27 September 2017

More than an old car #37: Ford Cortina Mark 4

Take a look at any photo from the 1980s and you would see quite a number of box-shaped cars. Such a shape was very common back then but you would be hard-pressed to find one on our streets today, including this 1979 Ford Cortina Mark 4 1.6GL.

The Ford Cortina was first introduced in 1962, with a total of 4+1 generations. Its name was derived from the Italian ski resort Cortina d'Ampezzo, the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics. The 4th-gen Cortina was based off the previous-gen model, except that it had wider windows, giving the cabin a brighter feel. It was available in various trims, namely base, L, GL, S and Ghia. The Cortina was powered by a 1593cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 151km/h with an acceleration of 14.8 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.38m long and weighed 1035kg.

When production ended in 1980, more than 1.1 million had been made. Despite the Mark 4 being the most popular car in the UK back then, it has become the rarest model due to poor rustproofing. This specimen is 1 of 2 cars that still exist in Singapore, and both are remarkably on normal plates. The Cortina was sold in Singapore previously but these are the lone survivors of the COE scourge. I am pretty sure that you will be able to recognize them from far, so please keep a lookout!

19 September 2017

More than an old car #36: Marcos GT

Firstly, I'm really glad to have my first 100 Instagram followers ever since I started this page in late June. Thank you everyone for your undying support!! Despite writing about 36 cars only, it has come a long way regarding the content on my blog. I hope that it has been interesting so far to learn about the varieties available, and please continue to join me in my journey to cover pieces of automotive histories on our roads!

Even though I have seen UK-registered cars once in a while, I was initially stumped by what I saw because of its unrecognizable brand. It was only after running a quick check on the UK vehicle registration website that I became acquainted with the hitherto unknown 1969 Marcos GT 3-litre.

Marcos Engineering was established in 1959 by founders Jem Marsh and Frank Costin, and the name is derived from the first 3 letters of their surname. Quite an ingenious name for a company isn't it? They produced a number of cars including the GT before going into liquidation in 1972, due to a disastrous expansion attempt into the US. Jem Marsh resurrected the company in 1981 and cars were produced until 2000 when it went bankrupt again. For some reason Marsh reopened Marcos Engineering in 2002 yet again before it closed down in 2007. The Marcos name is still existing as Marcos Cars Ltd as of 2010.

In spite of its tumultuous history, the Marcos GT created a big sensation when it was revealed in 1964. It was initially made of plywood, and the chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces. As a result, the car was not only light and strong, but also required minimum cost to make. The radical car design was due to Costin's experience as an aerospace engineer, who had a hand in developing fighter planes during World War 2. Since it was very low, the driver was almost lying flat while seated. One unique feature was that the seats were fixed, and the pedals could be shifted back and forth via a knob, which is the reverse of modern cars today. The 3-litre models were introduced in 1968, where it was powered by a 2994cc Ford Essex V6 engine. It was able to reach a top speed of 199km/h with an acceleration of 7.2 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.27m long and weighed 884 kg.

Production ended in 1971 with around 200 made for the 3-litre versions. Interestingly, I stumbled upon an 
auction page showing the exact same car! Apparently, it was owned by a staff sergeant in the US Air Force who was stationed in the UK. The car was severely damaged when a Marcos engineer crashed it, and it had to be rebuilt. Now sporting a new registration number, the seller gave the car as a gift for his brother in Italy back in 1990. However, it returned to England in 2013, not driven at all. Somehow, someone in Singapore managed to acquire it and the car is still at the same place. This is the only one here, but whether it will be registered locally remains to be seen. Please take the opportunity to see this unicorn for yourself before it is gone! 

11 September 2017

More than an old car #35: Ford Anglia

Ford is a well-known name here, especially with the family-friendly Mondeo or the sporty Focus. That being said, older Ford models are rather scarce, such as the 1967 Ford Anglia 105E here.

The 'Anglia' name has different meanings: it is the old Latin name for England and it refers to the eastern part of England known as East Anglia. It has been suggested that this name was first applied in 1939 due to patriotic reasons. Different cars made by Ford UK have the Anglia naming, but the one in the picture is the 105E, made between 1959-1968.

The Anglia had a backward-slanting window that was supposed to keep rain off and muted tailfins compared to its American counterparts. American influences could still be seen such as the full-width grille in between 'eye' headlamps. It was powered by a 997cc 4-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 119km/h and a rather slow acceleration of 26.9 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 3.9m long and weighed 754kg.

Throughout its production life, it remained very popular among consumers: it set a production record of more than 190,000 cars in 1962. Other than the saloon version, a 3-door estate car and a van version were also offered. Production ended in 1968 with around 955,000 saloons made. This Anglia is 1 of 2 that still exist in Singapore, where the other car is blue in colour. This specimen here has not seen much action on the road given the thick layer of dust on the car boot.

Actually, I believe many of you have seen a similar one in the Harry Potter series, when Harry and Ron Weasley drove it to Hogwarts after missing their train in The Chamber of Secrets. Having just finished the entire series lately, I was pleasantly surprised to see one in the flesh. It made me wonder why JK Rowling chose this particular car for the series. I guess by spotting one, you could be on your way to Hogwarts, provided it doesn't crash into the Whomping Willow!

3 September 2017

More than an old car #34: Rolls-Royce Corniche

Rolls-Royce has been known to produce exquisite vehicles, and this 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche is no exception.

Production began in 1971 and its name is derived from the French and Italian term for a 'coastal road along a cliff'. Its clientele was the rich and famous, including musicians David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra. Despite its high selling price back then, the people who bought it were even richer. This car saved Rolls-Royce from bankruptcy as it reaped in some 6.3 million pounds from its sale. Each car is hand-built for 6 months, which is similar to what RR is still doing today.

The Corniche was powered by a 6750cc 8-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 191km/h and an acceleration of around 10 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 5.2m long and weighed a whopping 2185kg. There were 5 generations of Corniches produced and of which, only around 3200 1st-gen convertibles were made. The specimen here seems to be imported as seen from the rather new number plate. Based on my knowledge, there are fewer than 5 in Singapore currently. Seeing older RRs is a once-in-a-blue-moon sighting and I hope you will be able to recognise this gem too!