It’s taken 10 years for him to achieve, but Richard Horner now has the Lotuspowered Anglia he reckons Ford should have built.
Ten years in the making, is this one of the finest examples of a classic twin-cam 105E yet?
At risk of sounding like the comedy genius that is ‘Steve Wright In The Afternoon’… hands up everyone who has a solid and worthwhile pension sorted… Yeah, me neither.
We didn’t ask Norfolk garage-owner, Richard Horner about his retirement finances as far as cash-money is concerned, but he sure does seem to have built up an impressive pot of classic cars and projects to form a very nice pension plan anyway. These include an Anglia 105E Estate, two Mexicos, a Mk2 Escort, an Elva racer, two Fiat 500s (the original ones, not the modern trendy things), a JPS Lotus Elan, an Escortbased Autotune Gemini, plus the subject of this feature — this immaculate 105E Anglia with a Lotus engine conversion.
And while pension ‘plan’ is not quite accurate, as Richard never specifically decided get a collection together of what are now very valuable cars, picking motors up along the years and keeping them tucked away has worked out very nicely for him. Retirement… now that is something that applies, as Richard, is definitely looking to end his working career as soon as possible.
“I DECIDED TO FIT THE WORK IN AS AND WHEN I COULD, WHICH IS WHY THE PROJECT HAS TAKEN OVER 10 YEARS TO COMPLETE”
“THE ANGLIA CAME FROM A HOUSE CLEARER WHO’D PUT IT INTO THE CLASSIFIEDS IN CLASSIC FORD, AND FOR £500 WAS A BARGAIN EVEN THEN”
“I began working on cars at a Ford dealer in 1969 and have been self-employed since 1981,” he begins. “And while I have enjoyed nearly all my years of working on vehicles, I’ve come to realise I really, really hate modern cars, which are just boxes you replace bits on, with none of the old skills needed. So as soon as I can I shall be selling up… and can then concentrate on getting my collection of proper cars up together.”
And the classic project that has been keeping Richard sane in the past few years is his Lotus Anglia.
“It came from a deceased estate, via a house-clearer who’d put it into the Classifieds in Classic Ford many years ago,” he says, “and for £500 was a bargain even then. My only regret about the deal was that there was a 1966 Classic up for grabs for another £500 too, and I still can’t figure out why I didn’t buy that as well!”
The 105E Deluxe had just 33,000 miles on the clock and was as close to mint as Richard had ever seen. The only downer was that the guy that had rescued it had ripped the (solid) metal wings off in preparation to fit fibreglass replacements. Luckily, he decided to part with the Anglia before he got any more silly ideas.
Back in the days before such things became worth their weight in gold, Richard managed to get a fresh pair of genuine Ford wings at an autojumble and a long-thought-about idea for a Lotus Anglia was begun.
“If the story I’ve been told is correct, then Lotus did build one twin-cam Anglia out of a 105E bought from the Belgian Embassy — because the left-hand-drive configuration meant they didn’t have to move the master cylinders to fit the twin carbs. Jim Clark was known to drive the car when he was with Lotus, even on long trips back home to Scotland. “That story, plus the fact that I’d had an ex-Lotus Elan twin-cam in the garage for nearly 15 years, gave me the inspiration to build an interpretation of the Lotus Anglia that should have gone into production,” he says.
“Another lesson learnt — or at least re-taught — during this work was that, ‘if you want a job doing well do it yourself’,” Richard adds. “The first example was when I asked someone else to fit the wings for me, as I was full-on at work at the time. When the shell returned one of them was over an inch crooked in places. I could have cocked it up better than that myself!” he laughs.
“And so I decided to fit the work in as and when I could, with help from my son, Andrew when he could spare time too, which is why the project has taken over 10 years to complete. But it has been worth it, and I must add thanks to my wife, Helen who was a cheerleader and gave encouragement throughout those years at times when I was flagging. Another great side to the build, which is now a big sorrow, is that the other person who was massively helpful, professional and a pleasure to deal with was the late Kevin Wood at Milton Race Preparation.
“I’ve used nearly all his expertly-designed kits on my Anglia, including the Mk2 Cortina-based coil-overs, front and rear anti-roll bars, adjustable TCAs, crossmember and steering rack conversion, rear anti-tramp bars, top mounts, strut brace… the list goes on. It all fits as it should first time and works perfectly and it’s such a shame that such a business gentleman is no longer with us.”
The rust-free shell was coated inside, outside and underneath with new layers of Ermine White under a gazebo in Richard’s garden, with the correct Lotus green stripes painted on over the top. It was now ready to receive all its Milton gear, along with Wilwood callipers gripping Capri discs at the front, Mk3 Fiesta callipers and discs at the back and a 105E axle fitted with a 3.54 ratio RS2000 diff. The gearbox is a four-speed 2000E unit with a very noisy set of straight-cut gears, which Richard would like to swap for a five speed Type-9. “But I just can’t bring myself to take an angle grinder to the original gearbox tunnel,” he says.
The QED-built engine is the centrepiece of this car, of course, and began life as a small-valve twin-cam on Strombergs out of an Elan, and while the bottom end is still standard 1558cc, there’s a big-valve head, Lotus Sprint cams, the twin Weber 40s, and vernier pulleys boosting its state of tune. With a Tony Thompson Racing distributor, 105Speed manifold and system plus a three-core rad keeping temperatures down the bhp has been increased to an unknown figure, but one that is “quick enough” for Richard.
The QED-built Lotus looks right at home thanks to Richard’s keen eye for detail.
Corbeau bucket seats are new but look period-perfect.
Like the engine, the clocks came from a Lotus Elan.
Extra gauges are neatly mounted under the dash.
Original head was swapped for a Weber-equipped one.