Dagenham’s Latest Small Car, the Least-Expensive 70-m.p.h. Saloon on the Market, Which Should Make a Good Rally Car, Handles Well, has Excellent Acceleration and Represents Exceedingly Good Value for Money
This title goes well with the observations under the heading “To Silverstone in a Simca” which appear elsewhere in this issue of Motor Sport, but in point of fact, although we went to the B.A.R.C. Whitsun Meeting in a Ford Anglia, we also went to the M.M.E.C. Silverstone Meeting in it and to several other places as well.
The great Ford Motor Company has not made a bad car, at least from the advent of the model-T, and it has since that time sought to provide vehicles of good performance and passenger-capacity which are reliable, economical, inexpensive to purchase and which appeal to a very considerable proportion of the car-purchasing public.
The 1,172-c.c. side-valve, two-door Anglia saloon, selling for fractionally over £511 with p.t., follows in this Dagenham tradition.
It, and the four-door Prefect (hush, my child, no doubt these will be seen on the road in due time!) and the least-expensive-of-’em-all Popular, brought crowds to the Ford stand at the last Earls Court Show. The Popular offers very sensible 35-m.p.g. minimum-motoring for the masses, and the Anglia provides greater refinement and much better performance still at a highly competitive price.
The modified version of the famous “1,172” power unit, now giving 36 b.h.p., produces over 70 m.p.h., very good acceleration, particularly in middle-cog, a distinctly usable top-gear performance for the shift-shy, and is notably smooth up to 40 m.p.h. in second gear and 60 in top. It becomes somewhat intrusive thereafter, up to maxima of 48 in second and 72 or so in top. The gear ratios are spaced as well as can be contrived in a 3-speed gearbox.
The body is roomy and has some good amenities. The seats are comfortable but not luxurious and the effect of sitting on rather than in the car at least offers truly excellent forward visibility, aided by the brief bonnet but somewhat spoiled by wide screen pillars. Leg room is generous in front, not too restricted in the back, and entry to the back seat, via the near-side door and front seat, is aided by a balanced tip-up for this front seat.
The luggage space is extremely generous, although cases, etc., share the big boot with the spare wheel and the tool-kit and jack in sack-cloth wrappings. The boot lid is balanced, and locks. There are wind-up windows and half-windows in the front doors. The minor controls and instruments are simple but call for minor criticism not worth detailing. There is a speedometer having a rather pleasing transparent needle with milometer but no trip, an ammeter, and a suitably pessimistic fuel gauge’ but no oil gauge or clock, although an oil-warning lamp is provided. Self-cancelling direction indicators, the recessed horn button in the steering-wheel centre (the horn note is horrid), a very convenient central hand-brake lever, and (extra charge) a good heater, are definitely amongst the amenities. So would be the adjustable, self-parking dual screen-wipers had their blades not had a tendency to grease the screen, even in rain.
The body interior is nicely finished, some of the details are of plastic material, and I liked the leather door-pulls. No door pockets are provided, but a truly capacious, full-width, under-facia shelf and a shelf behind the rear seat make up for this. There is a swivelling ash-tray in the facia, and a fitting for a radiator-blind cord, although the blind was not present on the car tested. The body gives the impression of being light, because some floor, side-panel and bonnet judder is evident over bad roads, and minor rattles are heard. Nor is sound-proofing entirely proof against the transmission of road noise via the tyres and engine noise towards peak revs. Heat and fumes, however, are entirelv absent, and the body completely rain-proof.
The pedals are rather small and high off the floor, the mirror is adequate but not 100 per cent., and when testing petrol consumption a dry tank resulted in a momentarily blocked jet. The forward-hinging bonnet top panel provides reasonable accessibility of the mechanism, but the oil filler isn’t easy to use. The near-side petrol filler is splendidly placed for pump or can refuelling, but the cap seemed apt to jam when the rubber washer beneath it got wet.
The Ford Anglia stands out because it performs briskly and handles so delightfully in spite of the generous capacity of the body its side-valve 1,172-c.c. engine is asked to propel. The speedometer needle surges towards “70” on every brief straight and a genuine cruising speed of 60 m.p.h. and more can be held indefinitely (which, however, exceeds 2,500 ft. per min. piston velocity), with extremely vivid pick-up to 40 in second gear as a matter of course, although the noise level becomes high above 55 m.p.h. This is comment rather than criticism in view of the Anglia’s size and price.
