A Test Report on the New Anglia — Dagenham’s £610 Family Saloon. Excellent All-round Qualities Characterise the o.h.v. 4-speed 105E Model. Restyled Body with Reverse-Angle Rear Window.
After making dreary small cars for too long, Ford of Dagenham announced clever and decidedly worth while new one-litre models just prior to the opening of the London Motor Show. A new, exceedingly “over-square,” o.h.v. four-cylinder engine and a four-speed gearbox was announced, of 997 c.c., in a restyled two-door New Anglia saloon with reverse-angle rear window, the same new power unit being available in the existing-style four-door Prefect saloon. For those who cannot aspire to a New Anglia or Prefect there is the old Anglia with the well-tried 100E side valve three-speed power unit at a very competitive price.
However, in this report I am concerned with the New Anglia two-door saloon, which, besides the new engine and gearbox, (generally acclaimed as excellent) and the reverse-angle rear window and new styling (which offer definite advantages but which some people find ugly or at least unusual), has improved rear suspension and other innovations.
Some preliminary remarks about this interesting new British small car appeared last month in Motor Sport and in order to prepare this test report I took over a New Anglia from the Earls Court garage and, in spite of Motor Show commitments, managed to cover 800 miles in it in the first five days, including a mild hill-storming expedition to Devon in a raging gale and some fast motoring on main roads and along tortuous country lanes, as well as the usual doses of London traffic work and odd pattering.
To sum up at the beginning, as it were, the impression left by this exciting new one-litre Ford is that it is an excellent little car, a vast improvement over the former Ford Anglia. It is willing, comfortable and quiet, handles very well, has an engine that feels quite unburstable, possesses adequate acceleration providing the pleasing new gearbox is made use of, and returns some 75 m.p.h. and about 35 m.p.g as an everyday occurrence. The unusual back window increases rear-passenger headroom, is said to refuse to become covered with snow, frost or raindrops, enhances boot-lid area, and, in conjunction with tail-fins, offers splendid visibility when reversing. A glance behind enables the rear lights to be seen reassuring at night.
In many other ways the Ford New Anglia proves itself an extremely good family small car, for which there is already a waiting list of many months. At its inclusive price in de luxe form (as tested) of £624 9s. 2d. it is exceedingly good value.
A driver new to the car finds the pedals well placed, (the accelerator has no rubber cover), right foot sliding easily from brake to accelerator and vice versa, the clutch pedal sufficiently low for the heel to pivot on the floor while operating it. He has good forward and side visibility, because the screen pillars are reasonably thin, both wings in full view and the screen not too far away. Entry is easy through wide doors, which have ingenious but fully effective “keeps.” Rear passengers have good leg, head and knee room, entry to the back seat being facilitated by lift-up front seats, which remain up of their own volition. These separate front seats are small, with rather short cushions and curved backs, but notably comfortable; they remain so during a full day spent behind the wheel. The slender but rigid central gear lever, with neat draught excluder at its base, and a pleasantly small polished rubber knob, is nicely placed and the left hand drops easily to a horizontal handbrake lever, with good handgrip, between the seats. A note of discontent intrudes when it is found that the plated adornments on the steering-wheel spokes and the plated control stalks can set up reflections in the windscreen, while the wipers do not fully sweep the passenger’s side of the screen.
Instrumentation and minor controls are praiseworthy. Before the driver, set low down and gently illuminated at night, is an 80 m.p.h. Smiths speedometer incorporating the usual warning lights and a total mileage recorder reading to tenths of a mile. The speedometer needle remains steady, across a straight line of figures every 10 m.p.h. This speedometer-panel contains a temperature gauge and an accurate petrol gauge, the latter having the very worthwhile feature of a needle which, if it rises but slowly to indicate the tank contents, remains steady once it has come into position. The subdued panel lighting can be doused by a small switch on the left side of the instrument box and a knob convenient to the driver’s right hand (on r.h.d. cars, of course) brings in the side lamps by turning it and the headlamps by pulling it out, headlamp dipping being done easily with a spring-loaded stalk on the left of the steering column, which is effective, if rather springy and having a somewhat long travel. A headlamp flasher would be appreciated but this control is purely a hand dipper. It is matched by a similar r.h. stalk which controls the self-cancelling very bright flashers, the action being a shade indecisive for signalling I.h. turns unless the lever was pushed fully home. The horn push is set in the end of this r.h. stalk, reasonably convenient but sounding a somewhat feeble high-pitched horn-note. Curiously, the horn is rendered inoperative with the ignition turned off, which could be awkward under conditions of emergency, for instance when someone is backing, into the parked Ford. The dynamo does not charge at idling speed, turning my thoughts to the alternating-current generator used to overcome this shortcoming on the Valiant.
