Crapwagon Outtake: Tabula Rasa

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
crapwagon outtake tabula rasa

Last week’s Hillman Husky/Miata swap provided the example for what I view as the best of both worlds – old European car with an entirely new drivetrain. Here’s a half-way finished example that could be turned into a real firecracker – provided you have the patience of Mother Teresa.

“Never buy someone’s project car – it’s like buying a half finished Science Fair experiment” were the immortal words of a relative, who has managed to keep his 2002 WRX free from modifications, theft or general abuse. It may be the last of its kind in such good condition. I’ve kept that mantra in my head for some time, but I could be tempted to stray for this.

This 1965 Ford Cortina is very much a work in progress, save for an already swapped in 1.8L Ford Zetec motor. My first inclination for a project like this would be for a Miata swap. But let’s face it, the B6 is underpowered and the later BP engines are miserable, torqueless boat anchors. I’ve had two of them already, and I hope that I avoid it on my next Miata. At the very least, the Zetec has a bit more charm than the BP.

Unfortunately, the rest of the car needs work. Suspension, brakes and if possible, the steering would be upgraded to modern spec. You’re already $9,500 in the hole for the car, and all of that could easily double it. On the other hand, you’ve got a modern day Lotus Cortina so good that even Jim Clark couldn’t have dreamed of it.

Join the conversation
5 of 15 comments
  • Synchromesh Synchromesh on Mar 29, 2015

    I don't understand this hatred for the BP engines. I had 2 Miatas with them - a '94 and a '95. With lighter wheels and in good condition it was quite adequate for the task with enough low end torque. Not saying it couldn't have used more power but it wasn't nearly as bad as Derek paints it.

    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Mar 29, 2015

      Don't know anything about the BP engines, but the 1.8 16V Zetec is an amazing engine. Power, economy and great elasticity. And it's a Ford engine in a Ford, so "correct", too.

  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Mar 29, 2015

    Cortina mk 1 woz a Protestant, english pop's fedora with a boil on the back of the ear.

  • W Christian Mental Ward W Christian Mental Ward on Mar 29, 2015

    Just because I love bad decisions Derek, that car is just around 3 hours from me. You could fly into Atlanta and I will give you a lift. Whats the worst that could happen?

  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Mar 30, 2015

    My brother owned a Lotus Cortina and ended up selling it an another shell as an unfinished restoration. He'd already done all the panel replacement, I wonder if it was ever finished. It's only because real Lotus Cortinas have gotten so expensive (~$40K for a nice one) that people consider such projects. The LC's had trick suspension and steering parts and I don't know how easy they are to find. Some of the interior bits would be about impossible to find without repros. I love everything Lotus produced in the 1960s and I'm very fond of the Lotus Cortina, but for $20K I'd buy a late model Fiesta ST instead.