By Dave Turner
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
“A Car that’s Built for Reliability”
Cortina Mk IV, Mk V and Taunus. 1976 – 1982
While Ford UK was enjoying the sales success of their best selling Mk III Cortina, Ford in Germany was going their own way with their similarly sized Taunus. There were a few family resemblances but they were noticeably different, the Mk IIIs ‘coke bottle’ shape having a decidedly transatlantic flavour while the Taunus from 1970 onwards featured quite restrained almost austere European lines.
Ford HQ had decided that it was time that their UK and German operations came together and a new Taunus and Cortina should be jointly developed. Germany simply tidied up the body that went back to 1970 and provided a new square-cut front end for it. By January 1976 the new Taunus II was on the market. It took Ford UK until September 1976 to get the same car in their showrooms as the Mk IV Cortina.
Despite these cars looking identical it was apparent that Ford had allowed each design office a little independence when the power units were compared. The Cortina employed a 1300 Kent unit for their base model and then 1600 and 2000 Pinto engines lead up to the big 2.3 V6 while the Taunus started with a 1300 version of the Pinto followed by 1600 and 2000 versions of it while their V6 came as either a 2000 or 2.3. Kits of the cars were sent for assembly in Australia, South Africa, Ireland, Portugal and the Far East.
Two and four door saloons and an estate car version were offered in various levels of trim, starting with the base, then ‘L’, ‘GL’ ’S’ up to the top level Ghia. The Mk IV simply continued the Mk IIIs dominance as the UKs best seller, the GL being the most popular version. By 1978 there were nineteen models from the base 2 door 1300 to the 2.3 Ghia Estate.
In order to give the Mk IV a ‘facelift’ for late 1979, Ford spent over £50 million although at first glance it is hard to see any difference. Ford tried to call this new car the Cortina ’80’ but it soon became known simply as the Mk V, the German version was still Taunus II.
The Mk V was 40lb lighter and easily identified by the new four bar grille with indicators that extend into the front wings, the rear lights are bigger and now include rear fog lights while all the windows extend upwards by 1” resulting in a flatter roof panel. Bumpers have plastic extensions, the ‘C’ pillars incorporate extractor vents while the front seats were 2” higher and a new facia was provided. Changes underneath had the service intervals increased from 6000 to 12,000 mile intervals.
While Ford made sure that the base model was well equipped, they contrived to add value to the ascending series of models – the ‘L’ “GL’ and Ghia. A couple of ‘specials’ were added late in production – the Carousel based on the 1.3 and 1.6 basic cars and estates and just 6,000 were made while the Crusader had a tie-in with the Daily Express and 30,000 were made along the same lines as the Carousel. A pick-up version, the P100 was made in South Africa some parts for which were locally made. Strangely, the P100 was launched in the UK during July 1982 just as the cars were being discontinued. However the UK P100s had a 10” longer wheelbase than the South African examples and proved extremely successful being produced well into the 1980s.
Starting with the Taunus models, as the real examples came onto the market long before the Mk IV Cortina, and there is a lot more of them.
Looking rather strange to UK viewers is the Neo Models 2.0 Ghia in 2 door form, in 1:18 scale. There is a plain green painted version from BoS Models but the metallic gold version from Neo with dark tan ‘vinyl’ roof and black side window frames seems strange as a 2 door saloon – real 2 door saloons were only sold as basic versions in the UK. Quality of finish is outstanding, although these resin models are extremely heavy. This one has steerable front wheels. Neo also produced a number of ’76 Taunus models in 1:43 starting with a 2 door saloon and then used the same base but as an ’S’ version and then a Ghia – a scaled down little brother of their 1:18 model finally an estate in 2.0 GL guise.
The model spin-offs from the James Bond films have produced some interesting subjects, for example from The Spy Who Loved Me came a very nice shiny black four door Taunus II, the three passengers in which are all brandishing firearms in the expected fashion. Universal Hobbies claim the models origin and although there are no badges other than the Ford oval, the wheels suggest that it depicts a Ghia version.
Various European markets took the Taunus and as a result there were a few inexpensive die cast toys to cash-in. From Spain came the Dicoys four door with opening doors and ‘speed wheels’ very much in the Matchbox flavour. Close study of the Guiloy die cast toy from Spain shows the same body, while the plastic base used the same tool as the Dicoys diecast base as all its details are the same.
Ford in Argentina produced a coupe version of the Taunus for ten years from 1974. Known locally as the GT it obviously inspired a few toy versions, one of which was in a range of 1:64 miniatures called Jet although this appears to have the earlier Taunus nose section rather than the ‘square’ pattern.
Schuco have produced a sometimes confusing selection of little Taunus models in their 1:66o series. Most helpfully in many cases they have assisted identification by including their catalogue number on the models licence plate. Their 2 door saloon is quite attractive despite the inclusion of relatively neat opening doors.
