With a dad mad-keen on old Fords, it’s no surprise that Joe’s followed him into racing and working on them for a living as part of Team Ashton.
How did you get into Fords?
Through my Dad, Colin. When I was seven he bought a Lotus Cortina, then a year later he got the yellow Mk1 Escort which we still have now. My biggest memory from that time is going with him on the Classic Ford Tour to Holland — so many great cars!
What was your first Ford?
A Fiesta XR2i, which was my first car, too. Dad bought it off an old lady, after she’d lost faith in it when the fuel pump packed up. What happened to it? I’ve still got it — it’s parked up in the garage. I bought another identical one not long after as the first one was too nice to modify, but that got written off after someone smashed into me.
How did Team Ashton come about?
I started working with Dad in 2005. We were Ashton Mobile then, and were out on the road everyday fixing people’s cars. Then in 2010 we took on the workshop in Smallfield, Surrey, which allowed us to take on more-involved work with classic Fords.
How has the scene changed in all those years? The biggest difference is a lot more people now take pride in their cars and are willing to spend more money on them.
What’s your favourite job?
Probably fitting the engine back in the car after a rebuild. That first start-up is a proud moment — especially if I’ve built the engine.
Do you and your Dad ever disagree on how a job should be done?
Yes, now and again, and as much as it pains me to say it, his way is usually right!
What’s in the Ashton fleet?
The Mk1 obviously, plus Dad’s Black Mk2 RS2000 which is running a Piper twin-cam head, another Mk2 we’ve been building up over the last five years, plus the XR2i.
The Mk1’s in Malta at the moment, isn’t it?
Yes, it’s been there since October. I’ve been racing it at various Hal Far events since, and managed to win both the Bracket and Handicap titles in my class last month. Racing is quite different over there — very, very competitive but also very friendly. And the grip levels on the track are insane — I’m launching at 9200 rpm, and that’s on a standard crank!
What engine is in the Mk1 at the moment?
It’s still a 2.1 Pinto, with slipper pistons, alloy rods, and solid cam, though we’re doing another head for it at the moment with a roller cam. It made
231 bhp on the last dyno run, and I still drive it on the street from time to time, but I wouldn’t want to go round the M25 with it…
You’ve got £12,000 to buy and build a classic Ford. What would you do?
We’ve always talked about building a rear-wheel-drive Mk1 Fiesta race car — Pinto-powered, obviously — so that’s what I’d do. They’re a fair bit lighter than a Mk1 Escort.
A Sierra RS500 or an original Escort RS1600 — we look after one for a customer and it’s a thing
What’s your favourite event?
The Classic Ford Show. It’s the one event I make sure the car’s ready for every year, even if it means working on it until Midnight the night before to get it there!
01342 843601, www.ashton-mobile.co.uk