Classic Fords with a motorsport pedigree are always special, but when a Mk II Cortina Lotus not only has an interesting history and is about to embark on Rallye Monte Carlo Historique, its even more so – especially when Rally Preparation Services (RPS) has been part of that journey.
Originally prepared as a rally car for the 1993 London-Sydney Marathon which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the original event, the Cortina Lotus was driven by Peter Sudgen – the Advertising Director for Ogilvy and Mather – and Ford PR man, Stuart McCrudden. It had been converted to Escort RS2000 specification, earning it the nickname ‘Escortina’.
Following a successful outing it would also be used for the re-run of the London to Mexico rally two years later, before ending up unloved and facing being broken up for parts with even the special engine having gone missing.
Enter Simon Fields, now a technician here at RPS, and his rally-expert friend, Alex Postan, who rescued the car and embarked on a detailed restoration with the aim of returning it to its former glory.
And as Simon explains it was a major job: “When we acquired the car in 2006 it was just a bare shell and riddled with corrosion, so a huge amount of body repairs were required. And apart from a few modifications we also planned to return it to its original specification, so we had to undertake quite a lot of research.”
The car was finished in 2012 and alongside the beautifully restored body the car now featured a fully rebuilt and upgraded 2.0-litre ‘Pinto’ engine boasting 145bhp, driving through a Ford Type 9 gearbox and Quaife limited-slip differential. And that’s not all as the impressive specification included brakes that were uprated using a mix of Sierra Cosworth and Capri 2.8i components, and fully-adjustable suspension that could deal with the rigours of classic rallying.
Following a number of successful outings that included Goodwood and numerous local events, Postan decided to sell the car. “I was really sad to see it go as I’d put so much effort into the rebuild,” says Fields – which is where things took a fortunate turn.
The buyer was none other than Rally Preparation Services, and then the sales team here sold the Cortina to its present owner who was determined to return the car to the rally stage. And its next challenge will be the ‘Rallye Monte Carlo Historique’ that takes place from 31 January to 7 February.
RPS have been busy with preparation, work that has included a rear axle re-build and engine tuning, and Simon Ayris, Managing Director of RPS, said: “We’re really excited to be preparing the car for such a fantastic event. The current owner plans to compete in plenty more events, too, meaning the car will be staying with us for the foreseeable future.”
It looks like a bright future for this great British classic, as not only is it competiting in the ‘Monte’ but it will also be racking point in RPS’s Tin Cup league, a competition to mark the company’s tenth anniversary.