Vanguards from Corgi make a point of getting every mile out of their tooling with the result that most subjects offer multiple variations of the theme, an ideal situation for the serious collector. For example their Mk IV Cortina comes as a four door saloon, the initial issue in 2010 being the Ghia 2.0 and it has to be acknowledged that the quality of finish detail is superb – study the bright window surrounds on the Ghia. In complete contrast, their 2.0 ’S’ had the window frames effectively blacked along with the back panel and sills. The lower end of the range was not ignored as a very nice 1.6 ‘L’ came along with just as much care taken over the details. An opportunity not missed was to include a Taunus in the Vanguards range and a 2.0 Ghia duly appeared with lhd., German plates and subtly different window surround detail. Finally (or is it?) in 2016 the 3.0 ’S’ from South Africa came along. Have we missed the GL somewhere along the line?
Before the Vanguards saloons came on the scene the white metal miniature from Lansdowne had the Cortina Mk IV field to itself. Made from 2007-2010 in 1.6 ‘L’ four door form it obviously lacked all the finesse of finish that Vanguards were able to create but a part of the collecting population appreciated the ‘heavy’ feel of white metal models. Lansdowne followed their saloon with a 2.0 Ghia version of the estate that added some of the appropriate Ghia items such as the rubber bumper guards, side rubbing strips, ‘vinyl’ roof and sports wheels.
Back on the subject of toys, Matchbox produced a 1.6 ‘L’ Mk IV Cortina from 1979-83 and like most things Matchbox it came in various colours. The shape was ok if a tad on the wide side while the simple plastic interior, big plastic tow hook and opening front doors emphasised the toy character. The same casting subsequently came from Matchbox Bulgaria.
The only Mk V Cortina models, other than the corresponding Taunus, to have been recorded were a couple of polyester resin kits in 1:76 – 4mm model railway scale. This type of resin is extremely brittle with the result that things like mirrors don’t last very long. Even smaller and just as bizarre were the 1:87 solid resin shapes from BS Design that were produced from 1983 and into the early 2000s. The Taunus has sufficient detail to identify it as of the 1979-82 type. Apart from the solid one-piece resin body the kit consists of two axles, four wheels and four tyres.
The MIRA range of toys from Spain included a Taunus with a simple plastic interior and opening front doors and like the Matchbox is a trifle on the wide side. Still on the toys, but from Argentina came the Galgo 4 door saloon and coupe, the latter a unique product of Ford in that country. These have simple plastic interiors and generic ‘whizz wheels’ but are both fitted with the later grille. Another similar but not identical toy four door has a similar base without any marking and is assumed to be another South American product.
Leaving the late Taunus from the Ixo/Altaya/DeAgostini/Whitebox conundrum to last, it would seem the only way to identify these once out of their packaging is to note on their mainly blank base in pencil the name on the box. The model is an excellent depiction but comes in a variety of levels of detail quality depending on the distribution arrangements.
Models: Ford Cortina Mk IV and Mk V and Taunus II.
Illustrations: Ford Cortina Mk IV and V, and Taunus 1976-82
Neo 1:18 resin 18175, Taunus 2 Door 2.0 Ghia
Lansdowne 1:42 metal from UK: 56, Cortina Mk IV 4 Door 1.6 L
Lansdowne 1:42 metal from UK: 68, Cortina Mk IV Estate 2.0 Ghia
Vanguards 1:43 diecast from China: 11903, Cortina Mk IV 4 Door 1.6 L
Vanguards 1:43 diecast from China: 11902, Cortina Mk IV 4 Door 2.0 S
Vanguards 1:43 diecast from China: 11900, Cortina Mk IV 4 Door Ghia 2.0
Vanguards 1:43 diecast from China: 11910B, Taunus 4 Door Ghia 2.0
Vanguards 1:43 diecast from China: 11911, Cortina Mk IV 3.0 S
Unknown Make 1:43 diecast: Taunus 4 Door
Galgo 1:43 diecast from Argentina: 01, 1980 Taunus 4 Door Ghia
Galgo 1:43 diecast from Argentina: 02, 1980 Taunus Coupe
Beacon 1:76 resin kit from UK: Cortina Mk V 4 Door GL
Beacon 1:76 resin kit from UK: Cortina Mk V 4 Door L
Matchbox 1:59 diecast from UK: 55, Cortina Mk IV 4 Door 1.6 L
Matchbox 1:59 diecast from Bulgaria: Cortina Mk IV 4 Door 1.6 L
Schuco 1:66 diecast from Germany: 301837, Taunus 2 Door L
Universal Hobbies 1:42 resin from China: 75, Taunus 4 Door Ghia “The Spy Who Loved Me”
Neo 1:43 resin from China: 45140, Taunus Estate 2.0 GL
Neo 1:43 resin from China: 45137, Taunus 2 Door 2.3 Ghia
Neo 1:43 resin from China: 45136, Taunus 2 Door 2.3 S
Dicoys 1:55 diecast from Spain: 909104, Taunus 4 Door
Guiloy 1:55 diecast from Spain: 611004, Taunus 4 Door
IXO/Altaya 1:43 diecast from China: 1980 Taunus 4 Door 1.6 GL
IXO/DeAgostini 1:43 diecast from China: 1980 Taunus 4 Door 2.0 GL
B S Design 1:89 resin kit from Germany: 7 1980 Taunus 2 Door
MIRA 1:55 diecast from Spain: 172, 1980 Taunus 4 Door2