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Jeff Cooke's 1948 Anglia
(from Volume 16, Issue 173)

Dating clear back to 1932, the Ford Motor Corporation began producing complete cars in Britain catered to the European market. One such product that struck a cord overseas was the Anglia, and following success in other countries, in the spring of 1948 Ford began to import the Anglia, Prefect (4-Door) and Thames (Delivery) to the U.S. and Canadian markets. They were sold at selected Ford dealers across North America right along side cars and trucks made in the states, though with a few modifications for the North American market. This included making them left-hand drive, fitting the headlights with sealed beams, adding parking lights on the front fenders, installing the larger 1172cc engine, and changing the front grille on the 1948 Anglia and Thames to a 3-hole design (a one year only change that would make it a rare and valuable feature for collectors many years later, as opposed to the more common 2-hole design). Sales figures, however, were far less than projected as the American market changed. The buying public now wanted more chrome, comfort, interior room, and the power of a big V-8, none of which were qualities the Anglia possessed.

It would be some years later that the Anglia came into its own for American enthusiasts, when embraced by drag racers in the “Gasser” class. Though NHRA initially had wheelbase and engine restriction rules that kept the Anglia on the outside looking in, AHRA sanctioned tracks didn’t have similar rules, and west coast tracks like Lions and Irwindale scheduled regular A/GS races. With match races also packing the stands, many of the former small block powered cars switched over to big blocks and superchargers. When the NHRA finally let the 90-inch wheelbase cars compete with all the equipment that the AHRA had been allowing, the class went crazy with new cars through the 1960’s and 1970’s. With the addition of plenty of power, Anglias could be a handful to drive due to the short wheelbase and tendency to hang the front tires high - which of course kept them spectator favorites for years.

With a love of old Gassers, it is little wonder that Jeff Cooke wound up with an Anglia. He found his steel 1948 Anglia during 2003 at the Southeast Street Rods Nationals in Tampa, and just had to have it. It was indeed an old drag car built in the early 70’s, and Jeff saw it had lots of potential. In addition to the 3-hole grill it also has the clamshell vents on the body behind the hood sides (another 1948-only feature). Soon after the purchase, the tear down started. The body was media blasted down to bare metal, repairs were made, then it was painted flat black. Jeff fitted it with a big block, then drove and dialed the car in for two years.

In September of 2008 the car was taken apart to repaint it, with Harold Quesada filling the roof and doing the body work. Chris Quesada sprayed the two-tone Tangelo Pearl and Sunset Pearl paint, while Dale Meek stitched the Ultra Leather interior. Randy Swank and Jeff Cooke re-assembled the car in time for the NSRA Southeast Nationals in October 2008, which is where we saw the completed car for the first time and took these pictures.

At its core Jeff’s Anglia has a 2x3-inch custom made frame, 4-inch dropped axle with rack and pinion steering and a 9-inch Ford rear end that has been narrowed to 22-inches in order to accommodate the wide Hoosier rear tires, then fitted with 4.11:1 gears. Under the hood resides a 454 Chevy big block with a Comp Cam, roller rockers and lifters, and custom headers built by James Vegg that feed the Flowmaster equipped, ceramic coated exhaust. The engine compartment certainly has lots of flash, with items including a chrome intake, carburetor and valve covers by Advanced Plating, a billet belt system, and plenty more plated and polished pieces to go around. To ensure that cooling wouldn’t be a problem a custom aluminum radiator was crafted by Bob Fett of Cooled By I.C.E. out of Sarasota. A race version 700R4 automatic was custom built, and fitted with a 3,000 stall converter.

Jeff certainly has a cool street car with his 1948 Anglia, which also pays homage to his favorite era of American drag racing. As further proof that Jeff loves that period, his other car is a very cool steel 1941 Willys Coupe painted purple with silver flames, which has been around on the Florida show scene for a while, and was featured on our the cover of Mike Kelly’s Cruise News in December of 1999. No matter which car he chooses to pull out of the garage, there is no doubt it will draw admiring looks and tumbs-up wherever he goes! CN