Sporty Ford Special lived up to name until van struck
- Credit: Stuart Wallis
Summer 1964 was really special for Stuart Wallis and his Ford EB60 Special until his pride and joy was written off by a van
These are before and after pictures of my lovely little Ford EB60 Special. Ford and Austin specials became popular to build during the 1950s due to plenty of donor cars being available in the shape of old Ford 8 and 10s and Austin 7s.
Their separate chassis and simple mechanics made them ideal for use with sports car bodies that started to come on the market made out of very light glass fibre.
In those days they were known as Specials and the popularity of using Ford and Austin parts lasted until the mid 1960s, after which other more advanced donor cars started to be used in what was now becoming quite a thriving kit car industry as it became known.
My EB60 was purchased in the summer of 1964 when I was 18.
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One Saturday afternoon I was on the A50 going to Stoke on Trent when I spotted it – couldn't miss it as it was yellow – in the showroom of a garage. I turned round to make enquiries and was told the garage was selling it on behalf of the doctor's son in the local village.
Having got the details I set off to find the house and learned the doctor's son, who had built the car, was himself a trainee doctor. I arranged to view the car later that week at the house.
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The details were that he had built this car starting in 1960, a previous one he had built caught fire so, for this one, he used all new or reconditioned parts including a new Ford 10 chassis.
It took two years to build because of being away at medical school part of the time and build quality was really good. It then stood for two years, because of medical school, so he decided to sell it. It was virtually a new car with only about 30 miles on the clock and I knew I had to have it. Eighteen years old in the 'Swinging 60s'and a sports car.
The price was £80 but unfortunately I could raise only £50 by selling various items so we agreed I would post him each week whatever I could afford until the balance was paid. A different world in those days with a lot more trust in people.
The body was made by Edwards Brothers of Stoke – hence the EB - and the mechanical bits were a new Ford 10 Popular E93A chassis, 1,172cc side-valve engine with various modifications available at the time including Aquaplane aluminium cylinder head, twin SU carburettors, lightened flywheel, tuned exhaust system, 12-volt electrics, hydraulic brake conversion (from old rod brakes), modified suspension and smaller 15in wheels with Michelin X radial tyres.
A great little sports car – it was so light, so quick, with great acceleration, more than 100mph top speed and would stop on a sixpence. It was before the national 60 and 70mph limits, and a lot less traffic, so driving could be enjoyed on quieter roads. It was also a great car for 'posing'.
A week after buying the car my best mate John and myself went on a week's holiday to the South Coast. The weather was perfect so the hood was never up and we did 1,000 miles with no problem with the car. John also bought a Special later on, a Ford Rochdale GT, but he had a lot of trouble with it and I spent a lot of time running a breakdown service.
I loved the EB for the summer of '64 but unfortunately in the autumn I was going back to work one afternoon when a bakery van hit my nearside front and wrote off my pride and joy. I was gutted and the van driver was taken to court for driving without due care.
The car couldn't be repaired and we tried to find a new body as the mechanical parts were OK, but to no avail. The car eventually went to a car breakers in Derby.
The insurance company was very awkward and it took nine months of arguing before it paid out. After using buses for nine months, I was then able to buy a 1963 Sunbeam Rapier Series 3 and this was the car I had when I met my future wife, Pat.
Besides the times when I have had to have boring company cars, my own cars have always been different and quick. These included a very modified Mini, Spitfires, TY7, TR8, Marcos 3.0-litre coupe, Ford Capri 3.0-litre and, for the last 15 years, my everyday cars have been quick Renaultsport models.
But I will never forget my EB60 all those years ago.
Tell us about your first car – email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to email@example.com or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.