This is the first in a series by new contributor Ian Kolbe. In the coming months the Cape-based photographer will outline cars he likes to call “survivors”. For his inaugural piece he takes a closer look at a 1968 Ford Cortina (Mk2).
Old cars, for me, represent rolling postcards from the past. They trigger memories long forgotten. The way they smell, the way they drive, the sounds they make can all bring back remembrances of our youth. When I see an older car I am always intrigued; someone has maintained it and cared for it, maybe more than one generation of a family has owned it or maybe it’s been restored/rescued from a rusty wreck.
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Modern cars tend to appear more like one another while older designs are a pleasing sight as well as being a reminder of simpler times before traction control, anti-lock brakes and computer generated ‘engine’ sounds became the norm. Restored/modified/racing cars/daily drivers/backyard mysteries they all have a place here and a story to tell. What about you? What car would you restore or buy if you could and why?
Read an opinion piece about retaining the originality of classic cars at this link.
For the first of my series I feature a 1968 Ford Cortina classic racer built by Floris De Kock. The car was created to be a tribute to Koos Swanepoel’s Perana Cortina. It is now enjoying an active life with a driver training company in Cape Town where it experiences regular track use. In fact, the car is race ready having passed its HTP (Historical Technical Passport) as it competed in the Classics series during 2020 before Covid-19 put an end to the race season.
Click here to check out the Top 5 restomods featured on our site in 2020.
South Africa was the only place in the world that produced a V6-powered Cortina. The Basil Green Perana was sold through Ford dealerships countrywide. To remain true to the original this one has a healthy ‘Essex’ V6 running twin Weber 38 carbs. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a Type 9 gearbox and a BorgWarner diff’.
Once you clamber your way into the buckets it’s comfy, if a little compact and not a bad place to be. Though it’s a far cry from the memory of my grandfather’s 1600 Mk2 Cortina with column shifter and red vinyl benches.
Riding shotgun around the circuit during driver training events it’s easy to convince yourself that all cars should be like this with painted metal floors, roll cages and zero sound deadening. I convince myself it’s actually quite a soothing noise and I could live with this every day but the track is deceptive, there are no stop streets or traffic to contend with and once we slow to parking speeds it’s a bit of work to manoeuvre. The engine coughs and splutters occasionally and you sit really low peering into tiny mirrors.
The cars current custodian Eugene ‘Gino’ Nourse had to make a few changes to the vehicle to get it through the HTP including a new roll cage and push-button start as well as upgrading the radiator, fitting a race-regulation battery and housing while Lexan front and side windows were also fitted.
The old photographs were kindly provided by the builder Floris De Kock. They show the transformation from standard rusted old Cortina to the pristine historic race car it is today. From a sad life sitting in a yard to screaming around a racetrack and providing thrills and making new memories for all involved, I love to see old cars given a new lease on life.