1965 Lotus Cortina - Bastjan Grech
Bastjan Grech recounts how he restored this now immaculate Lotus Cortina jewel.
When I bought my Cortina in the year 2000 it was in a poor condition as rust had started to eat away a good part of the body panels and it was fitted with a BMC diesel engine.
However, when my sons and I started to have a closer look at the car in order to quantify what work was going to be involved in the restoration, we noticed the factory shell supports that extend to the boot floor, the A-frame link fixing points for the rear suspension, the hump over the differential, the 8,000 rpm rev counter, as well as the ratchet type boot lid stand.
I had had another 2 door model in the past and none of these characteristics were present on my old car. This led us to make further investigations to trace the history of the car. We were in for a pleasant surprise because without realizing it, I had bought a genuine Lotus Cortina Mk1!
The chassis number was checked with the Lotus Cortina Register and to our amazement our car was a genuine June 1965 model Lotus Cortina imported from the UK in 1970. Incidentally June 1965 was the month when Lotus had discontinued the A-frame rear suspension in favour of the leaf spring set up.
After a lengthy search for a panel beater willing to take on the restoration project, I found someone ready to take up the challenge. The car was taken to Zabbar where it was to spend 3 years. Lots of de-rusting work took place. I managed to get hold of replacement parts locally, whilst other bits were sourced from the UK and Australia.
The car was then supposedly ready for painting. But when I contacted a meticulous sprayer to paint the car in the original Lotus colors, he took a whole year to further prepare the bodywork prior to actually spraying the car. The results were spot on.
In the meantime I was busy sourcing other parts which needed replacement. These mainly included the engine and gearbox, all rubber seals, gauges and upholstery. I was lucky to find an engine locally which was given an overhaul. I also uprated the water pump to improve the engine's cooling since it's a known fact that these engines suffered from overheating. Many of the engine components were polished to a shiny finish. A "four-into-one" exhaust system was fabricated from stainless steel too. The engine was now ready to be fitted and fired up. The twin weber carb set up on these engines emit a great sound.
Once the car was back in my garage I started the re-assembly work together with my sons. This process took us the best part of 3 months. At this point the car was taken for rewiring to an electrician's workshop and was VRT tested soon afterwards.
I cannot describe the feeling of finally driving my dream car. It's a hard-earned pleasure to be behind the wheel of this car and be able to drive it after all that hard work. I must thank all my family for their help and support throughout this project. It has proved to be a big challenge for me but the final result was definitely worth the sweat.