If your shell is rotten to the core ahead of the front bulkhead, why not ’frame it? Scared? Don’t be – here’s how to spaceframe your classic Ford.
One common rot area on classic Fords, especially Escorts, is under the bonnet. Strut tops, wing rails and the inner wings are all prone to rusting thanks to the battering they get from water and mud thrown up by the front wheels.
To repair a rotten front end properly will take many hours of work, and many more Pound notes, especially if the complete inner wings need replacing. If you are not building a concours car there are other options to the standard repair procedure. How about a full spaceframe front end, ideal if you are adding a cage and plan some track time with your car? This may seem like a daunting task to cut away the entire front end of your car and start again but as we will show you over the next two issues it can be done with a little thought and planning. Even if you decide to send your car off to a professional for the work it will still be cheaper than a standard rebuild, as Retro Motorsport quote from £1400 including bulkhead and camber-adjustable top plates.
The main consideration is maintaining the standard front end geometry, as this cost Ford millions to develop and there is no sense in trying to reinvent the wheel. The standard front crossmember can be retained along with the position of the strut tops so everything is kept exactly as it should be. So before you go hacking away at the front of the car you need to take as many measurements as possible and construct a suitable jig. Measurements to take include the position of the strut towers on the chassis rail, strut top position and strut height. To construct the jig you will need to bolt some box section tube between the crossmember mounting holes and the anti-roll bar mounts and then link this up to the strut top with some angle and box section bolting through the strut top mounting holes. Once the inner wings are then removed you will be able to mount the jig back on the car and you will have the position of the strut tops set for you. The jig needs to be sturdy so that it doesn’t flex or move when it is taken on and off the car. This can be checked against the measurements taken earlier.
Gary Martin has built a number of these cars and once again he has let us into the workshop to see exactly how it is done. This month we see the construction on the main structure and we will continue next issue with the fabrication of the strut towers and the mounting of the body panels, in this case fibreglass wings and bonnet with a steel front panel. Without further ado, here’s how to spaceframe your classic Ford.
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