A Brief History of Time
Or...
Gravitational Attraction of a White Body

Green Flash From the Past

1965 Lotus Cortina MKI
1967 Lotus Cortina MKII
1963 Cortina GT


1975- I spotted my first Lotus Cortina, behind a repair garage in eastern Connecticut.

During a year off from college, I had taken a job unloading fishing boats, "grading" and slinging lobsters into storage tanks or wooden crates, and then delivering wholesale to markets. I drove a seriously over-loaded truck on a route that took me throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey. A LOT of driving. On one of the return trips, I glanced to my right and thought I spotted an unusual tail-light, just visible through a thicket of new-growth sumac, between several other derelict cars. The next drive through, I glanced again, and... it sure looked like an odd color of green around that tail-light...

Each time I drove by, I slowed, and looked. And thought.

It had to be investigated closer. Sure enough... it matched what I remembered from my car books, it was a genuine Lotus Cortina. With cash in my pocket, I negotiated a deal (They offered to sell, minus the aluminum wheels- I said "I had to have the wheels to roll the car home.") Sold! A neighbor helped me tow it with a rope, 35 miles to my home in Rhode Island.

The engine was ruined, a hole was punched in the side of the block from a thrown #3 connecting rod. Oh well, a rebuild in order, I sold my 1967 Austin Healey 3000 to provide finances.

I owned that car (BA74FL59042) and drove it ALL over. Back and forth to work, to school, to the beach on Cape Cod, skiing in Vermont, autocrossing in parking lots, and at Bryar Motorsport Park in New Hampshire. I drove it to Philadelphia, helped Don marry Sue, and even drove them away from the ceremony in it. I drove it, and fixed it, and drove it and fixed it.

In 1981, I decided to sell it, to finance the engine re-build of the 1974 Jensen Healey that I had just bought. It made sense to me, acquiring a car with a Lotus engine in a Healey chassis. Remember, I had sold my Austin Healey 3000 to acquire that Lotus Cortina. The Lotus Cortina was beginning to rust, and... well... I just wanted a top-down car again.

1999. I sure missed that Lotus Cortina. I still have that Jensen Healey, and it is as much fun as it ever was. But I sure missed that Lotus Cortina. How many could possibly be left? Only 3000 made to begin with... Were there ANY left? What I searched out on the Internet was WAY out of my price range. I responded to an old "Marketplace" listing on the Andrew Hardie Cortina website for a project-car that was (relatively speaking) local. After talking with the owner on the telephone for about 20 minutes... things starting seeming... reminiscent... odd... IT WAS MY OLD BA74FL59042 that he had, rusting away, perhaps save-able... He had all of my old spare parts, even the original wheels that I had managed to keep 25 years before. But the car was also already spoken-for, sold. I was only a week too late. Gone. Rats.

I bid on a post-card on E-bay. Got it.

I bid on a postage stamp from St. Vincent & The Grenadines, on E-bay. Got it. Framed them.

Summer 1999- I found a 1967 Lotus Cortina MKII for sale in Canada. The owner was willing to work a partial swap for a pile of old Ducati motorcycle parts that I had, which made it affordable. While it wasn't a MKI, which was what I REALLY wanted, I decided it would do. But of course, it was 700 miles away in Ontario. A friend of mine (Don. Remember Don? I was his Best-Man in Philadelphia, and he was my best man 7 years after that) owned a small flatbed car-trailer. During the telephone call to see if I could borrow the trailer for the long-distance retrieval, he said... "Bob, why don't you just buy MY old Lotus Cortina?".

I will swear on a stack of whatever is Holy to you, that I truly had forgotten that Don owned a 1965 Lotus Cortina MKI. He had purchased it in 1980, cleaned it, repaired the body, painted it, stripped out the interior, bolted in a rollbar, re-built the brakes and suspension, and took it racing. At an autocross at the Orange Airport (Massachusetts), he drifted off the asphalt, into the soft grass and rolled it over, onto its shiny roof, and back over again, and back onto its wheels. Don drove it right back onto the trailer, hauled it home, pushed it into his barn... and there it sat for the next 18 years.

The deal was struck. The next weekend, I drove down to his home, and we pulled it out of his barn, exposing the car to sunlight for the first time in almost 20 years. I borrowed Don's own trailer to haul my new MKI to its home in New Hampshire. But the trailer was still sitting empty in the my driveway the next weekend. School hadn't started for me yet. I had a few extra days at the end of August... The MKII Lotus Cortina in Ontario was still out there... in partial swap for Ducati parts that I would NEVER use, and would only trip over...

2001- I now own 2 Lotus Cortinas. And a Cortina GT. Mid-life crisis in full-bloom.

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