With the suspension rebushed and lowered, and the brakes given some serious attention, the O’Hallorans are having a bleeding good time on Racin’ Jason’s Mk2 Cortina.
1-2-3-4 HOLD… DOWN”. TJ was perched in the driver seat as he learnt the fine art of brake bleeding. It was time to get the Cortina up to speed in the braking and suspension department, and we were up to our elbows in brake fluid. A quick lesson in how to pump brakes and bleed them had TJ mastering the fine art of counting out aloud.
Prior to the pump class, we had a journey of sorts to get the brakes going again after the 15-year barn hiatus. Nothing worked, and everything was rotten. Starting from the back, and the rear wheel cylinders, brake shoes and a quick machine of the drums got them organised. The hard steel brake lines all needed high pressure air blown through them to get the fluid flowing.
New rubber hoses all round, a skim of the front discs and new pads had the fronts sorted. Out came the old master cylinder, and in went a rebuilt one, before TJ took to the driver’s seat for Pumpfest 2018. 2-litres of new brake fluid later, and we now have a solid brake pedal.
With the wheels off, a check was done on the tie-rod ends, ball joints, track control arms and all other rubber bushes. Everything was in surprisingly good condition, that is except for the drag link bushes, or should I say lack thereof! No rubber meant excessive movement, so TJ and I made a set up from an old Mazda neoprene engine mount. The rest of the rubber was replaced with polyurethane to provide a firmer and more confident feel through the steering wheel.
After trawling the back issues of Classic Ford, ogling all the cool Mk 2 Cortinas, TJ made it clear he wanted the Cortina low (a small tear of pride dripped out of my left eye). We researched slammed Cortinas, and he pointed out a few that were low, but not ‘in the weeds’ low. The rake had to be spot on for this young lad, and his eye of what looks good and what is impractical was impressive. I explained that you need to do the front first and bring the back down to match, so we got to work.
Apart from the years of dirt and dust, communities of spiders, the front end had only one serviceable strut. We needed a pair to get things sorted. A quick search revealed that no-one in Australia had off-the-shelf replacement inserts. It appeared that time was the Mk 2 Cortina’s enemy and you could no longer buy brand-new inserts. Those left were prohibitive from a cost standpoint, in one case nearly as much as it cost to get the car. Some further research showed that certain Volvo and early Toyota Celica models have very similar inserts, but getting a set was equally as hard.
We were in a bind, but as luck would have it, a set of good second-hand Mk2 struts showed up locally, and we grabbed them within a few hours of them hitting the adverts. They are good, low-mileage units, and are now complete with a set of 2.25 inch lowered springs from my old Cortina parts stash behind the family garage.
Out the back, the rear dampers were still working well, so we decided to save some Dollars and bring the back down by de-arching the rear leaf springs. In Australia, Ford added an additional spring over the UK cars because our roads are rougher, or so the story goes. An easy way to bring the back down is to remove the additional spring and one of the intermediate ones as well. Once out, the back dropped 2 inches, and the Cortina now sits about as perfect as we could have hoped. Not too low to catch the eye of the local fuzz, but low enough to earn street cred.
With the brakes and suspension sorted, the next part of the build will be the bodywork. Our plan is set, the research has been done on what to do, and the items needed to achieve the look we are after have been secured. It’s going to be easy and very hard all at the same time.
The article first appeared in the September 2018 issue.
Catch up with more updates on Racin’ Jason’s Mk2 Cortina and all the Classic Ford project cars here.