To maintain the Cortina’s profile in the interim, it launched the 80, aka the Mk5, on 24 August 1979.
It was a well-devised upgrade, with a new grille, a higher roofline, a larger glass area, a deeper front valance and improved equipment levels.
In 1982 it was augmented by the Crusader – a 1.3, 1.6 or 2.0 L with sports wheels, the GL’s centre console and seats, the Ghia’s wooden door cappings and a remote-control driver’s door mirror.
There was even ‘Ford’s own high-quality pushbutton radio’ to induce envy in other customers of the Little Chef on the A32.
A slimmer roof gives the Mk5 Ford Cortina Crusader a glassier look
From a fleet manager’s point of view, it looked smart, was rear-drive unlike the new second-generation Cavalier, and appeared more up-to-the-minute than the Morris Ital.
The Crusader proved so popular that Ford made more than 30,000 units before the last of 4,279,079 Cortinas left the production line on 22 July 1982.
The Sierra made its debut two months later, but sales of its predecessor remained strong, due in part to the vast stock of Mk5s – and to the conservatism of the great British motorist. Dealers could offer discounts of as much as 30%, so a Crusader might cost less than a Sierra 1.6 L.
The Crusader’s interior showcases Ford’s 1980s family feel
Leonard Gildersilver acquired his handsome example in 2011.
“The 2-litre engine is well-suited to the automatic gearbox and makes it a very good cruiser,” he says.
“The response at supermarkets and petrol stations is incredible – I can hardly get away!”
A prime reason why the Crusader is such a fascinating machine to people of a certain age is the way it evokes visions of Adam and The Ants blaring from a provincial branch of Our Price, or moth-eaten punks in a high-street Wimpy Bar.
The Mk5 was the Ford Cortina’s swansong, before the model made way for the newly developed Sierra