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Ben Morley - 1969 MkI Van
 
Ben Morley's 1969 MkI van has been featured in Classic Ford & various issues of Retro Ford beginning in April 2006.
Retro Ford When faced with the challenge of explaining where I'm at or what I've been up to with my retro Fords, my first thought was,"Where do I start?!" I guess the Mk1 van is as good a place as any. Built up by myself, my dad and a few other helpers along the way for the 2005 show season... we did kinda leave it a bit late! The gap from the paint drying to the first show was about six weeks. But we made it, just. My aim with the van was to build something a bit different that would maybe stand out from the crowd. I reckon I came close with an XE-engined, five-linked, turreted, caged, Le-Mans green 1969 Mk1 van! The signwriting was done in a similar style to that of my late Grandfather's first Morris Minor van in the 1960's, when he set up Morley Auto Services. This was in part a tribute to him and also a thank you to my dad for his help.

The engine has been "tickled" by OAP race engines(01342844566) - it's 2.1 litres with forged pistons and a fully lightened and balanced bottom end. Top end it remains standard for the minute, (although camshafts are definitely in the pipeline), running a mildly ported head and SBD's (0208 391 0121) fantastic tapered throttle body kit. I am very much into my naturally aspirated power, and love the response and drivability that the throttle bodies give you.. oh yeah and the noise, I love the noise!

There are a few bits and bobs that I want to get sorted though. It runs a lowered rack mount crossmember and it suffers badly from bump steer, so I need to have a look at that. the brakes are good, but I can't help but feel they could do with beefing up.

For 2006, I will be turning the bulk of my attention to the Mk1Cortina that is now part of the ever-growing Morley fleet! When the 'Tina came up (an unwelded pre-Airflow model) complete with twin cam engine on 45s, we just couldn't turn it down. Plans are perhaps a rack and pinion conversion, a fresh paint job and some sensible stopping power.

Being the busy bee that I am, I will also be building an XE-powered Mk1 Escort for one of my pals, hoping to see progress with my RS, tinkering with my girlfriends's Mk2 and all this while planning my next project! However, hanging around with Mr Birch has me questioning all of my morals - he's got me toying with the idea of turbo power. That presents me with a problem; me being me means that whatever I decide to do, it's gonna have to be different, and different can often mean expensive! 'Til next month...

 

TECH SPEC

Engine: 2.1-litre Vauxhall C20XE, fully lightened and balanced bottom end, ARP bolts, Accralite high intruder forged pistons, Coscast head, standard cams, SBD TP208 tapered throttle bodies, MBE management

Transmission: Quaife five-speed professional gear set, rose-jointed quick-shift, Helix paddle clutch, 3.7:1 plate type LSD

Suspension: Front Bilstein 360 struts converted to coilover, 200lb springs, adjustable TCAs, concentric top mounts, spax rear coilovers, 160lb springs, five-linked

Brakes: Bias pedal box, Austin princess four-pot front calipers, 257mm vented discs, Granada Scorpio rear calipers, Ka vented discs

Wheels & Tyres: 7 x 13" Minilite style wheels, 175/50 Yokohama tyres

Exterior: Front and rear quarter bumpers Teflon-coated black, fibreglass front Mexico wings, carbon fibre door mirrors

Interior: Front section of rear bulkhead removed to allow link boxes to be fitted, full custom cage, pillar gussets, Sparco Rev bucket seats, modified 2-dial clocks fitted with Smiths classic gauges, custom centre console, push-button starter, snap-off steering wheel

Ben's car was next featured in the Retro Ford July 2006 testing standard Vauxhall XE cams against a pair of fast road cams.
Retro Ford July 2006 The Vauxhall XE - some love the idea of putting one in their Escort/Cortina, while other purists would rather eat an actual camel's hoof than commit such sacrilege. One thing's for sure though, the two-litre 16v lump is an absolute stonker of an engine… 150 bhp as standard and the potential for lots more for not a lot of money. But how exactly do you extract this extra power? Black magic would seem like one rather unnecessary route, but another more orthodox option is to fit a pair of uprated cams. In true Retro Ford fashion, that's exactly what we're gonna do - this feature will prove whether they're worth investing your hard earned money in and exactly what differences they'll make to your XE.

The Test Engine
The engine we're conducting this test on is Mr Morley's, as fitted in his Mk1 Escort van. It's fairly typical of an XE fitted to an old-skool Ford, because the standard injection system has been binned as has the dizzy (yes, we know you can move the dizzy to the front of the engine, but most people get rid). The spec of the engine is as follows: bored to 2.1-litres, lightened and balanced crank and rods, ARP rod bolts, Accralite 11:1 compression pistons, SBD/Jenvey 45mm tapered throttle bodies, MBE engine management, Vauxhall Astra GTE 16v fuel injectors and fuel pump, SBD Clubman exhaust manifold, home made exhaust system. It's quite a simple setup and not overly difficult or expensive to achieve, but what if you XE isn't quite as modified as this one? Read on….

Mild to Wild
I spoke to SBD (020 8391 0121) about the benefits of fitting uprated cams to a more standard-spec XE, and this what was said: "If you fit uprated cams in an Xe, first check the piston/valve clearance is okay. Then, as long as your inlet and exhaust are suitable, the cams should gives gains - the inlet and exhaust system have to be better than a standard Astra/Cavalier etc". This is good news for us, as everyone ditches the standard exhaust manifold for a bespoke item, and also gets rid of the injection system for carbs or throttle bodies anyway.
This brings me on nicely to another question I asked SBD. I wondered whether or not you'd see the same kind of gains on a carb'd XE as you would on our throttle-bodied XE by fitting uprated cams? The answer? "Very nearly, but driveability wouldn't be as good. On a carb'd XE with uprated cams you have to use a big choke size to utilise the cams in order to get good peak power. This means you trade off a bit of bottom-end flexibility. On a throttle-bodied engine, choke size is important but not as important, and the ability to fine-tune the ignition and injector flow means you don't get a trade-off between bottom-end/mid-range and top-end power." Past tests I've done have shown me that this is true, but most of the time, carb'd engine and throttle bodied engine of similar spec end up with the same PEAK bhp.

