FORD PROJECT FAMILY
When it comes to completing show-worthy project cars, the Ebbs family have got it sussed, with a constant stream of classics coming out of their home garage. Here’s how they do it.
Meet the Ebbs’ stable of stunners.
You know how the often-overused saying goes: if you want a thing done well, do it yourself. Well, in our experience, that’s not quite true. We’ve seen more than a few classic Ford projects over the magazine’s 21-year history, and the most-successful — the ones that are finished — have almost always been put together with the help and support of friends, and most-importantly family.
The Ebbs — including Dad Tom, and sons, Tom and Matt know all about this. For the last eight years they’ve been turning out a steady stream of cracking rebuilds from their modest, homebuilt garage, and they are all the result of working together — and playing to each other’s strengths. “Dad’s the best at welding, while I’m good with wiring and the EFi stuff,” reckons Matt who works as an aerospace engineer. “Tom can turn his hand to most things, but is particularly good at problem solving. Between us, there isn’t a lot we can’t do.”
The proof in the pudding lies before you. The Ebbs have a fine stable of classic Fords, with two currently on the road and the remainder in progress, and they’re all constantly evolving, too — but always with a plan behind them. Which, the Ebbs reveal, is one of their secrets to completing a project.
So, if you’ve ever opened the garage door, took one look at that longterm project gathering dust and felt like shutting the door again, take a leaf out of the Ebbs’ book, get the teas on the go, get everyone stuck in, and we’ll see the results at next year’s Classic Ford Show.
In the meantime, take a look at the Ebbs’ current collection of projects, and get inspired..
“THEY SAID THE COSWORTH V6 WOULDN’T FIT — THAT WAS LIKE A RED RAG TO A BULL TO ME”
Alan’s Mk1 Cortina
This Mk1 has a special place in the Ebbs household, in part because it helped kickstart the family’s passion for turning out project car after project car, but Alan’s interest in Fords goes back way before this one came on the scene.
“My eldest brother, Peter was a few years older than me, and when he was 17, he started buying and selling cars to earn a bit of beer money. This was in the early ’70s and so they would quite often be Mk1 and Mk2 Cortinas and Anglias. He had a different car every weekend, and I started helping him repair them. One really stood out, though — a four-door Mk1 GT. It was red with a gold stripe and it was lovely — that’s what got me hooked on Mk1s.”
Life then got in the way, but in the early ’90s, Alan came across this Cortina. “I’m a lorry driver and being so high up in the cab, I’m always seeing interesting stuff behind hedges, like this 1200 Deluxe which was Goodwood Green at the time. I knocked on the door, and the owner told me it wouldn’t start. I towed it home and found out why — the engine had no compression, you could spin it over by hand. I got hold of another 1200 and ran around in the car for a year, but then blew that one up, and with so much work to do on the house, I parked it up in the garden. But I always knew I wanted to do it up properly when the time was right.”
That time came in the late ’90s when the classic Ford scene as we know it now was just taking off. “You couldn’t buy the panels that easily then, so I ended up making them. The floors, wings, inner wings, rear chassis rails and boot floor were all rotten — I knew it was never going to be original again, so I thought I might as well make the car how I wanted it.”
Alan’s wants list included using the Cosworth 24-valve V6 engine.
“Everyone said it wouldn’t fit, and well, that was like a red rag to a bull to me. I bought an ex-police Granada Scorpio for £400 and took the engine out of that — and I made it fit. I couldn’t afford to buy a lot of off-the-shelf parts so I made or adapted my own — the swirl pot for the fuel system, for example, is a cut-down fire extinguisher, and the fuel filler is from a Harley-Davidson. I’ve always been able to weld, so I just worked it all out and did it.” Unsurprisingly, the Type-9 five-speed that Alan originally bolted up behind the 24-valve engine didn’t last long, so there’s an MT75 ’box in its place, and he now has a super-reliable package that’s proved perfect for road runs and track days that the Cortina gets used for.
