THE CRAYFORD MK.2 CORTINA
Crayford had hardly got into their stride with the Mk.1 convertible, only around fifty had been built on C & D registrations, when Ford told Crayford there would be an “all new” Cortina for the October 1966 Motor Show. Crayford did not want to wait up to a year to develop a Mk.2 Cortina Crayford, so they asked Ford if they could supply a car now for development work, but they were told that no pre production cars where available and, in any case, the car was top secret untill press day at the Motor Show. They did however agree to ship, in great secrecy, a Mk.2 two-door shell and all the parts in kit form.
Crayford’s directors and staff then began building the car at the Westerham factory and with only two weeks to go Director Jeff Smith set about converting the car into a Crayford convertible, virtually single-handed, working night and day on the project. The result was, that when the show opened on press day, The Ford Motor Company had on their stand No.143, an entire range of six, all new, Cortina saloons and GT’s - but not far away on stand No.173, surrounded by a bevy of trendy dolly girls dressed in black and white chequered mini dresses, was a shiny metallic blue mink Crayford Cortina Mk.2 with a white pvc hood. This car has been in the long term ownership of our magazine publisher John Peters and is registered SOO 661D, it still has many unique pre production features, see our gallery on the home page. The public never realised fully how this dual launch was achieved.
Crayford followed up a year later at the Earls Court Motor Show with an upmarket and expensive Mk.2 Cortina Cabriolet, this had a smaller hood that sat deeper into the car around a much smaller rear seat, suitable only for children, in effect it made the normal 5 seater convertible into a two plus two car. The Corsair cabriolet even had an inner headlining for extra comfort. Being a shorter hood it was capable of one-man-operation and the car also had a longer metal rear deck than the 5 seater convertible.
Crayford soon had a full order book and made two, sometimes three a week with a total production run of over 400 convertibles and a handful of cabriolets, which like all Crayford cabriolets had to be built in Cologne, Germany under licence.
Crayford further developed their Mk.2 Cortina with a tiny number of two door pillerless hardtops. These looked very much like the then current Lancia Flavia coupe with an all glass top profile and very slim roof pillars, back and front. It was rumoured to have two Cortina windscreens, one for the front and one for the back, but this is not true. It may be that only five where built on GT base cars and one was even a Lotus Cortina based.
An even further development were the Crayford Mk.2 saloons, with big engine conversions that took the legendry Jeff Uren 3 litre Savage Cortina head-on. One yellow car was delivered new in both options, ie it was a 3litre V6 engined convertible. The roofless chassie wasn’t really up to the job.
Most desirable are the 40-plus Lotus Cortina Crayford convertibles, mainly standard green and white, with one, a special order built at Lotus, in black - the owner did not want a resprayed car converted. Today around 126 survive on the club register. Watch out for fake cars, its easy to chop a saloon car, but rear swivel up quaterlights in the rear wings should be your first checkpoint (unless it’s a cabriolet) and look everywhere for rust, and check that the doors still close easily.