Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

When it comes to forging your own path you can never go wrong with a supercharger, especially a huge air-stuffing monster that sticks right out the bonnet of your Mk2 Cortina...

Words Jason O’Halloran

Photos Sean Davey

Supercharged MK2 CORTINA

One of the stars of this year’s Summernats event, this Australian Mk2 is loud and proud thanks to a blown 2.1 Pinto.

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

The scene is set — the 2023 Summernats Car Festival, Canberra, Australia. At every turn, outrageous, mega-horsepower, mechanical beasts with fire and brimstone souls assault your senses. Ground-shaking choppy V8 idles are complimented by tyres so big they could be on a steamroller. Open exhaust systems send the ashes out, while huge air scoops grab any and all available air to stuff-inside, and standing too close can see your baseball cap disappear in the blink of an eye.

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

This Aussie car event delivers the best, the wildest and the most mind-blowing vehicles. Amidst the craziness, a red car suddenly breaks cover, and the crowds reaction is instantaneous. The car is an eye-popping candy apple red 1968 Mk2 Cortina, and the owner Derek Mackay is on the receiving end of some well deserved mob admiration.


“It was so well received,” explains Derek. “It’s no V8, but the blower and the factory look was well liked. I got compliments all weekend, so it’s safe to say the Cortina was accepted.” Accepted it was, with the Mk2 drawing admiration whenever it was cruising. Watching the mobile phones come up to grab a shot of the Mk2 was epic, so was the occasional throttle stomp, sending the blower screaming as the rear Simmons rims scrambled to get traction.

Side effect

It’s not often you see a classic Ford with a blower out the bonnet, and even rarer to see one with the blower coming out to one side. If it was in the middle, well it would be a V6 or V8 underneath, however if it’s on the side, well that means it has been strapped to the side of a six or four-cylinder. In this machine, Derek has kept us diehard Ford enthusiasts happy by bolting it to a stout 2.1-litre Pinto.

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

“I bought this motor as a bit of an unknown for just $400,” smiles Derek. “I was told it was a good runner, so at that price I took a gamble.” While the buy-in price was low, the reality is that all unknown engines are a lucky dip at the best of times, and in this case, Derek hit a huge home run.

After removing the cam cover, Derek got an insight into his mystery purchase. “There was a set of Camtech valve rockers staring back at me, and as I dug deeper, I found out that it had a big-valve head, rebuilt bottom end and a capacity of 2.1,” explains Derek. It seems the mystery motor was not only well built, but also offered Derek a sound platform to develop the driveline further.


After spotting the large lobe camshaft, Derek set about making sure it had plenty of air to shift at high RPM. A rare Spearco four-barrel Holley-style intake manifold was sent out for modifying, a custom sump was bolted up, and an electric water pump and MSD ignition system was wired in place. The exhaust manifold was a custom made item, and the remaining system is best described as being a mix of fast road, free-flowing and well, loud!

Back to the intake side of things, Derek was well into his big plan to stand out for all the right reason. “Who doesn’t love a blower?,” smiles Derek. “I just had to do it. My dad helped me with the advice in modifying the manifold to take the GM 3/71 blower, and after playing around with some Weber set-ups, the Holley 390 four-barrel carb has been modified to work correctly”.

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

This blower is statement piece that is both visually and audibly amazing. As the belt drive whines away on that rorty Pinto, the Cortina’s rev range has now become a mechanical musical symphony that would bring many of us classic Ford brethren to our knees.

There is a heavy-duty clutch to assist with gear changes, and a late-model Pinto four-speed gearbox as well. The Cortina’s English axle now has a locked centre, and sits 3 inches closer to the body courtesy of reset leaf springs. Up front the Mk2 suspension and brake hardware has all been rebuilt, but now also include a Datsun dual-circuit master cylinder.

Great body

Complimenting the mechanical madness the Mk2 now offers is that stunning, factory-style bodywork. “My Dad was the one who bought it originally — sadly he passed away not that long ago — and in 2012 he gave it to me, so it has a lot of sentimental value,” explains Derek. “When I got it, I had the body sandblasted, and found there was a lot of filler underneath.

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

Luckily there wasn’t much rust, so cleaning it up and getting it straight was achievable.” Derek knew he needed to call in the troops to get the finish he was after, and turned to good mate Matt from MJH Paint and Panel to lay on the flawless Ford Candy Red pearl. The mint finish can also be accredited to another good mate Kerry from Americar, who along with Jordo, his staff member ensured the panels were arrow-straight before paint. Sadly, Jordo has since passed away, leaving an incredible legacy of work in the Mk2. The twin gold stripes are there to pay homage to the Australian Mk2 Cortina GT stripe kits, and the trim, chrome and stainless is immaculate. Under each wing, Derek kept the colour co-ordination in check with a monster set of 17 inch Simmons three-piece alloy rims, tastefully matched in colour to the side stripes.

