Amateur car restorers from Castleford on shortlist for Classic Ford of the Year competition

A couple of car enthusiasts  from Castleford have been nominated for Classic Ford of the Year 2021 for their meticulous restoration of a 1982 MkV Cortina Crusader Estate.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 11:48 am
Richard Barker and Graham Ellis with their restored Mark V Cortina Crusader Estate. Pic: Jon Cass Classic Ford magazine

Richard Barker and Graham Ellis bought the car seven years ago to act as a donor vehicle for the Cortina Saloon they were restoring.

The saloon had been bought new in 1982 by Richard's dad Roy from the Ford dealership in Oxford Street and had acted as the family car for many years - Richard and his twin brother Christopher both learning to drive in it - but had been put away in the garage and almost forgotten about.

When the time came for Roy to retire, Richard and Graham decided to get the Cortina back on the road so he could enjoy driving it once again.

Sadly, before the project was completed, Roy was diagnosed with kidney cancer and died soon after, aged 67.

"The restoration of the car became an homage to dad", said Richard.

"When we finished it, we took it to Cortina in Italy to raise money for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre where dad was treated and we take it to classic car shows to raise funds for cancer charities."

Although the Estate had been bought specifically to be broken up for parts, Richard and Graham felt it was too good to scrap so set out restoring that to the same standard as the Saloon.

"Richard said: "Although Cortinas were made in their millions there are very few examples left. Especially estates as they were used in banger racing and destroyed.

"The Crusader is even more rare of a rarity as it came fully specced up with power-steering and an automatic gearbox with a two-litre engine."

The pair set about a sympathetic ground-up restoration back to factory specification, but just as they started Richard was also diagnosed with kidney cancer and had an operation to remove one of his kidneys.

Graham did the majority of the work while Richard recuperated.

Lockdown gave them the chance to finish off the restoration and it soon attracted attention from other Cortina enthusiasts.

It was featured in Classic Ford magazine and was one of the star exhibits on the Ford stand at the Classic car show in Silverstone earlier this year/

Then out of the blue Richard got a call to say it had been put forward for Classic Ford of the Year 2021 along with 11 others.

"We were really pleased to be nominated," he said. A lot of the others on the shortlist have been done by professional restorers, so for us to be recognised along with them is fantastic."

Richard and Graham have other projects on the go. Currently undergoing restoration are a Mini 30th Anniversary Edition and a Golf GTi Mk 2 - both once belonging to Graham's son. They also have a Triumph Stag and are about to start work on a Golf GTi Mk 1 which spent much of its life in Italy.

Richard said: "I'm a car fanatic and Graham has worked with cars all his life. We like finding cars we can save and keep. We see ourselves as the custodians of older vehicles and love keeping them on the road.

"The trouble is we're running out of space now."

If you would like to cast your vote go to: