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MENTAL THAMES WAGON HOT ROD... AND THEN SOME


Is there anything more ‘hot rod’ than a performance motor stuffed into a car originally fitted with a hamster wheel? Motor swaps are at the core of sleeper cars, and are happily covered in many magazine features and event spotlights.

Some motors get used quite often, like the LS or 2JZ, and commonly work incredibly well. But these re-powers aren’t always the most exciting. That’s not to say we don’t like both, and we find no fault in anyone who puts an LS in anything. I just like being confused when I look under the hood of a car.

On that note, I am totally comfortable admitting that when I came across what was under the hood of this Thames Panel I was plenty confused. I found the Ford stamping easily enough, but I wasn’t at all familiar with this particular V8.

The Ford fans among us have likely already identified it by the pics of the intake runners, but for the rest, this 235hp engine is usually found under the hood of a third generation Taurus SHO.

Originally mounted horizontally, positioning it longitudinally under the hood of a Thames required the use of a particularly large shoehorn. But, the builder, Ben Coulson, made it all work by fabricating nearly the entire engine room, and using hard lines wherever possible for fluid transfer to assist with the tight packaging.

Typically fitted with a transaxle, in this case, the motor is backed by a Lincoln LS 5-speed transmission. This rare transmission was selected because it has the closest bell housing to the Ford block, which then would fit like a glove... or close enough!

Under the truck, a Mustang II-style suspension is used up front, and a triangulated 3-link is used in the rear. Because the large steamrollers out back didn’t afford a lot of space, a single airbag is used there, straddled by a pair of shocks.

According to Ben, the setup works pretty well for everything he’s put it through thus far, but obviously, the car wasn’t really built for the road.

Because it’s a work in progress, the interior is fairly sparse, but I don’t imagine it will stay this way forever.



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