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

Inside, Derek’s strategic build approach for the Mk2 is also very apparent. Rather than some fill-fiting, late-model bucket seats, Derek has stayed true to the Mk2’s heritage with a Sport Stock approach. The seats have all been retrimmed to echo the factory look, new black carpets have been installed, and some covert gauges needed to monitor the monster up front have been installed. The GT style wheel is classy, but like the rest of the interior is purposeful and understated.

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

“I really wanted to take my own path with the Cortina, and when I first got the car from my Dad, I was really inspired by its original state,” explains Derek. “All of the changes I have made are able to be removed so it can be reset to stock in the future if it needs to be. It’s not hard to get the blower off, and a different bonnet and rims and bingo, you would think it’s a clean stocker.”

Eyes wide

It’s not often we get to see a classic Ford with crazy, bonnet-bursting blower, let alone on a mint Mk2 Cortina rolling on a set of 17 inch rims. This level of sensory overload is fast becoming a thing of the past, with the advent of turbos and EFi technology and the push to keep our rare chrome bumper cars as close to factory as possible.

Derek’s creation is a timely reminder that walking your own path in 2023 can be a rewarding experience, and daring to be different never looked and sounded so good… especially when the revs rise!

Supercharged 1968 Ford Cortina 240 Mk2

Australian Mk1 and Mk3 Cortinas were badged as 240s for two-doors and 440s for four-doors. Right: Build is dedicated to Derek’s late dad, Doug

Tech Spec

  • Body Australian-delivered 1968 Ford Cortina 240, sandblasted shell, Australian GT Style stripe kit, Ford 240 badges, new rubber kit, boot mounted battery.
  • Paint: Ford Candy Apple Red
  • Engine 2.1 Pinto, unknown bottom end, ported and polished head, oversized valves, Camtech valve train, unknown big camshaft, four-barrel Spearco intake manifold, custom made adaptor for 3/71 Roots-type supercharger, Holley 390 carburettor, K&N air cleaner, custom exhaust manifold, custom big capacity sump, Aeroflow fittings, MSD ignition system, electric water pump, alloy Suzuki Jimny/Sierra radiator, hi-amp alternator
  • Transmission Type E four-speed, heavy-duty clutch, hydraulic clutch conversion, English diff, locked centre
  • Suspension Front: Rebuilt factory struts, lowered 2 inch springs, new rubbers Rear: Sport dampers, reset leaf springs by 3 inches
  • Brakes Front: standard callipers with uprated pads, solid discs. Rear: standard drums. Datsun dual circuit master cylinder
  • Wheels and tyres Simmons three-piece 7x17 rims, colour-coded to GT stripes
  • Interior Factory trim retrimmed, new carpet and headlining, aftermarket gauges, GT steering wheel, new rubber kit, new carpet
  • Thanks To my partner Renee, my late father Doug Mackay, Matthew Hughes from MJH Paint and Panel, Kerry Hughes and Jordo from Americar Body Shop, Geoff Hathaway and Jake’s Performance

It’s not often you see a blower bolted to the side of a Pinto, and with this one so well executed, we’d love to spot more.



The origin of the Roots-style supercharger or blower as they are known is one that dates back to 1890, where the American Roots Brothers designed it as an air pump for blast furnaces. Since then, they have been used to power air raid sirens, strapped to the front of Bentley’s, and bolted to trains, planes and every automobile you can think of. The timeless design we all know and love these days is referred to as the GM-style which came from commercial and industrial applications the US hot rodders used to source their units back in the 1940s and 1950s. The different size models are easy to explain, and Derek’s Cortina’s 3/71 refers to it originally servicing a total of three cylinders that each had 71cu. in apiece.

The popular 6/71 blowers did bigger six-cylinder engines and so the models go upward from there. Roots blowers have long been a great way to add power to a car’s engine, and through the direct drive off the crank, this big, noisy air pump can ram air in as quickly as the revs can rise. The drive pulley sizes allow boost to be adjusted, but it’s that ‘out the bonnet, loud and proud’ look that makes sure everyone in eye and ear shot know your cool you really are. Next time you see a blown car, you will know exactly what we mean.

Above: Simmons split-rims are a classic Aussie design. Interior retains its Mk2 trim, albeit revamped, and with extra gauges.


Left. custom alloy tank replaces the underfloor original.

Blower (below) sits on a 2.1 Pinto bought for just $400.

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