Gold and a bit of shine can hide a car’s rough past, but don’t be fooled — this Anglia gasser is the embodiment of a self-made street thug who’ll have you picking up your teeth …
Most of the petrolheads from Daniel Barnett’s generation grew up reading the likes of Fast Fours and Rotaries and Street Machine, but Daniel is not most petrolheads. After all, who else in their right mind would spend countless hours, for the better part of a decade, on a poxy old Ford Anglia? Looking at that Anglia now, in all its polished vintage-style glory, it’s clear that it could only have been built by someone with the vision of an old-school hot rodder.
“My inspiration came from Dad’s extensive collection of ’60s American Hot Rod magazines,” Daniel tells us. “I was always fond of drag cars from that era, particularly the altereds and gassers, with their combination of candy paint and chrome, bursting at the seams with massive power plants, giving them the proportions of Ed Roth paintings.” Although Daniel was no stranger to V8s, with a small block Chev–powered Vauxhall Victor, the tedium of having to replace broken parts every time he stood on the gas was wearing his patience thin. He wanted a real-deal hot rod like the ’60s race cars he’d drooled over for years. “To me,” he says, “a real hot rod should be as at home on the strip as it is on the street, and the new car needed to be capable of claiming some respectable timeslips, with enough durability that it could handle the abuse.”
Early Ford Anglias had always been high on Daniel’s list, with their neatly proportioned body and the crazy power-to-weight ratios available with even a mildly worked engine. While Daniel did have a look at various completed cars in the hope of getting into the driver’s seat quickly, nothing he found would have fitted his needs without major modification. Instead, he decided to start from scratch with an original car and managed to score a rolling body for $700. On the whole, the body was pretty straight, but there were some nasty surprises hidden under the paint. That wasn’t enough to deter Daniel, though. Growing up watching his dad, Terry, working on project cars — primarily his ’27 Model T roadster — had instilled in him the mentality that you can build or fix anything if you have the drive to do it.
Working in the single garage under his house, weekends for Daniel blurred into a constant toil through jobs to be done. Many weekends were spent making patches and welding them in, and, when another cheap rolling shell came up for sale a year or so later, Daniel snapped it up, pillaging it for all four fenders, the rocker panels, grille, bonnet, and one door. In addition, a roof skin was cut out of a ’92 Nissan Pulsar, chosen because it had the right curve to it, and bolted on in place of the long-gone factory canvas item. Underneath, Daniel boxed the original Anglia chassis and added a huge number of brackets and extra bracing to help handle the increased power. Even so, he never overlooked the fact that the car had to be street registered, which meant farming a few jobs out to ticketed welders.
“I drew up the dimensions and brackets required, and had Dave McDougall at D&V Autos make up the front axle; Diffs R Us did the same for the rear end,” Daniel explains.
This logic was also applied to race legality, with Terry Bowden at Terry’s Chassis Shoppe enlisted to bend up a roll bar to a template that Daniel supplied. For a gasser, stance is everything, and the freshly completed axles meant Daniel was a long way towards nailing the perfect presence. The tubular straight axle front is suspended on a transverse leaf spring, with Pete and Jake’s shock absorbers and chromed four-bars. At the rear, the Ford nine-inch diff is suspended by Jaguar coilovers and a pair of period-style ladder bars, although Daniel did also decide in favour of installing a Panhard bar at each end for added stability.
The nine-inch is filled with some pretty tough kit installed by Diffs R Us, including a Detroit Locker with 4.11:1 gears and Currie axles — chosen to withstand the abuse they will inevitably be dealt. Peter Farrant at Auckland Balance Ltd was called on to create an appropriate driveshaft, while Daniel stripped and reassembled the TH350 transmission, adding a shift kit and Alto Red Eagle friction clutches and Kolene steels, with the required machining outsourced to Dr Trans. All this, in conjunction with a TCI flexplate and B&M Holeshot stall converter, means that the little Anglia has an incredibly tough driveline, but if you think this is over-engineered, wait until you hear about what Daniel’s built under the bonnet —
406 cubes of small block Chev! Let that sink in for a moment, while you consider that the Anglia weighs about as much as a pack of smokes. Daniel’s car may weigh in at a little more than that standard but heavy it most definitely is not, and that 406 is a nasty piece of work.
Daniel recalls, “I originally purchased the 400ci Chev block for my old car with the intention of building a nitrous motor and had started collecting speed parts for it before buying the Anglia. That’s why some of the gear in it is a bit over the top for a naturally aspirated street and strip motor.”
Just like the rest of the build, the engine was blueprinted and assembled by Daniel, with the balancing outsourced to Peter Farrant. A Scat crankshaft is secured with splayed four-bolt main caps and attached to six-inch H-beam rods and SRP forged slugs, for a bottom end that’s lacking in neither cubes nor compression. Racing Head Service (RHS) Pro Action alloy heads, painted to match the block, flow enough to keep up with the 406’s voracious appetite, and a Comp Cams solid-roller camshaft and valvetrain assembly ensure this is done without fail from idle to redline. Finishing touches include the genuine Corvette rocker covers, sitting on spacers to clear the chunky roller rockers and double valve springs, and a polished Edelbrock twin tunnel-ram intake manifold topped with a pair of 500cfm Edelbrock four-barrel carbs.
