Produced in the U.K. between 1963 and 1970, the Ford Lotus Cortina or as most people knew it, the Lotus Cortina came about when Ford and Lotus decided to combine efforts to create a homologation special built to race in touring car events, Trans-Am, and stage rally. They wanted a small, high-powered sports saloon that could compete on track.
The story goes that Walter Hayes from Ford went to Colin Chapman after learning that Lotus put a Cosworth-tuned Ford 116E engine into an Elan. For the Cortina, Ford developed a new twin-cam engine with 1577 cc displacement. The result was the Ford Lotus Cortina, powered by a 110-horsepower 1.6-liter twin-cam inline-four, four-speed transmission, and suspension tuning from Lotus. With its light, stiff monocoque shell, MacPherson strut front suspension and highly tunable oversquare engine it was an instant success.
The Ford-Lotus Cortina was dominant in competition events, the peak being Jim Clark winning the British Saloon Car Championship in 1964. The production Lotus-Ford Cortina was sold through Ford dealers as ‘The Consul Cortina Sports Special’. Approximately 7,400 cars were made over its production life.