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Mr Orange Restoration - Mike Jordan

Mr Orange. Mk1 Cortina 505 MRO Restoration and a half!!

It all started back in 2017. A lady from London rang me about her father’s Mk1 Cortina which he was reluctantly selling having owned it from new. Details were sent to me which I duly passed to the club editor at the time and it was put up for sale at £4k in the April Mag (weirdly it is the only April Mag we have ever done because it should have said May!!)

Several months passed and I got bored one evening and rang the number to see if it had sold. No, was the answer so I arranged to go and see it in Edmonton very close to a certain football club as I discovered! We agreed the price on condition he got it an MOT so I could drive it home. A three page failure turned into a pass and on the so on the 5th Oct 2017 I set off with a mate and a one day insurance certificate.

To say it was an interesting drive home would be an understatement. It had only ever done 15 to 20 miles per year for the last 10 years so it was not a surprise when the temp gauge went off the top. I got to Toddington services and rang the AA. In the meanwhile I had offers for the number plate whilst parked up. Thermostat removed, circulation checked and off I set again at a steady 50mph. I ended up with the heater on full belt all the way home as it still read high but it had an oil pressure gauge fitted and this held steady at 35psi. I hopped up the M1 and was down to 40mph by time I got to the M18 as the propshaft was making a racket, but I got home after an 8 hr drive and just switched it off and went to bed!!

I have to say I was quite pleased with it because it is the earliest English registered car that is known of, being a preproduction car made in the first week of August for the sales launch at the end of September. When purchased you could only have a blue one, it had to be a 2 dr deluxe and it had to have a 1200 engine complete with a pile of parts used in the Anglia 105E. The gentleman who purchased it paid to have the Ford Dealership change the roof to white before collection. It still ran with the throttle linkage in the engine bay despite offers from Ford in a recall to have it changed to the more well-known system. (I have to say it has been a pain to set up and get it to work properly.)

So that was the first stage over. Its home, in my name with the DVLA---see, paperwork FIRST!!!  It was now a case of dismantling it and negotiating with my good friend Craig to do the body work and painting in Castleford.

The pictures can tell the saga of what was involved with the body work. Another car was purchased for a lot of the panels---and I mean a lot!!! I also got to use the propshaft and some other bits off this other car.

Whilst Craig and staff were on with that I turned my attention to sorting all the parts, front suspension refurb, brakes refurb, fresh back springs and loads of little bits from the club (Mk1 Cortina!) and then there was the challenge of it being an early car because by Christmas 1962, having just launched it back in September, they were changing things, in fact lots of things including holes for the slam panel, throttle linkage as discussed earlier, dashboard, back panel, wheels (early cars had Anglia wheels with larger vents), interior light, wash bottle, bonnet safety catch and the blasted holes position on the bonnet, the glove box, seat brackets and so on!!! The only straightforward bit was the engine. When I took it out I discovered it was a later 6 bolt flywheel/crank (as opposed to 4) and was a 1300 engine but with a pre-crossflow head, the distributor was off a pinto it had a 1300 carb off a mk1 Escort with a pipe running to an airbox fastened to the inner wing off a taxi. So clearly I had no second thoughts about putting in a good 1500 engine I had with its standard pistons still in it.

I then turned my attention to the trim and as it was mainly shot to pieces I trawled the internet. A company in the midlands who prepare saloon cars for racing had the right ones that just needed painting a different colour using vinyl spray paint. It was an interesting visit as they had a Lotus Mk1 all prepared and up for sale with a lot of incorrect parts on, but I kept that to myself!! The dash was renovated as best I could as they are not exactly an off the shelf item.

Most of the glass is as per original but for the front screen which was badly scratched, I have however kept it along with the engine, gearbox, original prop, and a spare back axle—so I have all the big stuff in case anything goes wrong!!  Some spare panels however were all sold to offset the now mounting costs for the project.

Thankfully the painting etc. all went well even down to how far to run the white of the roof down the pillar, I had kept pictures!  The car came home and it was now time to put it back together. I put the brake pipes in first as it’s easier than when big lumps are put in and then gently assembled it over several months. The engine was a pig and I had to get help putting it in but eventually all was ready to start putting fluids in.

Brakes were a pain. I followed the layout in the parts book but bleeding was a nightmare, then the clutch pipe proved a challenge and I had to back bleed it from the slave. All got wired up correctly but I didn’t connect up a battery as it went back to my good friend Craig Watton to ‘commission’ as he fits a buzbar supply for the electrics with fuses etc., all discreetly held under the dash (there is only one fuse on a Mk1 Cortina for the indicator relay).

Craig then drove it to my house and I gathered a snagging list together for all the little things that have to be sorted such as changing the temperature sender for one that doesn’t light up the whole dash, a throttle linkage that had a mind of its own, a few rattles, fit the remainder of the dash, some wipers!, mats to preserve the near impossible to find rubber mats, door adjustments, ¼ light window rubber adjustments etc.!!!

It was finally more or less sorted and off I went to the Motorist Hub on the industrial estate in Sherburn in Elmet for a final look at 2 items I couldn’t sort followed by an MOT which it passed.

Home it came and the interior heater radiator promptly started to leak!!  Having replaced that the engine would not now run properly so a distributor change back to an original type solved that, I await the next item. In the meanwhile I am enjoyed the reliable red 4 dr GT I also own and Mr Orange gets the odd trip out!!

Mike Jordan

Where it began - Mike Jordan

Cortina Mk1 GT

Way back in 1982 I along with Roger Raisey started the MK1 Cortina O.C.

This was instigated by my owning a GT Mk1 and was having problems finding anything other than oil and filters. I placed a letter in Practical Classics and Roger contacted me. The rest is a very long history and I presently chair the club and Roger provides technical support.

The GT in question was TWC 691E and I have just finally revived the car in time for our big 50th Birthday next year. The car itself has been through ‘the mill’ over the years and has a very ‘chequered career’ which I will not bore anyone with.

I have had to do it on the cheap unfortunately with some green seats re-sprayed black, ditto the trim, lots of help from club members with parts, a bit of luck with a period woodrim steering wheel and even more luck with some period wolfrace slot alloys (sprayed to keep costs down).

Then came the biggest headache---DVLA. It originally had a V6 put in (long story) and the log book still stated that. What a performance getting back to original size engine. They wanted a receipt from the fitter (me was not acceptable) and 1498cc was not an engine size on their books. Some ‘jobsworth’ had regular correspondence from me for 6 months before we got there. I got the engine builders who bored and fitted new pistons to give me a blank receipt to fill in---(so they fitted it!) and I had to send an original Ford glove box service booklet to show they did do 1498cc. I then had trouble reading the engine number on the block so asked Marcel (our club helper) for some GT engine numbers around 1966 then made up a number—DVLA had suggested I pay the AA to come round and verify everything, which costs £130 but I got round that with the receipt.

So, I suggest 2 things, 1. Lie. 2 . If you can’t then make it up.

Spec includes modified stainless exhaust, modified back brakes with really big levers which helps make hand-braking fun, new carpets and boot mat, rebuilt engine, 2nd hand gearbox, 4.1 diff rather than 3.9, full re-spray, wolfrace slot alloys, lowered 1”.

 The car is now run-in, goes in the right direction, feels very light compared to the Capri and will hopefully make it to shows when I get time

 Mike Jordan

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