A Lifetime Of Craftsmanship For Paul Oelklaus And His Anglia Wagon

The hot rod and drag racing bug bit Paul Oelklaus hard at the ripe age of 15-years old. He and his father went to Mid America Raceway located near Wentzville, Missouri, where he saw his first Gasser built from a 1948 Ford Anglia.

Now consumed with everything muscle car and drag racing of the ’60s and ’70s, young Paul became very interested in Gassers, but came across another desire. “I actually found a 1965 GTO convertible for 350 bucks,” he says. “My dad told me I didn’t want that car. To be honest, he didn’t want his son in that GTO just after getting his driver’s license” (laughs).

Paul's father, Bob Oelklaus, set out to locate an Anglia, hoping a stock "gutless wonder," as Paul describes, could become a slow and safe project car for his son's early driving years. He found an Anglia for $150. Later, Paul purchased an Anglia sedan in hopes of combining the two into a drag car.

“To my surprise, we went to look at the 1963 Anglia Super wagon that my dad was giving me the hard sell over,” Paul recollects. “I was let down because it wasn’t the sit up and beg type of Anglia I had in my head. The Anglia was complete, but didn’t run. Dad pretty much told me this was my Anglia I wanted, period.”

Paul’s father was into airplanes and worked at a McDonnell Douglas plant in St Louis. “I would go with him where he had friends who were building their own private planes,” Paul adds. “I watched and learned many fabricating skills through those guys.”

Oelklaus incorporated a unique Nissan 300ZX strut suspension around a well-built 350 Chevrolet and Powerglide. He modified the struts to accept smaller coil springs and adjusters and narrowed a Triumph TR7 rack and pinion. The front wheel openings were raised and widened one-inch.

The father and son project included some major cylinder head repair and got the bone-stock Anglia running at approximately Paul’s 18th birthday.

“Driving the Anglia in bone stock form lasted just a few months,” Paul recalls. “I got it running and it was street legal for a short time. Though I was driving it back and forth to work, it was dangerous to drive. You couldn’t get it out on the highway; people would drive over you. Just as I described to my dad, it was a gutless wonder.”

Securing other transportation, Paul parked the Anglia and started tearing it apart with aspirations to build a drag car. But, as so many stories go, life got in the way. Paul, now married, lost interest with no extra money to spare at the time.

Five years later, he learned about another similar Anglia sitting at an old gas station not far away. It was an Anglia Sedan but had many usable body parts that he needed. His interest in his Anglia project was rekindled.

“I went to look at the car, but it wasn’t at the gas station anymore,” Paul remembers. “I asked the worker in the station of its whereabouts. He told me the owner would never sell that car. But I got his phone number and called him anyway.”

Life continued, and both the wagon and sedan waited for over ten-years until Paul decided he needed to do something. “The responsible father theory kicked in, so I drew up some sketches to create a street rod instead of a drag car,“ he says. “That was 1984 and I got after it with a new direction.”

Paul called the owner who told him if he wanted the car, bring 75-bucks, and he could drive it home. And, he did.

He again tried driving another stock Anglia on the streets. “I drove this one for about six-months months, again, back and forth to work,” he says. “My wife, at the time, didn’t want to ever ride in it. She said it was too ugly.”

He kept plugging away at it in his free time. “I had an additional side job helping a friend at his body shop and had acquired some skills and tools,” Paul explains. “I had painted a couple of cars that came out nice, so I concentrated on the detail work of the body shell.”

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His concentration on body modifications shows when you walk around the car. All the drip rails along the wagon roof are shaved; a new floor pan was installed to work around a used set of Alston Race Cars 2×3 frame rails and 4-link rear suspension. He found out rusty metal from England can be tough to work with, but was patient and kept at it.

Other stand-out body mods include the frenched headlights and sunken taillights. “I designed a roll pan in the rear that flowed better with the tailgate,” describes Oelklaus. “I incorporated a United States sized license plate that flowed nicely; the old version just looked like the plate was stuck on down there.”

