Ford Pushes The Quality Line With Its…1975 TD CORTINA- Changes that really are improvements.

Source - Wheels, December 1974

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Revised suspension and an all-new interior are the big selling points, but there are few styling changes in FoMoCo’s only new car for ’74.

Riding high after achieving sales leadership in Australia, Ford plans just one new model introduction in 1974.  The much-troubled Cortina gets major improvements in those areas which have come in for strong press and consumer criticism.

Ford, keenly aware that the criticism was only too true, has gone to great lengths to emphasize that “extensive quality improvements, increased durability and upgraded ride, handling and comfort characteristics have been the major objectives in the development of the new TD Cortina”

In design the old TC Cortina was spot-on for Australia, it was only the execution that left many motorists, and Ford’s dealers, frustrated.  Wheels, too, has been highly critical of the old model, although a recent comparison test showed clearly that the four-cylinder 2000 is basically a highly competitive car.

The sour taste the Cortina left in the mouths of many long-time Ford buyers might turn to sweetness if the engineering changes achieve the desired results.  Certainly vast amounts of money and time have been spent at Ford’s You Yangs proving ground in durability testing of the TD.

External changes have been kept to a minimum on all models, rectangular quartz halogen headlights on the XLE and new full wheel covers on the XL and XLE models – but under the skin there have been significant engineering improvements to the suspension, and inside there is a totally new dashboard.

Whether these changes are sufficient to attract buyers away from the highly popular Japanese medium-sized models remains an unknown factor but there is no doubting that the car is more competitive.

And it is interesting, and important, to note that Ford has decided not to stuff a V8 engine under the bonnet of something which began life with a four.  The engineering problems associated with such an engine swap just weren’t worth the trouble and, besides, with the present swing to more economical four-cylinder cars the production planners from Boardmeadows obviously felt there just wasn’t enough demand to justify the move.

So the LH Torana will have the compact V8 segment to itself for the near future.  And you can almost hear the others saying the General is welcome to it.

The basic design of the suspension is unchanged – coils and wishbones up front and coils and four links at the rear – but larger bushes between the front sub-frame and the now bigger side member isolate the suspension to a greater extent and cut down on noise and vibration which passes through to the cabin.  At the rear an anti-roll bar has been fitted and, together with new shock absorbers, designed to improve rear axle location over rough roads and both ride and handling qualities.  The front anti-roll bar has been deleted and the spring and shocker rates altered.

Also important are the changes to the brakes.  Ford has experimented with various disc brake pad compounds and now claims to have found one, code-named BMX – which increases pad life and eliminates brake pull, squeal and dive – all points of criticism on the previous model.

Other mechanical improvements include changes to the exhaust system to reduce rattles; re-designed reverse gear linkage for easier selection with the three-speed manual gearbox; and various modifications to the sealing of doors, windows and body panels to prevent water and dust leaks.

But for showroom appeal the all-new dashboard is going to have greater immediate benefit than all the under-skin improvements.

Ford has thrown away the old design and come up with a practical and attractive cockpit layout.  Instruments are higher mounted for easier reading and the minor controls – including those for the wipers and washers as well as headlight flasher and dipper – are on steering column stalks.  A real plus feature.

The old fresh-air slits above the instruments have been dropped in favor of eye-ball vents which look identical to those used on the 1966 Cortina.  Ford says the new system gives a 77 percent greater air flow.  There are also foot-level vents with individual controls.  The fresh air system has also been isolated from the heater for a better cool/hot air combination.

Scuttle shake has been eliminated because the new dash acts as a positive locating crossmember giving lateral stiffening across the car.

Falcon window winders and steering wheel and column are fitted and the windscreen wiper blades are now articulated to increase the swept area of the windscreen.  The bench seat option has been dropped altogether and reclining bucket seats are standard on all models.  The luxury XLE model features corduroy cloth seats as standard and color co-ordinated inertia reel front seat belts are now on all models.  Radial ply tyres are fitted to all 250 CID-powered cars and a sliding steel sunroof, similar to the one on the Falcon, will be optional.  Air-conditioning is still not available as a factory option.

Engines and transmissions are essentially unchanged.  The single overhead cam, four-cylinder 2000 engine is standard and the 200 and 250CID ohv sixes are optional, although the XLE gets the 250, plus automatic transmission, as standard.

There was no real reason to change the engines for, after some teething troubles with the 2000, the engines have proved the most reliable component in the Cortina.  Their performance, particularly the sixes, has been impressive because it is so effortless.  For all that the little 2000 remains our favorite – it has the balance lacking in the others.

A price rise seems inevitable with the TD but there have been enough improvements – rather than just changes – to justify the rise.  But, as we said, the real test will come on the road.

Article submitted by Matthew Woolard (June 2000).



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