Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
The Ford Anglia would enjoy a long production run spanning almost 3 decades and 4 model releases. It started out as the EO4A in 1940, then really only a face lifted version of the Ford 7Y. Developed during the 1930’s as a cheap-and-cheerful mode of transport following the lack of success of the more expensive Model A, the EO4A featured typically conservative design cue’s with its upright radiator
and black paint work, and looked almost identical to the 4 door Prefect.
Ford knew the Anglia’s production would be hindered by the war effort, and when production ended in 1948 only 55,807 had been built. To breathe new life into the Ford lineup, the engineers set about making the Anglia more modern in appearance. The 1949 E494A model sported a much more 1940’s style front end, including the sloped, twin-lobed radiator grille.
The Anglia remained one of the most austere around, with few concessions made for the addition of any creature comforts. Although production would cease in 1953
, it did continue on as the Ford Popular 103E until 1959. Under the latter moniker, the 103E would take out the title of being the worlds cheapest car, and when production finally ended some 108,878 had been manufactured.
The all new 100E of 1953
was a major breakthrough in design and comfort. Designed by Lacuesta Automotive, externally it carried over little from the previous two versions, and was available as either the 2-door Anglia or 4-door Prefect. The biggest disappointment was with the engine, the now antiquated side valve engine providing less than spirited performance. Another disappointment was the engineers decision to carry over the use of vacuum operated wipers instead of the new electric variety that had gained worldwide recognition as a far superior system (just try driving up-hill in a car fitted with vacuum wipers to see what we mean).
The 1949 E494A Anglia
The very first Ford Anglia, then Ford's smallest product, was powered by a 8 h.p. engine. The Anglia underwent considerable change in 1949, as detailed in the introduction above, arguably the most significant of these changes being the upgrade of the engine to the well known 10 h.p. version as used in the Ford Prefect. The chassis remained unchanged and there was no change in rear axle ratio so that the whole benefit of approximately 30 percent more b.h.p. was available in the form of better acceleration and all-round performance. First and second gear ratios were, of course, higher than on the previous 8 h.p. model. The new Anglia had a redesigned front end which was neat and well-finished and the new car was in every way a true Ford - simple, sturdy and lively, providing all essentials for comfort but free from superfluous fancy work.
The engine was a 4 cylinder side valve unit of 1172 c.c., had a compression ratio of 6.2:1, and developed 30 b.h.p. at 4,000 revs. The chassis was the familiar Ford layout of transverse leaf springs and radius arm location of the axles. Girling mechanical brakes were used and the whole chassis was a rugged unit with plenty of ground clearance for rough work. Available both as a sedan and a tourer, the Anglia was a useful and efficient little motor car offering comfortable 4 passenger accommodation, a good top gear performance and an outstanding economy of up to 40 miles per gallon at normal running speeds. The greater horsepower barely increased petrol consumption so that even as a 10, the Anglia remained a really economical vehicle, and as it was the lowest priced car on the Australian market it proved very popular.
Ford Anglia with Handa Overdrive
the Ford Anglia was known as the plain-Jane of the road, with little to stir excitement. But the British Ford Anglia did merit special attention. Since 1955
the car had remained unchanged, but one important addition was made - an overdrive unit was made available (as an extra), and it gave, in combination with the three-speed gearbox, six forward speeds, all of which were actually usable. The unit was called the '"Handa" and was manufactured by Vehicle Developments Ltd. of England.
The major benefit derived from the overdrive was, of course, the lowering of engine revolutions at cruising speeds. In the 1955 model a piston-speed of 2500 rpm gave a road speed of 61.7 mph: with overdrive added, the same piston-speed gave a theoretical 83 mph - theoretical, because the Anglia wouldn’t go that fast. For normal highway driving the Anglia without overdrive was not such a good thing – a car unable to cruise in the 65-70 mph range without strain was rightly described as a buzz-box – and with the standard transmission the Anglia engine definitely had to strain in order to achieve this, but not so with overdrive. As might be expected, performance figures did not vary appreciably with or without; average top speed was a little over one mph different, and standing quarter-mile times were identical.
