The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.
This car is significant as it was the first one, I paid for, started to put my personal stamp on and a leap of improvement in driving experience and credibility from my Austin Kimberly.
If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.
Richard’s 2nd Car:
My 1978 Ford TE Cortina GL 4.1L 4spd MANUAL was my second car and a huge improvement to the Austin Kimberly. The first car, once I started working after Uni, I actually bought off my parents with my hard-earned cash. Up to then I partly shared the car with Alfred. We shared everything. We were “Twins”.
It had a 6 Cylinder 2 valve pushrod engine with a lineage that continued for many Ford models ahead. In the Uk and Europe the smaller 4 Cylinder versions were more balanced in handling. The Australian built version catered to the Aussie demand of 6 cylinders and resulted in a nose heavy car that had a reputation of unflattering handling and in its most powerful guise needed a sack of potatoes in the boot to stop wheel spin through the first 3 gears in the wet.
So, the power numbers which came at a time when anti-pollution measures were introduced into Australia, took big power cuts from the engine. Thank goodness torque was alive and well and you couldn’t argue with a sheer cubic 250 inches of engine. So the numbers were 92kw @3900rpm and 289nm at 1900rpm. O-100kph =9.7secs ; 0-400m =17secs ; 80kph-120kph=7 secs. Top speed 180kph. With only 1160kg to carry it felt faster than the numbers indicated as max torque hit at a very low naturally aspirated 1900rpm and it pulled like a freight train.
You could rev it out to 4500rpm but there was no point, acceleration actually decreased. So 4000rpm was your shift point and it just slammed you into the next gear. Overtaking was a breeze, you left it in 4th at 100kph,floored it and it just wound out easily to 160kph (academically speaking, of course) . There was no point in downshifting to 3rd gear, it wasn’t any quicker.
One of the first things I did in my first year of earning a professional wage was to buy all new lowered and thicker front and rear springs with matching heavy-duty Shelby shockers. This lowered the stance significantly and the car’s centre of gravity. The original suspension had front coil springs and rears had good old fashion cart springs. There was a mismatch between front and rear. The upgraded after-market upgrades transformed the car’s handling from terrible,to a stiffer setup with excellent rebound. It tied the front and back together more consistently. It allowed me to put the power down to the ground so much better but didn’t eliminate the torque spinning the wheels through the gears in the wet.
It was a slingshot in performance and the torque was the joyous element in this engine. This car had rack and pinion steering and with the combination of new suspension was reasonably accurate and provided a decent amount of feel. Whether pulling through the snow at Mt Hotham at 1000rpm in 3rd gear or testing its abilities against a Holden Torana XU1 down a local road maintaining its stance side by side, I truly loved this car.
Reliable, never missed a beat. Started every time. It was my performance beast that could handle the power. My fuel economy record was travelling from the snow from Mt Buller and managing 40 mpg back to Eltham. Thank you torque. Adding, as you did then, an after-market pioneer cassette -stereo with special, tailor made, expensive thick wool seat covers over the green vinyl interior, I felt I had something special. I kept this car until just after I had to recondition the gearbox and Alfred lured me into the beginning of my 30 year journey owning his cars, starting with the Saab 99 EMS.
This car will always remain a special car to me with great memories, drives and trips through my 20’s. Margaret being my most frequent passenger through our dating, Uni and medical school days,right through till we got married. This car also made me never hesitate to improve a cars’ handling and take matters into my own hands.Tailor it to my specifications and make it more of a special drive for me than its standard form. I did this subsequently to all my cars Nissan Bluebird, BA XR6T and the FPV F6. (These are other tales to tell!)
Hence the obvious pattern of me becoming a Ford man.
Nicely done Richard.It made me think that I have never once modified a car. I’ve always kept them completely standard. Much harder to modify cars nowadays of course but the 86 cries out for it. If I buy another 86 then modifying it would be a new experience to enjoy.