Early Days - the 100E Owners Club
When the club was originally formed in 1969 it was called the 100E Owners Club and a good proportion of the cars were modified in some way. Of course we were all young and insurance was quite heavy and restrictive. Wide wheels, two-tone paint and spot/fog lights were common. The magazines of the time Hot Car, Cars & Car Conversions and Custom Car showed all manner of warmed over 100Es and 107Es. In fact the best modification was the 107E/105E engine and gearbox into a 100E to get a more driveable runabout. As soon as brakes were mentioned then stud spacing became an issue as the 100E and 107E were a wider PCD than the 105E and Cortinas.
Bring on the Uprights
Later on the uprights (Model Y to 103E Popular) were admitted allowing the full range of side-valves to be represented (1932 - 1962). With the uprights came the Ford-based special which was an area of great interest even in the early days and has grown ever since.
Hotting up your Pop has been a popular pastime (pardon the pun) since the early 50s. Suspension modifications, engine upgrades and attempts at doing something with that three speed gearbox were common. A number of books have been written about building an 1172 Ford special or tuning your Ford and a thriving industry grew around this market.
In the 1950s, "proper" sports cars were expensive and relatively scarce with most being exported to the US so building your own sports car or Hot Pop was the only alternative.
A resto-mod is a classic car that has been restored, but modified with modern parts and technology. Aesthetically, the vehicle looks the same until you look under the bonnet or reach for the radio. When an owner decides to modify their vehicle it is usually to be more driveable on today's roads. Further, many owners will upgrade the engines on a classic car so as to enhance performance and increase fuel efficiency. Regardless of what features are changed or added, the ultimate goal is to modify the classic car without significantly altering its outward appearance.
What is Modified and What is Not?
Many classic cars have had numerous modifications. This can be for performance, safety or cosmetic reasons. Engines and transmissions eventually need to be repaired or replaced, sometimes with different versions from the original. Owners often remove bumpers and add different wheels and radial tyres. Safety upgrades include changing over to disc brakes and power steering. Modern stereo systems are often used to replace AM radios - it is now possible to get your 1960s radio modified for FM and USB. Many owners decide to change the paint colour or two-tone to something they like better. This does not even include everything that is often changed to increase the performance of the engine, especially considering sporty versions (not applicable to our cars as there were no performance versions!). If the car is driven much, eventually many different parts or components will need replacement. Many classic car owners enjoy the best of both worlds with a modified vehicle, which allows the pride of owning a classic car with some essential modern driving conveniences. Try to find a person who bought a "classic" 1960's house amd did not change a thing! Unless the car is radically altered, the value of the car can increase and often rivals the worth of the original versions. What do you think?
Getting a Little More from Your Upright
So, what can you do to make your upright a little more sprightly? The uprights will never be sports cars so the modifications would be more to give the performance a little lift and keep up with the traffic. While the brakes, if in good order, are fine as they are, at this stage the suspension can be improved by fitting Panhard Rods front and rear. Just this addition will improve stability. Either new lever arm dampers (not reconditioned as they don't last) or the fitting of telescopic dampers and new brackets will further enhance the ride and handling.
To get a little more out of the engine, the addition of twin carburettors will improve the breathing. Depending on the manifold, these can be two Ford 10 carburettors or the more common SUs (ideally 1 1/8th inch). Check with your insurance company at this point. Fitting an 8hp cylinder head or shaving 30 thou off the 10hp head will increase the compression ratio from 6.6:1 to something higher depending on what is actually fitted. This makes the engine more responsive.
At this point, it was generally advised that a "sports coil" be fitted. There are many on the market but do not be tempted by an unbranded black coil (6 or 12 volts) as these are generic and of dubious quality. Try to get a premium brand although they are more expensive. Lucas and AccuSpark market a sports coil for around £16 to £20 and they are easily available for 12 volts but less so for 6 volt systems. You can try Bosch and Pertronex from your local VW Beetle specialist for 6 volt at around £50 with standard specification for around £25.
While on the ignition side, replace the contact points AND the condenser regularly as these two small components cause most breakdowns. Some owners are reporting that conversion to full electronic systems is a great improvement - 6 or 12 volt. The High Tension leads, distributor cap and rotor arm should all be part of the upgrade and service regime.
One upgrade that improves the upright 8hp and 10hp engines is the substitution of a 100E camshaft AND a new timing chain. This can be done in situ with the front panelling and head off or ideally with the engine out. The 100E camshaft is a little more modern, breathes better and smooths out the vintage splutter from the exhaust.
Another less obvious modification is to have a new exhaust system made that is more free flowing with a larger bore through the silencer and tail pipe. The standard tailpipe is only 1 inch so getting one made by a specialist at 1 1/2 inch will give a little more freedom to the exhaust gases.
This is a relatively new movement in the UK that has been part of the rodding scene in the US for a while. In the UK the VW movement have been enthusiastic exponents along with the surfing look or a combination of the two. One of the concerns with this style of modification is that we really don't know what the public makes of it or whether they feel that the rat rod is an unroadworthy wreck that should not be on the road.....