“I wanted it to look like an engine that could have been built in the late ’60s but with modern speed parts so [that] it could make reliable power,” Daniel says — and that’s a theme he’s managed to carry on throughout the car. The rear guards have been carefully radiused to provide clearance for the gigantic Mickey Thompson ET Street tyres and 15x10-inch American Racing Torq Thrust wheels, although Daniel does have a smaller pair of 15x8-inch rears wrapped in Cooper Cobras for street duties. With a pair of skinny 15x4.5s up front, and the inner guards cut out for the owner-built fenderwell headers, this thing is pure gasser — not that Daniel took that as an excuse to take the easy way out; you’ll find no matt black or duct tape on this machine.
The bodywork, which Daniel so painstakingly repaired and customized, was never going to suffer a rattle-can paint job. Car Colors of North Shore supplied Daniel with PPG paint in a Hyundai Vitamin C hue, and Daniel prepped and painted the car himself. This level of presentation extends to the interior, with a pair of Racer’s Choice Inc (RCI) low-back bucket seats and custom five-point roll cage giving a classy sense of vintage race pedigree. Complementing that are the Grant steering wheel, B&M Pro Stick shifter, Stewart Warner gauges, and Sun half-sweep tacho, all of which combine to give a vibe of both period-correct functionality and modern-day minimalism.
More than 10 years after he began, Daniel’s finally done it. He’s built the ’60s-style gasser he always wanted, without compromising himself with a strict vintage-only ethos. The Anglia is 100-per-cent streetable, currently going through LVVTA certification, and will be a very wild machine when it hits the drag strip — Daniel’s quietly hoping to make an appearance at next year’s Bay Rodders Nostalgia Drags.
However, as grand as the finished gasser looks, it was getting it into this state that was the best part for Daniel. The determination to do as much as possible himself did see the build spiral out to a decade-long project, but you’ll never catch him complaining about that — “The skills I’ve learned along the way and the satisfaction that comes with the completion of each little aspect of the build are definitely worth the sacrifice.”
Car club: East Bay Rods
Previously owned cars: 350-powered ’71 Vauxhall Victor
Dream car: Too many to choose
Why the Anglia? I wanted to build something that gives the impression it could have come straight off the drag strip in the mid-to-late ’60s
Build time: More than 10 years
Length of ownership: 13 years
Daniel thanks: Mum, for all the dinners she made so I could keep the project moving forwards; Dad, for all the advice and always being available when I needed an extra pair of hands
1949 Ford Anglia
Engine: 406ci small block Chev, cast-iron block, 0.030-inch overbore, splayed four-bolt main caps, ARP fasteners, Scat crankshaft, six-inch H-beam rods, forged SRP pistons, Romac harmonic balancer, Comp Cams solid-roller camshaft, RHS Pro Action aluminium heads, Manley valves, Comp Cams valve springs, Comp Cams roller rockers, Edelbrock twin tunnel-ram intake manifold, twin 500cfm Edelbrock carburettors, Holley Black electric fuel pump, custom aluminium fuel tank, braided stainless fuel lines, AN fittings, MSD 6AL-2 ignition, MSD distributor, MSD ignition leads, MSD ignition coil, Champion spark plugs, custom fenderwell headers, 2½-inch exhaust system, M&H mufflers, alloy radiator, Moroso sump
Driveline: GM TH350 three-speed auto, Alto Red Eagle frictions, Kolene steels, shift kit, B&M sump, TCI flexplate, B&M Holeshot stall converter, Ford nine-inch diff, Currie axles, Detroit Locker centre, 4.11:1 diff gears, heavy-duty driveshaft,
Suspension: Straight tube front axle, Holden EJ stub axles, four-bar front, Pete and Jake’s front shocks, transverse front leaf spring, Holden HQ manual steering box, Jaguar rear coilover shocks, ladder-bar rear, Panhard bars front and rear, Competition Engineering wheelie bars
Brakes: GM-style dual master cylinder and booster, adjustable proportioning valve, B&M line-lock, custom brake pedal, Holden Commodore VR front calipers, Holden HQ front discs, Ford rear drums
Wheels/Tyres: 15x4.5-inch and 15x8-inch American Racing Torq Thrust D wheels (street), 15x10-inch American Racing Torq Thrust D rear wheels (race); Michelin 145 front tyres and 275/70R15 Cooper Cobra rear tyres (street), 30/12.5-15 Mickey Thompson ET Street rear tyres (race)
Exterior: Stock body, rear fenders cut out three inches, custom aluminium fender flares (street), Hyundai Vitamin C PPG paint
Chassis: Original Anglia chassis rails, Anglia front cross member, boxed chassis, custom chassis bracing, extra cross members
Interior: RCI low-back bucket seats, Grant steering wheel, B&M Pro Stick shifter, Stewart Warner gauges, Sun tachometer, five-point roll cage, original Bakelite dashboard, aluminium firewalls, custom steel floorpan, custom steel transmission tunnel
Performance: Coming soon …
This article originally appeared in NZV8 issue No. 138 — to get your grubby mitts on a print copy, click the cover below: