RB26 POP 100E

Dean McGee’s ’59 Pop came into his pos­ses­sion as a one-owner car. Fast-for­ward a decade, and he’s pulled in a raft of global in­flu­ences to cre­ate some­thing that’s a long way from fac­tory-stan­dard.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Words Daniel Be­vis Pho­tos Chris Frosin

Over 700 bhp? That’ll do nicely.


We live in a tech­ni­colour world. It’s what keeps the clas­sic Ford scene so ex­cit­ing, the re­lent­less mix­ing and match­ing of ever-more vi­brant shades from across the pal­ette of count­less mod­i­fy­ing mind­sets and off­shoots. There’s no bi­nary de­ci­sion-mak­ing with old Fords, no set of scene-friendly tick boxes to ful­fil. Tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from a di­verse range of sources is what keeps it all tick­ing — we’re not look­ing at 50 shades of grey here. And Dean McGee’s ’59 Pop is a case in point: this is like no 100E you’ve seen be­fore, thanks to his clar­ity of vi­sion and broad world view. While the turn­ing tide of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics may be lead­ing cer­tain quar­ters of the globe to be sus­pi­cious of other cul­tures, this ’59 Pop­u­lar keenly demon­strates the mer­its of div­ing into the rich cul­tural stew; a clas­sic Bri­tish body, an en­gine from Ja­pan, wheels from the USA, brakes from Ger­many, it’s the very def­i­ni­tion of the term ‘melt­ing pot’, re­framed for 2017 and then re­fracted through a dis­tinctly retro fil­ter. If you want any ev­i­dence of modern global to­geth­er­ness, look no fur­ther. It’s right here, wreathed in tyre smoke.

The Pop’s very essence lies on a bedrock of cheek­i­ness. “I bought the car in 2006 from an old guy who’d owned it from new,” Dean ex­plains. “It only had 27,000 miles on the clock… The car’s un­der­gone a few changes over the last decade or so,” he says, dab­bling en­ter­tain­ingly with the con­cept of un­der­state­ment. “And I wouldn’t like to think how much it’s all cost.” Scene stop­per Ah, triv­i­al­i­ties. The salient point here is that Dean’s turned a cher­ished low-mileage stocker into ar­guably the best 100E on the scene to­day. Se­ri­ously, the at­ten­tion to de­tail in this car is so far be­yond phe­nom­e­nal that it’s hard to know where to start.

Al­though start some­where we must, so let’s be­gin with the en­gine. Which, as you’ve prob­a­bly spot­ted, is quite big, and has a whack­ing great turbo hang­ing off the side. What it is, in fact, is an RB26 — a set of dig­its dear to the hearts of Ja­panese en­thu­si­asts, as this is the brawny straight-six you’d find in a Nis­san Sky­line. It would, of course, be mad enough to shove such an en­gine into such a tiny car, but this is no or­di­nary RB26 — Dean’s re­worked the 2.6-litre GT-R mo­tor into a fiery spec; it now dis­places closer to 2700cc and sucks through a mon­strous Holset hy­brid turbo. You’ll have spot­ted the colos­sal front-mount in­ter­cooler where the grille used to be, and there’s all man­ner of hard­core trickery go­ing in­side the en­gine. It’s gov­erned by a stand­alone ECU, has the fu­elling sys­tem of the gods, and in its cur­rent form it’s putting out 723 bhp. Which is, er, rather a lot.

“The en­gine set-up alone cost £11,000,” Dean winces. “And as if that power wasn’t enough, there’s a 90 bhp shot of ni­trous too!”


The ge­nius of the aes­thetic is that, to the un­trained eye, this could al­most pass for a stock-body 100E. Well, if you look at it from a hun­dred yards away on a foggy day. But in­spect it up close and you’ll find that the en­tire front end, along with the doors and mus­cu­lar rear quar­ters, are all art­fully crafted from car­bon-fi­bre. This fully seam-welded, tube-framed and strength­ened three-box weighs just 810 kg all-in. Just drink those num­bers in for a mo­ment: 723 bhp. 810 kg. These are fig­ures that have McLarens and Koenigseggs hid­ing be­hind trees un­til the scary Ford’s gone.

