HER­ITAGE: Thames 307E

Clas­sic Fords re­stored: Af­ter giv­ing up on find­ing some­one to re­build his Anglia van, Nick Hor­ridge re­alised the old adage of, If you want a thing done well, do it your­self, was the only way to go.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Words and Pho­tos Jon Cass

Clas­sic Anglia com­mer­cial re­stored.

C las­sic vans are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar as pro­mo­tional tools and it’s easy to see why. Any driver of a clas­sic car these days will have no­ticed necks cran­ing for a good gawp as you drive past. So it only makes sense to ad­ver­tise your busi­ness on the side of its com­mer­cial equiv­a­lent where there’s plenty of space to in­clude those all im­por­tant con­tact de­tails.

Pop­u­lar tourist spots seem to be lit­tered with Citroen H vans or a sim­i­larly aged coun­ter­part con­verted for the vend­ing of ice cream or ex­otic food these days, so much that they’re hardly a rare sight. In fact, it would be easy to be­lieve there are more Citroën H vans around to­day than were ac­tu­ally built by the French com­pany! We sus­pect some­one must be knock­ing them up in a shed some­where!

Back in 1991, Nick Hor­ridge had just taken over the run­ning of his fa­ther’s busi­ness, New­ford Parts which since 1974 has spe­cialised in the sup­ply of new-old stock Ford parts to the public.

Nick was keen to have a van with the com­pany’s name and con­tact de­tails sign­writ­ten on its flanks, but rather than splash out and buy a van ready to use, Nick de­cided to find a ve­hi­cle in need of some restora­tion be­ing car­ry­ing out. The per­fect can­di­date would be an Anglia van or a Thames 7CWT to give its proper ti­tle.

Hav­ing passed his driv­ing test in 1977, Nick is from a gen­er­a­tion lucky enough to re­mem­ber the cars — and vans — we now con­sider as clas­sics when they were parked on dealer’s fore­courts.

“My first Ford was a 1966 Cortina Su­per Es­tate, which in­ci­den­tally wasn’t my first choice as I was 17 at the time,” Nick laughs. “My fa­ther pur­chased it from the Ford main deal­ers in South­port for £15!”

Cars back then were cheap, but not nor­mally that cheap and the rea­son for the rel­a­tively youth­ful Cortina’s bar­gain price was be­cause

“RATHER THAN SPLASH OUT AND BUY A VAN READY TO USE, NICK DE­CIDED TO FIND ONE IN NEED OF SOME RESTORA­TION...”

came with­out an engine or gear­box. “It did have all the run­ning gear and four brand-new crossply tyres, but when we went to col­lect it the fol­low­ing week, we dis­cov­ered thieves had put the car on bricks and taken all four wheels.” And from this point on be­gan Nick’s ca­reer in car me­chan­ics.

“It was my job to fit the engine, gear­box, sus­pen­sion and electrics be­fore pre­par­ing the Cortina for an MoT,” Nick re­calls. “The shabby paint­work was a sin­gle tone bur­gundy and ma­roon and was past its best, so I asked my Dad if he knew some­one who could re­paint my car.”

John told his son he’d have a word with some­one then on re­turn from col­lege one day, Nick was shocked to see his Cortina sat on the drive now re­splen­dent in bril­liant red. Un­for­tu­nately, there was a sus­pect mix with the cel­lu­lose and within three months, the weather had turned the Cortina bright pink. Van hunt­ing Nick has al­ways had a par­tic­u­lar pas­sion for 105E Anglias, so the search was on to find a suit­able van to use as a pro­mo­tional tool. Af­ter some search­ing Nick man­aged to lo­cate a 1964 Thames van that was rea­son­ably solid, but still needed work.

“I bought the van from Tony Warr, who ran a small busi­ness called Clas­sic Traf­fic. It had been used for lighter du­ties so was in fairly good shape,” Nick re­mem­bers.

Rather than tackle the restora­tion him­self, Nick de­cided to have the work car­ried out for him, but the fin­ished re­sult was far from per­fect,

“I ended up hav­ing it re­stored four times in to­tal, but I was never happy with it, I spent seven years try­ing to find some­one who’d do a proper job,” he re­calls. Even­tu­ally, Nick lost pa­tience and at­tacked the in­creas­ing amount of paint bub­bles with a screw­driver, en­sur­ing some­thing then had to be done. “I went back to my roots and came to the con­clu­sion the only way to do a job prop­erly is to do it your­self.”

The van was then stripped com­pletely and all ex­te­rior pan­els re­placed with the ex­cep­tion of the off­side rear quar­ter panel and roof, mean­ing all doors, front wings, in­ner wings, front panel, bon­net and near­side rear quar­ter panel had to be sourced and re­placed! Writ­ten up Luck­ily, Nick had help from a col­league in the paint trade and in to­tal the body­work and Am­bas­sador Blue paint com­plete with pe­riod sign­writ­ing took around three months to com­plete.

Once con­tent with the van’s ex­te­rior, the rub­ber mats and grey vinyl door cards could be re­fit­ted to the in­te­rior. Com­pared to its sa­loon and es­tate sis­ters, the Thames van is even more ba­sic in­side if that was pos­si­ble, its spec­i­fi­ca­tion be­ing func­tional rather than aimed to­wards lux­ury, a far cry from the Tran­sit of to­day.

“OVER A PE­RIOD OF TIME, NICK RE­BUILT ALL OF THE VAN’S RUN­NING GEAR”

“I had to re­place the seats in the end,” Nick re­calls. “The ones in there now came from an­other van which I bought, which turned out to be an un­vi­able restora­tion project. The seats were ac­tu­ally black in colour but with a lit­tle soap and hot wa­ter, I man­aged to bring them back to life!”

Over a pe­riod of time, Nick re­placed or re­built all of the steer­ing, sus­pen­sion, and run­ning gear, too. The Pre-Cross­flow mo­tor is sur­pris­ingly sprightly, es­pe­cially with­out any parts in the back, while the four speed gear­box with first gear syn­chro­mesh takes some get­ting used to. Like its sa­loon sib­ling, the sus­pen­sion cen­tres around coil springs up front with hy­draulic dampers and leaf springs at the rear, and the 5.20x13 crossply tyres of­fer lit­tle grip com­pared to to­day’s stan­dards.

Since its com­ple­tion, Nick has at­tended many shows with his van and it’s worked as a great pub­lic­ity tool too. He’s also re­cently com­pleted a con­cours-stan­dard 1962 105E sa­loon and when parked to­gether they make quite a stun­ning pair!

In­te­rior is nicely orig­i­nal and in great shape.

The Pre-Cross­flow has been care­fully re­built. Pe­riod-style Lin­coln battery is a nice touch.

The seats were black when Nick bought them, but a deep clean saw them re­turned to their orig­i­nal colours!

Now it’s com­plete, the 307E is a great rolling ad­vert for New­ford Parts.

Stan­dard, skinny steels were re­fur­bished.

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