If you want the perfect sleeper, you have to use the best bits — and Dave Brown, owner of this Zetec-powered Anglia van, is on a perfection-seeking mission.
Words Gareth Charlton
Photo Chris Wallbank
Welding, backflips and Mila Kunis: three things I’d like to do but can’t. Due to bad knees and a court injunction, welding is the only one I’m likely to have a chance of nailing and the same can be said for most lovers of the classic Blue Oval. However, not being a metalwork master craftsman needn’t be an excuse to give up hope of building your dream car, as Dave Brown has proved with his stunning 5cwt Anglia van.
“I wanted to do this 10 years ago when I saw Tony Madden’s blue Zetec Super at Tatton Park,” he says, referencing the 2-litre twin-cam in his van. “There were no bits for the conversion back then so I ended up going the usual 1500GT route. A decade on you can buy all the bits. I can’t fabricate or weld, but I’ve done it all myself and if I can do this then anyone can.”
Inspiring words. So, read on, crack on and ditch the thoughts of being stuck with a lifetime of standard Pre-Crossflows...
We first spotted Dave’s van at this spring’s Leeming Lodge Classic Ford meet, where we spied it slammed on Lotus steels and prayed it had some fruity running gear. When we learned it had been put together by Dave, at home, and just come off the rollers at Motorscope in Northallerton with a graph for 169 bhp we were already sorting a photoshoot date.
“I wanted another modded Anglia and bought this in September 2011 from a local lad,” says Dave. “It had a 1600 Crossflow with the same gearbox and wheels, but had windows in the back which someone said made it look like a little hearse... I ran it for around a year like that and it was fine, but I’ve always wanted to do this conversion and, with everything there off the shelf, I thought there’s no reason not to give it a try.”
In terms of finding a base to modify, Dave’s done well. The van was in the same pampering family for most of its life, then passed through a few pairs of 105Speed forum hands before ending up where it is now. The original owner’s daughter had it resprayed around 12 years ago, since when the shell has remained pretty much untouched apart from the engine bay, which was freshened up when the Crossflow went in.
“I took it off the road in around September and stripped out the engine and ’box, and had it all finished around Christmas time,” says Dave. “Since January it’s just been a case of fettling things, getting it rolling-roaded and bits like the interior, gauges and things. I couldn’t have done it without the 105Speed forum — there’s always someone on hand who’s done something before and they’ll help keep you on the straight and narrow. Since getting it finished nothing major has gone wrong... yet!”
Originally a van, it underwent a conversion to rear seats and windows in the back some time during the crazy ’70s, although Dave’s swiftly changed it back. But what’s the signwriting all about? “I didn’t want to drive around in a Hovis van!” he laughs. “It’s a tribute to something which I’ve been involved in for the last eight years — you can find out all the information online and there’s a relevance to everything, including the phone number, but I’m still waiting for someone to come up to me who gets it.” Now there’s a challenge — Google can take a breather from its usual search of ‘Mila Kunis’...
So, for someone who wants to build a car the way they want it using off-the-shelf parts, whose shelves are the best? “Retro Ford Ltd, Milton, 105Speed... it’s not a cheap way of doing it, but I can say I’ve done it all myself,” says Dave. Shop till you drop.
The Zetec itself is a brand-new crate engine, which Dave got for a bargain price and has now done only 1000 miles in the van. He’s kept it internally standard, although it makes great power on the big 38 DGAS carb and with a good, tubular exhaust manifold and retains perfect driveability. Ignition’s controlled by an Omex 200 ECU, and the original radiator has modified outlets to avoid fouling in the tight bay — even the strut brace is a Team DeVille item as it’s perfectly curved to avoid the air filter.
“I’m using a 2000E ’box with an Anglia bellhousing and Cortina tailshaft, which means you can keep the original wand position of the gearlever — I promised myself I wouldn’t cut the shell about for the conversion,” says Dave. Given the history of the van it’s an admirable outlook, and it’s the little details such as these that add up to make this late, ’68 van such an authentic sleeper.
The inside’s been extensively tidied since being in Dave’s hands, and headlining’s been fitted to quieten down the usual van din at speed. 1200 Super seats, new door cards and painfully mint wheel in Mulsanne Black (we wish we had friends who work at Bentley) give no hint as to the powerplant up front and the Quaife slipper out back, and Dave’s been having plenty of fun leaving a pair of 11s away from the lights. We love a sleeper and Dave’s done this just right.
It just goes to show that not only are classic Ford modifiers lucky chaps in terms of aftermarket options, but you don’t need to be an ace fabricator to build the car you’ve always wanted. Well, unless it’s a chopped, spaceframed, road-hugging 302-powered 100E, in which case get in touch.
1968 5cwt Anglia Van, originally restored and resprayed in around 2000, new grille, roof vent removed and smoothed, Morris Minor door rubbers, converted to glass windows and rear seats, then back to van and signwritten
Standard 2-litre Black Top Zetec engine, IK Engineering manifold and Weber 38 twin-choke carb, Retro Ford Ltd engine mounts, sump and fitting kit, 105Speed exhaust manifold and exhaust system, standard radiator with modified outlets, Omex 200 ECU
Power: 169 bhp
2000E four-speed gearbox with Anglia bellhousing and Cortina tailshaft, original wand shift, Quaife LSD with 3.54:1-ratio cwp, 105Speed thick propshaft
Front: Milton adjustable coil-overs, Milton high-ratio steering arms, World Cup crossmember, Rose-jointed adjustable TCAs, Team DeVille strut brace, double anti-roll bar
Rear: AVO adjustable dampers, 2 inch lowering blocks with homemade brackets
Mk2 Cortina solid discs, M16 callipers, standard drums
Wheels And Tyres
5.5x13 inch steels, 175/60R13 tyres
Anglia 1200 Super seats, new black doorcards, wheel and shroud resprayed, homemade full headlining, extra dashtop gauges, retro-fitted glovebox