Old Ford Autos Mick is surrounded by classic Ford projects of all shapes and sizes— but he just can’t get enough of them.
How did you get into cars?
When I was still at school, my uncle and cousin used to drag race Minis and I used to go with them, so naturally, I got hooked! Those were the pre-Santa Pod days when we mainly raced at Blackbushe Airport. We travelled around quite a lot — Snetterton, even Silverstone once where they used the long straight.
And your first Ford?
My first car was a Riley Kestrel which I drove into the side of a coach, so I needed another car. My mate had a 107E so I bought that. It was in good condition, in Imperial Maroon and grey and went through many guises as I was an apprentice in a Ford dealership and there were loads of custom Fords about at the time.
How did you get into working on classic Fords?
At the Ford dealership we were allowed to work on our own cars and we had the key to the workshop, although everything you did, you had to do in one day so you got used to being efficient and getting it done. Being into cars, it was ideal and my Dad had Fords, too — an Anglia van in grey primer. He was always messing about with them.
How did Old Ford Autos come about?
Being into cars and working at the dealership, I needed stuff to modify my 107E but there wasn’t anything about so I made my own – it got to the point where I was working there during the day and doing my own stuff at night with lots of
private work. I started on my own but Chris (Evans) worked at the dealership too, and it was always the intention he’d come and join me. Officially we started Old Ford Auto Services in 1989, but we’d been messing about with cars before that.
How does the modified 100E scene compare to 10 years ago?
The quality is much better and it’s easier to build cars thanks to people like us that offer kits. You still have to modify the bulkhead and trans tunnel but we’re working on solutions to that. There are less people wanting to simply cobble them up now — we’re finding people want a good-quality solution to a problem they only have to do once. Certainly the cars that are being built are much better quality and standards are higher.
What are you currently working on?
We’ve got a ’69 Camaro in at the moment, a 105E Anglia receiving a Zetec, an A35 for restoration and a Rothmans replica Mk2 Escort rally car. We’re currently looking at a new rack-and-pinion kit to supersede the original we’ve done for a while now for the 100E and the Anglia, which will be bolt-on using original struts.
What about your own cars and projects?
There’s a few! I have two 100Es, I’ve just got another Mk1 Zephyr, a sit-up-and-beg Pop, a Prefect, too. Plus I have an Anglia estate combo that’s supposed to be an Abbotts of Farnham converted car — although I can’t prove it at the moment. There’s also an Escort-based Rickman Ranger kit car I’m working on.
Your most embarrassing car-related moment?
At the Ford dealership it was compulsory to squeal the tyres off everything and one day in the workshop, I was working on a Mk2 Granada. We had two lines of ramps in three bays and I needed to move the car, only I wasn’t in the car properly and I was using my left leg instead of my right… I hit what I though was the brake — only it wasn’t, it was the throttle and I sat there smoking the tyres although I couldn’t quite work out what was happening because I thought I was pushing hard on the brake. The harder I pushed, the worse it got! I was yanking hard on the handbrake trying to make it stop but I pushed my bench and old Bill’s tool bench right across the workshop before, coming to a halt jammed against my tool box. It had pulled my boot off my foot in the malaise, and the whole of the dealership had turned out to see what was going on — seeing the boot, they thought I’d ripped my foot off!
You’ve got £12,000 to buy and build a classic Ford, what would you do?
An Escort Squire — only with traditional tuning bits. Lowered on wide steels and crossplies, Aquaplane stuff all over the engine and maybe a supercharger too, backed by an Anglia four-speed conversion. I have most of the bits in the loft to do it, to be honest!
Either a ’36 Ford or a ‘40 Willys, both done resto style on the outside, but with a flathead with traditional tuning stuff.
What’s your favourite event?
The Hot Rod Drags — it’s full of gassers and nostalgia cars. It’s a good laid-back weekend which we go to for the rest rather than the racing!
Old Ford Autos: 01344 422731, www.oldfordautos.com
Click here for more Classic Ford features