Connor McNally’s beautifully restored Anglia 105E mixes eager performance with a flawless finish. And it’s taken many long hours and late nights to get this far.
It takes a lot of effort to look this effortless. To the untrained eye, this might appear to simply be a nicely looked after and largely original 105E, but still waters run deep with this one. The world’s changed since this car rolled off the production line back in 1962, with its 997cc engine and stratospheric ride-height, and the architect of its transformation, Connor McNally, has been keen to sympathetically restore and upgrade without appearing to radically rework. The finished effect is something that looks factory-fresh, but behind the scenes, there’s been a whole lot going on…
“This all started back in April 2016,” he recalls. “I spotted this mint-looking Anglia for sale and I loved the two-tone paint and red interior, so after a chat with my Dad we agreed to go and look at it. We checked it out and it needed a few bits, but the body was solid and it was right colour combo so I was happy enough and we did a deal.”
The car hadn’t been on the road for a while, so Connor got it trailered back to his Dad’s house, as he didn’t have a garage of his own, and there it remained for a few months. It wasn’t, if we’re honest, the most thrilling start to an automotive journey, as Connor really wasn’t gelling with the unexciting 997cc motor; his Dad was all in favour of selling it as-was for a quick flip, but he had other ideas. The potential was there, it just needed to be unearthed.
“I started doing some research, and found Kejja Motorsport just 10 minutes’ drive from my house,” Connor recalls. “I called the owner, Kevin Wray, and we started to talk because I wanted to lower the car to start with. He said ‘No problem,’ so the first part of transformation was a go: GAZ suspension all round and 2 inch lowering blocks, plus a set of Minilites. It looked ace, I was happy — but still the engine was an issue…”
By September, further conversations with Kevin had yielded the kernel of an idea: swapping in a hot Crossflow was clearly the way to go, namely a 1700 on twin 45s with a Stage 3 head and 105speed manifold. While the motor was being built up at Kejja Motorsport, Connor figured that he might as well do things properly and perfect the bodywork, too.
“It had some heavy pimples along one side where it must have been sat against a wall,” he says. “Luckily I know a great painter, David Downie — he used to spray all my bodywork when I was younger. The car was taken down to bare metal and actually only two spots were bad — the tops of wings up where they meet the window pillars. Dave made a brilliant job of saving the wings, so every panel on the Anglia is still original from the day it was built.”
This was never intended to be a concours restoration to factory spec however, and having grown up with an eye on the VW scene, Connor was keen to give the engine bay some special treatment to really make it pop on the showground, so the bay’s now been smoothed and all the wires hidden, which is a refreshing treatment seldom seen on 105Es. It really makes a statement.
Fast-forward to early 2018 and the car was painted and enjoying a few further upgrades from Kejja, such as a Blackline LSD and braided brake lines, and it was ready for the 1700 motor to go in. A few issues presented themselves, but everything went largely to plan. The engine was in, the Anglia was wearing a fresh set of Alleycats, and Connor was readying himself to unveil the fruits of his labours at the Classic Ford Show.
“When I’d read in the magazine of people saying ‘Yeah, I was on the car until the night before the show’ I’d always thought ‘Surely not’… but at 10 pm on the Saturday evening before the Classic Ford Show, Kev and I were at the workshop trying to get a better brake pedal, as it was very soft,” Connor recalls. “We finally got a good enough one to get it there; I drove home, gave it a quick clean, then was up early the next day to meet Dad and the guys at the Kejja yard. That’s no more than 6 miles away — I probably made 2 before the car cut out. Once we got it to the yard we removed the fuel filter and it was clogged up; I’d never removed the tank and it had rusted inside and wasn’t going to work. So the car was rolled into the garage and didn’t make the show. I was gutted.”
An infuriating and disheartening setback for sure, but Connor’s the sort of fella who comes out swinging. Bloodied but unbowed, a replacement fuel tank was ordered and sights set keenly on the future. Unfortunately, the tank took around 16 weeks to arrive, meaning that the 2018 show season was essentially over, and Kevin’s busy schedule pushed the Anglia firmly to the back burner. However, Connor maintained momentum and enthusiasm, buoyed by the sight of the project’s finish line, and two weeks before his 30th birthday the tank was installed and the car was up and running — meaning that he could exorcise the demons of a displeasing year by taking it for a celebratory drive on his milestone birthday.
“The engine made it extremely fast,” he laughs, which is unsurprising given the frame of reference the original motor must have provided. “But the gearing was a little short…” Nil desperandum however: in February of this year, he picked up one of Retro Ford’s spanking new 3.3:1 crownwheel and pinion set-ups — and while he was there, Connor treated himself to a set of 6 inch wide steel wheels, too. With these two additions fitted, the difference to the car was remarkable. “The lines look sharp, and I can hit a really nice cruising speed,” he beams. “Some 2.5 inch lowering blocks were added to the rear at this point, and that’s how the car sits today. I couldn’t be happier with it. I worked my butt off on the nightshifts to be able to afford all the bits I wanted on this car, but seeing it like this makes all the hours and aggro worth it.”
It’s been a bumpy road to get to this point, and what may have seemed on the face of it to be an easy spruce-up morphed into an incredibly in-depth process.
What Connor’s ended up with is a beautifully finished, thoroughly usable 105E; quick and agile enough to be very entertaining, with a flawless show-car finish. It’s not easy looking this carefree, you know.
Words Daniel Bevis
Photos Jordan Butters
See more photos and get the full spec on Connor’s tuned and restored Anglia 105E in the August 2020 issue
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