She has adored them all her life and is pictured here with her parents’ 1962 Cortina she learned to drive in, and also her current motor, a Ford C-Max.
Dorothy, nee Rooney, from Galway, said: “In 1957, my parents bought their first car, a Ford Prefect. I clearly remember my mother taking it on the road with my uncle, who gave her driving instructions. I was five years old and standing on the floor behind the two front seats. We were very excited.
“My mother was a fast learner, she taught my father. We really had a wonderful time in the car, trips to Salt- hill beach in the summer, and hurling and football matches in Croke Park in September.”
In 1962, her parents upgraded to a brand new Cortina. “I still remember the registration, FIM 60,” recalled Dorothy. “It was a black beauty. I learned to drive in this car in 1970. It took me to marquees and the cinema and gave me a lot of freedom with my friends.”
The photograph on the right shows Dorothy visiting her cousin, Assumpta Cummins, who lived nearby in the townland of Craughwell in Co. Galway. “It was June, 1970, a very hot day,” she recalled.
Dorothy, whose parents were farmers, married Sean Nolan at 21 and they shared his car, an Escort, and have since owned four Mondeos and an Orion. They had four children and now have 11 grandchildren, aged from one to nine.
“Now I drive a black C-Max to carry our grandchildren,” said Dorothy, “I just think Ford cars are magical.
“I just fell in love with them as a child. There was a sense of loyalty to Ford too and the jobs they were bringing to Cork.”
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Dorothy’s son, Adrian, said the Ford tradition had continued on into his generation.
“I can remember us going to Dunnes Stores car park on the Headford Road, Galway, back in the mid-1990s and learning to drive in a red Ford Mondeo. What a great car!”
The Cortina was built by Ford from 1962 to 1982, incorporating five different Marks, and was assembled in Cork.
Aimed at buyers of the Morris Oxford Farina and Vauxhall Victor, it was designed to be economical, cheap to run and easy and inexpensive to produce.
Its chief designer, Roy Brown Jr., had produced the concept for the Ford Edsel — a rare failure for the company — and been transferred to Dagenham from the US.
Happily, his new venture put him on the road to redemption and the Cortina enjoyed huge popularity here and in the UK, where it was the best selling car for nine out of ten years between 1972 and 1981, only narrowly being outsold by the Escort in 1976.
The name was inspired by the Italian ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo, which had hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics. As a publicity stunt, several Cortinas were driven down the bobsled run there!
There is even a dedicated club — Ford Cortina Enthusiasts Ireland — for fans of the model.