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Period tuning and car performance upgrades
A look at companies that sold parts to make your car go quicker
All manner of bolt-on goodies were now available, transforming the mediocre performance of many humdrum saloons into something altogether more sparkling. Some were simple bolt on upgrades, and others much more in-depth and requiring a deep knowledge of mechanical issues, and even deeper pockets.
One of the most tuned engines, certainly in the 50s at least, was the humble sidevalve Ford engine. All iron, and with no pretensions of glamour or grunt, this solid old plodder at first wouldn't seem an obvious choice for tuning. However as the interest in Ford-based specials took off, demand for parts to liven-up the Ford engine followed. Many companies waded in with performance upgrades. Some worked well, others less so.
Wooller would sell you remoted gearshifts, and companies such as Lucas would happily supply you with all the auxiliary lamps, switches, gauges, and other essential upgrades for the motorist who wanted to liven up his existing car, without the expense of buying an expensive performance car.
Interest in tuning carried on through the 1960s, with the emphasis shifting towards more contemporary motorcars. By the early/mid 1960s the craze for building Pop-based sportscars was waning, and interests switched to making newer saloons go quicker. Spurred on by competition success by the BMC Works drivers, many drivers chose to pep up their roadgoing Minis with big bore exhausts, big valve heads, lightweight alloy wheels (Minilite being an example), bucket seats, bolt on lamps and sporty steering wheels all being available. Speedwell were one of the key players when it came to making BMC products go quicker, although there were other outfits equally adept at making bog standard road cars fly - Downton springs to mind as one.
In this section of oldclassiccar I plan to feature some of the tuning parts that were available to drivers 40/50 years ago.
If you have something suitable that would be of interest to include here, for instance an illustrated delivery note like the Aquaplane one shown below, please get in touch via the contact page.
Morris Minor MM with Alta OHV conversion.In the following short video, I take a quick look at a very rare 1953 Morris Minor MM that has a period ALTA overhead valve (OHV) engine conversion, paired with twin SU carburettors. The video also features a tired Minor 1000 "at rest"
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