Another of the well-known sixties tuning companies was Ley Street, Ilford-based Superspeed (Conversions).

The men behind the company were brothers, John and Mike Young and their operation was part of and located next to, Ford dealer, Youngs of Ilford founded by their father, Mike Young senior.

They rose to prominence with their racing activities when John and Mike took their first steps in motorsport in their maroon-hued (actually a BMC colour called Crimson Lake) Fords.

John began his career in the British Saloon Car Championship (then running to Group 2 regulations) in 1962 in an Anglia 100E registered ‘JY100’ feisty 1650cc Pre-Crossflow engine, while Mike who had started racing in 1954 in club races, joined the series in 1963. His first couple of races were in a Cortina GT before he switched to an Anglia Super, first with a 997cc engine.

The other Superspeed (Conversions) Ltd driver was one Chris Craft. His Anglia was nicknamed ‘Orange Box’ in ‘peel’-spec! He and Mike would regularly take the fight to the hordes of Mini Coopers. Mike Young’s best season was in 1964 when he finished 3rd in the BSCC championship.

Journalist Nick Brittan also ran a Superspeed Anglia called ‘Green Bean’.

Superspeed ran a very successful Lola Formula Junior for Peter Ashdown (he later produced the Candy Apple Finale and Fino kit conversions, of course) and prepped Ford development engineer, Brian Peacock’s Anglia racecar.

Both Young brothers effectively stopped their racing activities at the end of the 1967 season to concentrate on their Ford road car tuning operation which had begun to take off.

This side of the business also serviced outside customers. For example, they supplied tuned 997cc Ford engines with twin 40DCOE engines canted at 15-degrees to Eric Broadley’s Lola company for the Lola Mk3.

Panther Westwinds founder Robert Jankel worked at Superspeed for a time, although he was mainly concerned with sales for their Youngs of Ilford Ford dealership although he did sell Superspeed kits, too.

Meanwhile, out on their petrol forecourt, the legend that is Barry Lee worked as a petrol pump attendant in the early sixties.

Superspeed offered a line-up of tuned Ford models including an Anglia ‘Red Rooster’ model with 1650cc pre-Crossflow, and two other Anglia 105E possibilities – 1500GT and a tuned 1500 on sidedraughts – Escort 2000GT, Cortina 3-litre V6, Escort 1600 Pinto (this pre-dated the Ford Mexico), Anglia vans with 1300 Crossflows and Capri 5-litre ‘RS70’ V8, based on a 3-litre GXL model. One of their last conversions was a Mk4 Cortina to which they shoehorned an Essex V6 engine.

I guess there were definite similarities to what Jeff Uren’s Raceproved operation was doing – sticking bigger engines into various Ford models.

I remember reading a copy of Motor Sport magazine from the mid-sixties when Jeremy Walton tested one of their tuned cars and as John Young tossed him the keys he said: “Hmm, we’ve done a little bit of head work on it.” Their cars were well-built and extremely potent.

This, of course, was a massive understatement. Superspeed’s conversions all featured balanced combustion chambers, both in head and piston, revised intakes and exhaust porting, new valve gear with big valves and twin Webers with larger jets. Exhaust manifolds were coated in Sperex high-temperature paint and rocker covers were always cast.

They also sold their various upgraded performance parts singularly to anyone who wanted them and there were some seriously trick bits, particularly a fiendishly clever rocker cover with an inlet cast into it. They sold lots of them.

In 1968, Motor Sport estimated that there were around 300 tuning companies in England alone.

In the mid-seventies, Superspeed’s showroom was relegated to a smaller workshop on site, with the addition of a new franchise for Youngs of Ilford for the Datsun (pre-Nissan days), which traded under the Chelmer Cars banner.

Superspeed (Conversions) Ltd sold tuning kits for either £88 on exchange or £168 for an outright purchase. They would charge customers an extra £25 if they wanted them to fit the parts to their cars.

Likewise, you could take your own Ford into them or order a Superspeed model brand new from Youngs of Ilford next door which would then be wheeled around the corner to the Superspeed workshop.

For example, one of the best-selling models they offered was the (note the spelling) Super-Speed Cortina V6, which cost from £1350. As well as all the engine goodies, which took power to 150bhp, the car had lowered adjustable suspension and a leather-rimmed steering wheel.