It's built by Ford, but no one uses that name when referring to the first-generation Lotus Cortina.
Between 1963 and 1966, Ford and Lotus cranked out over 3,300 of them, and Jay Leno's chief fabricator Jim Hall owns one of them. He's been restoring the car for years and is finally finished. Hall and his Cortina roll into the garage so Jay can check out the build and share the delightful car with the rest of the world.
Hall bought the car as a "basket case," according to Jay. During his spare time, Hall would wrench on the car in Jay's garage. It's 99.9 percent done now as Jim just needs to fit the wipers and bumpers, but the car is otherwise complete.
Jay welcomes Jim in front of the camera to talk about the car. Hall states that the car has been restored to as-new condition, when in fact it's likely that it's in far better shape. There was never a consideration to turn it into a resto modded example, as Hall is a Lotus expert and wanted a perfectly stock example to call his own.
The great thing about the Cortina is that the British arm of Ford needed a car to go racing. The Blue Oval brand turned to Lotus for help, which saw the company from Hethel turn a standard Consul Cortina coupe into a homologated delight. Cosworth lent a hand as well, turning the engine into one befitting of a Lotus-badged machine.
Jay and Jim walk around the car before setting off for a proper drive. The Cortina sounds fantastic and looks perfect with its green and white paint scheme. That's partly because Hall spent the equivalent of 400-500 miles on the dyno, which means his car is ready to go and freshly broken in. While the Cortina is shuffled around town, Hall and Leno talk a bit about the car but also discuss racing drivers, Colin Chapman, and the less-than-perfect build quality of old Lotus cars.
The episode runs long at 39 minutes, but it's worth sitting through this one when you have the time. Leno is almost like a proud brother talking to his sibling about a passion project that's finally completed.
And it's clearly a job very well done.