For too long the Dagenham small Fords have been drearily out-moded because of their side-valve engines and three-speed gearboxes. Now all this is changed; new Anglia and Prefect models are announced. These new Fords are not as revolutionary as the Triumph Herald and B.M.C. mini-cars, because only the front suspension is independent, on the unusual vertical-pillar-and-coil-spring system adopted by Dagenham many years ago. But both have discarded side valves and three speeds. Indeed, the new engine is an exceedingly interesting, distinctly “over-square” 80.96 by 48.41 mm. (997 c.c.) four-cylinder, with vertical push-rod-operated o.h. valves, developing 41 gross b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m. The compression ratio is 8.9 to 1. In unit with it is a four-speed gearbox with ratios of 16.9, 9.8, 5.8 and 4.1 to 1, controlled by a short central lever.
The new Anglia has a wheelbase of 7 ft. 6½ in. and a re-styled two-door saloon body with raked-back rear window which is claimed to remain immune from snow and frost deposits and to protect the inmates from the sun, while providing enhanced head and leg room. Citroen apparently have the same idea for the 3 c.v. and probably both Ford and Citroen have been looking at the American Rebel sedan!
The new Ford Anglia will sell for £589, or £610 in de luxe form, inclusive of purchase tax. Backing it up is a new four-door Prefect 107E, with the new engine and four-speed gearbox (with lower ratios than the Anglia), but virtually unchanged body shape, which sells for £621 12s. 6d. That Dagenham has introduced new styling only for the Anglia may indicate a feverish rush to bring out o.h.v. and four-speeds in time for Earls Court, or could be a sage move to attract both conservative and go-ahead customers to the new power unit . . .
At last the famous Popular, which was virtually the original Anglia of twenty years ago in somewhat modernised form, has been dropped, but the name survives, because Ford cleverly provides a new Popular 100E, which is really the old side-valve three-speed power plant in the former Anglia shell, with, therefore, the advantages of i.f.s. and better styling. It sells for £494 (£74 more than the now obsolete, s.v. Popular), or £515 in de luxe form, and is still the least-expensive family car, undercutting the B.M.C. babies (admittedly of far more advanced design) by nearly £3.
It is easy to imagine what the “soup-shops” will do with the new o.h.v. Ford engine, which is so remarkably “over-square” that the block is less than 7¼ in. high, which already has a very high compression ratio, and which has separate inlet ports, a hollow-cast crankshaft with overlapping journals, and external oil pump.
These notes are being written to meet the Ford release date — so flagrantly overlooked by the Daily Express — and we have so far not even seen the new Fords. We look forward in due course to road-testing these interesting British small cars and meanwhile offer, in a table, some data relating Ford performance claims to known figures for the Herald and B.M.C. cars, vehicles which present a new approach to small-car motoring by three of Britain’s Big Five. — W. B.