The sky’s the limit when it comes to 100E improvements. Lots of small changes can make a big difference
As an economy car, the Ford 100E is an ideal candidate for upgrades, from mild to wild. It helps that there’s a great club (the Ford Sidevalve Owners’ Club, or FSOC) that offers plenty of expertise. Many of the parts produced in period by Aquaplane can still be found, with reproduction items available too.
Any engine swap, apart from the ultra-rare Fiat 2.0-litre twin-cam, requires non-reversible bulkhead and tunnel modifications, which will probably land you in hot water with the DVLA. A kit is available to fit the overheadvalve Anglia 105E engine but this upsets the balance of the car, which is already compromised by the heavier drivetrain, so think carefully before taking this route.
The most worthwhile modification is to fit a 105E four-speed gearbox. But it’s an involved conversion – even with the replacement alloy bellhousing – that requires a mixture of 100E and 105E clutch components and some machining. The original steering is no more than OK. Fitting an Escort rack improves things, but must be transplanted as an entire system with crossmember, struts, track control arms and antiroll bar or bump steer will result.
The 100E’s wheels have a 5.5in pitch circle diameter; all later Fords used 4.25in. The 100E rear axle can’t be converted to the later stud spacing and can’t cope with much extra torque, but the 105E axle is stronger, has the correct stud spacing and allows a choice of final drive ratios. But it’s 2in narrower and akin to gold dust. An Escort axle is wider but requires shortened axle tubes and halfshafts (the latter are available) which allows the fitment of bigger brakes to balance any improvement at the front end.