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Tony Hart set out to build the car that Ford almost put in production, the Lotus Anglia, and reckons he did it just the way Halewood would have done. 

lotus anglia

You never know the result of a trip down the pub; a few laughs and a headache, a night you can’t quite remember that ends with a curry and a tattoo — or maybe the purchase of a 1966 Anglia. To be fair, Tony Hart wasn’t headed to a New Forest public house for a thirst quencher — he was after what was in the carpark. “I’d always fancied an Anglia with a Cosworth engine,” says Tony, “but there were no decent examples about for the money, then I heard about this 105E for sale at a pub near Beaulieu. It had sat outside beside a stack of barrels for 12 years and got covered in tree sap. I towed it out to free off the brakes, but the owner wouldn’t accept my offer, so I walked away.”

lotus anglia

Six weeks later, Tony tried again. “During that time someone had broken into the car and tried to steal it, so perhaps that influenced him into doing a deal with me in early 2016.” The Anglia was soon getting stripped down in Tony’s garage. It had been converted to Lotus power around 1990 and was previously fitted with bubble arches, but those arches were later removed and all the rust cut out and replaced with new panels. The Anglia underwent a bare metal respray in 2008 and there was no rust anywhere, so when Tony got his hands on it, all that body needed was the topcoat flatting down and a quality respray. “Within a week the freshly painted bodyshell had returned to my garage and I was bolting bits back on,” laughs Tony. 

lotus anglia

Top-notch

Tony was starting out with a car that had “all the right bits,” including the twin-cam coupled to its original Lotus four-speed gearbox and both went away for rebuilding. “Early on, I’d decided the car was going to be 100 per cent quality,” explains Tony. “I was a paint and bodyman in the past and I have high standards, but this Anglia became an obsession. All the bolts I used were titanium or stainless, everything got powdercoated — even the underside. Ford built prototype Lotus Anglias and I wanted my car looking as if Ford had done it back in the 1960s.” That meant having no modern parts on show, “I certainly didn’t want a Type-9 five-speed or a Zetec — they’d change the original feel of the car. I wanted an original interior, too.”

The engine came back bored to 1700cc and the original twin DCOE 40s that were first fitted in 1963 went back on, along with a 105Speed exhaust manifold. The brakes got upgraded too — vented 2.8i Capri discs upfront and Sierra Cosworth discs on the rear.

The battery was relocated to the boot along with the screen washer bottle. “The engine bay is the heart of the car — I wanted it to look good,” and while he was tidying the engine bay Tony also hid away as much wiring and pipework as he could by running it through the chassis. The radiator and fuel tank were fabricated by Collin Reay to be as close as possible to the original twin-cam spec. 

Out back, a pair of anti-tramp bars were fabricated by Team DeVille to hold it all in place. It’s not all 1960s technology though, the front suspension is based around Gaz coil-overs, while a Milton strut brace holds it all together on top. “I live a mile from Burton Power, so I’m always in there for parts.”

Subtle changes

Keeping the 1960s vibe, the interior is straight out of an Anglia — or is it? The back seat is factory stock, but upfront are a new pair of Cobra SR seats upholstered in black vinyl along with brand-new door cards, carpet and headlining from Aldridge Trimming.

Take a look beyond the Mota Lita-style steering wheel Tony found at a swapmeet and you’ll see the dashboard has undergone a few changes. That Superspeed speedometer is a rare piece that reads up to 105 mph. “Standard Anglia 1200 ones went up to 90 mph, of course this still easily goes off the clock at 105…” and Tony has modified the dashboard with a Lotus-style fibreglass bulge to fit the Lotus gauges before trimming it in black vinyl.

Fortunately, Tony had a number of contacts for these pieces. “The Anglia club forum members were brilliant, one guy in Wales had a load of new-old stock parts and once I started putting photos of my progress on the forum another offered me a pair of brand-new tailights completely free. I got a set of tread plates from Australia and various people found me new-old stock chrome.” A set of original Lotus badges finished it off.

 

The bumpers? They’re brand new stainless steel versions. The rear is a standard Anglia piece while the fronts are Escort Mexico quarter bumpers. “It took me two days to make the mounting brackets then a bit of hammering and reshaping to fit them. It was worth it though.” The headlights include an unusual upgrade: “As well as the normal dipped and main beam I’ve fitted LED daytime running lights in the headlights.”

Perfect pursuit

“I’ll admit, I was aiming for perfection on this build, I was fanatical really,” reckons Tony. Less than 14 months after buying it, the Anglia was back on the road. How on earth did he finish it so fast? “I’ve got a big workshop and I don’t watch television…” he replies. “I enjoyed it so I just got on with it.”

The Lotus Anglia has been well received, too. “When I put photos of the finished car on the forum I had nearly 700 replies. I was even invited out on a run by the Lotus Cortina Register.”

So what’s next? “I’ve always fancied an Escort Mexico or Mk1 RS2000 but the prices of those are getting silly, so for the time being I’m going to enjoy the Anglia. It’s super-fast and drives incredibly well — it’s everything I hoped it would be.”  

Words Mike Renaut

Photos Darren Woolway

See more photos and get the full spec on Tony’s Lotus Anglia in the September 2017 issue

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