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JUST Cars 13/06/2012
In the lead up to the JUST CARS GEELONG REVIVAL 2012, the Ford Discovery Centre, an important partner in the December event, is showcasing a classic Mark I Ford Cortina belonging to none other than Craig Lowndes.
While he’s firmly entrenched in the Holden camp with Team Vodafone now, the champion V8 Supercar driver had a soft spot for this Cortina, which originally belonged to his father, Frank. To date, it remains the only Ford car that Craig’s ever owned.
From the outside, the livery obviously mimics the famous Lotus Cortinas, but the colour scheme of black over silver actually harks back to Lowndes’ 00 Motorsport AU Falcon V8 Supercar from a decade ago. Back then, the Gibson Motorsport-built car, which was known as the ‘green-eyed monster’ for its flouro green headlight inserts, was one of the most distinctive vehicles in the V8 Supercar paddock.
The Cortina is a 1966 Mk1 model, and is actually a combination of three separate cars, one of which the young Lowndes owned when he was an apprentice mechanic. The other two Cortinas comprised a stock 440 and a crashed GT.
As a demonstration of his skills, and enthusiasm for motorsport, Craig rebodied the GT using the 440 (which had the best body of the three) and then proceeded to replace the Cortina’s running gear with parts from a Mk2 Ford Escort.
The Escort components included a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed manual transmission and power-assisted disc front brakes. The rear brakes are stock Cortina drums. With this combination, the Cortina could pump out 110bhp @ 5500rpm. That’s a fair whack more than what an original 1966 Cortina offered, and even eclipses the Australia-only GT500 and Lotus performance Cortinas, which produced around 95bhp and 105bhp respectively.
Lowndes also modified the dash, adding all the additional gauges necessary to monitor the car’s performance, as well as the racing steering wheel.
The car then spent a long time undercover, mainly while Lowndes was driving for HRT, but resurfaced when Lowndes signed with 00 Motorsport for 2001. It was then that Craig decided to resurrect this classic Cortina.
With assistance from apprentices at Ford Product Engineering and the Gordon TAFE College in Geelong, the car was completely refurbished. The body was stripped and had panel repairs completed by the apprentices, who also repainted the car in its striking black & silver livery. Complimentary colours were used for the interior, which was also completely refurbished. The front bucket seats and door cards have been particularly well done, with a nice touch on the latter being the addition of Ford blue oval badges. At the same time all this was going on, Craig and Frank rebuilt the engine.
Since the restoration was completed, the car has been a regular feature in the Ford Discovery Centre, but was brought out for the 2003 Geelong Speed Trials, which Lowndes attended, and where the freshly refurbished car did some demonstration runs.
The Lowndes Cortina is currently on display in the foyer of the Ford Discovery Centre. If you’re planning on checking out this impressive machine in the metal, take the time to tour the entire facility and see everything that the Discovery Centre has to offer.
In addition to all manner of vehicles from Ford’s history, the Discovery Centre offers an insider’s look into vehicle design, manufacture, safety and more. The current feature display looks at the evolution of Ford engines, which is fascinating in itself.
While you’re there, be sure to grab a flier for the JUST CARS GEELONG REVIVAL 2012 and mark the event in your calendar. It’s going to be sensational!
The JUST CARS GEELONG REVIVAL 2012 takes place on the Geelong waterfront this December 1 & 2. In addition to a revival of the Geelong Speed Trials, the event will feature a classic motorshow, special Revival Tour, club displays, markets, live entertainment and much more. For more details of this festival of motorsport, go to www.geelongrevival.com.au
Ford Discovery Centre
Opened in April, 1999, the Ford Discovery Centre has been praised as one of the finest interactive automotive exhibitions in the world. From the Model T to the latest from the blue oval, all manner of Ford vehicles are on display, alongside interactive exhibits that show how vehicles are designed, built, engineered and tested on the road.
The Centre has been a focal point for Ford Australia’s 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2000, local acknowledgement of the Ford Motor Company’s centennial milestone in 2003 and, more recently, Ford Australia’s 85th Anniversary celebrations. Regardless of your ‘allegiance’, the Ford Discovery Centre is a must-see for any car fan.
The Ford Discovery Centre and Ford Gift Shop is located on the corner of Gheringhap and Brougham streets in Geelong’s waterfront precinct.
Every day of the week except Tuesdays and public holidays. 10:00am – 5:00pm.
Adult - $9.00; Concession - $7.00; Children (4-17) $4.00; Family (2 adults, 2 children) - $25.00.
Guided tours, Group tours and School Group Tours are also available. Contact the Ford Discovery Centre for booking details and further information.
Phone: (03) 5277 8700
Do you have a vehicle that competed in past Geelong Speed Trials events?
If so, email information and high res images, along with your contact details, to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be featured in these pages – and possibly have your vehicle on display at the Ford Discovery Centre, too.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR JUST READERS
Mention you have seen this on JUST and receive a FREE MAGAZINE, when you visit the Ford Discovery Centre.
For Directions to the Ford Discovery Centre click here: 12 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, VIC 3220
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