Ford Corcel is First Produced
The Ford Corcel was a car sold by Ford Motor Company in Brazil, Chile and Venezuela.
The Corcel's origins lay in the Renault 12. Willys-Overland's Brazilian operation included manufacturing the Renault Dauphine and, when it was bought by Ford do Brasil in the late 1960s, plans were underway to replace it with the Renault 12, and Ford inherited the project.
However, the styling of the Corcel was unique to Brazil before 1978. From this year, the Corcel II, as it became known, bore a strong resemblance to the Ford Escort and Ford Taunus sold in Europe and in Argentina, but its underpinnings were the same.
The first year of production of the Brazilian Ford Corcel was 1968, when it came as a four-door sedan with a 1.3-litre, 68 hp (51 kW) water-cooled engine. A coupe and a three-door station wagon version of the Ford Corcel, the latter called Belina, were eventually released. Later, a L (for "Luxury") and a GT version were made. With each passing year, many styling changes were made, borrowing several details from the Ford Maverick, and becoming more and more like a Pony car.
The facelifted Corcel I (mk1.5) had a more aggressive look in contrast from the conservative 1968 version. On other hand, the Corcel II had a very conservative and family-oriented design.
Some of the L and all GT versions also came with 1.4-litre 85 hp (63 kW) water-cooled engine with double-barrel carburetor, which was very easy to modify for greater power. Some shops had the option to install an unofficial small tuning kit that would improve the engine's horsepower to 95. Note that all of these HP values were accounted using the low quality, low octane south-American petrol of the time. Using today's better fuel would improve these values significantly.
The Corcel GT was moderately successful in Brazilian Tarumã, Interlagos and beach rally street car championships during the seventies, thanks to its front-wheel-drive stability and low weight (920 kg), which allowed a high power-to-weight ratio. It would not be faster than the V-8 Maverick and Chevrolet Opala, but it would beat everything else, including 4- and 6-cylinder Mavericks and some Dodge Chargers that subscribed the events. Those championships unveiled that the front drive universal joint was prone to break under heavy stress, so in 1976 the Corcel line adopted the Constant-velocity joint.
In 1978, following the Corcel, Ford launched the Corcel II, with completely re-made design and straight lines opposing the pony car style. These changes were also applied to the Belina, while the 4-door version was dropped. But the Corcel II was heavier too (970 kg). The Ford Corcel II originated a pick-up version called the Ford Pampa in 1982, which would eventually be available with four wheel drive.
The Ford Del Rey, introduced in 1981, with a more upright roofline and a four-door model available. A station wagon version (Ford Scala) differed from the Belina only in trim.
All had a slight face lift for the 1985 model year. The Corcel II became known again simply as the Corcel. The interior was now the same for all four models. Outside, while the Corcel and the Del Rey were fastback and sedan versions of the same car, the Belina and the Scala, which were the same car with some interior/exterior differences were now almost identical; only a few details, such as the taillamps, differentiated these two models. The Belina was made available with the same four-wheel-drive system used in the Pampa. This system seemed to have questionable reliability; Quatro Rodas magazine did a long-term test of a Belina 4x4 (50,000 km) in which breakdowns were very frequent.
1986 was the last year for the Corcel. The Belina was also discontinued in 1986, but its name was, from then on, applied to what had been the Scala (a name that had never really caught on).
The engine was a CHT, an improved version of the Ventoux engine used in the first Corcel of 1968. By now it had been bored and stroked to 1555 cc, with a redesigned cylinder head, a rotating valve design and many other peripheral improvements.
In 1989, as a result of the Autolatina joint-venture, the much stronger Volkswagen AP-1800 engine replaced the 1.6L in all models of the Del Rey and Belina, and made available in all models of the Pampa except for the ones with four wheel drive.
The Del Rey and the "new" Belina were discontinued in 1991, being replaced by the Ford Versailles and Ford Royale respectively (Passat B2 version fascia). The Pampa would soldier on until 1996, when Ford introduced the smaller, Fiesta Mk2-based Ford Courier.