“There’s been no ex­pense spared at all,” says Dean, de­servedly proud, and it re­ally shows. “The Pop’s now back on the road af­ter a full strip down on a rollover jig. I orig­i­nally built it as a pro-street car for drag rac­ing, al­though now it’s ac­tu­ally used daily as a road car, it’s per­fect for driv­ing to work and back.”

It cer­tainly seems to make a lot of sense. Strong, flaw­less shell, modern Ja­panese me­chan­i­cals, nice bright colour so peo­ple can see you com­ing, it’s prob­a­bly one of the safest cars out there. Oh, and it’s got plenty of oomph too — safety ex­perts like to talk about your TED, ‘Time Ex­posed to Dan­ger’, when over­tak­ing lor­ries and such­like; Dean’s is more Su­perTED than any­thing. He flashes by be­fore you’ve even re­alised any­thing’s hap­pen­ing.

Go­ing big

We were talk­ing about mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism to be­gin with, weren’t we? OK, take a peep un­der the arches and see how the theme con­tin­ues. Those wheels, rock­ing the ar­che­typal pro-street shiny girth, are a set of Amer­i­can Rac­ing bil­let rims in ag­gres­sively stag­gered fit­ment; 7x17 on the front and a car­toon­ish 11.5x15 at the rear, slathered in Hoosier drag ra­di­als. And peep­ing through the slats of that bullish sym­bol of ap­ple pie and soar­ing eagles is some­thing baldly ef­fi­cient and log­i­cal — a pair of six-pot cal­lipers from Porsche, haul­ing up all of that ab­surd thrust in short or­der. We re­turn to the land of the ris­ing sun at the tail end, with Sky­line brakes bring­ing up the back.

One of the most fun de­tails, among all of this high-end wish­list­ing, is the de­lib­er­ately shabby

in­te­rior. Those orig­i­nal seats are a badge of hon­our, an olive branch to the orig­i­nal owner, and they tie all of this new­fan­gled tom­fool­ery into the cau­tious old-timey­ness of the car’s story. What Dean’s done here isn’t sac­ri­lege, it’s an ad­ven­ture. If the car could speak, it’d tell you that this kind of treat­ment was be­yond its wildest dreams.

And by gum, is it lively. “It’s got two-stage launch con­trol and anti-lag,” Dean grins. “All the live en­gine data’s on screen — there’s a lap­top for mon­i­tor­ing it un­der the pas­sen­ger seat.” It’s a se­ri­ously fast car, too — 0-60 mph hap­pens in about 3 sec­onds, and the gear­ing runs out at around 165 mph.

“I’m plan­ning to fit a straight-cut se­quen­tial ’box in the near fu­ture, along with a full roll cage — and then there’ll be a stro­ker kit, and I’ll be aim­ing for 800 bhp.”

The guy re­ally is un­stop­pable, and you can be sure he’ll keep us­ing it as a road car. This global build serves up a clear les­son to all the niche scenes out there: when you have imag­i­na­tion there need be no lim­i­ta­tions. Why waste your life in black-and-white?

“It’s stock, mate!” Knuckle-duster shifter in oth­er­wise stan­dard­look­ing in­te­rior reveals this Pop might have some punch...

The Pro Street look works a treat on the Pop, don’t you think? Cold air feed for pas­sen­gers is a great talk­ing point.

Boot now houses bat­tery, pumps and 90 hp shot of NO2.

Short­ened Ford 9 inch axle is well up to the job.

Orig­i­nal seats are a start con­trast to the rest of the Pop’s spec.

For the road: Dean orig­i­nally built the Pop as a drag car, but now he drives it to work...

Rims came from the USA. Note cheeky screamer pipe.

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