The Ford Popular was one of the iconic Ford vehicles in the UK between 1953 and 1962. It still makes for a great classic car today. However, for it to be roadworthy, it would require extensive renovations, restorations and modifications. This article looks at ways you can renovate an old Ford Popular to become a classic monster on the road.
The starting point of your car restoration depends on the condition that you find the car in. It is most likely that an old Popular sitting in an old garage does not have a working engine, and the body may have signs of collision and dents from a crash. Such a vehicle will need more extensive restoration work to bring it into a standard that it can be used as a car.
With that said, let’s get to work.
Even if you get a working engine from the 1950s, its performance will be pretty low. This carburettor, spark ignition petrol car engine could only provide 22kW of horsepower and 63Nm of torque. Therefore, you may want to replace it.
It is recommended that you consider engines from the Ford Family. You will get engines that are capable of fitting into the small compartment with little modifications. One of the best engines that you can pick is the Mk2 1500GT pre-crossflow engine. The 1600E Cortina engine or the 711M Ford Kent engine will also deliver a good amount of power. If you want to experience the thrill of power, consider a V8 engine. However, this will call for many more modifications to make it work appropriately.
Your choice of the engine determines a host of other modifications and renovations you will need to make to enable the vehicle to handle the power and space to install your engine.
You will need to fit drum-brakes into your Ford Popular. The pedals are also quite light, and this can cause you to accelerate involuntarily. Therefore, you need to have a suspension system adjustment to improve your handling of the vehicle and the performance of the braking system. Unfortunately, there is no single braking system of any other car make or model that can fit perfectly into your Ford Popular without modification. However, the Ford Escort gearbox seems to work well on the Ford Popular with minimal adjustments.
You can replace the gearbox with an A2000E gearbox, which supports the engines stated above except for the V8 type. It also fits perfectly into the gearbox tunnel. Another good choice is the 5-speed type-9 gearbox system. The Ford Sierra type engine requires very little tunnel modification to fit in. However, if you decide to go for the other types of gearboxes such as Tran-X or Quaife, you would need a front bowl sump for the engine to work correctly.
Installing a manual transmission system has several challenges especially due to the tiny space of your Ford Popular. However, you can still install the transmission by making the following considerations.
Once you have everything figured out, it is time to put everything together into the body of your car. However, you should first work on the body to give it a retouch and deal with dents, rust and other problems that may be present. You will also need to modify some parts like the bonnet and gearbox tunnel to allow the fitting of the gearbox and engine that you selected in the sections above.
A sure way to get it right when modifying the bonnet is to try your engine under the bonnet and see how it fits. Try to close the cover of the bonnet. You will see what needs to be changed. Scribble those parts on a piece of paper and get cutting and welding. It does not hurt to try fitting the engines several times as you modify the bonnet to ensure a good fit. However, do not secure the engine at this moment.
Then, start to work on any dents on the body. Try to close the doors and check the mirror attachments. Remove the seats from the interior so that you can work on the interior bodywork without problems.
After all the cutting and welding, you need to fit the sheet metal of your Ford Popular to prevent it from rusting further (We bet it has started to rust). Look for a good rust encapsulator brand; you need at least three to four cans of about four litres. You will also hire a paint gun kit to work efficiently. Spray at least two coats on the inside and three on the outside. You can also apply a metallic paint topcoat when the encapsulator pain tries up to give it a shine. Dynaliner is good for the interior floor and roof to improve the comfort of your car.
After the paint has dried up, it is time to fit the glasses on your windscreen and the doors (if it was not there). Then, fit your engine. Ensure that you have bolted it in place to prevent cranking noises when you start to drive. Work your gearbox and steering wheel in the same way.
Note: We assume that the rims of your car are alright and should work with your standard engine. However, if you chose a V8 engine, you would need to modify your car rims to create stability on the road. There are custom-made rims in the market (although generic) that enables you to fit wider wheels. However, they alter some aesthetic quality of your car. Fit your wheels after determining the quality of the rims.
You will need lights for your interior, as well as for your rear indicators and if the original wiring exists, test if it is working. If not, you need to rewire your car. Mark cables and where they lead to for the ease of connections after you have installed the panel. At this point, you can install your front and rear lights as well as the interior lighting.
You need a circuit kit to power up your Ford Popular. A good choice is the Highway Series 22-circuit kit manufactured by American Autowire. This panel allows for the ease of connecting wires from different components without the confusion that comes with cabling as the cables are terminated at the panel. The panel comes with ignition and dimmer and headlight switches. As for the gauges, pick classic ones that use traditional pointers to give your dashboard a classic touch.
You can now install the steering wheel after your panel is complete. You may install other systems such as the air conditioning and entertainment system.
The roof and the sides of your Ford Popular require fabrication and upholstery. You can give your car the traditional wooden look on the sides with bits of leather. However, there are many cheaper materials from which you can choose one for your interiors. The interiors do not have to black; consider any other colour that works well.
As for the seats, you can have the original seats restored and installed in the car. However, since they lack the ergonomic feel, you can buy generic ones. Just ensure that they can fit in the car. Finish off the interior and exterior by installing locks, door handles, wipers and mirrors.
Start your car to determine if there is anything wrong with any of the systems. If it starts, drive for a few meters to check the working of all its engine components and braking system. Happy driving!