Look at this 100E and it’s easy to dismiss it as a car you’ve seen a dozen times before – but pop the bonnet and there’s a surprise waiting for you. A road rocket that handles — this K-Series Pop 100E is one you seriously want.
Chinese restaurants are wonderful places — full of delicious food that very often, you can’t decide what to have. Not really surprising – look at the menu, it’s usually packed and all you see is a wall of text — all of it making your tummy rumble but at the same time, you simply can’t decide as you gaze off into space with an, oh-I-don’t-know… So, the best thing to do is use the set menu — a proven formula where, the theory is, you can’t go wrong.
But then again there are aspects you don’t like — not very keen on the sweet and sour pork balls maybe? And sea food, well that can be a bit upsetting in certain areas. So you find yourself picking out the best bits and leaving the stuff you don’t want. And that’s the point of a set formula — there to guide you; to make it easy but maybe not quite right. Not totally tailored to you. Maybe loads of others have done it before and it works very well for them; but for you, well…
And then you apply that ethos to building classic Fords — very often there’s a set menu which will give you set results — all very predictable if you just want to go along with it and get a great car the simple way. Trouble is, Tom Byng — and especially his biggest influence; his Dad, John — don’t like Chinese. Well, that’s not strictly true, they probably do but the point is, they do things their way — they’ll look at what everyone else has done and pick out the best bits then bend it to their way of thinking.
Under the skin
On the face of it then, this looks like a formulaic 100E — slammed on Revs with oval circuit-look low profiles with the full intention of sticking to the corners like they’re coated with Gorilla glue. Look under the bonnet though and there’s something very different — what no Ford motor? Er, no — bearing in mind that these two are a product of the Midlands and John used to work for Austin Rover, their persuasion is very much towards BL products. In fact, Tom grew up mucking about with Metros instead of Fiestas – and there’s nowt wrong with that; especially when one of them’s capable of running 13s on the strip!
So if you know Metro engines inside out — although this one’s out of an MG TF, which to you and me means Rover K-Series — then the thoughts of using anything else; even if your project is Ford-based is a bit alien. Tom knows how to make them go and there’s plenty of people and influence around the Byng’s to make them seriously open minded. Because above all, that’s what they are. Dad John has a 10-second chopped Morris Minor plus a traditional sit-up-and-beg Pop with a diesel engine in it. Gorgeous it is too — beautifully finished and detailed, gets 50 mpg and John goes everywhere in it — like Poland and back! So you can kind of see, they both think very much, outside the box…
Now, this project started off in a bit of a traditional way — as an unfinished one. The bulkhead had been shifted backwards and there was a Pinto slotted in the available space. There too, was Escort-based front suspension, “Only it was dropped in there without much thought — it was too wide, meaning the wheels stuck outside the arches.” And since this car is about handling but also, looking right, they binned the lot and started again. The front suspension is actually based on the same one but they’ve brought the strut towers in; narrowing the track while adjusting the crossmember to suit and at the same time fit the K-Series sump.
Like most modern Ford engines, turning these ones round — because they were originally, front wheel drive — is pretty much sorted. They were once an extremely popular conversion in a Morris Minor and JLH Minors produce plenty of components to make the job easy. For starters, a bellhousing is available to swap a Type-9 five speed to the back as well as a few solutions to sort the fuel-injection. But the Byng way to mount this engine in place was to fabricate their own mounts — although, that’s not strictly true either….
The Midlands is a place full of like-minded people, most of which seem to have migrated around the Byngs. One of which was Spocky — and if you don’t move in similar circles, you may well have never heard of Rubellion, his chopped Austin Ruby that had more guises than Bowie, one of which was a blown big block. But the last incarnation was with a Rover K-Series. What the Byngs did was use one of Spock’s engine mounts meant for Rubellion and adapt it to the 100E — so you could say, this car has some serious hot rod roots, too!
Spock’s influence goes way beyond just engine mounts because they all had the same mentality — use a kit if it makes things easier but above all, adapt and make your own. Actually slotting the K-Series in the 100E was quite simple.
“I used the complete wiring loom from an MoT-failed Metro – from front to back, which meant I had all the modern basics of a current car just waiting to be plugged in. I have a proper modern fusebox, light delays and warnings for lights left on — all the things you take for granted now.” And of course, that made the engine loom dead simple too: “All I had to do was plug it in!” True, he has adapted the throttle body system, so that the entry point is now at the front of the engine but it’s all stuff that simply means thinking about it and doing so it works better.
And you will notice too that the engine sits quite a long way back — part of that’s so it fits the Escort front suspension but also due to the theories of better handling. There is a rule that says, the first spark plug should line up with the centre of the front suspension – which this one certainly does. And yes the car does handle like it’s on rails; which is a left-over from the reasons behind Tom’s Metros which were primarily track day cars. It’s great at the strip — currently, it’s in the low 15s, while it handles like he wants, too. “I have plans for more power yet – I’ve got a K-Series Turbo motor with a lot more horsepower than this one so over the winter, that may well get swapped in!
Prep and paint
We actually featured Tom’s 100E four years ago as a Grafter and back then, he said he was going to simply leave the body as he found it — although prepped away from it’s then pale blue and probably in guide-coat cammo so that the car could be shaken down then painted. Kind of what Dad, John’s done with his Minor; only it’s stayed satin black for ever! Maybe Tom didn’t want that and the lure of the car’s Fiat Beige Cappuccino was too much because it’s now lusciously painted by Leslie Vickers — aka Tubs — helping Tom so much with the bodywork and then painted it too.
Set Menus work but sometimes you need an open mind and a bit of adaptability too! Chinese? Hmm, I feel hungry now.
Words and Photos Jon Hill
See more photos of this K-Series Pop 100E and get the full spec in the October 2018 issue
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