When it comes to forging your own path, you can never go wrong with a supercharger – especially a huge air-stuffing monster that sticks right out the bonnet of your modified Mk2 Cortina!

The scene is set — the 2023 Summernats Car Festival, Canberra, Australia. At every turn, outrageous, mega-horsepower, mechanical beasts with fire and brimstone souls assault your senses. Ground-shaking choppy V8 idles are complemented by tyres so big they could be on a steamroller. Open exhaust systems send the ashes out, while huge air scoops grab any and all available air to stuff inside, and standing too close can see your baseball cap disappear in the blink of an eye. This Aussie car event delivers the best, the wildest and the most mind-blowing vehicles.

Amidst the craziness, a red car suddenly breaks cover, and the crowd’s reaction is instantaneous. The car is an eye-popping Candy Apple Red 1968 Mk2 Cortina, and the owner Derek Mackay is on the receiving end of some well-deserved mob admiration.

“It was so well received,” says Derek. “It’s no V8, but the blower and the factory look was well liked. I got compliments all weekend, so it’s safe to say the Cortina was accepted.” Indeed, accepted it was, with the supercharged Mk2 Cortina drawing admiration whenever it was cruising. Watching the mobile phones come up to grab a shot of the Cortina was epic; so was the occasional throttle stomp, sending the blower screaming as the rear Simmons rims scrambled to get traction.

supercharged pinto engine

Supercharging the Mk2 Cortina

It’s not often you see a classic Ford with a blower out the bonnet, and even rarer to see one with the blower coming out to one side. If it was in the middle, well, it would be a V6 or V8 underneath – however, if it’s on the side, that means it has been strapped to the flank of a six- or four-cylinder. In this machine, Derek has kept us diehard Ford enthusiasts happy by bolting it to a stout 2.1-litre Pinto.

Buying the motor

“I bought this motor as a bit of an unknown for just $400,” he smiles. “I was told it was a good runner, so at that price I took a gamble.” While the buy-in price was low, the reality is that all unknown engines are a lucky dip at the best of times, and in this case, Derek hit a huge home run. After removing the cam cover, he got an insight into his mystery purchase. “There was a set of Camtech valve rockers staring back at me, and as I dug deeper, I found out that it had a big-valve head, rebuilt bottom end and a capacity of 2.1,” explains Derek. It seems the mystery motor was not only well built, but also offered a sound platform to develop the driveline further.

supercharger belt

After spotting the large-lobe camshaft, Derek set about making sure it had plenty of air to shift at high RPM. A rare Spearco four-barrel Holley-style intake manifold was sent out for modifying, a custom sump was bolted up, and an electric water pump and MSD ignition system was wired in place. The exhaust manifold was a custom-made item, and the remaining system is best described as being a mix of fast road, free-flowing and, well, loud!

Back to the intake side of things, Derek was well into his big plan to stand out for all the right reasons. “Who doesn’t love a blower?” he laughs. “I just had to do it. My dad helped me with the advice in modifying the manifold to take the GM 3/71 blower, and after playing around with some Weber setups, the Holley 390 four-barrel carb has been modified to work correctly.”

aerial shot of supercharged mk2 cortina

Transmission and chassis upgrades

This supercharger is a statement piece that is both visually and audibly amazing. As the belt drive whines away on that rorty Pinto, the Cortina’s rev range has now become a mechanical musical symphony that would bring many of us old-school Ford brethren to our knees. There is a heavy-duty clutch to assist with gear changes, and a late-model Pinto four-speed gearbox as well. The Cortina’s English axle now has a locked centre, and sits three inches closer to the body courtesy of reset leaf springs. Up front the Mk2 suspension and brake hardware has all been rebuilt, but now also includes a Datsun dual-circuit master cylinder.

wheels on supercharged mk2 cortina

Cleaning up the body

Complementing the mechanical madness the Mk2 now offers is that stunning, factory-style bodywork. “My dad was the one who bought it originally – sadly he passed away not that long ago – and in 2012 he gave it to me, so it has a lot of sentimental value,” explains Derek. “When I got it, I had the body sandblasted and found there was a lot of filler underneath.

Ford Fair

Luckily there wasn’t much rust, so cleaning it up and getting it straight was achievable.” Derek knew he needed to call in the troops to get the finish he was after, and turned to good mate Matt from MJH Paint and Panel to lay on the flawless Ford Candy Apple Red pearl. The mint finish can also be accredited to another good mate, Kerry from Americar who, along with staff member Jordo, ensured the panels were arrow-straight before paint. Sadly Jordo has since passed away, leaving an incredible legacy of work in the Mk2. The twin gold stripes are there to pay homage to the Australian Mk2 Cortina GT stripe kits, and the trim, chrome and stainless is immaculate. Under each wing, Derek kept the colour coordination in check with a monster set of 17” Simmons three-piece alloy rims, tastefully matched in colour to those side stripes.

interior on supercharged mk2 cortina

Interior modifications on the supercharged Mk2 Cortina

Inside the supercharged Mk2 Cortina, Derek’s strategic build approach is also very apparent. Rather than some ill-fitting, late-model bucket seats, he has stayed true to the Mk2’s heritage with a Sport Stock approach. The seats have all been retrimmed to echo the factory look, new black carpets have been installed, and some covert gauges needed to monitor the monster up front have been installed. The GT-style wheel is classy, but like the rest of the interior is purposeful and understated.

“I really wanted to take my own path with the Cortina, and when I first got the car from my dad, I was really inspired by its original state,” he says. “All of the changes I have made are able to be removed so it can be reset to stock in the future if it needs to be. It’s not hard to get the blower off, and a different bonnet and rims and bingo, you would think it’s a clean stocker.”

rear 3/4 shot of supercharged mk2 cortina


It’s not often we get to see a classic Ford with a crazy, bonnet-bursting blower, let alone on a mint Mk2 Cortina rolling on a set of 17” rims. This level of sensory overload is fast becoming a thing of the past, with the advent of turbos and EFI technology and the push to keep our rare chrome bumper cars as close to factory as possible. Derek’s creation is a timely reminder that walking your own path in 2024 can be a rewarding experience, and daring to be different never looked and sounded so good… especially when the revs rise!

Do you love Fords? We’ve got two premier Ford car shows just for you. Be sure to check out Ford Fair at Silverstone and FordFest at Mallory Park!

Words: Jason O’Halloran. Photos: Sean Davey.