The doors of this New Anglia shut in almost the “expensive” manner and they have nicely-functioning door handles which lift to open the doors, and window-winding handles with rotating fingergrips. The latter need 2½ turns to fully open a window and in wet weather both windows had an unfortunate habit of jamming shut, while the action is too stiff. There are ¼-lights with thief-defeating buttons, but lacking rain gutters so that water drips in, and the rear side windows open slightly at the back to improve ventilation. Each door has an ineffective fixed arm-rest, justifying its presence, however, because it has a hand-hold which constitutes a useful door-pull.
Two control knobs for operation with the left hand concern the choke, which also affects engine idling speed, and the noisy self-parking screen-wipers. Clock and screen-washers are not fitted as standard equipment. Listed as an extra is a heater/demister unit which works astonishingly well, flooding the car with very hot dry air when required — the blower switch is incorporated in the r.h. of the two vertical control slides. The two-spoke dished steering wheel, with five-star motif in lieu of a horn-push, is utilitarian but has a thin rim, there are dual crash-collapsible anti-dazzle vizors, and an unusual interior lamp is fitted above the wide but slightly shallow rear-view mirror, this being switched on or off merely by moving the lamp itself, while the doors operate the usual courtesy switches. The light is usefully bright. Concealed ashtrays are fitted front and back.
There are no door pockets in this Ford and the reverse-angle rear window eliminates the usual rear parcel shelf (this has the merit of preventing thoughtless passengers obscuring the view in the mirror with their parcels or woolly doggies) but a deep, well-recessed, capacious, lined cubby hole with lockable metal lid, matching the instrument panel, is provided before the front-seat passenger, supplemented by a full-width under-facia shelf, this shelf unhappily possessing a very sharp lip, which is a disappointment in a car otherwise notable for its good finish.
Externally, the bonnet opens from a forward hinge, after a toggle lever on the facia has been pulled, and stays up automatically. By leaning over a wing the engine vitals are easily reached, including plugs and distributor. The dip-stick is within the bend of the water hose, however, which renders it slightly inaccessible. The huge heater unit takes air from a vent at the back of the bonnet lid and the drum-type air cleaner over the carburetter has a protruding intake funnel, while the four-bank inlet manifold is a pleasing feature of the new 80-bore engine. There is a notably small 12-volt battery and the shallow radiator grill, full width on the de-luxe cars, is possible because the radiator is low set.
The trailing doors have excellent push-button external handles, the driver’s incorporating a good lock which takes the ignition key, while instead of “Ford” on the front of the car you encounter the name “Anglia.” The powerful Lucas 700 headlamps are permanently hooded and the luggage boot has a lockable lid which props and releases automatically. The lid is not quite so shapely as on earlier Anglias. The spare wheel is stowed near-vertically by the front wall of the boot but the luggage capacity is generous. The fuel filler is towards the off-side of the back panel, its bayonet cap unsecured.
The New Anglia’s engine is started by turning the ignition key and to prevent it stalling until warm a fair amount of choke is required. There is the feeling that Ford have not yet fully mastered the carburation, because after heavy braking the engine would frequently “put itself out” and prove reluctant to re-start, which is irritating in the extreme. Moreover, the early claims for 43 m.p.g. and later of “up to 50 m.p.g.” which emanated from Dagenham publicity sources, are not met with under road-test conditions, although a light-footed owner should achieve 40 m.p.g.
The remarkable 80-bore o.h.v. engine is, however, a very smooth willing worker, able to exceed 6,000 r.p.m. by a considerable margin, when valve crash sets in; the tuning establishments are going to have the time of their lives with it! It enables absolute speedometer speeds of 28, 48 and 75 m.p.h. to be seen, although the speedometer is optimistic, so that these are not true speeds — an indicated 50 m.p.h. was found to represent 46.6 m.p.h., an indicated 60 m.p.h. was in reality 55.2 m.p.h. and with the needle on “70” the Anglia was doing a genuine 63½ m.p.h. It takes a long time to work up to an indicated 75 in third gear, 60 being the normal maximum in this ratio; and 75-78 m.p.h. the maximum in top gear. The car cruises happily with the needle on “70” and really useful acceleration is available if full use is made of the new gearbox, which certainly could not be said of the old three-speed Anglia. At a genuine maximum of 62 m.p.h. in third gear the remarkable 80-bore engine with its 0.6 “over square” is exceeding 6,000 r.p.m. but piston speed is still below 1,900 ft. per min.
