5 MINUTES WITH:
A prolific car owner and builder, Ben likes his classic Fords very low, very fast and preferably not on fire...
How did you get into cars?
My Grandad was a big influence, but I’m afraid it was mainly through banger racing. I bought a Capri when I was 16, built it and raced it on paper-round money at Brampton Raceway. I did this for a while but after spending two solid weeks building a fresh car, only to be pushed into the wall before I’d even completed a lap, I thought, enough’s enough and it’s been road cars only since.
What was your first road-going Ford, then?
A 2-litre Laser Capri. Not long after I bought it I got offered a complete but rotten 3.0S so I swapped all the running gear over. I was only 20 at the time and the insurance was horrendous.
What happened to it?
I sold it to a good friend and I’m pleased to say he’s still got it.
How did you go from building your own Fords to doing other people’s?
Once my Mk1 Escort Estate (featured in the August 2011 issue) was out there, it got me noticed. There were a lot of touches on that car that no-one else was really doing back then like the super-tidy engine bay, and so I started getting asked to do work on owner’s cars, which I did after work for a while. I’d trained as a welder/fabricator but at the time was working for a guy helping him build rally cars, and he told me I should strike out on my own, and even helped me find a unit. I’ll never get rich doing this, but then I’ve always been more into the cars than the money.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m restoring a Mk1 two-door Escort for someone. It was a really tired shell and I’ve done the inner wings, bulkhead, and it’s had a full floor. It looks good now, but I’ve still got to hang the front end panels and repair the rear tubs and arches. After that, I’m doing a rack conversion on Jake McConnell’s custom Mk2 Cortina — the one that won the Show & Shine at Ford Fest.
What about your own cars?
I’ve got a ’68 Escort, the pre-Aero flow Mk1 Cortina two-door, my 1600 Sport with the NA YB plus Doris, my 1.1 base-model Mk2 Escort in Midnight Blue. It’s only done 40,000 miles and the shell is lovely, so anything I’ll do will be bolt-on only, and I’m keeping all the original parts — I must be getting old! Plus there’s my Mk2 Fiesta daily, low on banded steels. I’ve just done a 48-hour engine conversion, and it’s now running a Honda D-series on twin carbs.
And your ultimate classic Ford?
That has to be a three-door Cosworth with a 2JZ conversion. But then again, you can’t beat a simple, two-door Mk1 Escort with a 1700 Crossflow. Can I have that, too?
What’s you most embarrassing car-related moment?
I’ve lined up at the Pod with the car in reverse, but everyone’s done that, haven’t they? I was welding up the sills on one of my Capris when I was younger, and some of the interior caught fire. The whole thing went up in smoke, so that was pretty embarrassing. I now have a rule that if anyone brings a car to me for welding, they have to take the interior out first.
What event do you always look forward to?
The Classic Ford Show because it always falls in my birthday and the weekend turns into one big laugh. I’ve met loads of great people through that show.
“IT’S ONLY DONE 40,000, SO ANYTHING I DO WILL BE BOLT ON ONLY I MUST BE GETTING OLD”