Standard cams
There's not a lot exciting to say about these - they're standard! Vauxhall, like any car manufacturer, designed and made these cams to fulfil may roles and not just that of balls-out performance. They had to take smooth day-to-day driving into account, as well as fuel economy, emissions and other such boring considerations. We expect to see a smooth like a baby's bottom. Set as they would be from the factory with standard pulleys etc, it was time to see what they were helping our XE to kick out….

Owner's comments
"On the road the engine has smooth power delivery, it didn't come on cam like a tuned Pinto does so, although it is nice to drive, it doesn't really set the world alight. When you open it up, it feels like you're flogging a dead horse trying to rev it past 6000rpm, as you can feel it running out of puff at this point."

Operator's comments
"As expected really - a smooth graph with no real negative points but nothing to write home about. The engine could definitely be made to come alive with different cams I reckon."

Owner's Comments
"The first thing I noticed after the cams were fitted was the increased induction noise when revved. This inspired me with confidence as it sounded like the engine was working harder. Behind the wheel this hunch was proved right - on full throttle the engine has really woken up. Before, the car would run out of steam at high revs, now it just keeps pulling and you can really feel it come 'on cam'. On the road I didn't really notice a difference in low-down grunt, so I'm very pleased from a driving perspective!

Retro Ford July 2006
Operator's comments
"They work! You can see the extra power they make, but I'd bet that with a remap you'd see even more throughout the mid range as well a better, smoother torque curve."
Retro Ford July 2006 Conclusion
Well, as you can see from the graph, we picked up an extra 11bhp with these cams (Piper285 cams). From the graphs it may look like turned the engine into a clichéd XE screamer - we lost torque - but a few other factors are essential here. First up is that the car is still just running a base fuelling and ignition map. Both the rolling road operator and SBD are confident that with a remap you'd see the car pick up the lost torque curves massively. We'll be having remap and letting you know the results of this next month so watch out for that.

SBD also reckons that the cams and indeed the whole engine, are being held back by the 4-2-1 'Clubman' style exhaust manifold (1.75" primaries, 2" secondaries and 2.5" outlet). SBD's advice is that one of its high-spec 4-2-1 manifolds with 1 7/8" primaries, 2 1/8" secondaries and 2.5" outlet would really enable the cams to work and would help them to improve the torque as well as the power.

Overall this really is a lesson in specing the parts of your engine to work in harmony with each other - your inlet and exhaust have got to be sorted if you want to get the best from theses sticks. Saying that, on the road, Ben didn't notice the drop off in torque but really did notice the big difference in how that car pulled and pulled to the redline…he had so much fun he nearly puked! So it's horses for courses, but there's not denying these cams add a big dollop of power an bring the engine to life.. a little bit of fine-tuning and you'd see the torque come back (like I said, watch our for this in Ben's project car page next month) and end up with an all-round stonking engine.


Track'n'Road Logo Ben had his car mapped at Track 'n' Road as reported in Retro Ford August 2006

"I owe a huge thanks, not only to Steve Broughton, but to Steve Pitcher and Steve Greenald at Track 'n' Road. With years of experience behind them, these guys really know what's right for you car. Their single roller system is accurate to within 1%, and after seeing a video of an F1 car on a power run, it can handle big power too. So whether you need a power run, your carbs balancing or a full 3D map, give these guys a call!"

Retro Ford August 2006 It was meant to be so easy…Just take the van to Track 'n' Road in Essex and get the engine management re-mapped by Steve Broughton of SB Developments, Steve Greenald and Steve Pitcher: if nothing else it was going to be easy to remember names! I headed round the M25, sat in the usual traffic for the best part of half an hour and had to pay £1.80 to go though the Dartford Toll (because it's a van). The pain of the traffic and the extortionate road tolls soon faded after a brief, but nonetheless exciting, full throttle blat through the Dartford Tunnel - Induction noise + long tunnel = big smile.

When I got to T&R, the three Steves set to work, for all of five minutes, until they discovered that the throttle linkage was still no good. I still wasn't getting full throttle and thanks to the design of the Bias pedal box, the cable was at a bad angle and slowly cutting its way through the bulkhead. The guys at T&R really came through for me though, they spent a good few hours making up a new throttle linkage. Before the old girl even saw a power run, the feel of the throttle was totally different. Then it was on to being 3D mapped, using Steve Broughton's new closed loop mapping system. The van really went through its paces on Track 'n' Road's unique single roller system, and when finished it was a totally different drive.

The beauty of 3D mapping is that you can pinpoint any throttle position at any point in the rev range and adjust the ignition timing and fuelling to suit. This means that you rally can get the most out of the engine. The difference from before to after was black and white: the power delivery was totally transformed. The throttle was so much more responsive and it pulled so much stronger from any point in the rev range. The only problem now is that my power is really been restricted by the exhaust manifold and system that I am running - all three Steves were confident that I should see s significant gain in both power an torque if I get myself a 'proper' exhaust; so that is next on the shopping list. But for the time being at least, the van has really come alive, and to anyone that is considering putting an XE in their retro Ford, I can't recommend SBD's tapered throttle body kit nearly enough.

 
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