Monday February 3, 2020
The Ford stand at the 1959 Motor Show famously hosted the new Anglia, but it also featured an old favourite with a fresh set of badges.
The 105E did not entirely succeed all of Dagenham’s small cars, for the Prefect was upgraded with the 997cc engine as the 107E while the “New Popular replaced the venerable “sit up and beg” 103E.
This was essentially the outgoing Anglia 100E with the 1,172cc side-valve engine and a dearth of standard equipment. It was also, as any Ford salesman would gladly inform you, the cheapest four-wheeled car in the UK.
The gulf between the Popular and the Austin Seven/Morris Mini-Minor initially appears not so much vast as light-years, but the Ford was the right car at the right time.
In the late 1950s, thousands of British motorists distrusted front wheel driver, let alone a car ‘with a sideways engine’ but the 100E was a known quantity.
The styling was only faintly dated, as opposed to wildly anachronistic, and the Popular’s straightforward engineering was ideal for the home mechanic.
Of course, the Popular was Spartan even by the standards of 1959. A lack of a heater and windscreen washers were only to be expected while Ford’s dreadful vacuum-powered wipers were fitted to their entire range, barring the 105E.
However, the basic model 100E lacked opening quarter lights (which made demisting an interesting process), ashtrays, a courtesy lamp, warning lights for oil pressure and main beam, sun visors and even door pulls and a boot locking handle.
Ford was open about the 100E’s minimalist and gimmick-free ethos. If a brochure lists ‘Rear number plate illumination’ under the heading “General Equipment”, then you know that the model in question will not be the last word in luxury.
At least the fascia was ‘well-planned and uncluttered’ – i.e. there was little in the way of distracting instruments and switches.
Yet, it should be borne in mind that 61 years ago to own a car, let alone a new model, was regarded as a major step forward for thousands of households.
£494 was a very reasonable price for personal mobility and Dagenham promised that ‘special Ford insurance and hire-purchase rates are exceptionally attractive’.
Furthermore, when you took delivery of your 100E finished in “Ming Yellow” or “Pompadour Blue”, it would ‘win admiring glances everywhere’.
A top speed of just under 70 mph was quite acceptable, if not entirely suited to the M1, and the ‘generous boot takes all holiday luggage for four with its ten cubic foot capacity’.
Arriving in style at the boarding house in Southport was now a genuine prospect.
The 100E ceased production in 1962 after 126,115 units, marking the end of the British side valve Fords.
The Popular never claimed to be “exotic”, but it was a car that really did live up to the promise of the sales copy of providing cheap, dependable and enjoyable transpire. And those are achievements that should not be overlooked.
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Here at Lancaster, we love classic cars as much as you do and we understand what it takes to protect them for future generations.
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