The farm-find Mk2 Cortina saloon’s return to the road gets nearer as TJ and Jason get the engine running for the first time in 15 years.
The first step on the Mk2 Cortina ‘s (now known as The Goat) journey back to the road is to get it running and driving. It was time to lift the bonnet and start tinkering, and TJ was never far from my side as soon as the tool box opened. We began with a good steam clean of any and everything. Decades of dirt and grime washed away in no time, revealing a very original driveline package.
The 1600 Kent was complete and turned over easily by hand, pausing with resistance on the compression strokes which was a good sign! The gearbox is an older, long-stick four-speed, but notched promisingly into all gears including reverse. The propshaft had no play in the joints, and the diff was dry at all the seams, showing signs it was all a ready to go proposition. Before kicking it over, we went into loss prevention mode.
We started at the back, replacing the diff oil, and then moved on to the gearbox. While there, TJ had the task of master-pumper, as I showed him the fine art of clutch fluid flushing/bleeding. The clutch felt good, but the issues soon began to raise their heads when we moved to the engine.
Cooling down the Mk2 Cortina
The radiator was shot, corroded and full of gunk – it was binned quickly, and followed shortly by the heavily internally rusted water-pump. A new thermostat, some renewed hoses and clamps and a brand new pump were an easy get from the nearby parts store. After searching, we also managed to score a good second-hand radiator to update the cooling system back to operating condition.
Out came the spark plugs for a clean and re-gap. A new set of HT leads went on and surprisingly, the distributor already had a new rotor, cap and points. After borrowing the battery from my daily, we rigged up the leads, prepared our self for ignition. Fingers and toes were crossed.
The 1600 turned over sweetly, but refused to kick into life. Spark – check. Air – check. Fuel – we have no fuel! We traced the issue to a clapped-out fuel pump with a dried and cracked internal gasket. Some days of hunting had a sealed Escort one on the side of the engine, and then we hit the key again… still no action. More hunting revealed clogged fuel lines, and further to that a fuel tank with fuel goo residue that had the consistency of toothpaste! 15 years in a barn with little more than farm animals for company will do that.
A tin of acetone, some swishing and the tank was pristine. With the lines cleared, TJ hit the starter again and in seconds the 1600 fired into life. It ran clean, even across the cylinders, with no idle issues and or fuel or oil leaks. After a quick gear check, the Mk2 moved under its own power. We had kicked a goal. There is no doubt that car had been parked all those years ago due to the fuel pump issues, and with some detective work, TJ and I had a good running driveline ready to be put back into service.
A few licks of paint and some cleaning had the engine back to looking respectable. TJ painted the rocker cover orange to match the side stripes, and I added a few quirky touches because it’s a rat rod after all. Apart from a few minor exhaust leaks and a snapped-off heater pipe connection, the engine has been an easy one to resurrect, and will be a good base to start enjoying the car.
We are yet to properly road test the driveline, but for now, we know we can work with what we have. The little 1600 is a good unit, but it’s showing its age. Naturally, as car guys, the two of us are already discussing engine swap options. Turbo diesel and 3.8-litre V6 are early favourites, and even a 1.6 twin-cam and five-speed from an MX5 is being weighed up. Ah the days of ‘should have’, ‘would have’ and ‘going to’ have returned to the family garage, and it’s fantastic!
Next stop on the build journey, TJ and I tackle the suspension and brakes.
This article on TJ and Racing’ Jason’s Mk2 Cortina first appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Classic Ford.
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