1969 Cortina GT rally car

The amazing disappearing GT body. It was rusty, crusty and had moss growing on the paint! Too bad to salvage but an excellent donor to transmogrify the low milage Deluxe into the GT it always wanted to be.
So, which wheels look better? The self-serve auto wrecker is a fantastic source of bits for restoration projects. There's no end to the number of 5x13 'rally' style wheels from early Mustang II or Pinto and occasionally a Capri comes along complete with 5.5x13" mags. I'm still looking for one of those with an 'uprated' Kent engine.

The car on the right came from the wrecking yard! Yep, we picked it up for $300 CDN. It has covered just 38,000 miles. It required only minor repairs to the rear wheel arches

It's time to reveal my sources. Here's the links to my suppliers.

More links to come... when I have time to compile them all.

Burton Power - engine, gearbox and brake parts
Past Parts - hard to find brake and suspension parts
Dave Bean Engineering - North American supplier of Ford parts
Pierce Manifolds - maker of aluminum heads and manifolds
Car Orphanage -suspension bushings
ARP Fasteners -  rod bolts, head bolts... proper stuff
Leda Suspension - they make MK II strut inserts EXACTLY like the originals.

Progress report 1 - June

The GT shell has gone on to its new life as a soup can or Honda, drivetrain is out of the new shell, the GT engine, gearbox, rear axle and suspension are all stripped, sandblasted and powder coated. 

Most of June has been spent in the boot as you can see on the right. It now has 70 l fuel capacity and room for 2 spare tyres.


Progress report 2 - July

In the back seat area I've installed an aluMINIum bulkhead and plated in the side panels too. This week (July 9) it's off getting the roll cage installed

Progress report 3 - August

In the life of a project there's always that gratifying moment when it turns that corner and starts actually IMPROVING! That is usually when the primer goes on signifying the end to major body work. Only minor dinging left to do then blocking the primer before paint.

Whod'a thunk these wheels came from the bone yard for $5 ea? Of course that doesn't account for the $20 to have them chemically cleaned and $25 to have them powder coated. I've changed the wheel studs to the size used by full-size Ford's: 1/2"

Funny, for $5 I could buy a whole Pinto with 4 or 5 wheels.

Progress report 4 - September

All the engine, gearbox, brake and suspension bits necessary for the restoration arrived within the last few weeks so it's time to get some real work done! 

These Kent engines are pretty finicky to setup especially when changing the cam to one with higher lift and duration, plus changing the pistons and head to the uprated style. I also went for the Pierce aluminium head which is where most of the work was done. First step was to dry fit the engine with the new pistons fitted to the block but not much other machining done. This step was necessary to ensure there was 0.060" clearance between the valves and piston crown. I had to take an additional 0.030" off the valve pockets in the piston crown plus widen them for the bigger valves. A home machine shop is invaluable when it comes to fiddly work like pocketing pistons. Even with a jig to hold the piston on the milling machine bed there were still 4 different setups to do the cutting and it took most of a day. With that done the bottom end went back to the machine shop for crank grinding and balancing of all the rotating bits. The crank then went out for liquid nitriding.

The top end wasn't so straight forward. The Pierce head is a copy of the stock uprated head except in aluminium so working with it is a joy. My engine shop punched out the seats to take 1.60" x 1.34" valves after which I opened up the throats to about 89% of the valve size, cleaned up the ports and matched the twin Weber manifold. On dry fitting the springs I found that the locating cups are machined too small for the springs Kent supplied. A jig, consisting of a stud bolted to the milling machine bed, was used to center the guide under the boring head and with 8 quick setups the locating cups were large enough. It's a good thing I made a jig because I had to go back once more and lower the spring platforms 0.030" to get the minimum clearance between spring coils.

Cutting the valve spring platforms wider and deeper to fit the  springs supplied with the Kent 234 cam kit
It doesn't take very long to cut the platforms with a boring head.
Holidays are a marvellous thing especially when you don't have to go anywhere and you can stay in the shop doing what you want to do, like blitz the suspension, brakes, gearbox and engine! Rear axle is in, front suspension, except the struts (I'll wait for the adjustable bits to arrive) is in, gearbox and engine are in! Now, where did I put those Weber's?
It hasn't been this clean in 30 years!
There's nothing like working with clean parts on a clean car

Home at last. The engine that came out of this shell is pretty much garbage, this GT engine sat for 10 years before this major rebuild. In this picture you can see the twin 40 DCOE's stuck on so I can figure out what air filters I need to get, the old wiring harness cut open and roughed in so I can start modifying it for the 75 amp Hitachi alternator and the headlamp relay bank. The brake master cylinder is from a Ford Ranger truck. 
There aren't many aspects of restoration that I don't enjoy, but blocking primer is one. It's tedious, physically demanding and difficult to determine when you are actually finished. The body shop that did the final paint said this was in the top 2% of the cars they've seen come in for their 'mask and spray' service. This is simultaneously gratifying and disconcerting. Gratifying because, well, everybody likes to have their ego stroked once in a while, but disconcerting because I did the work in my shop with nothing more than a hammer, dolly, body file and $10 worth of wet/dry sandpaper. It begs the question, what do they do to earn so much??

This is the final update for 2001. Winter is coming to the land of the Wild Goose which means the garage space has to be cleared for parking the wimpy car, so the Cortina is back in storage with the other 'diamonds in the rust'. Since it was painted in September the following have been accomplished:

Electrical system has been redone, relays, bigger fuse block, rally lights, electric fan and rear defrost added

All the glass reinstalled - what a crappy job that is!

Tower brace fabricated, suspension installed and settings roughed in

Headliner made (thanks Jane!) and installed

Wheel arch liners made and installed

Chrome cleaned up and installed

a bazillion little problems that crop up from a car sitting for decades have been cleaned up

In the spring, it seems like such a long way off, I'll get the Webers on and the engine fired, the brakes bled and exhaust system made. After about a week's worth of work it should be moving under its own power. After I get the sump and tank shields built it will be time for shake down runs on the gravel roads in central Alberta. Stay tuned!!


Last updated: 12/27/2006 .