Jim Aldridge has saved this rare two-door Mk5 Cortina from autobox mundanity and turned it into factory-spec 2.9 V6 magnificence.
There’s a lot involved in carrying out even the simplest of conversions. No matter how easy it is to complete, there’s always the hardest part to get right; the overall finish. This is why those who have swapped an engine or even changed an interior will appreciate how hard it is to make it look like it rolled out of the factory like that. This is why owner, Jim Aldridge’s two door Mk5 Cortina V6 is just a little bit special.
Jim’s had a few Fords over the years, but his real love is Cortinas, mainly the rare-ish ones and this two-door example certainly fits that bill. In fact he’d been after the elusive model for quite some time having let another one slip through his fingers years beforehand. “An old school friend had a white one when I worked with him in a dealership for a while and I really wanted it but lost touch with him. I never really saw another and always wished I’d had that one.”
So when he heard about one for sale through a friend he couldn’t believe it at first, quite literally in this case. “A mate said he knew of a two-door Mk5 for not much money and even offered to deliver it down to me, so for the money I thought it was worth the gamble. To be honest, I half expected for him to turn up with a four-door,” Jim recalls. “I was more than pleasantly surprised to see it when it arrived!”
Ready To Roll
It was a lucky find by anyone’s standards and on top of that it was in good condition too. “Originally it had been ordered as a mobility car — hence the larger doors and auto ’box it came with — and it was owned by an older guy from new for a good few years. It was well looked-after but not perfect,” says Jim. “The body had a few scabs of rust here and there and the paintwork was dull but it was basically good enough to use straight away.”
Which is exactly what Jim did. After treating it to a polish, it was driven regularly for around a year, until he thought about changing over to a manual ’box. However, Jim decided he wanted a few other little things doing at the same time and we all know how plans like that tend to go. “I took the car to Steve Taylor as I wanted it to be done properly, but while it was there I decided to get a few other things done. Then I thought I might as well do the whole lot.”
So the car was booked in for a pair of front wings, some tidying and a respray, but it didn’t stop there. Steve was given the task of preparing the car for a 2.9 V6 transplant, which meant altering the chassis, fitting a swirl pot in the tank and building up a fresh engine. “I was up at Steve’s virtually every day helping out with whatever I could as I was a bit fussy! I wanted to recreate a look as if Ford themselves had made a GLS V6 in a two-door.” And it’s exactly that effect that comes across through the detail and finish of the car.
But it’s not just what you can see on top either; underneath, all-new genuine Ford bushes were sourced and a 2.3 Cortina GLS donated its complete suspension set-up for the larger anti-roll bars and differential. However when it came to engine choice Jim very nearly strayed from the plan again as a 24-valve V6 engine was briefly considered. “I’ve had the Cologne engine fully rebuilt with absolutely everything brand new so for the money I could have gone for a Cosworth V6, but I’m pleased with the result and it’s the right period engine for the car at the end of the day.”
Inside Paint Job
When it came to the interior Jim had a bit of a problem on his hands. Getting hold of replacement door cards in a different colour was going to be difficult due to the rarity, so he thought of another plan. “I thought I’d try spraying it with the interior paint you see, and really didn’t think it would come out that well. But the results are perfect!”
The hardest part of the whole car to sort out was, believe it or not, the four-spoke steering wheel, which took some doing. “The boss adaptors for these cars are like hen’s teeth; there’s just none about. I wanted one so much in the end I had one machined up to fit.” Due to the standard of the rest of the car Jim’s still not happy. “It’s my biggest bug with the car, so if anyone out there has one, let me know.” We’ll be sure to pass on details if you do…
The rest of the body and trim parts were mainly new old stock parts carefully tracked down from all over or raided from Jim’s own collection of bits he’s been hoarding over the years. Jim also tried a few set ups before deciding on a mild drop so not to compromise ride too much. A set of refurbished wheels were borrowed from a Sierra Cosworth and do justice to the standard lines of the car as do the matching splitter and lip spoiler. It was then treated to a new coat of Cardinal Red, leaving Jim little time to finish for its first show, the Symonds Yat Cortina Day. “We had finished putting it back together the night before, even the morning before leaving we were fiddling with it and driving up there I had a blowout, which was a bit hairy to say the least!” However the car bagged the award for ‘Best Mk4/5’ making it all worthwhile and leaving Jim delighted with his achievement.
So what’s left for the car? “The inner C-pillar trim is a little tatty and it’s a unique part to the two-door, so I’ll need to sort them ideally. I’m also playing with the idea of changing to a set of 15 inch Minilites.” But we don’t think that was a factory option, Jim…
Words Simon Holmes
Photos Jon Hill
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