In a world where lowering your Sixties Ford over banded steels is the accepted way to go, here’s a young dude whose leaf springs definitely need some …
Words: Dave Smith, photography: Dom Fisher
Looking like it’s just driven off the set of a 1979 BBC documentary about youth delinquency, this 1965 Anglia 105E Deluxe is a real throwback to the days when jacked-up street-fighters like this roamed every town on a Friday night. So where’s it been hiding all these years, this survivor? It hasn’t; by the time you read this, it’ll have been on the road (in this guise) barely 12 months. And the best bit is that the guy who built this wasn’t even here first time around – he’s 19, so some might call him a ‘millennial’, while to the rest of us he’s just a top bloke.
“I bought the car when I was 14,” says Jake Cawthorne, the young man who owns this. “It was my first car, not counting Hot Wheels!” Jake had worked in a warehouse all summer to earn some cash, and when he and his dad, Rob, were at the NASC Street Rod Nationals that year, they bumped into a guy Rob had known for years, since the days of Chesterfield’s Spire Cruisers. The guy had this bone-stock 105E, and had been trying to sell it for a while. Jake wasn’t really after an Anglia, but he and Rob looked at the pictures the guy had and said they’d come and take a look.
They went to look, and found a nice, solid Anglia, all original and bone-stock in maroon with a white roof and steel wheels. “All the welding had been done,” Jake adds, “and £100 and a week’s work would have got it back on the road. All the A-pillars, floors and sills had been done, and the only non-steel bits on the car were the front wings. We bought it, got it home, put a new battery on it, some fresh fuel in the carburettor and it fired straight up and ran like a dream.” The Angle-box lived in front of the house because the garage was full of Rob’s Pop, an Eighties build in black, jacked up with slot-mags and the whole nine yards, and Jake decided he wanted to build a sister car to the Pop. “Dad said I’d be better off selling it, or lowering it over a set of Lotus steels. I said, ‘What, like every other Sixties Ford?’ No, I wanted something different!”.
Next came the fatal blow – surfing eBay. Jake started off looking for a set of 13” slot-mags, but then found a chap selling a pair of 7×14” Shelby Cal 500s with Cooper Cobra white-letter tyres. He also said he had a pair of 6×13” slots with Yokohamas, and Jake could have the lot for £100 if he could
pay and collect before the auction ended… in two days time. So, the following day, Rob got in his van and dredged his arse all the way to the border with south Wales to collect them. Good old Dad.
“As soon as he got them home, we offered them up to the car. Yes! They looked awesome! The rears touched the bodywork everywhere; the arches were mint, but I WAS going to make those wheels fit.” He cut around the swage on the wheelarch and the seam where the inner arch meets the outer to create some extra space, moved the axle one inch rearwards on the spring by redrilling the axle pads, then fitted those jacked-up spring hangers.
“All the work was done after school and at weekends, and on a budget – I either had to buy it cheap or make it,” says Jake. For instance, he managed to pick up a pair of front struts with adjustable spring seats on the owners club forum for £80, which brought the front end down for that proper, radical Seventies rake! And those twin frenched aerials? “I did those one afternoon when mum and dad had gone out, so they couldn’t see what I was doing and tell me not to,” adds Jake. “I just got the holesaw out and did it. It was my first attempt at welding; I think it looks OK. Now I have two aerials. No radio, though. That’s on the to-do list…”
That L88 bonnet scoop came via www.rodsnsods.co.uk from local hot rod hero Russ Duce, and was an original NOS part from back in the day. “I ummed and ahhed about that, but it was just £40 so I thought sod it, if it doesn’t look right I’ll just get another bonnet! It’s held on with rivets, fibreglass, filler … in reality it’s a horrible job, but it went on!” Talking of fibreglass, those ‘glass front wings were equally horrible, and Jake wanted to get rid of them. He ended up buying another second-hand set of ‘glass wings for £40, but they were similarly horrible, so he put them straight back up for sale. A chap from London got in touch and said he was building a Classic Hot Rod for short-oval racing, so he’d like the ‘glass wings; Jake looked at some pictures of the shell he was building and saw it had steel wings, so asked what he was going to do with them. The guy said they were a bit rough, and Jake suggested a straight swap … which he got, and the guy drove up from London to do the swap! Not a bad deal, considering that new wings go for around £800 apiece, and even rough ones fetch £400…
The steel wings needed some work, of course. The peaks over the headlamps were rotten, the trailing edge at the A-pillar was rough, the seam where they meet the inner wing was ropey, and so on. Fortunately, Rob has an old friend, Johnny, who lives just up the road and is a bit of a bodywork whizz. He rebuilt the wings, grafted the scoop on properly, did a couple of other bits and bats and then painted the car black. “I wanted gloss taxi black with a red roof,” said Jake. “I was expecting a 40-yarder, because it was going to be my daily driver. When it came out, it was immaculate – deep black all over, with metalflake in the roof and in the interior metalwork. It was his idea to add the metalflake, and apparently it was his first try! I couldn’t believe what a great job he’d done with it. He just said, ‘This is the car I wanted to build when I was your age but never got the chance.’ The only problem is that I wouldn’t dare use it as a daily driver now.”
