(Editor's note: Normally the stories you read in Street Rodder are relayed by the car owner to the writer, who then forms a story to explain how a particular car came into existence. Every once in a great while, the story we hear is so captivating in its raw, first-person narrative that we don't need to extrapolate any further. The following is the story of Lee Stone and his '48 Anglia as he told it to us.)
Tallahassee, Florida, was a pretty sleepy place in the '50s. Sometime around 1958-59, the city allowed one of the runways of the abandoned Dale Mabry WWII airfield west of town to be used as a Sunday afternoon dragstrip. As a kid, I would ride my bike out there, past the old guard station on Pensacola Street, and watch.
We kids weren't expected to get too close-my best vantage point was directly behind the starting line, where I could see the cars launch when the starter dropped the flag. The strip ran from northwest to southeast and some of the old asphalt is still visible today, although the entire area is now part of the Tallahassee Community College campus, which has a smattering of municipal buildings, plus apartment complexes for Florida State University students.
The track wasn't much and, if memory serves me, had a row of concrete blocks at the end of the strip to prevent cars from crashing into the hanger buildings that were still being utilized. No guardrails, just asphalt! But to a kid, it was neat! On those Sunday afternoons, my favorites were always the short-wheelbase cars-probably because they always appeared to be the underdog, if not completely unpredictable.
I don't remember how long the track remained open, but it wasn't long (the airport closed in 1961). I'm sure the city quickly discovered the liability they were incurring, but, for a while, to me, it was heaven. The track faded away, but the pictures in my mind of the Anglias, Henry Js, and Willys stayed with me. Life for me moved on with kids and jobs, plus I had a couple of '55 Chevrolets, but nothing special.
I attended a few car shows and, following the 2000 Goodguys Nationals in Columbus, the Anglia bug hit me. I began to look around and, as luck would have it, one morning in September I picked up the newspaper and in the classifieds was the Anglia. And it was less than 10 miles from my home! It being a Saturday, I called the number and went down and took a look. It was a bit rough, to say the least.
The car had originally come out of the Tampa area in the late '70s, and was owned by a fellow for a period of time in Alachua, Florida. After that, it was sold to a gentleman in Perry. It had recently been wrecked, and the fiberglass front end was a mess. But the steel body had potential. The top had been nicely filled, and I thought it was a good start. After negotiating for a while with the owner, he agreed to sell the body minus the engine and transmission, which he planned to use in another car.
A Fiberglass Trends 'glass dash piece takes center stage in Lee's Anglia, and is filled wi
So, by Sunday afternoon, it was home in my shop. And there it sat. The following year I was in Tampa at the NSRA fall show, and while window-shopping through the vendor exhibits, I spotted a scrapbook of photos showing various street rod projects underway. Glancing through them, I spotted an Anglia. I guess I looked interested, because in a moment a pleasant voice called out, "We're really having fun building that one." Turned out it was Pam Summers, one of the great personalities at Rod Crafters in Welcome, North Carolina.
The following summer, I loaded the Anglia on a trailer and struck out for North Carolina. Once we got started, things went smoothly. When the rear wheel/tire combo was decided, Brent VanDervort of Fatman Fabrications in Charlotte came by the shop, and we ordered the frame from him. Larry Shoaf, a genius at metalworking and fabrication, began the bodywork, and I started looking for front sheetmetal to replace the old fiberglass flip front.
The parts literally came from everywhere-wherever I could find it at a reasonable price. Dean Kirsten at Anglia Obsolete in California, Terry and Cheryl Olson from Wisconsin, a couple of pieces from New Zealand (after all, they were an English export!), and from Julian and Karen Russell and their young son Jay, good friends I got to know from England.
On their trips here to America, Karen would stuff small parts in her carry-on luggage, and even brought me the nice steel decklid in her checked baggage! I would meet them at the big swap meet in Moultrie, Georgia, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Those were a fun couple of years, and I got to know lots of great people.
Shoaf custom-built the firewall, modified the front inner fender panels, and extended the hood sides so that they matched accurately with the fender line. He also added new floors, fabricated the rear wheel tubs, and added the rear bulkhead panel in the back to strengthen the body and provide a place to mount the Vintage Air vents and controls. He then contoured the fiberglass dash so that the angles of the three distinct panels had a custom flair.
Oversized fiberglass rear fenders were widened even more to provide a perfect symmetry with the tires. The frame was finished off in a semigloss black, with a custom 10-gallon polished stainless steel fuel tank. Once the car was completely assembled and details sorted out, it was again taken apart and Shoaf applied the House of Kolor Candy Apple Red paint.
A shoehorn should come with any Anglia project, as it is needed to get those V-8s into the
Reassembled and details finished, it went over to Ray Hester in Lexington, North Carolina, who stitched up the contoured Hyundai seats and interior with a tasteful combination of leather and tweed. Custom stainless thresh plates completed the interior.
The car was ready for a testdrive in the spring of 2005, and it turned out awesome. But cooling the 400hp small-block Chevy proved a challenge. When you're working with tilt fiberglass front ends, it seems to provide more room for a slightly larger radiator. But it's tight to get sufficient cooling surface inside one of the original steel grilles.
After several attempts at the right fan shroud combo produced somewhat encouraging, but not totally satisfactory, results, Mark Belton, shop manager at Rod Crafters, suggested we mount a dual-fan oil cooler system beneath the front end, and presto, problem solved. It stays at about 180 degrees, and if it can do that in Columbus in July or Louisville in August, that's saying something!
Lee Stone and his li'l red Anglia picked up a Street Rodder Top 10 award at the 2006 Goodguys Southeastern Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina, and we can tell you you'll never meet a nicer guy or someone who is more appreciative of the car he owns or the friends he's made while building it. So, if you see him at a show, stop by and say hello, and tell him you saw his car in Street Rodder.