Lotus-Cortina Mk I: The Extraordinary Came at a Cost
The Lotus-Cortina was vital in validating yet another conservative British Ford against adventurous new rivals, a role especially important in Australia. From an era before designer labels were spread around like rubber stamps on generic products, the Lotus-Cortina was a genuine Lotus based on Ford’s ground-breaking Cortina unitary design of 1962.
Designated Type 28, it was bookended by the Type 27 Formula Junior open wheeler and Type 29, the first Lotus Indianapolis racer. Lotus was in the fast lane and fast outgrowing its cottage industry status.
Two critical developments opened the door for the Lotus-Cortina. A new Ford-based twin-cam engine for the Type 26 Lotus Elan was an opportunity waiting to be exploited.
After Ford’s Dagenham division cheekily rejected the US-developed front drive Cardinal, Ford and Lotus weight-loss priorities were suddenly compatible. To match the Cardinal’s weight, packaging and cost targets in a rear drive equivalent, Ford applied state-of-the-art aerospace stress-analysis to the Cortina.