With his other Anglia projects in bits, Iain Auld snapped up and sorted out a Lotus Anglia Van and headed off for the horizon…
There’s a time and a place for high-octane thrills. And some might argue that inside a 307E van in 1967 is neither. These were functional, utilitarian machines — for your £369 (or £399 for the 7cwt) you got rubber floormats, a driver’s seat, and not a whole lot else. The list price referred to a van delivered in primer — it cost an extra £10 if you wanted it painted! Further thrilling optional extras included a heater, a sun visor, and a passenger seat — although you wouldn’t be impressing anybody if you got all fancy like that. In the 1960s, a van was a van.
Motive power came from a choice of either high or low-compression versions of the 105E Anglia’s 997cc Pre-Crossflow (offering 35 or 40 bhp, respectively), and that was all that was required to fulfil its duties. These workhorses were offered to the market as a modern replacement for the ageing sidevalve-engined 100E van, and were available in two states of trim: the basic 5cwt, with its painted bumpers, headlamp peaks and radiator grille, and the more upmarket 7cwt, with such items resplendent in a veritably Hollywood-esque chrome-plated finish.
However, for Iain Auld, the owner of this particular 307E, the time for high-octane thrills is — if we’re being brutally honest — most of the time. When he saw this van advertised for sale, he knew it was the one for him. With a couple of unfinished, Anglia-shaped projects taking up space in the garage, a sensible one-in-one-out policy was employed to get himself out on the road for the summer, packing the sort of unseemly horsepower these vans were never really designed for.
“I bought this van at the start of the summer,” Iain explains. “I had an Anglia 105E and another Anglia van — as well as some classic Transits — sitting in my garage in bits, and I realised I was going to miss another summer of using them so I decided to sell them. Then I could put some money towards getting something really nice, and crucially something I could actually drive.
I found a couple of year-old for sale ads, decided to get in contact to ask if this one was still available, and it was; a deal was done, and I was off on a 1000-mile road trip to drop the Anglia off and collect the new van — from Oban on the west coast of Scotland to Sudbury, Suffolk.”
This, as you can see, is no ordinary 307E. Iain had been on the lookout for a van in particular, something you don’t see a lot of these days that’d also be useful for lugging parts around, and this cherry red sparkler fitted the bill perfectly: it had been built by Robyn Slater at Radco Engineering for himself, and as we all know if you’re doing something for yourself, you’ll spend that extra bit of time and effort where it’s needed.
“Robyn puts together and races classic Fords, and builds all manner of engines including Lotus twin-cams, so I knew the van would be right,” Iain reasons. “And the bonus was that it had only done around a 1000 miles since completion.” That’s the sweet spot, really — a young enough rebuild to still be fresh, but with just enough shakedown miles to test and refine everything. So what sort of van does a race builder build? Unsurprisingly, there’s no low-comp Pre-Crossflow in this 307E, not any more… peep under the bonnet and you’re greeted by the thoroughly pleasing sight of a genuine Lotus twin-cam.
This Radco-spec motor wears a big-valve head, and has been teased out to 1700cc with pukka Lotus pistons and a lightened and balanced flywheel and crank. QED 420 cams and thirsty 45 mm throttle bodies imbue it with that heady racer’s edge, and the whole shooting match makes a robust and extremely vivid 145 bhp way up at 7000 rpm. This is simply another realm of performance from the 307E’s humble roots, the sort of hair-on-fire thrust that would have been unimaginable to the postal workers, bakers and handymen of 1967.
Naturally, you don’t just chuck these sort of numbers into a 52-year-old van and expect the chassis to cope, but thankfully Robyn at Radco knows every one of his onions. The van’s underpinnings have been radically overhauled to suit its newly fast-paced lifestyle; the stock brakes are long gone, replaced by Princess four-pots up front with vented discs, working with a Milton bias pedal box. Poke around further and you’ll discover GAZ coil-overs up front and GAZ dampers at the back, with a veritable smörgåsbord of Milton goodies to back it up — steering rack conversion, top mounts, strut brace, A-frame, the works. Throw in a heavy-duty prop and a 3.7 diff and you’ve got a recipe for mischief right there. This, essentially, is a race van: race car power, race car handling, all wrapped up in a stealthy (ish) van-shaped profile. Eagle-eyes will spot the hunkered-down stance and Lotus steels, but to the casual observer this is little beyond a nicely looked after 1960s commercial. Which, of course, all adds to the fun.
“All I’ve changed so far is to remove the four-spoke Revolutions it had fitted, then paint and fit a set of genuine Lotus steels with new tyres,” says Iain. “Plus the addition of the period signwriting, to put my own touch on it. In the good weather, the van gets used as much as possible; it turns heads wherever it goes, and I constantly have people stopping and telling me they remember their dad having one, or local companies having them back in the day. They generally don’t believe it’s running a twink… until they see it take off!”
It goes without saying that Iain has plenty of plans for the van too — the spec is formidable, and the fit-and-finish of that flawless all-steel body is impeccable, but there are always ideas of personalisation floating around. These things are never finished, are they?
“I’ve got quite a lot of ideas for it over the winter, depending on time,” he says. “I have another couple of classic projects on the go at the moment, so it’ll need to fit it in around them. But what I’d like to do is give it a full colour-change, again with old-school signwriting, fit a shortened rear axle to allow for some wider wheels, along with the 3.9 LSDI have sitting around, and some better brakes — perhaps APs if funds allow. I do struggle to hold onto any of my classics, it is a bit of an addiction… but at the moment this one ticks all the boxes, so it may be the one!” It’s certainly come a long way from its humdrum roots as a 5cwt load-lugger.
With a 300 per cent increase in power and a chassis built for the track, this 307E today is very much the time and place for high-octane thrills.
Words Daniel Bevis
Photos Adrian Brannan
Read the full spec and see more photos of this Lotus Anglia van in our October/60 Years Of The Anglia Special issue
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