Cortina Mk. 5

THE CRAYFORD CORTINA MK.5

In August 1979 Ford announced the “all new 1980 Cortina”, and never in its short two year lifespan officially called it the MK.5, everyone else did and the tag stuck. Crayford responded, but immediately ran into one big problem. They needed a MK.5 two door saloon for the prototype and development car, but found Ford had switched all two door production to its Genk plant in Belgium, and only the base L model with a tiny 1300 cross flow engine was type approved for legal importation to the U.K.

Crayfords marketing had shown that most customers wanted fully loaded cars with big engine’s, they planned to sell conversions with engines from 1.6 litres up to the 2.3 V6. The 2.0 litre GLS was seen as the optimum specification expected. The answer was for Crayford to import just one 1300cc car, use it as the prototype and development car and then hand over the car registered as XRW 304X to an industry specialist to put the new convertible through the full UK ministry of transport type approval process, due to expected low volumes of sale, the car was exempt from being crash tested. The car was completed by October 1980, for the November Motor Show where it was shown with full UK type approval, a world first for any conversion. It was then used as the press and brochure car and had the dubious honour of becoming the last Crayford Cortina to be made at Westerham after three decades.

The whole Crayford Mk.5 Cortina project, the manufacturing and sales rights and the 1300 prototype where then sold to Carbodies of Coventry, a company with a long history in coach building, but who were currently concentrating on building the world famous FX4 London taxi cabs. The Crayford MK.5, 1300 prototype was modified at Carbodie’s but never sold, it was kept by the chairman, who later sold it to the chairman of the Crayford Owners Club. With the all important new type approval number allocated by the Ministry of Transport the Ford computer at the Genk plant could be persuaded to build and export higher spec cars for Carbodies.

They did sell 30 cars, all carrying Carbodies badges on the boot. Most where the expected 2.0 litre GLS orders, with 3 V6 engined cars, two of these where badged as Taunus cars. Overall the project was a disappointing experience for Carbodies, sales where slow, they expected to sell hundreds, but Ford killed off the Mk.5 in 1982 only two years into production for its unloved successor the jelly mould Sierra. Ford still sold a million MK.5 cars in that two year period but the poor sales of the Carbodies Cortina could be attributed to its high price. Type approval had been an expensive process and customers by now wanted high spec cars, one customer spent a staggering £14,500 on a 2.3 litre car with every option, when he could have had the new Jaguar XJ6 for another £350. The last car was in the showroom for two years and delivered on a ”A” prefix registration.

Bristol Street Motors had the franchise but a few cars where also sold by Quicks of Manchester. Ford did make a two door Sierra shell as an L base car but they were only built for only six months. The Daily Mirror, like Crayford, had sketches and artwork for a Crayford Sierra, and it looked right too, but with the tragic death of Crayford’s Jeff Smith in 1985 the end of Crayford Auto Developments was only a few years away.

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