Rare South African-built 1982 Ford Cortina 1-ton bakkie sells for R190 000 in Scotland

Picture: Ford via Quickpic

Picture: Ford via Quickpic

Published Dec 11, 2023


On the November 27 episode of Wheeler Dealers, Mike Brewer's passion for classic pick-up trucks took him to the frosty landscapes of Scotland. His target? A stunning Ford Cortina P100, a nostalgic piece of mechanical engineering many South Africans would have grown up with.

The bakkie was on display, imported from Gauteng as part of a private collection, nestled in the heart of the chilly Scottish Highlands. The allure of this vintage vehicle, priced at a modest £8 000 (R188 000), made the long journey more than worthwhile.

Upon arrival, Mike found the 'one-ton bakkie' in impeccable condition with no rust. The 3.0-litre V6 engine showed promise, though an issue with the heater needed urgent attention to allow it to be driven in the UK’s frigid winter conditions.

Undeterred, Mike happily parted with the full asking price and whisked the bakkie away to the workshop, where Elvis, the series ace mechanic, awaited.

Elvis wasted no time in tackling the freezing cab issue. A quick visual inspection revealed a heater matrix that wasn't up to the task in the cold UK temperatures. A trip to the Midlands was on the cards to get a new, improved heater matrix with a three-row core which cost £130 (R3 080).

Beneath the bakkie’s chassis, a leaking rear crankshaft oil seal was discovered. Elvis, showcasing his expertise, swiftly pulled out the engine and gearbox for repairs. With a new sump gasket in place, the engine was ready to keep its oil where it belonged.

A minor hiccup then emerged as the engine refused to start, traced back to a carburettor issue, specifically the automatic choke mechanism. Once fixed, the Cortina’s engine jumped to life with the classic V6 roar many of our parents and grandparents would be familiar with.

Ensuring the pick-up could withstand the wet British weather and salting of the roads in winter, Elvis turned his attention to rust-proofing the underside. Anti-corrosion material was sprayed into chassis box sections, and a thorough coating of protective under-seal completed the task.

Additional enhancements included fresh paint for the wheels, chunkier tires, removal of the unused mechanical fuel pump and a cool pair of spotlights, giving the classic Ford a modern yet timeless appeal.

The project culminated in a successful sale with Elvis, the master negotiator, selling the pick-up for a healthy profit of £10 000 (R237 000).

Kobus Engelbrecht, pre-owned vehicle sales manager at CMH Kempster Ford Umhlanga said that although the dealership did not have any classic cars currently for sale, “vehicles such as this 40-year-old, Cortina 1-ton bakkie are a rare find, especially if they’re in mint-condition with original factory parts. Something like this would certainly justify the asking price.”

According to Ford South Africa, the Ford Cortina bakkie, notably the Big Six model, gained popularity in the 1970s and was a South African design exported to the UK. Taking advantage of tax concessions, the pick-up versions were affordable, offering similar performance to top-tier sedans.

The design team in Port Elizabeth worked on a pick-up version of the MKIII Cortina, introducing the first 1600 version in 1971. In 1974, the powerful 2.5-litre Big Six arrived, known for its speed and distinctive features.

In 1977, the MKIV Cortina led to the introduction of a second-gen Cortina bakkie, emphasising its strength as a load carrier. It featured reinforced chassis, larger load bays, and 1 000kg payload capacity, earning its reputation as a genuine one-toner.

The 3.0-litre V6 replaced the 2.5-litre V6, contributing to its commercial success. The Leisure version with two-tone paint and enhanced features was introduced in 1979. The Cortina sedan was phased out in 1983, but the pick-up continued until 1986 when it was succeeded by the Courier.

After a 25-year hiatus, Ford re-entered the bakkie market in 2011 with the Ranger, continuing the legacy of providing enthusiasts with sought-after features. The latest Ranger aims to uphold Ford's tradition of delivering what bakkie lovers desire.

Stuart Grant, Classic Car Africa historian, speaking to Ford Media in 2020, said: “Technically the term bakkie stems from the colloquial term bak, which loosely translates to bowl or container, and scanning through 1970s motoring publications reveal that it wasn’t until the Ford Cortina pickup’s production was in full swing that South Africans started using the term bakkie for any light utility vehicle.”

YouTube user @marcr660907 commented: “One litre brandy, two litre coke, three litre Ford, as the saying goes in SA, these bakkies are iconic here. Nice one okes.”

User @hendrikpotgieter4501 commented: “Thank you! Now this brings back memories, grew up in Johannesburg with one of these bakkies as the family ‘car’ and when I got my license, it became mine and was my wheels all the way through med school at university. That V6 sounded a bit like a Porsche six cylinder boxster….and was a great thing for a young lad!

“Incidentally, my dad also paid 8 000 for it, brand new in 1982. But that was in Rand. And we eventually sold it in 1997….for R22 000.”