The specialist: Burton Power

| 8 Mar 2024
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

The best-known name in Ford tuning is now 60 years old, and still operating from its first and only base, still run by the founding family – and still passionate about the motors.

Lionel Burton started Burton Engineering in 1963.

A year later he was joined by his son, Steve, who is still at the helm, running Burton Power with his son Andy, whose son Tom also works here.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

Cutaway engines and a trove of classic Ford parts in Burton Power’s east London showroom

The family name hit the media in the 1970s with sponsorship of Barry Lee’s winning Escorts on the ovals – Burton-powered, of course – and Andy and Tom still race in the EnduroKa series, for which Burton supplies suspension parts.

While fashions come and go – today the company caters for engines up to and including the Zetec, Duratec and Ecoboost – the core business remains the old faithfuls.

Andy reports a resurgence of interest in the Kent crossflow and Pinto engines that have been the mainstay of the firm’s business since the 1960s, as owners again want old-school cars that look more classic.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

The Twin Cam engine on display in reception

“You see that in the other parts, too,” he says.

“Ten years ago it was all blue or yellow hoses and plug-leads; now everyone wants black again.”

That, plus a massive increase in internet sales since 2000, has led the business to expand, moving from in-house engineering to parts supply to acquiring as many core units for rebuild as possible, as we discover on a tour with sales manager Anthony Mitchell.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

Burton Power caters for everything from Ford’s Kent crossflow engines to modern Ecoboost units

The basement is a multi-storey warren of Ford treasures: racks of clutches here, springs there, bushes in what used to be the dyno room.

As Anthony says: “If there’s room, we’ll put parts in it. If you’re into the cars it’s sometimes hard to walk through here.”

He owns a 230bhp aluminium Pinto-powered Capri (top image, on right).

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

Inside Burton Power’s parts warren

Engine builds are now carried out off-site, but Burton keeps ready-to-go CNC-machined performance cylinder heads in stock under its brand name Powerflow.

They are stored, along with rebuilt Type 9 gearboxes and forged conrods, in a strongroom in the deepest bowels of the lair, where we find Roy Springate checking parts for quality control.

Today it’s a batch of Kent roller rockers Burton has had made, just one example of hundreds of parts it has recommissioned for old Fords, from fasteners to crownwheel-and-pinion sets.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

Amy Pollock (left) and Tom Burton strip cylinder heads in Burton Power’s workshop

Also in the basement, the packing department is the most active part of the building.

“We take more than 150 orders worldwide every day,” says Anthony.

“Monday to Wednesday are the busiest, playing catch-up from the weekend.”

Around the back is more storage, for rare parts including Cosworth bits.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

Tom compresses a set of valve springs

“We bought the entire stock for the BAO [24v V6] engine,” says Anthony.

“If it’s got that part number on it, then it came from here.”

The company has been quietly amassing a stock of hard-to-find parts – three Twin Cams here, an MTX75 gearbox there, plus lots of old carbs and castings – and is developing an uprated brake conversion for the ‘small-bearing’ struts found on non-RS Escorts.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

Quality checking a set of roller rockers (left); a haul of used parts has been stockpiled for rebuild and refurbishment

Over the years, trim parts and window rubbers have been added to the inventory, plus new-old-stock fasteners – “real oddball stuff” – while its stock of Cometic head gaskets covers other popular models from MG and Vauxhall.

There is also the innovative front-cover conversion for the Twin Cam, which makes the water pump accessible from the front – “that was Steve’s idea,” Anthony adds.

More Burton expertise is available free on the company website, including handy tuning guides and technical articles.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Burton Power

Fast Fords often line up outside Burton Power in east London

The sea-lion logo was originally designed to illustrate the company’s balancing skills.

Completing the family tree, Andy’s brother Trevor joined a few years ago as the commercial director, while Andy oversees sales.

“We’re all very different people,” says Anthony, “but it works.”

Images: Jack Harrison

The knowledge

  • Name Burton Power
  • Address 617-631 Eastern Avenue, Ilford IG2 6PN
  • Specialism Ford tuning parts
  • Prices Pinto cylinder head £983 (stage 1) to £1245 (race)
  • Staff 23
  • Tel 020 8518 9136
  • Web


Blue-collar heroes: meet one man and his Ford Escort collection

Coupé conundrum: Ford Capri vs Datsun 240Z

Black and blue: Ford Escort RS Cosworth vs Subaru Impreza P1