Old Pops Never Die...


Excerpts reproduced with kind permission of Custom Car magazine

We often hear of old cars being rebuilt that ‘everything has been done’ and it turns out to be little more than a paint job and a set of wheels, but this car really has been re-built, in every way.

Twin 600cfm Holleys on the B&M 4:71 blown small block Ford gives it, as Tony puts it, “plenty of oomph.” It’s still running on the C4 auto box that’s been in it since the 80’s, though it’s been rebuilt, this time by Burnham Autos.

All fired up and ready to go!

Fired up with enthusiasm for his new project, Tony started getting parts chromed, powdercoated, polished and ready to go on, figuring the build was nearing completion. That was eight years ago…

When he did get back on with it, Tony realised there was still a lot more work to do to get the car running than he’d first realised and the bodywork was showing signs of having been sat around for so many years, so for the first part he turned the van over to Paul Burnham at Burnham Autos.

“Paul was the only one I could find who was prepared to take on this kind of job and they did the lot – stripping everything down, rebuilding it all, sorting out the brakes and all the fiddly mechanical jobs, as well as doing a lot of the detail work, like re-making the front grille and the stainless bars that are in it and getting the whole thing to work. I basically took it to him on a trailer and drove it home with an M.O.T.”

Steering wheel and wheels, or at least the wheel centres, are one-offs hewn out of billet aluminium.

Chairs are thought to be out of a Consul, bought from Julian at Pop Parts Plus but then stripped, blasted, modified by Burnham Autos to sit lower in the car, powdercoated and re-covered in biscuit leather.

Even the dash, which at first glance looks unchanged, has a new insert tunnelled deeper and the switchgear has been re-located to a neat header panel above the screen.

When asked what he’d done on the car Paul laughed and said “what didn’t we do?” In short, Burnham Autos did everything that turns a rolling project into a driving car. “Tony’s a chromasexual,” Paul added, “everything had to be chromed or polished or painted, and he’s really good at polishing stuff.”


Old Pops have a habit of never dying, they just get rebuilt, but never before has a Fordson van been built well enough to win Participants’ Choice at Billing twice, over 20 years apart…


It would do both the car and its current owner Tony Johnson a gross disservice to simply refer to this vehicle as the ‘ex-Keith Atkinson Tivoli Kitchens Fordson’, yet such is the tight knit British hot rod community that already we’ve heard this phrase used more times than we care to recall.