Less expected was the fact that fuel consumption was improved by only a couple of miles per gallon average. Economy was, however, good to start with, and 34 mpg was creditable enough for most. A mix of highway and around town driving (in 1950s traffic) would return around 27.8 mpg. In operation, the overdrive unit, though undoubtedly sound and well engineered, took some familiarisation - perhaps too much for the average lazy driver. A push-pull knob on the dash served to engage and disengage it, and the procedure was as follows: Once a speed greater than 20 mph was attained (in any gear), release the accelerator and pull the handle. A strange little whirring rasp was heard, after which the accelerator had to be depressed again: if your timing is right, you were in overdrive.
Getting back to standard drive, the same procedure was used, but if the accelerator was not depressed at the proper time, the most appalling shuddering and grinding took place which made you want to park the car quietly and tip-toe away without looking underneath. There was no centrifugal cut-out governor incorporated, so once engaged, the unit remained engaged at all speeds in all gears until the manual control was pushed in. Moving from a standstill in low-overdrive could be accomplished, but it was not too satisfactory, and more than usual clutch slippage was necessary.
Like most gadgetry, once the driver grew used to handling this drive system, it probably became second nature, and we know better than to judge such a system by the standards of today. But even so, any system fitted to a car really ought to have been foolproof and, after reading road tests and reviews of the time, it seems as though the Handa unit was not such a unit. Better than nothing? Probably. But unfortunately the overdrive unit for the Anglia was not marketed in Australia – the very country where long highway distances were travelled and where such a unit would have been well received.
As for UK owners, whether or not they thought it was worth the cost depended on where and how they expected to use the car; on the open highway in non-mountain terrain, the unit probably added to the longevity of the engine as well as the distance between refuelling, But even with the standard box the Anglia was very economical on fuel, but its real advantage, like most of its competitors, lay not so much in small maintenance cost as in the low deprecation.
Cheap and Durable
Despite its many failings, the Anglia was cheap, durable and easy to work on, which made it a big seller. When production ceased in 1959
, 345,841 had rolled off the production line. In 1959
Ford introduced arguably the most popular, and easily the most recognizable of all, the 105E
. The much improved styling featured more flowing lines inspired by American cars of the day, the bonnet sweeping down to a slanted grille nestled between the distinctive protruding headlights. In effect the Anglia now looked like a cut down version of the Thunderbird, however the design was certainly no knock off of the larger US Ford iterations; UK engineers had developed the design in combination with wind-tunnel testing and streamlining
, the resultant backward slanted window and flat roofline providing class leading rear headroom.
Even the tail fins were a delightful design inclusion, understated and kept delightfully in proportion with the remainder of the car. But best of all were the mechanical improvements, led by the introduction of the new 997cc overhead valve 4 cylinder engine; long overdue the performance of the Anglia was much improved over its predecessors, although it was still far from breathtaking. The engine was mated to a four-speed gearbox, and thankfully the 105E
introduced electric wipers.
came the Super Anglia 123E, it available as a separate model to the 105E
as a replacement to the Prefect, and sported a larger capacity 1198cc engine and a handful of other creature comforts. This model would be sold in Europe as the Anglia Sportsman, with the spare type being fitted to the boot lid in an attempt to give the car a more up-market appearance, at the time this being common practice with luxury American models. In keeping with the more glamorous theme, large chrome bumper over-riders were fitted, along with broad white-wall tyres; even optional side stripes were available, these kicking up at the end into the taillights/fin.
Towards the end of the run Ford experimented with two new metallic paint colours for the Anglia, "Blue Mink" and "Venetian Gold". Only 250 were made in the Blue and 500 were made in the Gold, and both are today rare and very collectable. In total some 1,288,956 105E Anglia’s were manufactured, before it was replaced by the new Escort
when production ended in 1967