The gear change is very quick, foolproof, and altogether enjoyable; this is what I call a “mechanical” change, less smooth than a VW or Porsche gear change and not quite so positive as the “mechanical” change of, say, pre-war Lancia Aprilia. But it is a very fine gear change nevertheless, the central lever having short movements and being light to operate, and although it moves out of one ratio with a click and into the next with another small click, the synchromesh is otherwise unbeatable. Bottom gear is sometimes difficult to engage. To select reverse the lever is lifted against a spring to beyond the second-gear location, an easy movement except during driving tests. It is possible to foul first gear when making a snap change from second to third gear. The gears are quiet but the box sets up an irritating “zizzing” even in top gear.
The clutch is light but apt to be fierce, engaging only towards the end of the pedal travel, but it showed no tendency to slip when performance testing. There was, however, an excessive amount of snatch in the transmission. The steering is notably light once the car is moving, but heavier when parking. It enables the wheels to be felt, transmits practically no kick-back and hardly any vibration, and is aided by sensible castor-return action. This recirculatory-ball steering, calling for just over 2½ turns lock-to-lock (ratio 14 to 1) for a 32 ft. turning circle, gives the impression of being lower geared but is accurate, and an improvement on former Anglia steering.
The suspension gives a good, if somewhat lively, ride over bad surfaces but over ridged surfaces the lack of i.r.s. becomes noticeable, the back axle tramping somewhat and tending to rock the car, sending shocks through the body structure, while the back tries to come round under racing starts. Absence of road noise is a very good point about the new Ford; allied to the quiet-running engine, this contributes materially to lack of fatigue on long journeys. Cornering and handling characteristics are dealt with in greater detail later in this report, but it can be said that the road-holding and cornering are of a very high order, this Ford taking bends fast with considerable roll but only slight understeer and with a marked reluctance to break away even on wet roads, while the Goodyear tyres do not protest at the antics of an ambitious driver.
The 8 in. brakes pull the car up adequately and are light and progressive to apply but are not entirely convincing, a “deadness” about the action accentuating this impression.
The body is free from rattles and the new styling will undoubtedly grow on the motoring public as more New Anglias appear on the road. At first glance, in contrasting colours, the unusual rear window seems to amplify the “hard-top” effect. The usual propeller shaft tunnel breaks the flat floor within. The light roof and two-tone upholstery provide a pleasing sense of spaciousness. The rear-view mirror is adequate and it is nice to find powerful electric screen wipers replacing the suction wipers, inoperative at wide throttle openings when they were needed most, which Ford persisted in fitting for so many years.
The test car, although the odometer indicated only 3,500 miles, had probably seen hard service, which could account for the lost motion in the transmission and fierce clutch. This, however, does not excuse a very serious defect, namely, that on a wet day water came in round the screen and dripped on the driver’s right trouser leg until there were big puddles on the floor and the contents of the under-facia shelf were soaked. This trouble is not confined to the Anglia we tested and unless speedily rectified may undermine Ford sales in World markets, especially in countries where torrential rain-storms and habitual dust-clouds set a high premium on proper sealing of doors and windows. During the course of the test the o/s side lamp failed, the mat for the front passenger came adrift, and one corner of the heater-intake grille on the bonnet occasionally sprang very slightly out of position.
Regarding petrol consumption, careful checks revealed this to be just under 36½ m.p.g. under average conditions, rising to 34½ m.p.g. when higher average speeds were achieved and inclusive of performance testing. Driving gently, but including a cold start in the morning, 38½ m.p.g. was obtained. In deference to the 8.9 to 1 compression-ratio good quality (but not 100 octane) petrol was used, on which no pinking or running-on was evident, the engine pulling down to 20 m.p.h. in top gear. It soon sets the temperature gauge with a slight bias towards “H.” The tank holds seven gallons, representing an average range of some 255 miles. In our hands the Anglia covered a total of over 2,000 miles in under three weeks and no oil or water was required, which is indeed creditable, this high-revving short-stroke engine clearly not being likely to require sump replenishment between oil-changing. Although the engine stalled repeatedly when hot unless held at an abnormally fast idling speed and was difficult to restart, it commenced easily, given full choke, after a frosty night in the open. It responds willingly to the accelerator and has a crisp exhaust note.