“I’d like to put another ECU and get it mapped properly at some point, but I’m happy with it as it is — for now...”
Matt’s Mk1 Fiesta
Not many of us can claim to still own their first car — most died a death due to tinworm, crash-damage or being thrashed mercilessly not long after we got them. But Matt is still proud to own his, and like Alan’s Cortina, it’s become very much part of the Ebbs family.
“It was my totally-standard daily-driver while I was at sixth form,” says Matt, “then I got an apprenticeship which was too far to commute without killing the 1.1, so I bought something else and this became a project. I’d always wanted a Mk1 after seeing so many of them at the Classic Ford Show.”
“The first mod was a set of Supersport rims, but as I started earning more money, I got carried away,” he continues. “After a couple of months I bought a complete Mondeo for £800 and took the 1800 Zetec out of it, and with the help of Tom and Dad, fitted it along with the standard injection. It wasn’t quite pokey enough though, so there’s a 2-litre in there now on Yamaha R1 throttle bodies with a MegaSquirt ECU. The engine’s based around the ST170 bottom end with a ported Black Top head — it took three-and-a-half tanks of fuel to map it, but it goes like the clappers.”
Naturally, Matt’s upgraded the suspension and brakes to suit (based around GAZ and XR2 components), and those gold/anthracite Compomotive CXs are a recent addition. “I was going to repaint them grey, but the colour’s grown on me.”
Originally a Bravo II, a previous owner had sprayed the once-silver bottom half to replicate the Cardinal Red top and removed the decals, but the Mk1 does still have its unique Bravo interior trim, and in great shape too. “I’m kind of happy with the Fiesta with how it is right now, but I’m planning to rewire the engine bay over the winter and once the bulk of the work on the Corsair is done, the Fiesta will be resprayed — I’ve already sourced a pair of good doors to replace the originals which are starting to go. I also need to pull the gearbox out this weekend — it’s a diesel IB5 one which I fitted with an RS Turbo viscous LSD, which I bought unknown and it’s not quite right. It never stops, does it?”
Tom’s Pop 100E
Of all the Ebbs’ projects, it’s Tom’s Pop which has taken the longest — eight years and counting — and therefore is the subject of much ribbing from Alan and Matt.
“I bought this when I was 18 after cutting my teeth on karts and then Minis,” says Tom. “It was totally standard and complete, but wearing the same coat of red oxide primer it has now, when I got it. I spent half a day on getting it ready for an MoT, and used it as my daily for five months. Then one night, five-up and coming home from a nightclub in the early hours, the engine developed the death rattle, so I took it to bits...”
With the sidevalve engine out, Tom measured up a 1300 Crossflow but not wanting to notch the bulkhead to fit it, cut the original one out and moved it back instead to retain a factory look — fitting a 105E axle and Escort front suspension at the same time.
As time went on, the plans changed though, and after weighing up both Zetec and Duratec engines, he’s going to use the Lotus twin-cam (“The guy in the workshop next to me builds them”), with the exterior look equally classic — blood red paint and Lotus steels.
With Tom recently starting his own classic race car preparation outfit (Ebbs Classic & Competition) mainly building Lotus Elans, the Pop project has stalled while he concentrates on the demanding business, but with a space in the corner of his workshop recently opening up, there’s talk of putting the Pop there, and working on it in-between other jobs. “It’s going to happen, it’s just the finish date has moved!”
Alan’s Anglia 105E
Shining like a Belisha Beacon on the driveway is Alan’s recently-painted Anglebox, finished in a VW orange with a contrasting black roof, and 6 inch Revolution four-spokes. “I bought that as an unfinished project,” says Alan. “It was a rolling shell with everything off it in boxes, along with the running gear from a Capri 2.8i, but I didn’t want that so was able to sell it on and recoup some of the cost.”
