1974 Ford Cortina 2000E Mk3 - fully restored
Fully restored from the ground up, Jamie Cornforth’s 2000E is built to be used and enjoyed.
Words Daniel Bevis
Photos Adrian Brannan
Rebuilt and revamped in just eight months.
There’s an inherent toughness to this Ford Cortina, a sort of subtle but simmering aggression that exudes unexpected levels of menace. And that presents an interesting duality, because this is a 2000E, and that one crucial vowel signifies something far removed from muscle-car aggression. The E stands for Executive, and that was a vital part of this model’s position within the range. Following the late-1973 facelift when the so-called TC designation shifted to TD for the Mk3 (signifying redesigned grilles and lights, dash and dials), there was a shake-up of the trim levels; the previously top-rung GXL was retired and replaced with the E, which followed a classier path laid out by the old Mk2 1600E. When you parked this model on the driveway, all the curtain-twitching neighbours knew that you were doing alright.
So there’s an ingrained poshness, but you don’t have to be outrageously modified to be tough, as this low-slung Mk3 sets out to prove. On so many occasions, Ford got it spot-on straight out of the factory, and with little more than a couple of deviations from stock (lowered suspension, wider wheels, you know the score), you can create something with astounding presence.
The 2000E was, and is, a supremely stylish proposition, and Jamie Cornforth’s example here comprehensively proves just what a cohesive piece of design it was. It helps that the Coke-bottle styling just looks naturally mean. As a replacement for the three-box set-square Mk2, it infused a rakish new Americanised styling which shouts ‘muscle car’ even in base spec. And the E? Well… that was an E. That badge writes its own cheques and cashes them with gusto.
Jamie has owned the Cortina for around two years, and eight months of that was spent stripping it right down to first principles and building it back up again, reborn anew. What you’re seeing here is a beautiful butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, ready to take on the two equally important roles of regular driver duties and show-pony pampering.
“I bought it out of a garage where the previous owner had been keeping it with the aim of restoring, but had lost his storage and had to move it on,” he explains. “I had a Mk5 Cortina at the time, but I let that go in order to enjoy this Mk3 and take it local shows.” Indeed, the overall condition of the car didn’t seem all that bad initially, and it came to Jamie at what he describes as ‘a steal price’. However, the more he poked around it, the more the cogs in his head started turning. “I did just buy it to use,” he says, “but I ended up fully restoring it inside and out.” What followed was an in-depth and fully homegrown effort, with Jamie wheeling it into the garage and doing his best Tasmanian devil impression as he span about the car in his own little whirlwind, liberating parts left, right and centre so that he could really see what he was dealing with.
Jamie’s efforts were thorough, and that’s exactly the type of treatment a Mk3 deserves. This, when it was initially conceived, was a car with an important and complex job to do: not only replacing the beloved and popular Mk2 Cortina, it also had to replace the Corsair, so it was already wearing two hats; further to this, it needed to spirit into being a fresh design language that would carry the model into the future, and that aesthetic came straight from Detroit. With the body lines pinched from Coca-Cola and the fluted bonnet treatment reminiscent of the likes of the Ford LTD and Torino, it also had to spread these transatlantic wiles across Europe in the form of its sister car, the Taunus TC. And so with this heavy weight of history and precedent pressing down on him, Jamie cracked open the toolbox and got to work.
“I stripped the car right down to a bare shell so that I could deal with any rot and start again from a fresh base,” he says. “All of the underseal was painstakingly cleaned off underneath, and the bottom was painted the same colour as the top before being fully Raptor coated. The shell’s painted Moonstone Silver, and I had to fit a new vinyl roof as somebody had ripped the original one.”
Mk3 Cortina service parts and so on are fairly readily available from specialists, although for the more model-specific trim pieces it can take a little more detective work to tick the correct boxes. And while the standard-spec brakes are all new and the 2.0-litre Pinto has been refreshed for reliable daily cruising, with all the necessary bits acquired from the specialists at Burton Power, there also followed a nationwide hunt for the finishing touches. “I travelled all over the country finding 2000E bits,” Jamie recalls, and this commitment to correctness is laudable as the finished appearance really is something special.
