Friday 24th August 1979
The Cortina Mark V was announced. Officially the programme was code named Teresa, although externally it was marketed as “Cortina 80”, but the Mark V tag was given to it immediately on release by the press, insiders and the general public. Prices started at £3,475 for a basic 1.3-litre engined model.
Largely an update of the Mark IV, it was really a step between a facelift and a rebody. The Mark V differentiated itself from the Mark IV by having revised headlights with larger turn indicators incorporated (which were now visible on the side too), a wider slatted grille said to be more aerodynamically efficient, a flattened roof, larger glass area, slimmer C-pillars with revised vent covers, larger slatted tail lights (on saloon models) and upgraded trim. The styling upgrades were done primarily to bring the Cortina into line with Ford’s current design language seen on the Fiesta MkI, Capri MkIII and the forthcoming Escort MkIII.
Improvements were also made to the engine range, with slight improvements to both fuel economy and power output compared to the Mark IV. The 2.3-litre V6 engine was given electronic ignition and a slight boost in power output to 116 bhp (87 kW; 118 PS), compared to the 108 bhp (81 kW; 109 PS) of the Mark IV. Ford also claimed improved corrosion protection on Mark V models; as a result, more Mark Vs have survived; however, corrosion was still quite a problem.
The estate models combined the Mark IV’s bodyshell (which was initially from the 1970 Ford Taunus) with the Mark V front body pressings. A pick-up (“bakkie”) version was also built in South Africa. In 1982 the Cortina Pickup received a longer bed and was from then on marketed as the Ford P100.
Variants included the Base, L, GL, and Ghia (all available in saloon and estate forms), together with Base and L spec 2-door saloon versions (this bodystyle was available up to Ghia V6 level on overseas markets). The replacement for the previous Mark IV S models was an S pack of optional extras which was available as an upgrade on most Mark V models from L trim level upwards. For the final model year of 1982 this consisted of front and rear bumper overriders, sports driving lamps, an S badge on the boot, tachometer, 4-spoke steering wheel, revised suspension settings, front gas shock absorbers,’Sports’ gear lever knob, sports road wheels, 185/70 SR x 13 tyres and Fishnet Recaro sports seats (optional). Various “special editions” were announced, including the Calypso and Carousel. The final production model was the Crusader special edition which was available as a 1.3-litre, 1.6-litre, and 2.0-litre saloons or 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre estates. The Crusader was a final run-out model in 1982, along with the newly introduced Sierra. It was the best-specified Cortina produced to date and 30,000 were sold, which also made it Ford’s best-selling special edition model. Another special edition model was the estate Cortina Huntsman, of which 150 were produced. By this time, the Cortina was starting to feel the competition from a rejuvenated (and Opel-influenced) Vauxhall, which with the 1981 release Cavalier J-Car, was starting to make inroads on the Cortina’s traditional fleet market, largely helped by the front wheel drive benefits of weight.
The Mk V Cortina was released in Australia in April 1980, where it was known as the TF Cortina. It sold poorly and was dropped in 1982.
Up to and including 1981, the Cortina was the best selling car in Britain. Even during its final production year, 1982, the Cortina was Britain’s second best selling car and most popular large family car. On the continent, the Taunus version was competing with more modern and practical designs like the Talbot Alpine, Volkswagen Passat, and Opel Ascona.
The very last Cortina – a silver Crusader – rolled off the Dagenham production line on 22 July 1982 on the launch of the Sierra, though there were still a few leaving the forecourt as late as 1987, with one final unregistered Cortina GL leaving a Derbyshire dealership in 2005. The last Cortina built remains in the Ford Heritage Centre in Dagenham, Essex, not far from the factory where it was assembled.