Thinking of buying a 1600E? Well I think you should. They are a dream to drive and attract admiring interest no matter where you go. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a decent E in November of 2007. I had looked at about 5 before I found the one. Beware of the cowboys out there as I went all the way to Portsmouth (I live in Suffolk) to buy a "minter" and found the chassis had holes that a rat could squeeze into! It had a week old MOT too! Con men huh, the world is full of them.
This is by no means a definitive guide to buying a car. I'm no expert and I make the following assumptions:
As mentioned on the previous page, the E has the same running gear as the GT and the same suspension as the Lotus Cortina. It has been known for the more unscrupulous car restorer (term used loosely) to dress up a De Luxe or Super into a 1600E by just adding the twin driving lights and interior. There are a number of ways to circumvent being tricked in this way. Firstly make sure any E you view has the twin radius arms fitted to the rear axle. As shown in the illustration on the left below, the Radius Arms can clearly be seen protruding toward the front of the car, in between the leaf springs and differential. Other 1600E features to watch for include five-leaf rear springs (GT items had four leaves) and the correct Weber 32-DFM twin choke carburettor, plus four-branch manifold. In addition, compared with standard cars, the front brake callipers are larger (as are the rear brakes) and mounted at the front of the brake discs (on less potent Cortina's, the callipers are trailing), the track control arms are one piece items incorporating full-length indentations (those on standard cars are two-piece items).
|With Radius Arms||Without Radius Arms|
Be sure that all identifying numbers on the vehicle match those on the V5. If not, or if you have any other nagging doubts about the vehicle's identity, or the seller's title to it, keep hold of your money and jog on.
It is worth checking the codes on the vehicle identification plate (although, of course, the plate may have been changed...); the following translations may help: For a 1600E, you should see the Ford engine code lettering N, denoting 1599cc, high compression GT unit. Under 'Transmission', 'A' denotes floor-change gearbox, while in the 'Axle' section, 'A' indicates a 3.9:1 final drive. The vehicle number comprises two letters denoting country of origin and plant where built (should be 'BA'; B indicating Britain; A being Dagenham), followed by two figures showing body style (96 indicating two-door, 97 four-door GT-type body - also used for 1600E), then the two letter build date code; in each case this should commence with the letter G (1967), H (1968), J (1969) or K (1970) only. The number which follows is the five figure vehicle identification number, unique to that car, and which also relates to the original engine fitted.
Make sure that all the clocks work, especially the oil pressure and temperature. Below is a piccy of my E running warm. As you can see the oil pressure is mid range at 40 but as you rev the engine this should visibly increase. Sorry about the blurry picture but I took about 20 shots and this was the best! The temperature is just below mid range but makes sure it at least moves. These clock are fairly easy to wire up the back light but to get the actual gauges moving requires more skill than the average bodger possesses.
Among the identifying features of a true 1600E worth looking for are the additional air vent outlets, built into the outer ends of the dash top (visible through the wind-screen), and factory-fitted strengthening plates, running from front to rear at the tops of the inner wings. These were fitted to Lotus models, too (to reduce panel flexing).
It should go with out saying that you need to give any prospective purchase a thorough going over. Your going to get dirty and roll around on the floor. Check the usual rust traps i.e. the sills, the door bottoms, strut tops, wheels wells in the boot, the inner wings near the flanges, bottom of A posts, roll bar mounts, chassis rails, lift the carpets and have a good look. Take along a fridge magnet and if any bodywork looks dodgy then see if the magnet sticks, if it does not then there is filler in them thar hills. Stand back from the car...is the paint the same colour all over? Ask the vendor not to start the car before you arrive, feel the bonnet when you arrive and if it's warm then she has been warmed up already. Check the oil & water levels. Lift of the rocker cover cap and check for "cottage cheese" and give it a whiff while your at it. Cottage cheese usually means water ingress and could suggest a cracked head. If you can smell petrol on the cap then the same applies.