Father and daughter, Robert and Olivia Coulter, have a passion for Ford Anglias. Robert has been campaigning his Anglia for almost 20 years and recently his daughter has successfully followed in his footsteps…
It was around 20 years ago that Robert was enjoying a quiet drink with his friend, Roy Ogilvy, on the Isle of Man when they came up with a masterplan. If Robert built an Anglia, then Roy would agree to navigate and they could go rallying together.
“Roy owned a big hotel on the Isle of Man and I used to go over and watch all of the classic events there,” Coulter explained. “So we came up with a plan to start competing.
Robert sourced a rolling 1965 Anglia shell from Robert Bingham in 1997 and he also decided to install the 1600e engine, gearbox, suspension and brakes from a Cortina.
“We did quite a few events on the Isle of Man,” Robert said. “Our first event was the Isle of Man Classic in 2000. We had class wins on the Sloc Hill Climb and in the Williston Pursuit Sprint. It had eight laps, with each lap being three miles long. It started and finished at the TT Grandstand and was around the streets of Douglas. It was brilliant!”
In recent years, Robert has concentrated on events closer to home. His Anglia, which is now installed with a 1500cc Pre-X/Flow engine as well as a Quaife straight-cut 4-speed gearbox, has become a familiar sight around Northern Ireland’s single venues such as Kirkistown, Loughgall and Lurgan Park.
“When I first built the car it was fairly standard,” Robert said. “But it now has a 1500cc engine and Quaife gearbox, plus it has been been lightened with fibreglass panels and plastic windows.”
Throughout those years of competition, his daughter, Olivia, has been looking on in earnest. As soon as she was old enough, she started navigating for her father but she always wanted to be in the driving seat.
Olivia recalled: “I started navigating for him in 2008. My first event was the Turkey Run at Aghadowey and then I started driving in 2014. I never thought I’d be able to drive his car but I decided to give it a go and ended up driving it for two years.”
Those two years saw Olivia win the Sprint Championship’s Historic class two years on the trot and she also picked up the MMP’s Driver of the Year, an award that’s selected by the marshals.
Keen not to give up the driving seat on a permanent basis, Robert decided to build another Anglia for his daughter. After sourcing a 1959 rolling shell from Arthur McMullan, Olivia debuted her car at a Sprint towards the end of 2016 and quickly got the hang of her new mount.
“Dad did most of the work but I helped out where I could,” Olivia said. “My car handles a lot better than his as it has a steering rack instead of a steering box. When you turn the steering, you know the car is going to turn. It took a bit of getting used to!”
Olivia’s car, which features Noblett’s Wallpaper and Paint as one of its main sponsors, features “all the mod cons from Milton” including a steering rack, adjustable suspension, bias pedal box, adjustable track control arms, Gaz front struts, rear torsion bars and a heated windscreen.
Helping the car stop are Princess 4-pot calipers, rear 9″ drums, Quaife gearbox and it is powered by the same 1600cc engine that was taken from her father’s car.
Olivia opted to tackle a few more rallies in 2017 and entered the New Year Stages, Loughgall Stages and the May Day Rally. It should have provided the perfect opportunity for Robert and Olivia to compare stage times but unfortunately Robert’s engine expired at the start of the year.
“We both entered the New Year Stages in January but I retired on stage two,” Robert explained. “However, there’s no comparison between the two cars. They have similar power but Olivia’s car handles like an Escort in an Anglia shell. It has a lot of toys like the adjustable suspension and heated windscreen.”
“We couldn’t have done it without the help of our sponsors,” he added. “Thanks must go to everyone who has helped us along the way.”
Olivia plans to contest this year’s Northern Ireland Rally Championship while Robert is in the final throes of building a Lotus Cortina Twin Cam which he intends to use in the Sprint Championship. I wonder if he’ll manage to keep Olivia away from the driving seat this time?
Time will tell, but in the meantime, we need to find the answer to another very important question – who is the quickest driver?
“Me!” Olivia laughed. “Only joking! I think I would beat Dad around a track but he would beat me on a stage. It’s brilliant when he’s out as you have somebody who you can compare yourself to. We’ll find out this year!”
Words: Jonathan MacDonald | Photos: Graham Curry
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