Following up on the remarkable commercial success of their Mark I version of the Cortina, Ford knew it would be a hard act to follow.
Not wishing to lose impetus, the company set their highly talented in-house designer Roy Haynes the task of creating a replacement.
Haynes was commissioned to come up with a design that was more befitting the mid-Sixties.Not long after the launch of the Mark 2 in October 1966 surprisingly resigned his post at Ford UK shortly to join BMC- a career move that he would go on to regret taking.
Haynes hit the nail on the head, with Ford succeeding in selling even more of Mark IIs than the first.
As before, the car was light, economical and, because of the wide range of specifications, likely to appeal to most buyers as it came in two-door and four-door saloon and five-door estate car types, with several different trim levels.
Some of the UK's largest commercial concerns, car hire companies and anyone running a large fleet of private cars took a very strong liking to the Mark II Cortina, with a large percentage of the more than a million sold being " fleet vehicles."
Aeroflow controls were simplified with twist regulators set into the vents themselves, carpeting replaced rubber floor mats, and '1300' lettering appeared on the tail of the 3034E cars.
The 3036E 1600 Crossflow engine replaced the 1500 unit, in similar body shells; reclining front seats were optional on both the 1300 and 1600 variants and worthwhile making for much-improved driving positions.
Internally the 3036E Cortina Supers were given similar modifications to the standard vehicles, while the Super saloon was modified to have a remote GT-type central gear-change and on the GT itself a clock was added to the centre console, and radial ply tires fitted as standard.
Final alterations occurred in late 1968, new individual front seats for the GT, 1600E, Super and Super Estate models (fully reclining seats becoming available for the first time on two-door shells), interior bonnet releases and fully fused electrical systems.
Other alteratives included the use of twin shaped bucket rear seats in the 1600E, redesigned fascia panels on the GT models with the supplementary instruments back on the panel proper rather than in a pod, and the provision of floor-mounted central handbrakes in place of the handy glove box-cum-arm rest.
Prominent 'Ford' capital lettering appeared on bonnet and boot lid, while the 1600E and GT also featured a black tail panel styling as well as matt black detail paintwork appeared on the new grilles.
In the UK, the choices of pushrod four-cylinder engines were eventually spanned 54bhp to 88bhp (with even n underpowered 1.1-litre engined veresion that was only available for export.
Manual or automatic transmission wereon offer, as were steering column or centre floor shifts (except on the GT, where the floor change was standard).
All models were fitted with front-wheel disc brakes.
At this time further changes included a remote-control gearshift for Supermodels (already standard on GT), plus standard radial tires on GTs.
The remote shift was standardised on all cars a year later while reclining front seats became optional,in what Ford described as a mid-life facelift. Other changes were made to the instrument panel and the seating.
These updates were enough to see the Cortina bow out as a UK best-seller — just as it had been for some years.
Sensing a gap in the market that they could fill, after what was one of the shortest development periods on record, Ford released the Cortina version of the Cortina MkII that went on to become one of Ford's greatest 1960s successes.
Reportedly it took just one mock-up was enough to convince the company's marketing men that the 1600E project would fill the gap between the Cortina GT and the Lotus-Cortina, which it did —perfectly.
The Cortina 1600E, cast in the 'executive' mould, although a big favourite among the late twenties and early thirties sector, came with generally optional equipment fitted as standard, was based on the new four-door shell, with GT mechanical parts and lowered Lotus-type suspension.
With a Weber twin-choke carburettor, the GT engine produced 88 bhp net at 5,400 rpm, and standard equipment on this attractive motor-car included a full-width wooden fascia and door cappings, wide-rim sculptured road wheels, an aluminium leather-rimmed steering wheel, reversing lamps and radial ply tires.
Overall trim and finish were of a very high standard, with a contrasting coastline along the side and '1600E' insignia.
With more than one million Mark IIs sold, Ford showed little sentiment in discontinuing the model in 1970, replacing it with the considerably less charismatic Mark III.