The MkIII has its own following (though not as popular in motorsport) but the MkIV cars produced from 1976 onwards are a rare sight both on the road and at car shows. Although technically they were little more than a MkIII rebodied in a more conservative – for which, read more fleet-friendly – style, the MkIV sold in big numbers to the company car market and did seem far more modern.

Interestingly, the facelifted MkV produced from 1979 to 1982 seems to have survived in larger numbers than the MkIV, possibly proving Ford’s claims at the time of improved corrosion protection measures. At any rate, the MkIV is an unusual sight, especially in estate form, meaning that the days of the £50 Cortina runabout are long gone.

This particular example has obviously been the subject of an enthusiast project and as such has received an engine transplant from a Sierra, complete with a five-speed gearbox.

The Sierra of course was criticised at launch for the amount of Cortina-derived running gear hidden beneath its strikingly modern aerodynamic styling, but this means that mixing and matching is a straightforward business. Everything from Cologne V6 to Cosworth Turbo power has been bolted up under the front of the ‘tina over the years, making a basic Pinto installation a very simple job.

The engine conversion is a tried and tested swap and appears to have been done well. No details were on hand to the provenance of the engine used for the job but certainly it fired up readily enough even on an icy morning and warmed up happily without any of the oil haze or top-end clatter that a worn Pinto can exhibit.

The car has also received a pair of sports seats that the tartan-checked pattern suggests have been donated by a Capri and although the interior needs a bit of finishing it’s certainly all there.

A set of period Ford RS alloys gives the Cortina a visual boost and although there’s evidence of some corroded bodywork here and there, it certainly seems like a solid example. As a bonus, there’s also a handy tow hitch just waiting for your Anglia race car to be hooked up to.

We didn’t take the Cortina far but it only takes a brief trip to bring the memories of youthful hooligan antics in Cortinas flooding back. The eager Pinto engine and slick gearshift all show just why the Cortina was so popular for so long and as an antidote to the sanitised world of modern front-wheel drive cars it’s great fun. The five-speed ‘box makes this one better suited to modern motorway driving without the thrashiness of the Pinto at sustained high revs.

It’s not perfect and could do with some finishing off but as the basis of a ‘Life on Mars’-style fun project it’s really got some appeal, especially with the bonus of the Sierra motor and five-speed already fitted. And few classics out there are as practical as a Cortina…

Power: 99bhp
Top speed: 104mph
0-60 mph: 12secs
Economy: 35mpg
Gearbox: 5-sp man