot area is beau­ti­fully fin­ished — note the neat in­fill panel for the re­dun­dant hole from the orig­i­nal fuel tank, now that a Group 4-style Es­cort one is be­ing used. An Ash­ley mild-steel Es­cort man­i­fold’s been adapted to suit the Cortina’s en­gine bay.

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