Rumblings, November 1953



The New Small Fords

Following the announcement on September 14th of Sir John Black’s new 803-c.c. Standard Eight, the Ford Motor Company, Ltd., held a preview of the New Anglia and New Prefect Ford models in the Great Room at Grosvenor House on September 28th. The new small Fords had given rise to all manner of rumours. The Sunday Express the previous day wrote of a Ten to cost under £400 inclusive of purchase tax, for instance.

Consequently, when Sir Patrick Hennessy, Managing Director of Fords, bade the curtains part to reveal the new models, the air was pungent with anticipation.

Ford has always provided cars which are acceptable to the greatest number of prospective motorists. If they had not been able to foresee what the public required they would not have sold 15 million model-Ts, or 4½ million of the famous model-A.

The Ford Eight of 1932, for the announcing of which they booked the entire Albert Hall, was about as economical as all the contemporary baby cars, yet it was larger, more roomy and looked like a real car.

Consequently, we went to Grosvenor House expecting to find worthy successors to the Anglia and Prefect which have served so many motorists so faithfully for the past one and half decades. We were not disappointed!

What Ford has done is to produce an entirely new small car, looking rather like a scaled-down Consul or Zephyr, with the same well-tried coil-spring i.f.s., a stylish two or four-door body saloon with plenty of room inside, a 10-cu. ft. luggage boot with lid (in which the spare wheel is stored) and a revised version of the 1,172 side-valve Ford Ten power unit, that well-established engine which even amateur racing drivers find virtually unburstable. This engine has new manifolds, a Solex d.d. carburetter and a stronger crankshaft than the old Ten and develops six more horse-power, i.e., 36 b.h.p. at 4,400 r.p.m. on a 7 to 1 compression ratio, the maximum torque being 54 lb./ft. at 2,150 r.p.m. The electrical system is 12 volt, the belt-driven water pump circulates 4 gallons of water, the dynamically-balanced crankshaft runs in three bearings and the fuel tank holds 7 gallons. The drive goes through a single-plate clutch to a three-speed gearbox having ratios of 15.0, 8.3 and 4.42 to 1. The brakes are hydraulic and the tyres 5.20-13. Ford claim at least 65 m.p.h. and 46 m.p.g. at a steady 40 m.p.h. Both New Anglia and New Prefect have a wheelbase of 7 ft. 3 in., a track of 4 ft. (front), 3 ft. 11½ in. (rear) and they have a claimed kerb weight of 14½ cwt. and 15 cwt. respectively.

Consequently, they should have a truly refreshing performance and in his speech Sir Patrick Hennessy made the point that Ford, even in its economy cars, believes in giving the customer good acceleration as a safety factor.

The equipment is very generous, ash-tray, sun visors, mirror, wheel knave-plates, etc., being included in the specification, although naturally heater, de-misters and radio are listed as extras. The bonnet opens forwards to give easy access to engine and battery, the finish is first class, the under-facia shelf and shelf behind the back seats being suggestive of a big car’s interior. The seating is comfortable and about the only concession to austerity is the fact that access to the New Anglia’s rear seat is from one side only, as the back of the driver’s adjustable bucket seat does not fold. The New Prefect, of course, possesses four doors, desirable in the smallest of saloons.

It really seems that Ford has once again found the formula for producing the best small cars of the age, backed, of course, by Ford’s infallible world-wide service facilities. The price of the New Anglia is £360, that of the New Prefect £395. Purchase tax increases these prices to £511 2s. 6d. and £560 14s. 2d., respectively. The 2-door Austin A30 costs £35 less than the New Anglia. On the other hand, the smaller engines of the A30 and Standard Eight should encourage driving which will probably result in a fuel consumption better by some five or six m.p.g.

These brave new Fords were introduced by Len Hutton and Stanley Matthews, a choice which seemed strange to motor-minded guests, until we realised that the television newsreel cameras were peering from the balconies! It seemed a pity that “Gatso,” who was present and whose 1953 Monte Carlo Rally victory in a Zephyr Sir Patrick was happy to recall (he referred to it as the second victory by a British car; actually an Invicta won in 1931, an Allard in 1952, the Ford in 1953), was not limelighted with cricketer and footballer! Indeed, those guests who could see this touching act before the cameras expected something attractive to appear as the remaining three of Ford’s five “stars,” but it was not to be — perhaps Sir Patrick considered these 65/70-m.p.h. “1,172” Fords to be sufficiently glamorous in themselves!

While congratulating Ford on presenting the finest value yet in small-engined, small motor cars and models which should be very pleasing, even exciting, to drive by reason of their obvious performance, we still await a true British people’s car. Sir Patrick Hennessy told us that Ford had built them, still has them in running order, but that Ford considers the world’s buyers do not want them, so has shelved them. A pity! However, the staunch Export Anglia re-emerges as the Ford Popular and is Britain’s least expensive — and an exceedingly useful — car. Congratulations again, Dagenham!

As it is the British small car “war” will be waged between the following protagonists:–

1,172-c.c. Ford Popular £275 (£390 14s. 2d. with p.t.)

803-c.c. Austin A30 (two-door) £335 (£475 11s. 2d. with p.t.)

803-c.c. Standard Eight £339 (£481 7s. 6d. with p.t.)

1,172-c.c. Ford Anglia £360 (£511 2s. 6d. with p.t.)

803-c.c. Morris Minor (two-door) £373 (£529 10s. 10d. with p.t.)

1,172-c.c. Ford Prefect £395 (£560 14s. 2d. with p.t.)

375-c.c. Citroen 2 c.v. £398 (£564 19s. 2d. with p.t.)

803-c.c. Morris Minor (four-door) £405 (574 17s. 6d. with p.t.)

745-c.c. Renault 750 £445 (£635 5s. 0d. with p.t.)

In some ways Motor Sport’s “people’s car” appeal is a tough task to perform. You who believe as we do that Britain is ready for a really low-weight, tiny-engined, truly inexpensive car will flock to the Citroen stand at Earls Court to see the 2 c.v. And will find it and the Renault and Volkswagen rendered expensive because of import duty! And some of the bigger “baby” cars do rather resemble little shunting loco’s, don’t they?