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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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