The hood is another unique idea implemented by Paul; he utilized his spare Anglia hood to fabricate a reverse cowl intake under the stock appearing top skin. The dash has had six-inches added to the depth to accommodate a Vintage Air A/C system within.

The body customizing list continues with the vent windows and the side window “C’ pillars removed. Oelklaus leaned the “B” pillar forward and shaved the door handles. All the lower door corners were radiused and the rear floor is covered with stylish stained mahogany wood and custom BedWood brand bed strips.

With essentially everything cut away from the outer body shell, Paul custom fabricated the rear inner fender wells to fit the Kumho 255/50/17 tires mounted on 17- by 8.5-inch American Racing Hopster wheels. Matched 15- by 7-inch front wheels use Kumho 195/50/15 tires.

The dashboard contains many impressive metal mods as well. Paul added six inches to the depth to harbor the A/C and defroster system. Clayton Machine Works vents were recessed into the dash face along with a unique instrument panel from Dakota Digital.

One of Paul's examples of budget ingenuity is his own body rotisserie. It was constructed from an old swingset, "but works just fine."

In the early years, Paul had cut the front end off the car, intending to fabricate a gasser straight axle for it, but that is as far as he got. “I used a Nissan 300ZX strut suspension along with the disk brakes,” he describes. “I used the Nissan lower control arms but eliminated the control strut to create an A-arm system.”

The engine is a .030 bored 350 Chevy with forged pistons. Stiegemeier Porting Services prepared the World Products S/R iron cylinder heads. A COMP Cams hydraulic cam and roller valvetrain were added along with an Edlebrock Torker II intake and a Holley Performance Sniper EFI throttle body system.

The Dakota Digital instrument panel is intended for a 1953 Ford truck. Oelklaus describes, "There is only a slight arch across the top compared with the stock glove box door. It's amazing how well they matched." Detail work to the A/C, lights, and wiper controls that appear as a stereo system are among the many touches.

A Powerglide transmission is built with Alto clutch plates, and a high gear piston was machined to accept eight clutch plates. Oelklaus uses a Hughes 2,500 RPM-stall torque converter.

The driveshaft was self-built using Spicer 1350 U joints that mate to a 9-inch Ford rear end. Paul welded bracing to a 9-inch Ford housing and used a nodular 3rd member with 31-spline Strange Engineering street strip and a limited-slip differential with a 3.50 ratio gear set.

Another victim from his initial Gasser intent was the removal of the panel braces from under the hood. Paul outlines, “I used the second hood from the sedan to fabricate new bracing that doubles as a cowl induction hood from the underside.”

If you haven’t spotted the trend, Paul pretty much built this entire car with his own two hands. The complete interior is no exception. “Again, I followed in my parents’ footsteps of doing everything myself.”

Paul proudly says. “My parents weren’t rich; they watched their money. Dad reupholstered our couch instead of buying a new one. My mom made us clothes, so I had an idea of how to upholster. When I got a custom interior quoted at over $10,000, I knew I could buy an industrial sewing machine and leather to do it myself.”

The seats are reupholstered from a 1985 Dodge Daytona. Oelklaus used a wealth of McMillan Rod and Custom stainless-steel molding throughout the interior and side panels. He custom shaped the moldings to mimic an Anglia Super saloon interior.

Whether it was mastering the welding, metalworking, or creating the custom interior, Paul jokes that he wasn't afraid to ‘YouTube the crap out of some project’ to accomplish the work himself.

Paul and his wife, Janet, take pride in the entire Anglia project as they now enjoy attending car shows near and far with their stylish creation. “I’ll just do that, and that other too,” he says. “I told myself that line many times over the years. It would be more rewarding, and I got exactly what I wanted.”

Good job, sir.

About the author

Todd Silvey

Todd has been a hardcore drag racing journalist since 1987. He is constantly on both sides of the guardwall from racing photography and editorship to drag racing cars of every shape and class.
Read My Articles

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