He’s best-known for his radical air-ride conversions, but Mr Rayvern loves classics, too — especially if they’re Anglia-shaped.
What was your first Ford?
An Anglia 105E in baby blue. Me and my missus went everywhere in that car — even all the way to Wales to visit a scrapyard that had another of my then cars, balancing about four high brandishing spares we desperately needed. What happened to it? I gave it away to a friend of mine because I wanted something else and it disappeared — I’d love to have it back.
How did you get into working on interesting cars?
From owning the Anglia and working on my own classic cars you get to thinking, I can do that, and you have a go. I’m a cabinet maker by trade and once you have the ability with your hands, it’s not that difficult to adapt them to other things. I went back to college to learn engineering but everything about cars I’ve taught myself. Maybe you get it wrong first time, but you learn why and adapt.
And how did the air kits come about?
When I came back from a trip to the States, I started Rayvern with a mate of mine called Vern — hence the name! But things didn’t work out exactly as planned — he started a family and it became impossible for him to continue, so I carried on. The kits were a natural progression — hydraulics first followed by air kits, mostly for late VWs, but it got to the stage where there was too much competition — bigger companies moved in and did all the straightforward mainstream stuff that bolts on, now I get all the trickier bespoke stuff.
What’s been the most interesting Ford project you’ve worked on so far?
There’s been a few but probably Zephair (above) plus the Thames 400E van that sits on its sills.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m doing another mini truck — there was a point when I was doing loads all the time when that scene was massive. This one’s a Ford Ranger, which has been body dropped — or channelled in old hot rod speak! The next project’s a Taunus Transit. This has been started — it has a new frame, the body’s dropped too, the V6 is mid-mounted and it has air suspension so it drops to the floor like the 400E.
Most of the Ford projects you get to work on are pre-1970s, why do you think that is?
I’m not sure that’s strictly true — I do lots of late Fords, believe it or not. I’ve done about 10 Focus STs mostly for the emergency services as promotional vehicles, which are used as public relations exercises. They take them to shows where they seems to go down better with the kids than your standard fire engine or police car! I think the number of classic Fords I do will decline because they’re worth so much now — stuff like Zephair really was a longterm project started when the cars were less valuable — but there probably will be people wanting to build stuff just because they want it. I hope so…
You’ve got £12,000 to buy and build a classic Ford, what would you do?
I’d go right back to the beginning and that 105E. Nothing radical, just an old school build with a screaming four-pot. Cool and reliable.
And the ultimate?
Probably the car I have in my head at any one time — if you’re into building them, you get on with it, get bored and get onto the next one. The next is an Econoline pick-up — I’ll channel that and build it Ed Roth-style, I think.
What’s your most embarrassing car-related moment?
When we first started, we were doing the Peterborough premises and we needed a bathroom suite. All we had was the 105E so it was loaded up with the toilet hanging out of the boot and the bath strapped to the roof. It looked rather comical…
What’s your favourite event?
The Merc Deuce Reunion event that happened in the States every five years. We managed to catch the last ever, which was probably the coolest I’ve ever been to — especially as we went there in a chopped ’49 Mercury. It was attended by some real names in the Kustomising scene like Bill Hines and Sam Barris, too.
Rayvern Hydraulics, 01945 450150
Photo Jon Hill
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