Underneath, the car had been painted in maroon Hammerite, but if you’ve ever tried to sand that stuff off you’ll know that it’ll clog a DA disc before you can say “Blimey, it’s clogged the DA disc”, so Jake just went over it with black Hammerite. The engine and ‘box were hauled out, too, and the bay treated similarly before the original motor was dropped back in with nothing more than a four-branch exhaust manifold by way of modifications.
The car was ready for the road last October, but the interior wasn’t finished until spring this year. Mum Zoe made the door cards, and made the headlining from scratch. The Cobra seats were another eBay bargain, the carpets are new, and the rear seat was mint so Jake just recoloured it with an aerosol of vinyl paint from Halfords.
So, at the age of 18, Jake was ready to cruise in an old school Ford that’s as cool as a dead polar bear’s pecker, just 40 years late. Then came the thorny issue of insurance. “I tried all the specialist insurers,” he said, “but none of them would touch me because I’m under 21. Then we went online to see if we could add it to the Aviva family multi-car policy – no problem! We couldn’t believe it. I did declare all the modifications, but all the running gear is stock. It’s down as my second car as I have an old van for daily use, and I stated a low yearly mileage, but it didn’t add much to the premium at all. I could even use it for commuting – it does more miles to the gallon than the van! Going to Drayton Manor, two-up and full of camping gear, I used £12 of fuel for the round trip. It was £18 to Santa Pod and back! It’s absolutely gutless, especially with those tall tyres, but the mpg is great.”
Those big, period Mickey Ts came later, and they were a freebie. “I love collecting these knackered old tyres with cracked sidewalls,” said Jake, “and these were advertised free on rodsnsods, way up in the north east. I got a mate from up there to bring them down to the last NSRA Billing event, so that cost me some Jack Daniel’s. I fitted them, and the car instantly looked so much meaner! They were the icing on the cake. With sprinkles. And a big cherry.”
Those massive tyres take a whole lotta turning for a one litre engine, though. Yes, this hardcore street brawler throbs to 997cc of Kent’s finest, bone-stock pre-crossflow Ford. “It’s horrible to drive,” says Jake, “The steering is sloppy and pulls to the right, the brakes pull to the left and the engine runs out of breath quickly, but it puts the biggest smile on your face. It’s such fun, and so rewarding to drive. It’s the opposite of a Mercedes.
“Most of my mates don’t get it – they despair, wondering why I don’t get a Fiesta on finance like everyone else. A couple of people my age get it, and all the old boys love it, saying I’ve absolutely nailed it, that the stance is spot-on. They say I’ve done what they’d like to have done, but with help from eBay and forums, and just having a go. Some people assume my dad must have built it; they can’t believe someone my age would do it this way. I also used it through winter, so it’s picked up a few scuffs and marks along the way, which has made some people ask if it’s an actual Seventies survivor!”
At one point, Jake found that Johnny had a 1500cc pre-crossflow sitting around behind his garage. He bought it for £30, dragged his engine stand up the road, bolted the engine to the stand and wheeled it home. When he stripped it down, though, he found big steps in the bores and decided he’d stick with the 997, so stashed the 1500 at the back of the garage. Later, he had a warped idea about putting a V4 in, found one on eBay, and bid up to £30. He won the auction, collected it, stashed it next to the 1500 and there it sits.
“The steering needs sorting as the box is worn out,” says Jake. I’ll either rebuild it or look out for a new one. I also need to replace the rear lever arm dampers with telescopics as the axle is constantly bouncing on the motorway. I’ll get a lengthened propshaft – at 60mph it vibrates so hard you’d think it was going to chuck itself through the boot floor, so I stick to 55mph – and beef the springs up a bit, too. I’ve possibly got a lead on a 1.3 GT crossflow motor. I could go V8, but the whole ethos of the car is a cheap, period cruiser, so it really needs a raspy little four-pot. It would be nice to have the power to get up the hills on the M1 without having to shift down the ‘box though…”
Thanks to: “To mum and dad, Rob and Zoe Cawthorne; to Tim Holmes for his help; to Little Johnny for the paint; and to everyone else who has helped, given advice or donated to the cause.”