THis tribute to the Lotus Cortina proves once again that, with street machining, what you see isn’t always what you get.
This article on Simon’s Cortina was originally published in the May 2018 issue. Street Machine Magazine
In the early 1960s, British Ford and sports car designer/manufacturer Lotus put their corporate heads together to create the Lotus Cortina. Specially constructed bodies were sent from Ford’s Dagenham, UK factory to Lotus, where a Ford-based but Lotus-headed twin-cam four-cylinder engine, close-ratio four-speed gearbox and coil-spring rear suspension were installed. The finishing touch was a green slash on the sides and otherwise pristine white paint, along with a trio of Lotus badges. As with most Aussie muscle cars these days, the Lotus Cortina’s survival value has skyrocketed.
Why doesn’t Simon bring Cortina to Australia? “I’m concerned about the Australian regulations – the V8 and supercharger capability – so it will stay there,” he says. Instead, he gets his fix by going to NZ a few times a year for a drive.
This is not one of them. Owned by Simon Perrier, this car is a reliable tribute, but instead of a fast four – like a twin-cam Nissan SR20 or Honda S2000 transplant, for example – it has a supercharged Ford V8. the right!
Those Minilite-type wheels (actually Performance Superlites) are a beautiful period-correct addition to the Cortina tribute. But thanks to the upgraded X-Mustang brakes, it takes a keen eye to spot the five-stud steel hubs replacing the factory four-studs.
Simon was born in Australia, but as he grew up in NZ, he considers himself a Kiwi. Now in his early 50s, he has lived and worked both here and there, and here and there is still living and working with her in Oz and Cortina in NZ. It shares garage space with a Mustang, while its Bullwell Negeri (ex-Turga Tasmania Runner and Sm feature car in August 2005) has been brought back to Australia after eight years in the ditch. So yes, Simon is a proper car nut.
Single way? Yes, No The left exhaust evokes the original Cortina’s standard four-cylinder pipe, while a second exhaust hides under the rear right of the vehicle.
“When I was a teenager my mates had Cortinas and I had Anglias,” he says. “New Zealand didn’t have big cars, or many of them, so that’s what was popular at the time. I bought a Mk1 Cortina four-door GT with the remains of a Zephyr V6, one before the engine blew up. Great car. I bought it from a mate but never got around to finishing it.
“So later, I thought it would be nice one day to have something like this and do it right!”
For Simon, ‘doing it right’ meant a V8, not the Zephyr V6 he’d coveted as a kid. But finding a good car to start building on wasn’t easy. “We spent 18 months looking for two-door shells around New Zealand. There are some really rough ones out there!” He counts. I even looked at a concourse-quality restoration. It was a beautiful car – but it would have cost me less though [to build the project] If I had started with it, I couldn’t bring myself to cut it!”
Although Ford built cars in NZ until the 1990s, Cortina Simon, with the help and planning of her colleagues Andy Klippen and Matt Walters, found an Australian-built example that was imported into Caveland in the early 1970s. was done.
“It was a rolling shell with no engine or gearbox,” says Simon. “It was in Lotus colors and had the firewall cut out. The guy I bought it from was going to put a twin Cam Cosworth in it.
But instead of Cosi, Andy Klopp and Frank Vig shoehorned a Ford 5.0-liter Windsor V8 and centrifugal supercharger between the Cortina’s front MacPherson strut towers. “I could run a full-house engine, but it’s easier to get a crate engine and supercharge it and end up with 500 or 600hp,” explains Simon.
There’s a lot going on here! The high-mounted fabricated air cleaner box (with three holes) pipes forward to the Pro Charger D1SC. Hidden beneath it all is a Ford SVO alloy-headed 302ci Windsor V8 with a blower cam and Holley EFI. To lower the height, the throttle body is mounted in the intake duct, not the manifold. That’s good for 470 ponies on the floor.
But the original Crate Windsor didn’t last long. “The timing sprocket was just a cheap thing,” Simon says. “It snapped and crushed the valves. I guess some of the crate motors are not well put together!
