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Buying a 1950s Ford Popular |
Built for years alongside the 103E Popular, the 100E New Anglia swept in with simple 3 box saloon styling, and monocoque construction. The first (2 door) 100Es rolled off the production line late in 1953, with the 4 door New Prefect following shortly afterwards. The Prefect was a higher spec version of the basic Anglia, and basked in the glory of extra chromium trim, dual wipers, and twin sunvisors. Both new models came with PVC trim as standard to begin with, although the 13.00 option of leather would be offered further down the line.
Changes throughout production were evolutionary rather than revolutionary. An early improvement, introduced in January 1955, was an increase in the front brake drum diameter, from 7in to 8in, to ward off brake fade in extreme use. Despite the much improved modern lines of the 100E over the pre-war inspired 103E, it was still hampered with a 3 speed gearbox, when rivals from Austin and Morris were offering 4 speed in the A35 and Minor for instance. Aftermarket conversions were offered to overcome this backwards design feature, but Fords stuck with the 3 speed offering throughout production.
In October 1955, Deluxe versions of the Anglia and Prefect were introduced. These models were brightened up over more mundane examples courtesy of chrome strips down the body sides, chrome headlamp bezels and window surrounds, revised instrumentation, plus other minor tweaks. The base Anglia and Prefect continued alongside, although the latter now had body-painted headlamp bezels a la base Anglia. Both were bereft of nearly all chrome trim by this time, only offering cheapo painted bumpers. If you wanted chrome, you'd have to stump up the extra cash to go Deluxe.
Significant body alteration came in October 1957, when the rear window size was increased by 25%. A few minor trim updates were introduced at the same time, with revisions also being made to the rear lamp clusters. New for this season, and a rarely chosen option, was the semi-automatic clutch known as Newton Drive. This was a fiddly system to keep in adjustment, and was quietly dropped from the options list after a year or so (My Standard 10 also has the Newtondrive system, but touch wood seems reliable..).
The 100E soldiered on for a couple more years, until 1959 when the range was rejigged somewhat. Out went the 100E Anglias and Prefects. An economy version of the Anglia was brought in, known as the New Popular. This also came in basic and Deluxe versions. The base model was truly basic - no air filter, no oil pressure warning light, no ashtrays, fixed quarterlights, no chrome fripperies, no passenger sun visor, and bog standard card door trims. The Deluxe Popular however did have these heady refinements, and other joys such as rubber floor matting and padded door trims, finished with PVC. The basic 100E continued until mid 1962, with the final Deluxe Popular rolling off the production line in June. The disappearance of the Deluxe Pop signalled the end of 100E production.
As with so many cars that are 50 or so years old, it'll pay to tread carefully when checking over a prospective purchase. The oldest 100Es now date to the early 50s, and as cheap forms of transport, are likely to have passed through some less-than-caring hands over the years. These cars were tough old warriors, but 50 years of winter use, bodging, and missed oil changes, may well have made a lasting effect on the car you're looking at.
The engine is the 1172cc sidevalve four cylinder engine, based on, but not the same as, the earlier E93A type of 10hp lump. The 100E version featured a number of updates over the E93A, including a fixed waterpump and adjustable tappets, neither of which was standard on the earlier type. Engine parts can still be found for the 100E, although the cost of a full rebuild can swiftly add up. Do all the usual checks for any old car, ie does the engine smoke or leak profusely? are there any signs of water in the oil, or vice versa?
Of even more importance though is the condition of the body structure itself, for resurrecting a seriously corroded example would test the patience of a saint. Availability of new-old-stock panels is virtually nil (never say never though!), so you'll need to put the word out in suitable journals and websites to find the correct parts you need. Replacement trim will be hard to find, and with trim alterations being made throughout production, only a model-expert could identify what is, and is not, correct on a particular example. Rot can be found in all the usual places, eg sills, front wings (especially behind the front wheels - mud trap), jacking points, rear spring shackle mountings and both front and rear valances. A scruffy car poor in most of these areas may still qualify for an MOT, but major grot in the spring mounting areas will quickly spell trouble when it comes to MOT time. The gearboxes are usually quite long lasting, although they are known to wear their synchro rings, resulting in the lever dropping out of 2nd gear on the over-run. Play in the steering box can usually be adjusted out, so is not a major cause of alarm. Talking of the front end, a key area on the 100E bodyshell that you don't want to find problems with, is the region of the MacPherson strut mountings, on the inner wings. Manys the Popular, Anglia or Prefect that has made a one-way trip to the scrapyard, solely down to terminal tinworm in this area. Repairs can be effected, but it does take a modicum of skill. Repair sections can be bought from model specialists and clubs.
When new, the chassis number (stamped near the top suspension mounting on the offside) and engine number would match. Any replacement of engine over the years will therefore break this link. Importantly, the i.d plate mounted above the battery tray should also have this same number. This number will be preceded by 100E on RHD cars, and 101E on left hookers.
Fortunately, the 100E range is popular (no pun intended!) with the classic car fraternity, and most parts can be found secondhand to keep a car on the road. Membership of a relevant owners club is probably to be recommended, as is securing a factory workshop manual and parts list. When you start looking for a car, much will depend on your own level of knowledge and skill when it comes to car restoration and maintenance. Do you want a mint example, for wheeling out at car shows during the summer? or are you keen to take on a car that already has one eye on the scrapyard? Good examples of any 100E saloon rarely stretch into the mega thousands, with very few creeping above GBP 3000 or so even with a dealer. Most fall into the GBP 1500-2000 bracket, where good solid cars should be available. Something with a tree growing through it, or propping up the side of an embankment, is worth whatever you'll pay for it, and whatever that is, it shouldn't be much. Parts donor and derelict cars are still available for GBP 250, although will require herculean amounts of work before they'll ever see the road again. If the car has lost its original registration number, it will reduce both its desirability and therefore its value. An age-related plate stands out a mile away, and many enthusiasts value a car that still possesses its correct registration. So a quick buck made by flogging on a cars number may just nobble the final sale price of the same car, should you ever sell it in future.
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