An eight horse-power car designed expressly for war service, that is lively, economical and which handles well
WE had a Ford “Anglia” saloon for test just when the ban on the purchase of new cars came about, and those friends whom we encountered during a 200 mile experience of the car naturally wanted to know what was the object of trying a new car when no further production for home consumption is permitted. There are several answers. In the first place, purchase of new cars is still permitted to those who can convince the authorities that they use a car sufficiently seriously to make a secondhand vehicle an inefficient substitute. It seems likely that key personnel with a big animal mileage to cover and large business houses requiring fleets of cars for their travellers and executives, will be able thus to absorb dealers’ stocks of new, unlicensed cars. That there exists a market for new cars even under the present restricted motoring regime is proved by the average of some 3,000 new cars taxed monthly since the war began. Then, those who have contemplated a new car and are now prevented from obtaining one will adopt the next best course, and seek a little-used secondhand car of recent type, so that test impressions of a demonstrator “Anglia” with some 10,000 miles behind it, reproduce very faithfully the characteristics of any shop-soiled “Anglias” which come on the market, and, being taxed, can be purchased without restriction. As the war may be a long one and car-production lethargic for a while after, a good car is now a very sane investment.
With these thoughts in mind, we set out to investigate the 8 h.p. Ford “Anglia” on the very week-end that the new-car ban came into force. This model was expressly designed after war broke out to meet existing motoring conditions in this country. It is just the sort of car which many enthusiasts must resort to now, and an extremely practical supplementary means of transport in normal times, so no excuse is needed for what follows.
The “Anglia” differs from the peace-time Ford Eight in having a changed frontal aspect, a more convenient facia, and a roomier body with a useful rear luggage locker. The first impression is of the very generous space provided within the steel, two-door saloon, the easy entry and egress provided by the large doors and flat-folding backs of the bucket front seats, and the excellent visibility afforded by the four large windows and wide rear window. The driving position is definitely good, the central gear-lever and umbrella-handle central brake-lever splendidly positioned, and the pedals, with treadle accelerator, well placed. The screen pillars are a trifle thick, and neither front wing can be seen, but in this respect the Ford is merely following the present trend. The new facia is a great improvement, having centrally grouped instruments and controls, which permit of a full width, very useful shelf for oddments. In the centre panel the layout, reading left to right, is:—ignition key and lighting switch; screen-wiper control; clock; choke; Cooper-Stewart speedometer; screen-winder above; starter control; ammeter; dash-lamp switch; and fuel gauge. The speedometer reads to 90 m.p.h. which would be useful if the owner ever applied forced-induction, and it has a total mileage recorder, but no trip. This applies to the “De Luxe ” model; the other has a simpler facia layout and a fixed screen. The horn push is in the wheel centre, and the direction indicator control, which is self-cancelling, likewise. The lighting switch turns left for side lamps, and right for headlamps, and a visible indicator in the lamps would be worth having. Masked, the headlamp illumination is adequate. The interior of the “Anglia” is astonishingly roomy and upholstered in leather-cloth, both front seats being adjustable. There is space for small parcels above the rear squab, and the rear locker is really roomy, and its lockable lid lets down to accommodate extra cases, being held by webbing straps in any intermediate position. This is a new arrangement, the spare wheel being carried horizontally below the luggage compartment, and not in the rear panel, as formerly; jack and tools live with it.
Having decided that for an “Eight” the war-service Ford offers remarkably good accommodation, it is most pleasing to find that it handles very much as the enthusiast wishes. Although making a utility car, Ford has not resorted to low-geared steering, for which we confer on him our blessing. The small thin-rimmed wheel of the “Anglia” merely asks 1¾ turns, lock to lock, the actual ratio being 10 to 1, and consequently the car can be driven one-handed on the open road and in dense traffic with equal unconcern. Nevertheless, the steering is really light, and has quick castor action. Quite a lot of road wheel movement is returned and over bad undulations quite a swinging action is set up, but this can be ignored, for it is never really unpleasant, and column judder is absent. There is a tendency to over-steer, slightly affecting accuracy at times, but this live, high-geared control is generally good and quite refreshing these days. Couple hard suspension with this quality, and you see that the “Anglia” is unexpectedly controllable for an ordinary inexpensive car. Although the stiffness of the transverse suspension gives rise to a good deal of up and down motion, the car actually rides very well over bad surfaces. Under very acute cornering there is a lifting tendency of the rear wheels, but undue rolling does not occur. The brakes are fully in keeping with these other control factors, in the well-established Girling manner. They go on with a minimum of lost motion, and are truly progressive and very powerful, albeit considerable pressure is demanded for that admittedly rare emergency halt. In all ordinary applications the action is delightful, and Mr. Girling definitely allows one to hurry unconcernedly through busy thoroughfares, secure in the knowledge that speed can be killed surely and with no diminution of control. The pull-out hand-lever, used for parking, has been quite cured of any sticking tendencies, and operates nicely.
