Scrolling through the lot list of Silverstone Auctions' weekend sale, I realized that while driven by the likes of Jim Clark, Jacky Ickx and Graham Hill is estimated at over $250,000, a 1969 Mk 2 Cortina Lotus in "concours" condition and a rare color is expected to change hands for well under $40,000.
And while you can still find less prestigious Mk 1s for the same kind of money, the Mk 2 is the better classic of the two, kept well under the radar due to its less evocative looks, and the fact that these cars were built by Ford instead of Lotus.
The lightweight Lotus Cortinas were hugely successful racing cars, featuring Colin Chapman's twin-cam engine, the close-ratio gearbox of a Lotus Elan, and a radically changed suspension. Ford only supplied the empty body shells, and despite marketing the cars as Fords, the Cortina's racing success brought major glory to Lotus.
Ford was also concerned about the Chapman cars' build quality, and since in 1966, Lotus was moving next to the RAF base at Hethel anyway, the production of the Mk 2s landed at Ford's Dagenham plant.
For 1967, Ford's upgrades included the more powerful twin-cam as standard, a different final drive, and a much more comfortable cabin. The Mk 2 was also wider than the original, which called for a modified suspension geometry. With the aluminum doors and hood (in primer!) , Ford sold the Mk 2 as the Cortina Lotus instead of the other way around.
Ford did everything to make sure customers don't see the new car as a diet version of the original. In May 1967, Motor Sport Magazine detailing why the new car "handles better than the old Lotus." Customers could order their upgraded Cortinas in nine standard and two metallic colors from the start, while Lotus' iconic green stripe became a dealer option. For 1968, Ford replaced the Lotus badge with a "Cortina Twin Cam" one, but for obvious reasons, kept selling the car as the Cortina Lotus.
Perhaps the biggest blow to the Mk 2 was that its racing career was cut short by the 1968 introduction of the Escort Twin-Cam. From that point on, Ford was all about the Escort in Europe, which turned out to be more capable both as a rally car and as a circuit racer. Thus set aside, the Mk 2 Cortina Lotus was kept in production until 1970.
Which brings us to this day. Here's for sale in a color that wasn't available in 1967, Fern Green Metallic.
The auctioneer believes it to be one of just four that left the factory in this shade. It's not crazy expensive (yet), and I'm deeply in love. Who knew?
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