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Love 105Es but want more than just standard? Jason Brown did, building his ST170-powered Anglia van with stock looks. Now this van rocks 

When you’re young, you tend to have loads of plans and things you want to do. Trouble is, they cost money, time and often need more experience than you’re in possession of. So what do you do? Forget about it? Or maybe, like Jason Brown, you wait a little while and make it happen. 

Jason has been unwavering in his Anglia dedication from a young age, his dad making an offer that got him under way. “When I was a kid on my first job,” says Jason, “there was a guy I worked with who had an Anglia with a 1700 Pre-Crossflow in it. My dad said that when I was 17 he’d buy me an Escort. But I said, no – I wanted an Anglia.” This was a couple of decades ago, but an Escort was still an Escort, so why go for the Anglia instead? “I just like the shape and they’re so small, but it’s not a Mini.” 

With Brown senior standing by his offer, an Anglia was found. It wasn’t all that though. “It cost £50,” says Jason, “and came out of somebody’s front garden. I promptly sold it to the guy at work who had smashed his up. He then joined the Navy, so I bought the lot and put it all together.”

Anglia addict

In a roundabout way Jason got his Anglia. More importantly, that first Anglia set the tone, as it was modified, and since then roughly 10 Anglia shapes have been through the Brown household. But Jason had always wanted a van. For some, it’s the most attractive shape, but arguably the rarest too, aside from the pick-up. It wasn’t this one though, said Jason, explaining the transition to the van you see here. 

“It had been restored by somebody else, but when I got it home it turned out it wasn’t so good. So I owned it for about six months, then I bought this one from Ken Bridges. It had side windows, it was running, the wings were all rotten, plus it was nigh-on standard.”

Not a great start, but seeing as Ken has owned pretty much every single Anglia van out there, he knows a good one when he sees one. 

Driving the van around as standard for a while, the plan was always to modify it. So he ordered up a pile of parts from Milton and patiently waited for them to arrive. When that parcel arrived at home, the work could start. “I took it off the road about three years ago and did all the work at home in the garage. The first job was to get rid of the side windows, then I started on the front wings. I ended up cutting both the headlamp peaks off, then repair panels at the bottom rear corners.”

Big undertaking

Project Gherkin, as the van became known, demanded more though. Jason’s initial plan of a localised blowover to the repaired areas didn’t work out. “When I sprayed over the lot, it all reacted, so I had to strip the whole thing to bare metal and paint it from that.” Jason reels this off in a matter of fact way, when of course it’s a huge undertaking to bare metal and respray a vehicle. So it’s a good thing he’s an undertaker. 

Confused? Well Jason took the van up to the family run business garage, where the limousines are kept, and sprayed it there, hence the tie-in. Those who’ve built a project before, may have noticed Jason has sprayed the entire bodyshell. 

st170-powered anglia van

“Believe it or not, after it was sprayed,” laughs Jason, “I stripped the engine out and did the conversion.” OK, so we’re not going to remind you of how amusing that seems, but why the ST? “I had an Anglia before, with a 2-litre Zetec in it, so the next logical step was to do this.” No further justification needed if you ask us. 

So with another batch of parts ordered from Dave Colledge at Retro Ford Ltd, the conversion work was fairly straightforward. Take a look at the pictures and you’ll see it’s a tight fit, but 170 bhp in an Anglia van is worth a bit of squeezing. The build took around two years, all done by Jason, with a little help from family and close friends. So what was the hardest part? “Flatting down the crappy paint job I gave it.” 

st170-powered anglia van

Again Jason’s humble about his skills, belittling the obvious amount of work that’s gone into the 307E by having a pop at himself. That’s a nice attitude to have; humble yet skilled. Press him further and he tells of a fairly significant hiccup in the latter stages. “I had trouble getting it started, as the kit I bought from Jenvey didn’t have injectors with it. In the end I bought some from Northampton Motorsport (NMS) and Neil from 105Speed came round and spent a night with the laptop, and on the phone to Troy, sorting it out.”

Running a base map, but more importantly, running, the following day Jason took the van up to NMS for the guys to set it up. “We lowered the point where the variable valve timing comes in to 2500 rpm. So you can drive it normally and then when you nail it, it gives you a good kick in the back.”

st170-powered anglia van

Nicking in and out of busy streets around the location, the van looks squat and poised, barking orders at pedestrians to get out of the way when Jason nails it. The final power figures let you know what a strong choice the ST motor is — 172 bhp at 7000 rpm and 151 lb.ft of torque at 5250 in a van that weighs as much as your g ran? We should coco.

With the van itch well and truly scratched, is Jason happy with the finished product? “I like the fact it’s nice and standard-looking.” We guess, after all, it’s the looks that originally attracted Jason. “I would have preferred a set of steel rims on it, but then I sort of lost interest when I bought the Cortina.”

st170-powered anglia van

Reality check

Here in lies the rub, after mentally putting together his van for so many years the reality was different to the dream and with a Mk1 Cortina sat outside for daily duties the van didn’t really have a hole to fill. “When I first did it, I went to the Cortina show at Stratford, the Lakes Tour plus a few local shows. Then it sat in the garage from September to January, only coming out last week to get ready for the shoot.”

So what is he going to do about it? Truth be told, it’s been sold. For some that may be sacrilege after the build-up, but the fact remains Jason thought about doing it and actually did it. So he’s well within his rights, plus there’s the Mk1 and a recently-arrived Mustang, too. 

So is that it for Anglia’s then? “I doubt it. I’d have a standard saloon, maybe a base model, with the same front as the van.” Just in case you think Jason is going soft on us, he explains that need for side windows. “My saloon was a lot more fun, as it had a slipper, so you could see what was to the side of you.”

We have no idea what you’re talking about Jason, we just hope you keep on building all those classic Fords you’ve wanted. 

Words Bryn Musselwhite

Photos Jon Hill

See more photos and read the full spec on Jason’s ST170-powered Anglia van in the November 2011 issue

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November 2011 issue