Satisfied that the “Anglia” handles really well, you realise that the engine must be working equally commendably if the car has been swung so briskly through traffic and opened up away from towns, with never a thought. Actually, this fairly long-stroke, side-valve unit of 56.6 x 92.5 mm. (933 c.c.), with its generous water passages, fully forced lubrication, three-bearing crankshaft and downdraught carburation, cruises this 1,570 lb. saloon with no effort at all at 45-50 m.p.h., and gives 55 m.p.h. when occasion demands. At such speeds it is quite quiet and unstressed. On the middle gear of 10.76 to 1, it gives brisk acceleration up to 30 m.p.h. to the accompaniment of a healthy power-roar. The maximum on first gear is about 18 m.p.h. It also pulls down to a very low speed in top, the four-point rubber suspension masking vibration, and, at saner speeds, it opens up well from small throttle openings. For instance, it was possible to amble up past Croydon aerodrome at 20 m.p.h. in top until the steepest part of the hill, and then accelerate at once, breasting the summit at over 30 m.p.h. without changing down. This is a most useful quality, especially as the gap between second gear (10.76) and the top ratio of 5.5 to 1 is rather noticeable. For gear-changing, the engine speed mounts instantly. The stiff gear lever has a short travel. The synchromesh is good, if not hurried, and it does not spoil double-declutch changing if this is preferred, when quite quick downward changes are possible. The lever moves rather stiffly out of gear (care is still needed not to hit reverse from first), but the positions locate well, and are normal. The clutch takes up smoothly once the rather high pedal position is mastered; engagement occurs at the end of its travel. The Ford clutch feels essentially durable, is light, and does not slip. The front of the car keeps rigid over all road surfaces, and only slight weaving of the hinged top panels of the bonnet is evident, and the body is free from drumming and major rattles, as one expects of modern, welded-steel construction. The twin screen-wipers were apt to catch-up on the screen base, but they work powerfully, and, by reason of a vacuum tank, independently of throttle openings, commencing even with the engine stationary. The rear-mirror is a trifle small and involves slight stooping. The ammeter shows a most healthy charge and Ford dependability permits one to happily ignore, if not to forget, the absence of oil-gauge and thermometer. Swing-out ash-trays are provided, not only both sides of the facia, but both sides of the rear seat. Being a special war-service job, the “Anglia” is fully equipped to comply with prevailing regulations. The lamps are properly blacked-out, the running-boards whitened, and the door-lock conveniently located on the driver’s door. A spot-lamp, controlled by a tiny switch on the extreme right of the facia, its upper half shaded, is fitted for fog-driving. The bulb is purposely removed from the interior lamp but the facia lighting throws plenty of illumination in the front compartment. This proper war-time equipment is invaluable, and is further enhanced by the easy running at 20 m.p.h. in top gear, with no tendency to stall immediately below this pace, and the very clear instruments, each one illuminated separately most effectively. Even unlit, the speedometer reading shows up well in the dusk, a clear white line indicating the 30 m.p.h. position. Checked over three-quarters of a tankful, the fuel consumption worked out at least 40 m.p.g., and much of the mileage was in traffic, with much stopping and restarting, and no possibility of effective coasting. The tank holds 7 gallons, an excellent range of some 280 miles, and if the fuel gauge is somewhat indecisive at intermediate readings, it accurately indicates when the tank is almost empty, which is the main thing required of it. The engine starts easily from cold if some choke is given, and maintained until it is pulling normally. No heat or fumes enter the car, and the windows in the doors wind fully up or down—under conditions of torrential, driving rain the presence of visors would have been appreciated, and on the car tested there was a slight leak at the top of the screen above the driver. Equipment includes driver’s anti-dazzle visor, stop lamp, bumpers, mud-flaps on front wings, etc. The bonnet catches work fairly easily, both top panels of the bonnet opening. Turning to technicalities, the engine has a three-bearing fully balanced crankshaft, chain-driven camshaft, alloy pistons, coil ignition with automatic advance and retard, and thermo-syphon cooling. It gives 23.4 b.h.p. at 4,000 r.p.m. The main bearing area is 24.25 square inches, and the oil pump delivers from a 4½ pint sump at the rate of 3.41 litres per minute at 1,000 r.p.m. The fuel supply is by camshaft pump. The drive goes via a single-plate clutch to the three-speed gearbox with synchromesh on top and third and by torque-tube drive to the three-quarter floating rear axle. Suspension is by transverse springs with oil-less shackles, damped by double-action, adjustable hydraulic shock absorbers. The pressed-steel wheels carry 4.50″ x 17″ India “Standard ” covers. Electrical equipment is Ford 6 volt, with 63 amp. hr. battery under the bonnet. The welded steel body has safety glass screen, synthetic enamel finish, and cloth-lined roof. It has easy-clean contours and chrome door handles. The de luxe “Anglia” costs £140, and the standard saloon £130, and the annual tax is £10. In conclusion, we have long been used to getting excellent performance and impeccable service from our babies, but to get full accommodation for four persons and their luggage, and still get a full 40 m.p.g. on Pool petrol, stamps the Ford “Anglia” as the ideal war-service car, and the sort of vehicle which the enthusiast will find an excellent supplement to the sports-car long after the war is over.