Instead, Alan’s going in a more traditional direction. “I’ve always wanted a classic-spec road
car, and I got lucky when I met a guy while out in the Cortina who told me about a Lotus twin-cam bottom end in his shed.” Sure enough, that ended up in the Ebbs’ garage and after a refresh has gone into the Anglia with a worked 1500 Pre-Crossflow head, along with a 2000E gearbox. Mk2 Cortina struts (converted to coil-overs) replace the drum brake-equipped originals, along with adjustable track control arms, while at the rear Alan’s keeping the lever arm dampers.
Alan’s about to make a start of the interior, not that there will be much of it. “I’ll fit some lowback buckets, but there wont be a rear seat — I don’t like passengers!”
“I TOYED WITH THE IDEA OF A V6 ENGINE, BUT THEN GOT OFFERED A 1600 ECOBOOST”
“With the Fiesta back on the road, I wanted something new to restore, and preferably from the ’60s,” says Matt. He’s always liked the shape of the Corsair, so the hunt was one for a suitable project, with Matt eventually buying this one as a more-or-less complete car from Grimsby. “It’s a 1700 auto Deluxe, but I didn’t want the running gear, so the seller sold the Essex V4 and ’box on separately, saving me some money.”
Matt was keen to improve his welding and fabrication skills too, and fortunately this Corsair has proved ideal for that, being rusty in all the usual places, and some unusual ones, too — probably due to its previous home by the sea. “As soon as we got it home I stripped it down and sent the shell off to be shotblasted,” says Matt, “and it came back with more rot than I was expecting. There were two oversills covering up the originals, and the front floorpans had gone. I’ve replaced those and with winter on the way, will be able to spend more time in the garage working through the trickier bits. I’m finding it difficult sourcing some of the panels, so a lot of the sections we’ve ended up making, but we sold an engine to a guy in Glasgow recently, and it turns out he’s into his Corsairs, and he’s hopefully going to help us track down some of them.”
You may well have guessed that Matt isn’t planning to restore it back to standard. “I’ll let in Capri strut tops so that we can run a rack set-up,” says Matt. “And Dad has a couple of spare 24-valve engines in the corner of the garage so I toyed with the idea of using one, but then I got offered a 1600 EcoBoost. The plan is to get that in and running with an RX8 six-speed behind it. And the colour? “It was maroon which I liked, but there’s a Range Rover shade, a bit like Cherry Red, that I think will work really well. Along with gunmetal grey steels, it’ll look the business.” The Ebbs family would like to thank Mark Vasper, Des and Dan at Pitstop, and Stuart Martin at SWM Paintwork for all their help with the projects.
Interior is a classic mix of period original and parts from later Fords, like the seats which are more suited to track days.
Despite being told it wouldn’t fit, Alan dropped the 24-valve V6 in the Cortina’s engine bay, and with minimall cutting, too.
Original fuel tank replaced by a larger Capri item mounted over the axle for better traction. Swirl pot is a cut-down fire-extinguisher...
Fiesta still retains its Bravo interior, with a few extras.
Custom tailpipes exit from the centre of the valance.
Compomotive wheels aside, Matt’s kept the Mk1’s exterior fairly subtle. A full respray is the next job.
2-litre Zetec is Matt’s latest engine of choice, fuelled by Yamaha throttle bodies, with a MegaSquirt ECU.
The Pop has become a longterm project for Tom, but he has a plan and is adamant it will get back on the road.
Different angle... Tom planned to run a Crossflow in the 100E, but is now hellbent on using a Lotus twin-cam.
VW orange shade really sets off the Anglia’s classic lines.
The shotblasted Corsair shell has proved ideal for improving Matt’s welding and fabrication skills.
There’s rot in the Corsair where you’d expect, but like most old Fords, in a few odd places like the lower rear bulkhead.
Matt’s weighed up a few engines, and is going EcoBoost.
1500 Pre-Crossflow is based on a Lotus bottom end.
Alan’s making a start on fitting up the Anglia’s interior.