Dirty Harry – The Snarling 123E Ford Anglia Dirty Harry – The Snarling 123E Ford Anglia
From the dawn of the development of the automobile – or to be more precise since the automobile has been commonplace among the lives... Dirty Harry – The Snarling 123E Ford Anglia

From the dawn of the development of the automobile – or to be more precise since the automobile has been commonplace among the lives of us mere mortals, there has always been a need to better the machine. Spurred on by the baby boomers of the 30’s and 40’s and again during the post WWII renaissance of customization, this global phenomenon known as hot rodding has never really taken off in our little island till very recently – and I for one am thrilled to see more and more of these home built heroes back on the road roaring for attention.

It is very clear that the car customization scene is growing in leaps and bounds in Sri Lanka, with everyone wanting to own, drive and enjoy something different – and all of us here at T&T absolutely love it! – We hope to cover many more of these brilliant builds more often as they are the absolute pinnacles of the expression #celebratecarculture.

The mongrel in question today is Clive de Silva’s 1960 Ford Anglia which he has affectionately christened “Dirty Harry”…

The name Anglia has been synonymous with the British arm of the Ford Motor Company since the late 1930’s – with early models being a common man’s run about. The more popular models, one of which became affectionately known as the “pop” became a hotbed for young hooligans in the early 60’s and 70’s to modify with the launch of the 100e Anglia.

The forth generation of the model as we see here was launched in 1959 – with the straightforward goal” of once again, being as good as it gets when it comes to a utilitarian runabout. With its 997 pre-cross flow engine – it stood proud as a sturdy, reliable daily – until as it always does, the popularity of motorsport catapulted these little city cars in to performance saloons.

Where Ford didn’t bother with performance, companies such as Broadspeeddecided to use this nimble little rear wheel drive platform to go racing – and had some amazing success.

Broadspeed set the benchmark and the Anglia name went into the record books along with the Escort and Cortina as the go to platform for a old school fast ford.

This Anglia in particular started its life as a 123E. This will mean nothing to most humans, however Ford fanatics will know that the 123E was the most potent forth generation car on offer from Ford at the time with a 1200cc pre cross flow engine, a synchromesh 4 speed gearbox and a tougher rear differential. Quite rare in our little island in its own right.

In conversation with Clive about “Dirty Harry” – he explains that at the beginning of the build plan he wasn’t looking for a 123e in particular but any old Anglia. “ A good friend of mine built an escort Mk1, and I felt like it needed a little Ford in my life.”

“With its fantails and cool Americana styling, I’ve always loved the shape – my dad used to call it a “pappa” car – which made me think that it would be cool to do something different with a car that no one would expect me to even look twice at”.

The search for a suitable project car seemed surprisingly hard according to Clive – as these cars are getting harder and harder to find in decent condition. “After looking for a car for months – it just happened to be that a relative of mine was looking to sell his 123E. The price was agreed and the car was trailered home immediately” says Clive.

Anyone looking to do a fast ford in this day and age has a go to engine set up. That is the absolutely brilliant 1600 xflow found in the Mk1 Mexico. This build however sports a very different beast all  together – a 2.0 SOHC engine from a Mk2 Capri more commonly known as a pinto engine. “ The initial plan was to go 1600 – but those things are so hard to find these days that the 2.0 pinto made more sense. It has more power than the 1600 in stock form at 100hp, and very easy to get about 20 more with some tuning, add to that – that one was available for sale at the time – it just made sense to go with it” says Clive.

Clive has had his teeth in classics from a young age. His dad Mr. Clive de Silva Sr is a former president of the Classic Car Club of Ceylon. He began infusing the petrol head gene with a TR3 when Clive was only 5 years old. “The build couldn’t be possible without my dad – that’s for sure – his knowledge and experience really did help make this a reality” says Clive.

Looking at the build sheet of this Anglia you will see that there has been a lot of custom work gone into the build – especially when it came to shoe horning that big motor and transmission into that small space that is the Anglia’s engine bay. A closer look shows the amount of new metal and firewall modification that has gone in to getting that engine to fit right and more importantly look right in that engine bay.

The most complicated part according to Clive however seems to be the front suspension of the car. “ We had to upgrade the front suspension to ensure that car could handle the increase in power and engine weight. We used a complete Capri Mk1 front suspension which we had to modify and customise massively to make it fit and work. It is a on-going process and after a year of completing the project – we are still fine tuning the suspension geometry to make sure the car handles right – a project is never over”, laughs Clive.


1960 123E Anglia Body Shell
Fibre Composit Bonnet
Fibre Composit Doors
Perspec Glasses

2.0 Ford Pinto Engine
Webber 38/28 Down Draft Carb
WEPR custom manifold
Silicone Leads_Custom Radiator

Ford Type 3 4 Speed Gearbox
3.88 Ford Anglia Rear Differential

Front Suspension
 Ford Capri Mk1 Uprights_- Custom Antiroll Bar
Custom Tie-Rod Ends
Burton power Lowering Springs
Custome KYB Shocks

Rear Suspension
Custom Rear suspension + Droplinks_- Custom Telescopic KYB Shocks
Burton Power Lowering Blocks

Capri mk2 Front Disks_- Girling 2 pot Calipers
123E anglia rear drums

Wheels and Tyres
13×6 Miniilites_- Dunlop SP Tyres

Clive’s passion and ability to follow through on such a build is truly inspiring. As someone who has built a fast ford myself, I can vouch to the fact that it is not an easy build even when you are only restoring a car. The build that we have here is a staunch representation of what is possible when you want to stand out from the crowd and have the inspiration to do it.

Clive’s plans for the car are quite simple moving forward it would seem. “We just need to sort out the suspension now – it runs superbly but I think it can be better – so that’s the goal for the short term. I might also change the seats, as the clubman seats are brilliant on the track but they are a little hard-core when driving the car on the street” says Clive.

In being driven in the car for a few miles I can say that this little pocket rocket is an absolute beauty. Built well and superbly screwed together – Clive’s selection of the colour also must be commended – its a deep almost maroon shade of red which is a randomly mixed again custom job! The idea of painting the roof a silver to match the interior roll cage is also quite inspired.

The little time that I have spent with this Anglia has made me a convert. I never liked the design of the 105e or “Yankee” model Anglia which is more affectionately named in our island.

But this machine truly has made me love the fin tails and the coke bottle good looks of the car.

We hope to see more and more of this car in and around the city – we need more hot rods! Even if they are maroon and have fin tails!

For those who are interested in learning more about this car and getting to know the man behind the build – await a special drive along episode featuring Dirty Harry coming soon on our youtube page.


WORDS: Shane Walgama
IMAGES: R2 Studios
A BIG THANK YOU To: Clive De Silva

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