This, however, was never destined to be a concours restoration. There are two significant deviations from factory specs, in order to make sure that the car is uniquely Jamie’s rather than just a stuffy and sterile rebuild. One element is the stance (see boxout), and the other is the interior. “I’ve had it all retrimmed to my own specs,” he tells us. “The work was carried out by Cli Griffths, who used to be at Aldridge but now has his own place set up.” Joining the iconic E-spec wood dash we find an extra touch of class in the diamond-stitched seats, further accentuating the fancy-pants nature of this aspirational spec level, the gentle grey trim and blue carpets neatly augmenting the bluish silver of the exterior.
And as it hunkers down purposefully over those tastefully broadened steels, this car effectively acts as a time machine, eager to transport you back to 1974, with just a couple of tweaks to its elegantly imposing form to make it properly street-tough. Would it win a drag race? Probably not, but that’s not the point. It’s already won your heart, and that’s arguably the hardest battle of all. And for Jamie, all of that hard graft in the garage over the course of eight months has been well worth it. “Yeah, I’m definitely planning to keep it,” he laughs. “Now that it’s all done, it’s time to get out there and enjoy it. It’s ready for the summer.”
As the sun increasingly peeps through the springtime clouds and images of show season start to dance in the imagination, we’re all totally ready too. An artful fusion of grace and swank with an overriding flavour of whispered aggression? This is exactly what a summertime cruiser ought to be: comfort and style with a little bit of posh.
Rebuilt 2-litre now lives in a well-detailed engine bay.
Interior is 2000E-spec, and then some.
- Body 1974 Ford Cortina2000E, fully restored, new vinyl roof, painted and Raptor coated underside.
- Paint: Moonstone Silver
- Engine 2.0-litre Pinto, Coolex alloy radiator, K&N air filter, blue silicone hoses
- Transmission Type 9 five-speed manual
- Suspension Front: GAZ Shocks adjustable dampers, 40 mm lowering springs Rear: GAZ Shocks adjustable dampers, 40 mm lowering springs
- Brakes Front: M16 callipers and solid discs Rear: 8 inch drums
- Wheels and tyres 7x13 inch banded Cortina steels with 185/60R13 tyres
- Interior 2000E-spec including wood dash, custom retrim by Cliff Griffiths
For the most part, this homespun restoration has been about preserving the character and originality of the 2000E, which is why Jamie has focused on maintaining largely stock specs throughout the mechanical side of things. However, there is one significant deviation, and that’s the way the thing sits. “The stance is my favourite part of the car, for sure,” he says. “I’ve had the 13 inch Cortina steels banded out to 7 inches wide, and the suspension setup now consists of GAZ Shocks adjustable dampers and 40 mm lowering springs.” Simple and well-chosen mods, they certainly make a stand-out alteration to the iconic Coke-bottle profile.
ACHIEVING THAT KILLER STANCE
“NOW THE CORTINA’S DONE, IT’S TIME TO GET OUT THERE AND ENJOY IT”
Jamie (left) is looking forward to getting out and about in the Cortina with his mates.
Jamie picked this Mk3 up for a great price, and planned to put it into use straight away...
While the Mk3 appeared solid, once he started looking deeper, Jamie knew a rebuild was due.
The Cortina was stripped right down to a shell and all the underseal tirelessly scraped off.
Repairs complete, Jamie painted the underside in
Moondust Silver before refitting the running gear.
The top side was then prepped and primed for paint — the whole build finished in just eight months.
With the wings removed and the shell mounted on a spit, any rust was carefully cut out and repaired.
“I BOUGHT THE CAR TO USE, BUT ENDED UP RESTORING IT INSIDE AND OUT”
Seats (right) have been given a custom retrim and look superb.