None of those worries anymore with Carl of C&M Performance in Oakland. As you can see, the engine, Pro Charger and Holy EFI all fit in the tight – but smart – engine bay.
Backing it up is a Tremec TKO600 five-slaughter, and the rear axle is an ex-Mustang 8¾-inch unit that rides on a four-link – with Watt’s link – and coilover setup, instead of the original whippy leaf springs. The upper control arms extend into the cabin to the roll cage and are hidden under a false rear seat.
“It has really good traction,” says Simon of the well-kept suspension. “It puts the power on the ground and just takes off.”
The fuel filler is in the boot, and the rear wheel is slightly tubbed to accept the larger wheel and tire.
Another scramble with the fresh engine resulted in the bonnet being blown open, the windscreen smashed and the turret damaged. Ouch! A closer look at the body during the repair revealed some problems under the Lotus-like paint: “There was rust: seams, O-pillars, chassis parts, door ends,” says Simon. “I replaced the guards doors and bottom, and a lot of panels were removed. The roof also needed panel batting.
Simon stuck to a factory replica of the Lotus Cortina’s 1960s interior, with the obvious exceptions of the roll cage, Corbio driver’s seat and extended steering column.
The body and paint were mostly the work of Patrick at Bass Panel Beaters in Onhanga, Auckland. “He’s into muscle cars himself, so he appreciated the work involved,” explains a clearly delighted Simon. “He worked on it for about two years as a backburner project.”
Thankfully, due to the popularity of these cars in the UK – where the Cortina was designed, built and perhaps most popular – many panels are available new.
The finishing touch on Simon’s tribute car is the color scheme, which is painted in brilliant green on white to resemble Ford’s first Lotus Assembled Race/Rally Special of the 1960s.
A lot of retro-resto attention was poured into the interior: those sassy chrome-colored gauges and vinyl trim all mimic the classic precision of the glorious 60s era! What’s not so noticeable is Simon’s new seating position on the Corbeau seat. Thanks to an extended steering column, it’s closer to 150mm than standard. A roll cage keeps the wooden pedal box under the dash and extends forward into the engine bay, adding rigidity to the shell.
But it’s the mechanicals that really get the attention – and piss off the purists!
“I wanted to make the car look like a Lotus Cortina even though it’s not,” Simon concludes with a laugh. “Some people get it; others don’t and cry like: ‘How can you beat a Lotus Cortina!’
We laugh at them, Simon.
Simons stuck to a factory replica of the Lotus Cortina’s 1960s interior, with the obvious exceptions of the roll cage, Corbeau driver’s seat and extended steering column.
The ingenuity in the car’s construction dives deep to use a Subaru Forester power steering rack with a stub axle mounted forward of the crossmember that shifts accordingly from left to right.
This Kiwi Cortina V8 reminds us that New Zealand’s late, great rally star Possum Bourne began his illustrious muddy motorsport career with a V8 in the Mk1 Cortina. According to NZ Auto CarPossum bought the 3.5-liter Oldsmobile-powered beast in 1978 when another Kiwi enthusiast transplanted it.
En route to success in Possum’s initial motorsport outing, the V8 Cortina was rolled, rooted and re-shelled several times over the next few years until Possum caught the eye of a NZ Subaru distributor. This was the start of his long international rally success with Subaru, which was tragically cut short in 2003 by a race-course accident.
1962 Ford Cortina
paint: White on lotus-inspired green
Brand: Ford 302ci/5.0L Windsor V8
include: Pro Charger
Heads: Ford Motorsport Composites
Camshaft: Blur grinding
Cooling: Composite radiator
Emissions: Dual system in 3, concealed right-hand tailpipe
Gearbox: Tremec TKO five speed
Difference: Ford Mustang 8¾in, narrow
Suspension and brakes
Front Suspension: Bilstein shocks, Ford Mustang struts
Rear Suspension: Four link, QA1 coil overs with Watt’s link
brake: Ford Mustang Discs with Alcon calipers (f), Ford Mustang Discs (r)
Wheels and tires
password: Performance Superlight; 15×7 (f), 15×8 (r)
Rubber: Dunlop Formula R; 205/55 (f), 225/55 (r)