Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ford anglia v8

A trip down memory lane in an overpowered car…
by Pierre Martins

anglia1966 I just saw this photo of a pristine looking ‘66 Anglia for sale on the internet and it brought back fond memories of a little Ford Anglia my late father converted into a track beast. It all started circa nineteen-65 to ‘67, I think. I was born 1960, so that would make me between five and seven years old at the time, perhaps just the right age to become hooked on sniffing petrol fumes and addicted to the sheer adrenalin of speed, methinks. 

Performance wise my Old Man’s stock little Anglia  was less than special. It wasn’t built for speed, this quintessential  cheap and sweet little entry-level car of the mid-sixties, but somewhere in the garage he also had a wicked 327cu V8 with Isky cam lurking inside and a custom intake manifold with three twin-barrel Stromberg carburettors in a row to feed the beast, ready for action, ready for the next race car project… 

Then, one weekend over a BBQ and too many beers my Old Man and his petrolhead buddies decided that it would be a good idea to stick the 327 into the puny little Anglia, so over the next few weeks they proceeded to cut most the engine bay away and shoehorned the V8 in there and coupled it to a 4-speed manual box with over-drive from…, well, some car I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, but it was a gearbox that  worked with the Ford Zephyr diff they plotted for delivery of the v8’s power the rear wheels. 

Of course the car was bound to suffer serious traction deficiency on the stock wafer-thin tyres, and back in the day custom mag wheels weren’t off-the-shelf items as they are today, in fact, I don’t think custom wheels were even thought about in the small Hickville town we lived in, so my Old Man and his cronies widened the stock rims to fit wider rubber. This was done by splitting the stock rims with a cutting torch and arc-welding a steel band in as a spacer along the centre to widen the offset. All done in a jig and very ‘professional’ at the time, but I bet they must have had a helluva time trying to balance those wheels, he-he.

I remember the first time they fired the thing up and took it for a spin up and down our street. All the neighbours came running out to see what the noisy commotion was all about. This car was a real ground pounder, shaking and heaving with the rough idle that only a superhot cam can induce, but people lemme tell you - I’ve grown up around race cars and to this day I’ve never seen a street ‘legal’ car so out of control as that little Anglia when my Old Man put the hammer down. I almost felt sorry for the poor little thing. It buckled and twisted like a modern day gazillion horse power top fuel dragster under launch!

To curb the chassis flex My Old Man welded in a roll cage. He told me the cage was for ‘safety’, but even a little snot-nose like me could tell there was nothing ‘safe’ about that little car. 

anglia 1 More up and down the street tests revealed that the V8 suffered cooling issues, so they cut the lower front air-dam bigger with an angle grinder to improve airflow to the radiator. The car ended up looking like a guppy fish with a big growling mouth. Mind you. it looked viciously appropriate from the front, like the angry little beast it was.

The photo above is the only one of the car that I currently have on file. It was taken at some car show. The guy trying out the driver’s seat is not my Old Man, dunno who that was.

Something had to be done about the blunt, unattractive grey. So what did my Old Tappet do? – He painted a wide yellow dicing stripe over the bonnet and boot of course! The roof was left white, as it came from the factory, but ‘to-balance-the-look’ he spray-painted the rocker panels under the doors the same colour as the roof, white.

I’m all for that. If you spend your own money developing a car you should be allowed a little ‘artistic freedom’ when it comes to the paint job, but he should have stopped there. Instead, my Old Man decided to add the words “Team ~ Anglia” on the rocker panels under the doors. In my opinion that just spoiled the look. Keep in mind this was back in day before vinyl. You could see a mile away it was hand painted. “Sign-Writing”, they called it. He-he-he…

More up and down the street tests ensued and after a good few broken side-shafts and whatnot, ‘Team ~ Anglia’ was ready for the track. Of course it chewed up some seriously fast cars of that era and spat them out unceremoniously in straight-line acceleration. That was to be expected with the power to weight ratio of the car, but it also turned out to be surprisingly good in corners. Car Magazine even did a two page write-up on it during the Krugersdorp Hill-Climb once. 

scan0001 ‘Team ~ Anglia’ also entered the famous Kyalami Nine-Hour endurance race one year, but never made it to race day though. The little car was blisteringly quick during practice, but overheated and cooked the brakes, so the Old Man never qualified.

If I remember right I  have a few more photos of the car tucked away in a shoebox somewhere. I should really dig them out sometime, scan them and post em here. But for now, for what it’s worth, I can tell you that little car really went like stink. I remember sitting in the passenger seat watching my Old Man fight the wheel to keep the little over-powered short wheel based Anglia in a straight line under hard acceleration whilst everything in the car vibrated so bad it obscured my vision. I loved every bit about it.

He sold the car eventually, to pay for the next project – a post office red Ford Zodiac with 351cu power-plant. The guy who bought the Anglia lost it a week later, rolled it and landed in ditch. He was okay. The roll cage saved him, but the car caught fire and burned out. And that was that. A little trip down memory lane. 

RIP, dad.


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