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Two affordable British classic

If it is a classic Ford you desire, and do not wish to spend big money, then think about the Mark II Cortina.

If you are looking for a reasonably priced British classic cars, then don't overlook a Vauxhall, especially the Detroit inspired "PA" models from the late 50s and early 60s and the mid-sixties Mark II Ford Cortina.

Compared to Holdens and Falcons of the same era, the Vauxhalls were way ahead on luxury, equipment and power. They were also way ahead on styling. Make no mistake, these cars stand out. With severely wrapped front and rear windows and tail fins rising from the rear mudguards, the PA Vauxhall was right in tune with contemporary American styling ideas.

There were two models in the range, which were sold through Holden dealers: the basic Velox and the more upmarket Cresta. Whilst the Velox made do with vinyl seats and rubber floor mats, the Cresta gave buyers the option of real leather or nylon seats combined with carpeted floors and extra bright trim.

The pre-1960 versions had three-section rear windows which also featured on the 1957 Oldsmobiles and Buicks. They come with 2.2 litre six cylinder engines and all-synchromesh three speed gearbox. Post 1960 cars have a 2.6-litre engine.

The three-speed manual transmission was standard. What made them attractive on the local market were the options of the Hydramatic transmission and power-assisted front disc brakes. In short, the Velox and Cresta filled the marketing space above the Holden Special until the Premier was released in 1962.

Spare parts for these cars are simple to obtain, mainly from the UK and New Zealand, where there are websites and parts sellers devoted to the PA models. Prices vary given the condition of the cars, but no one ought to pay over $10,000 for one, and reasonable examples can be had for around $5,000.

The lower the price, however, the more likely there is rust. PA Vauxhalls have many nooks and crevices into which water and dirt finds its way. Meanwhile, if it is a classic Ford you desire, and do not wish to spend big money, then think about the Mark II Cortina. The second incarnation of the popular Cortina was launched in Australia in 1967 and was produced until 1972.

These sprightly, four cylinder cars are gaining in popularity because they are well built, parts are plentiful and the cost of buying and owning one is within reach of those wanting to get into the classic car scene without spending much money.

About $3,000 should see you into a high calibre Cortina 440 (that's the four door). The two door 240 goes for the same money. Cars requiring a little bit of rust repair and a paint job can be found for about $1,500. The Hunter British Ford Group is one of a number of growing groups dedicated to Cortinas, and other Fords of UK origin.