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Inspired Creation

A race-prep'd Ford Anglia with big surprises everywhere you look!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • 1947 Ford Anglia
  • Widened body, chop-top
  • Creative and brilliantly engineered
  • Nothing left standard
  • Built as a race car with a hotrod body - and it's road registered!
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So you reckon you own a modified car, eh? Well, you haven’t learnt the meaning of modified until you check out this awesome creation – a widened, chop-top 1947 Ford Anglia with a SR20DE Nissan engine and suspension, and steering and brake components from just about every car you care to mention.

There’s nothing that’s gone untouched.

So who on earth would own and build a vehicle like this? Jim Peall put your hand up. Jim has been into hot-rodding since the ‘70s and has competed in almost every form of four-wheeled motorsport. He was also once a traffic authority tech inspector so it’s safe to say he knows what good engineering is - and what’s not.

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Jim recalls that when he got to drive a hotrod that was a popular show winner, he couldn’t believe how terrible it was from behind the wheel. This was one of the moments that prompted him to build the car you see here.

Oh, and the fact he had a spare shell sitting around.

So where do we begin talking about a vehicle that has only a vague visual resemblance to its original form? Let’s start with the chassis and body.

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The original English-built Ford Anglia body was widened 6 inches by Jim so that he could fit his planned Torana front-end. This involved slicing the car down its centreline and welding in a new hand-formed strip of steel. The wider front and rear glass is cut to suit – thankfully the Anglia comes factory with non-curved glass, which makes things relatively easy. Note that the guards are also 3 inches wider than standard to accommodate the new suspension, brakes and rubber. In total, this Anglia is 12 inches wider than standard – road hog!

Oh, and did we mention its chop-top? Two and a half inches have been removed from the roof height which helps aerodynamics, reduces weight and lowers the centre of gravity. The standard Anglia is a pretty top-heavy looking machine.

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Beneath the custom body is an integrated roll cage and chassis structure. Jim says it’s essentially a two-seater sprintcar structure. Interestingly, Jim tells us his Anglia has more than twice the torsional rigidity of a typical clubman-style car!

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The new frame locates an LJ Torana front-end with HQ Holden uprights, which provide a low front ride height. King springs, Monroe gas dampers and fully adjustable geometry completes the front-end - Jim adds that front camber is dialled up to 4 degrees neg! Pointing the nose is a Holden LJ Torana rack and pinion steering arrangement with tailored length arms to reduce tram-lining and steering kickback problems.

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At the rear you’ll find an independent suspension arrangement based on – wait for it – the ‘works’ Datsun 1600 rally cars. The hardware is pulled from a Datsun 200B SSS with altered pick-up location and lengthened top arms to reduce dynamic camber change (an arrangement Jim says was used by the rally teams back in the ‘70s). The coil-overs are 15 inch AFCOs. At this point we must say thanks to Hank Schumaker Steering and Suspension.

Braking this machine are anchors fit for a 1500-odd kilogram car - so they’re well and truly overkill in this 940kg machine! Up front are 11 inch Leyland P76 ventilated discs with Holden WB Statesman calipers, while the rear uses 11 inch ventilated Ford discs and Falcon EL alloy calipers. Jim says the EL rear calipers work well with the mechanical handbrake set-up. At the head of the system is a garden variety dual circuit master cylinder. There’s no vacuum assistance and Jim says there are no problems with brake bias.

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Tip the custom fibreglass bonnet forward and you’ll see an engine very different to the standard Anglia’s! Initially, Jim fitted a Nissan FJ20DE with twin Weber carbies – a set-up good for around 80hp (60kW) at the wheels on C-N-J Motorsport’s Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. Today, however, a later model Nissan SR20DE lives under the bonnet and with only mild performance tweaks – a free-flow exhaust, aftermarket air filter and Autronic programmable management – Jim has seen 110hp (82kW) at the wheels. C-N-J Motorsport can be thanked for their high quality tune. Note that the switch to EFI also necessitated a new fuel delivery system – there’s a Mazda Capella tank with a custom swirl pot, Bosch Motorsport pump and a return line from the fuel rail.

Backing the DOHC, 16 valve Nissan four is the standard SR20 5-speed gearbox with a Nissan 720 4WD clutch. Jim broke a selector in the ‘box but has had no other driveline issues. The diff is a Datsun 4.6:1 unit.

There are no official acceleration times for Jim’s Anglia but we guess it’ll run a low 14 second quarter mile; the original FJ20 (with around 30 percent less power) ran a 15.1.

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Inside the cabin it’s bloody noisy and completely bare. There’s a pair of race seats, RPM harnesses, a sports steering wheel and little else aside from a fire extinguisher and a custom gauge console. Jim watches VDO gauges for fuel level, coolant temp, oil pressure and battery volts as well as a speedo and tacho from a Datsun 260Z. Jim has also installed an easy-access switch and fuse panel.

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The vehicle’s most recent paint scheme is an affair sponsored by Greenbury Paint and Panel in Toowoomba. And, yes, it’s very distinctive! Wheels are classic style Performance Superlite 15s wearing 225/50 Toyo Proxes RA-1 road-legal semi-slicks. Jim says these are a great tyre that provide ample grip off the start line – no need for a warm-up lap.

Jim tells us the car has plenty of grip and, when pushed, is very neutral in handling balance – it doesn’t snap-oversteer despite its short (2159cm) wheelbase. And we can vouch for that after taking the car for a quick squirt – you really need to commit to an extreme corner entry speed to get it sliding. The brakes, although needing some pedal effort without a vacuum booster, are also exceptional.

Unfortunately, Jim was unlucky enough to have a pretty major ‘off’ during which the car ran into a ditch at high speed, rolled and slid about 15 metres on its side. Jim says this was caused by the recent switch from SPAX to AFCO rear coil-overs – the spring rate he chose didn’t take into account the altered motion ratio and the result was a w-a-y overly stiff rear.

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Another recent fitment is the big rear spoiler. Jim says the car always used to have a problem getting taily on one particular corner on a track – it feels much more ‘planted’ since the spoiler went on. Interestingly, Jim tried mounting the spoiler further rearward but found that it performs best near the edge of the roof - this mounting location prevents air wrapping around the roof’s curved trailing edge.

There’s no question Jim has achieved his goal of creating a hot performing race car beneath a hotrod body. And don’t think this is one of those projects that has consumed vast amounts of money and time – Jim took only 10 weeks and 1 day to get the car running in its first incarnation with the FJ20!

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Once built, Jim doesn’t like to see a race car sitting around so he makes regular appearances at local racetracks and hillclimb events. And success seems to come fairly easily – Jim won the Tighe Cams hillclimb championship series for sports cars up to 2.0 litres (which includes machines such as Farrells and various other purpose-built racers).

Yes, this is one damn fast little car!

And we’ll leave you with a scary thought.

Jim says another 100hp (75kW) would be nice...


C-N-J Motorsport                                                     +617 3290 3966

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