This ability to go is matched by an ability to keep going round corners and to stop. I would not describe the roadholding as the absolute best amongst small cars, but certainly the Anglia is exceedingly safe and pleasant to drive, the steering smooth, taut and high-geared (two turns, lock to lock), and the roadholding of a high order. The car rolls quite a lot on fast corners but is free from that distressing habit so many family cars have of lurching into an extreme oversteer. The back wheels give that happy impression of following the front ones through the curves and although the wheels break-away fairly readily, particularly on wet surfaces, serious slides do not develop if judicious use is made of the quick steering. The small steering wheel has two rather thick, odd-shaped spokes; once or twice a front wheel contacted a near-side kerb, because the front wheels are farther back than the driver’s very clear view of the near-side wing leads him to believe. The steering transmits no return motion, has mild castor action, and the wheel transmits only slight vibrations (including that from the engine when it is idling).
The 7-in. Girling hydraulic brakes are powerful, progressive and vice-free, if a thought fierce due to brief pedal movement. Their linings emitted a distinct squeak.
The suspension is comfortable, but firm, so that the Anglia’s occupants are conscious that at times the 13-in, wheels are bouncing up and down; the back ones tend to judder under strong uphill acceleration over disgraceful surfaces. The Goodyears howl mildly only under really hurried cornering tactics.
The gear-change is by a good, rigid central lever, although, being longer than that of earlier Ford Tens, some of the speed of cog-swapping seems to have been sacrificed. Reverse is opposite first with no safety-catch, and can be “snicked” during ham-handed shifting into second, while the small amount of lateral movement across the gate can cause confusion at times. The gears are not noisy but the synchromesh “sizzled” and we thought at times we could distinguish the back axle humming its thoughts. The clutch needed care at “take-off,” inclining to fierceness, which the pendant pedal exaggerates.
The qualities of brisk performance, excellent roadholding with pleasant steering, and good forward visibility collectively render the Ford a remarkably fast A-to-B conveyance in the modest-price class.
Unfortunately one pays rather dearly for this in respect of petrol and oil consumption. The former came out at fractionally better than 29 m.p.g., driving hard but coasting where prudent (although Grade 2 petrol produced no symptoms calling for the purchase of better fuel), and some oil was required after about 300 miles, but none thereafter.
There are cars in the Anglia’s capacity class produced in this country and on the Continent which are faster, yet use less petrol; nevertheless, they do not all possess the Anglia’s accelerative powers in spite of their o.h.v. engines and lower gearing.* On the other hand, also, the Ford is certainly the least-expensive 70-m.p.h. saloon, and its low servicing charges and many practical features offset a somewhat disappointing fuel consumption. When Sir Patrick Hennesy introduced the new small Fords at an unveiling party last winter he emphasised that in offering “cars for the people.” Dagenham has no intention of skimping on performance (which, he said, tends to increase traffic congestion), passenger accommodation or amenities such as proper luggage accommodation and ample door, window and luggage-boot apertures.
Although I personally dislike cars of square aspect, which look as if they are constructed with the children’s plastic bricks, with drawing-pins for wheels, this is the modern tendency and the Anglia conforms better than many.
Despite the fact that Sir Patrick prepared us to expect two very good cars, Dagenham’s achievement in providing a roomy saloon which weighs only 15 1/4 cwt., possesses such outstanding performance for its size and such good handling qualities, at a price which puts it only five places up from the least-expensive car on the British market, is something enthusiasts will he quick to appreciate. I shall expect to see the Ford Anglia putting up some fine rally performances in the near future.
The example I drove for 693 miles proved very entertaining, sufficiently fast on average journeys to be not in the least tedious and, a few minor irritations apart, it was entirely dependable.
Dagenham has, indeed, produced another very sensible and desirable car. — W. B.
*The average of six cars of up to 1,300 c.c. gives 0.50 m.p.h. in 20.3 sec. and a maximum speed of 71.9 m.p.h. for a basic price of £483. The Ford Anglia accelerates from 0.50 in 18.5 sec. does 72.6 m.p.h. and its basic price is £360.
The Ford Anglia Two-Door Saloon
Engine: Four cylinders, 63.5 by 92.5 mm. (1,172. c.c.). Side valves. 7.0 to 1 compression ratio. 36 b.h.p. at 4,500.r.p.m.
Gear ratios: First, 15.072 to 1; second, 8.252 to 1; top. 4.429 to 1.
Tyres: 5.20-13 Goodyear Super Cushion de Luxe on bolt-on steel disc wheels.
Weight: 15 cwt. 1 qtr., without occupants but ready for the road with approx. I gall. of fuel.
Steering ratio: Two turns, lock to lock.
Fuel capacity: Seven gallons. Range approx. 203 miles.
Wheelbase: 7 ft. -3 in.
Track: Front, 4 ft. 0 in.; rear, 3 ft. 11 1/2 in.
Dimensions: 12 ft. 7 1/2 in. by 5 ft. 0 1/2 in. by 4 ft. 9 1/2 in. (high).
Price: £360 (£511 2s. 6d. with p.t.).
Makers: Ford Motor Co., Ltd., Dagenham, Essex.