The P100 was a car-based pickup initially introduced in South Africa in 1971, based initially upon the Ford Cortina Mk3. Its overall bodywork closely followed the Cortina. The cab used the doors of the Cortina 2-door sedan models, giving the cab a lengthy, yet truncated look, due to the use of a vertical rear window and B-pillar. The rear tray could be had as a wellside, styled with the Cortina Mk3 estate's tail lights, or fitted with a flatdeck or purpose built body. A fibreglass canopy was offered as an option. The P100 soon proved a popular seller in its home market of South Africa.
The P100's bodywork changed for 1977, to correspond with the Ford Cortina Mk4. The cab was redesigned, using the shorter front doors from the Mk4 4-door models. A further change occurred for 1980, when the Mk5's front sheetmetal was used.
From 1982, the P100 was exported from South Africa to Europe. For Europe, the chassis and tray were lengthened. Interestingly, the P100 was released to Europe in Mk5 form, just as the parent Cortina Mk5 was being replaced by the Sierra. This proved to be no effect on sales however, the P100 continuing in its Cortina Mk5 based form until 1988.
In 1988, the P100 was rebodied with a new Ford Sierra based cab and tray. Engine choices were now the Sierra's 2.0L Pinto carburetted petrol engine, and 1.8L turbo-diesel. The range was now built in Portugal for the European market (this is because Ford left South Africa by then), to a design set out by Ford UK. It proved a strong seller, particularly on the UK market.
Production of the P100 ceased when the parent Ford Sierra was replaced by the front wheel drive Mondeo range.
Differences to the Cortina and Sierra
The P100, while it appeared similar to the models that it was based upon, had several key differences under its skin. While it used the front bodywork of the Cortina, and later Sierra, only the front half of the underbody was utilized - the rear, from the middle of the front seats backward, utilized a ladder chassis for which the pickup tray was mounted to, which could accept a payload of 1000kg.
The P100 was longer than the corresponding Cortina and Sierra models, and had a higher ride height due to having a multi leaf spring suspension in the rear and larger 5-stud wheels all round. The hub design was from the Granada, with adapter plates to allow fitament of the heavier duty Ford Transit wheel. Its rear axle was comparable to the smallest Transit rear axle at the time.
The later P100's gearbox was simply a lower ratio version of the popular Ford T9 Gearbox which was also fitted in some earlier Transits.
The later P100's petrol engine, while a 2.0L Pinto engine, differed from the units in the passenger Sierra and Granada models. This engine, known as the '205' block, was fitted to 2.0L petrol Transit models of the time. The Cosworth engine is based on this block. Carburettors were used, and it had a lower compression ratio, and lower power output.
In recent years the Sierra based P100 has gained a following in drifting and "boy-racer" circles and many are becoming modified to include Cosworth engines, which are based on the truck version of the Pinto block.
There are many Ford P100 Pickups which have been modified by their owners. The running gear from any Sierra and certain running gear from the Ford Granada can fitted to the front of the P100. The rear suspension is vehicle specific, with the Capri/Mk1/2 Escort atlas axles being interchangeable, however it requires much more modification (other than simply bolting in) to fit Sierra independent or any other rear running gear. Many modifiers have converted their P100 to Sierra XR/Cosworth drivetrain and running gear. The very fact that they are so easily modified under the bonnet and inside the cab has made the P100 extremely popular in modifying and cruise circles. The Cosworth BOA 24v and YB 16v engines are a popular choice with the YB offering tuning potential for a price while the BOA boasts unbeatable reliability and an astonishing engine note. Rover and Ford V8's are also a common swap, the former being the same weight as the Pinto unit.
Other modifications include:
- Changing front hubs from Transit style wide spaced 5 stud to standard 4 stud Sierra hubs and fitting the back axle from a similar width 4-stud Ford vehicle - e.g. Ford Sierra XR4x4 to allow lowering and 4 stud standard alloys.
- Replacing the fabricated steel bed with a lighter fibreglass body to reduce weight.
- Fitting portions of Cosworth or RS body-kits.
Ford Cortina based
- 1.6L 4-cylinder petrol
- 2.5L Essex V6 petrol
- 3.0L Essex V6 petrol
Ford Sierra based
- 1.8L 4-cylinder Turbo Diesel
- 2.0L Pinto 4-cylinder petrol