The 1970's - A time for change

In 1970, Ford of Germany and Ford of Great Britain were about to join forces. A whole new concept to the design and production of Ford cars took shape, and seemingly to the marketing of the vehicles as well.

On the 1st January 1970 Ford, here in England, announced a new Escort model - the RS1600. Obviously it was no coincidence, sharing the previous singularly German Rallye Sport (RS) emblem and so the 4th generation RS was born.


TC1 & Cortina mk3

In September 1970, both Germany and Great Britain launched the TC1 and the Cortina mk3, almost simultaneously.

Both were built on the same underpinnings, with different body styles. However, in Germany it was seen that a Coupe model of the TC1 would have a market of its own, albeit alongside (and competing with) the Ford Capri.

Taunus TC1
Ford TC1.
Image © Wikipedia.
The TC model name was derived in Germany to indicate the Taunus/Cortina tie-in. The two Ford companies forming the allegiance were re-branded as "Ford of Europe".

The marketing of the cars took on a different scope too, in that customers had no need to order additional "extras" for their new purchase.

Now there were different designated models to choose from, with variations of extras and trim levels. These came in packages, named L, XL, GT and GXL.

cortina mk3
Ford Cortina mk3.
Image © Wikipedia.
While some engines were carried over from different models, like the P7, with the 2.0L V6 and 2.3L V6 Cologne engines, a new OHC engine designated the “Pinto” was available in three sizes: 1.3L, 1.6L and 2.0L. After some initial problems, the Pinto engine was further developed and refined well into the 1990s, latterly being fitted to the Sierra and other models of the time.

After 3 years of production, in September 1973 the TC1 was given a facelift. Along with external changes, a rear anti-roll bar was added along with other minor chassis changes. By now, on a commercial basis, the TC1 was considered an attractive vehicle and one that sold very well.

Unusually, Ford were outselling Opel in their home market but then the World Oil Crisis took hold. The production of cars was hit hard, with most mainstream manufacturers suffering and sales plummeting by one third or more.

Even so, into 1974 the TC1 was still Ford's best seller in Germany, just ahead of the Escort. However, with the release of the mk2 Escort imminent, sales of the TC1 dropped. Perspective new Ford owners opting instead for the revised, and larger, Escort. The mk2 Escort, with its modern European styling proving a hit particularly with German buyers.

Approximate Production Figures for the German Built TC1 1970 - 1975 are as follows:

Year No. of Units
1971 250,000
1972 233,000
1973 246,000
1974 138,000

TC2 & Cortina mk4

By 1975, Ford of Europe had been operating for 5 years and designs were harmonising to the extent that the sometimes quirky and but good looking Taunus ideas were being left behind on the drawing board. The TC2, launched in 1975, was considered as "badge engineering" being almost identical to the mk4 Cortina, which was launched in Great Britain at the same time.

Taunus TC2
Ford TC2.
Image © Wikipedia.
As was common practice, the entire floorpan was derived from the TC1 model with the bodywork design taking on a more modern European look. A vast difference to the TC1 “Coke Bottle” design, and most notably to the overall look of the TC2 was the loss of the "Knudsen Nose" to the leading edge of the bonnet.

The biggest differences between the TC1 and TC2 was to the roofline. Now with a wrap-around rear screen. The front and rear lighting was inset into the bodylines, giving the car a very crisp clean look along its flanks. Engines ranged from the previously used Pinto OHC units along with the Cologne V6 engines.

A large range of options were available to the prospective buyers, with engines ranging in size from 1.3L to 2.3L. Although the TC2 and Cortina mk4 largely looked the same, options in Europe exceeded those available in the domestic, home market in Great Britain. Our greatest loss was the unavailability of a 2-door bodyshell.

The general theme propagating through Ford of Europe was saving costs at every opportunity as a means to remaining competitive in a growing market, with Opel and VW being the main rivals in this sector.

Generally, the theme was that Left Hand Drive vehicles were badged as Taunus cars, and Right Hand Drive vehicles badged as the Cortina mk4. However, where market forces were not an such an issue the vehicles were badged as Cortinas, even in Left Hand Drive countries such as Greece, South Korea, Israel and Taiwan.

By now, the distinctive individuality previously seen in the TC1 had all but disappeared in the new TC2. The designs available in the European markets were becoming more homogenized.

However, The TC2 sold well in the markets dominated by offerings from Opel and VW throughout the production run. The approximate build numbers are:

Year No. of Units
1976 284,000
1977 285,000
1978 265,000

TC3 & Cortina mk5

September 1979 hailed the launch of the TC3. The TC3 was a facelifted TC2 and again was based on the platform of the previous two models, namely the TC1 floorpan.

Cortina 80
Ford Cortina 80.
Image © honestjohn.
In Great Britain the TC3 was named the 'Cortina 80' and, following on from the previous four Cortina models, was designated the mk5 Cortina.

It was at this point that Ford of Europe decided to make their own carburettor for the new TC3 range, called the VV. The VV carburettor was intended to help with fuel economy, however it proved to be a huge mistake, with many customer complaints and issues reported.

The visual changes for the TC3 were the inclusion of wrap around bumpers, with the plastic end caps meeting the wheel arches both front and rear. The front and rear light units were redesigned to wrap around the corners of the car, making a more visible presence. In particular, the indicator units were far more visible from all angles.

Taunus TC3
Ford TC3.
Image © Wikipedia.
The "S" version was now no longer available, unlike with the previous range where there was a specific variant - the TC2 2.3L S. However, it now became possible now to order the "S" options across the entire model range. These consisted of firmed, gas filled, shock absorbers and a thicker anti roll bar. The typical "S" accessories and extras were carried over from the TC2.

Again, engines across the range had been available on previous models of Taunus cars. Two types of the 2.0L engines were available, either with 4 or 6 cylinders. The 4 cylinder OHC unit producing 97hp whilst the 2.0L V6 Cologne produced 89hp. Although the V6 was down on power, it produced far more low-end torque giving a more relaxing drive.

In July 1982, the European TC3 and UK Cortina production came to an end. This bought about the end to the Taunus and Cortina marque in Europe.


This Time, it is the End...

Three months later, in October 1982, the all new Sierra was launched. Initially it was derided in the Press and referred to as a 'jellymould', with its sleeker silhouette and contours.

Gone were the traditional slab side and steel bumpers. It was now the beginning of a new era where plastics were used both externally for bumpers, and internally for dashboards. The new Sierra was, however, conventional in its front engine, rear wheel drive configuration but had independent suspension all round. Still using the tried and tested OHC and Cologne engines, people warmed to the Sierra months later and the rest is history…