The Mark II Savage Cortina V6 was the product of Jeff Uren and his company Race Proved Performance and Racing Ltd., who took a stock 1600E and transplanted a Zodiac V6 engine under the hood. Uren had been involved on and off with Ford's racing efforts since the late 1950's, when he was attempting improbable things with Zephyrs, like installing triple carby setups.
Race Proved had previous experience developing other amalgams such as the Navajo 2 liter Escort Estate, Apache 3 liter V6 Escort, Comanche V6 Capris and the mind blowing Stampede Boss Mustang V8 powered Capri. But simply plonking a bigger engine into a car it was never designed for could have
off-putting side effects.
The "Big Engine - Light Chassis" formula had been tried before, and Uren knew that significant chassis modification would be required if the V6 iteration was to be anything more than simply a quick straight-line performer.
The engineering team started out by seam welding the chassis members down the sides of the engine bay, and fitting a new cross-member. The suspension mounting holes were left blank by Ford, so Uren could drill them out himself to give the car some negative camber.
Stiffer progressive rate front springs were used, in conjunction with revised damper settings and an additional anti-roll bar, these modifications avoiding axle tramp. Changes were also made to the front wheel camber and to the wheel toe-out on turns. At the rear special springs were used with a very stiff section ahead of the axle to combat wind-up. These springs were designed so that the front linkage would act as a locating swivel for the axle, while the rear linkage supported the weight of the car.
The design allowed the engineers to do away with the radius arms, while larger capacity adjustable dampers were used and the attitude of the axle relative to the springs was changed by the use of wedges. Even though the rear axle was the same as that used in the 1600E, the Savage sat noticeably lower.
Other modifications included a new wiring loom, the relocation of the battery to the boot, an alternator conversion, an uprated exhaust system, a special rear end ratio and 22 pint cooling system. It was obvious the engineers had gone to great length to get the Savage just right. Many thought fitting a V6 to a Cortina would produce a car that would be a nose heavy under-steering monster.
They were wrong. Even though nearly 56% of the Savage's weight sat across the front wheels, the considerable suspension changes devised by
Race Proved Performance made the handling sweet, predictable and in all respects better than the donor car. Yes, the stock 1600E only had 54% of its weight riding over the front wheels, however the "Executive" model increased that to 57.5%, and that was without any significant suspension changes.
In fact, many reviewers felt the ride, particularly on good surfaces, was beter than that of the standard 1600E. The same could not be said for rough and unmade roads, where there was a degree of suspension thump evident. When pushed you could bottom out the front of the car, although the bark was worse than the bite, as the limit stop was simply a spring that would compress solid. It was possible to make stiffer damper settings to avoid this, although this was really only necessary should the car regularly travel on poor roads.
The Savage had sufficient understeer to provide good directional stability, yet this understeer was not excessive. Those lucky enough to drive the Savage would soon learn just how forgiving the car really was, allowing "steering by throttle" under most conditions. Thankfully too "arm-strong" steering was not required at parking speeds, it remaining relatively light and easy to manouver. With 4.3 turns lock-to-lock thanks to a generous lock, the turning circle was only 31ft. 8in. between kerbs.
Giving a car better performance is one thing, making it stop another. Race Proved addressed this by fitting harder pads and linings, along with a revised master cylinder and servo. In testing the brakes produced 0.80g with just 60lb. pedal effort, and a maximum deceleration of 0.96g could be achieved. The balance was however a little skewed rearward, and it was possible to lock the rear wheels without too much effort. There was also a degree of fade evident, however thankfully the fade was progressive and consistent so that you knew when, and how much, was occuring.
Inside the Savage shared the familiar wind noise of the Cortina, it being more evident at speeds over 60 mph (100 km/h). That was a bit of a shame, as this was a car that capable of effortless high speed cruising, and as such the amount of wind noise precluded it from being considered a great touring car.
Externally there was little to tell the Savage apart from a regular 1600E. Savage badges were fixed to the boot-lid and front quarter panels, while V6 badges were fitted to the rear quarter panels aligned with the turn indicators. Options included an extra fuel tank, sunshine roof, Minilite wheels, Lucas iodine vapour headlights, a limited slip differential and various seat options.