The adoption of overhead valves by Ford for the New Anglia and New Prefect is but logical and long overdue but the engine itself, with its previously unapproached degree of “oversquare” (3.1 X 1.9 in.) is of great merit. The dimensions may have been adopted with a view to producing future power units of greater capacity which will still be “oversquare” but the present result is an astonishingly smooth engine developing maximum power at 5,000 r.p.m. and able in run smoothly and reliably up to near-racing speeds (7,000 r.p.m. has been mentioned as the limit) while its phenomenally low piston-speed ensures that it is virtually “unburstable” and will give long life and low oil consumption. No doubt these stalwart qualities will soon result in the car being known affectionately by enthusiasts as the “80-bore,” like some famous cars of the past. It is necessary to use the new gearbox freely to obtain good performance, which is a delight due to the excellent synchromesh, well-placed lever and sensibly-spaced ratios (albeit second is somewhat low in relation to the very usable third speed), although the new 997 c.c. engine actually gives equal low-speed torque to the 1,172 c.c. 100E unit (52.85 lb./ft. at 2,700 r.p.m.). However, the two upper gear ratios are higher than on the old Anglia and this, coupled with an unfortunate carburation flat-spot low down in the r.p.m. range, make frequent use of the gear-lever desirable.
The rear suspension has been carefully redesigned but on rough roads one is reminded that cart springs and a rigid axle are retained. The engine sump holds four pints of oil, the filter half a pint, there is an external oil pump; the pressurised cooling system holds 10½ pints of water, the heater a pint, and there is a 9 in. two-bladed cooling fan running at crankshaft speed.
The gearbox holds 1¾ pints of S.A.E. 80 lubricant, the back axle two pints of oil. An unusual point of detail is the location of the cut-out on the under-facia shelf. There are eleven grease points requiring attention every 1,000 miles. A comprehensive, well-illustrated instruction book is issued.
Apart from the foregoing test report I arranged for a technical analysis of the Ford New Anglia to be prepared by the same independent engineer who dealt with the Triumph Herald (Motor Sport, July 1959) and the Morris Mini-Minor (last month’s issue). He reports as follows:
“In nearly all respects the New Anglia surpasses the standards set by the old Anglia, of which it is obviously a logical development. First impressions, however, are not entirely favourable. The driver’s seat cannot be moved far enough back even for a man of average height, heel and toe gear-changes are not really possible, and the clutch action is rather awkward, through no inherent fault in the mechanism, but because engagement occurs with the pedal so far from the floor that the whole leg has to be raised into the air. [Our earlier remarks on this aspect apply only when the seat is set comparatively close to the wheel — Ed.] Against this, visibility over the short sloping bonnet is excellent, the gear-lever is well placed and the driving position is quite good although rather of the ‘bus-driver’ type.
“The excellent road manners of the previous Anglia were marred by the skittish behaviour of the back axle on bumpy corners. An outstanding improvement has been made in this respect and the back axle behaviour is now probably better than any other car without i.r.s. in the cheap family saloon category, although its presence is revealed by occasional hop and accompanying slight wheelspin on acceleration.
“The steering layout is very similar to its predecessor, but is now lower geared and appreciably lighter. Whilst straight line stability has improved to a very high standard, the steering now feels unduly low-geared around the central position and calls for rather a lot of movement on slightly twisty roads. Contributory to this is the considerable understeer which also results in a marked tendency to lose speed on corners, so that the car was often driven for miles on curving stretches of road without ever changing out of third gear. Taken into a corner too fast the understeer slows the car rapidly to a safer speed, although on very bumpy corners the back-end may be induced to break away first instead, but this car is remarkably free from vice or from sudden changes in handling characteristics, and in almost any circumstances the driver can allow the car to sort things out for him. This sort of driving produces a little roll and some tyre squeal.
“The suspension is in keeping with the character of the car, giving a comfortable pitch-free ride with occasionally some fairly sharp vertical motion probably attributable to the firm damping, and remarkably good insulation from road noise for a car in the lowest price range.
“The gearbox is light to handle, with good synchromesh and well-chosen ratios except for a rather low second gear. It needs the freest possible use because of the characteristics of an engine which produces comparatively little torque in the lower speed range, and which has a bad mounting resonance at about 25 m.p.h. in top gear. On the other hand it remains unusually smooth and quiet at high revs., and the car will cruise at maximum speed without any sign of distress from the engine, and with very little noise or fuss.
“It is this refinement of general performance, together with refinement of finish, that distinguishes the small Ford from its competitors, and which sets a new standard of effortless fast travel amongst cheaper cars.”
Towards the end of the test the car became rougher and the transmission snatch and tendency to stall in traffic became decidedly depressing.
In conclusion, this new Ford has a combination of good features which render it an excellent little motor car. It is modestly priced and will appeal to family and sporting motorists who require a conventional-size small saloon. As recounted, the test car had some annoying faults which must be eradicated and if this is done, and if Ford can stop the body leaking like a sieve in the rain, their new Anglia should sell successfully, even phenomenally, throughout the World for a long time ahead. — W.B.