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Homepage. This page: Original Ford publication detailing the factory reconditioned engines that were available 1932-on.

"Making Your Ford Young Again"

In the 1950s and 1960s, people often ran much older cars than are seen out and about today. Even in the 60s it wasn't unusual to see a pre-war car pottering along the newly-opened M6, although the introduction of the Ten Year Test (MOT) in 1960 put paid to many of these wing-and-a-prayer motorcars for good. Because there were still so many hand-on owner/mechanics, spending their weekends keeping the family car in fine fettle, it was still viable for car manufacturer's to continue offering new engines for models that had long since disappeared from the showrooms. The many DIY car maintenance magazine titles available in those days (Car Mechanics, Car & Car Conversions, Practical Mechanics etc etc) bear this out.

Ford engine leaflet
This little leaflet, issued by Ford in 1961, ably illustrates this. The cover shows a hatted gentleman behind the wheel of his Consul, staring down at a future Ford customer perhaps - a young lad in his pedal car. Engines did not soldier on like they do today (electronics allowing!). De-cokes every 20,000 miles were expected, and few engines would reach 80,000 miles without either significant work, or, for the really rattly engines, complete replacement. Car owners could choose to have their existing engine reconditioned, either by themself or a garage, or alternatively plump for a good-as-new exchange unit direct from the manufacturer. The leaflet says:

"For a little or no more than the cost of an ordinary overhaul your old engine can be replaced by one 'as good as new' through Ford's engine-exchange service. In a few hours, you have another engine young at heart and full of vigour!"

Vigour isn't something that automatically springs to mind when thinking about some of Ford's pre-war motors, but you get their point....

"The famous Ford exchange-engine service operates like this. You take your Ford car or Thames van to the local Ford dealer, the old engine is removed by skilled, factory-trained mechanics, they fit the ancillary parts - electrical equipment, carburettor, fuel pump and so on - to a genuine Ford factory-reconditioned engine. The exchange engine is installed in your car and tested, and the whole job takes only a few hours, empowering you to drive away with an engine in tip-top condition, quicker and simpler than an overhaul and the ultimate in reliability!"

The 'new' engine was guaranteed for six months, which probably wasn't something that could be said of all engine work done by the less scrupulous of 'bomb site' garages that operated at the time. BMC also offered a similar scheme, with their Silverseal and Goldseal engines, the latter being a new engine. But back to the Ford leaflet, and these are the engines that they could sell you, in 1961:

Eight
Suitable for the 1932-1937 Popular, Eight 1937-1939, Anglia 1939-1953, 5cwt van 1932-1954. 30.

Ten
Suitable for the 1934-1937 De Luxe, 10 1937-1938, Prefect 1939-1953, Popular 1953-1959, 10cwt van 1938-1957. 32.

Ten (100E type)
Suitable for the Anglia 1953-1959, Prefect 1953-1959, Squire 1955-1959, Escort 1955-1961, Popular 1959-, 5cwt van 1954-1961, 7cwt van 1955-1961. 33.

Consul 1
Ford 8hp engine
The oldest engine still offered in 1961, the 8hp sidevalve unit as fitted to the Model Y of 1932.
1951-1956 39.

Consul 2
1956- 39.

Zephyr 1
1951-1956
Zodiac 1
1953-1956 53.

Zephyr 2
1956-
Zodiac 2
1956- 53.

What I find amazing, despite the reasons already given, is that a car manufacturer still offered in 1961, engines suitable for their cars built in 1932 (the 8hp Model Y). Would a manufacturer in 2007 still offer newly rebuilt engines to fit cars from 29 years earlier? the modern equivalent would be Ford still selling rebuilt engines for a Mk2 Escort.

Replacing a Ford engine
Once upon a time, cars might receive 2 or 3 engine changes during their working lives. This photo shows a 10cwt Ford preparing to receive a replacement engine.
In those days people fixed and repaired things, whereas the trend now is to chuck something away when it goes wrong and simply buy another (in this case, scrap a malfunctioning car and buy a new one, usually on credit). In the 50s and 60s replacement components were both affordable, and in the main straightforward to fit. If new cars were truly 'green' as we're continually being told, then surely manufacturers would be going back to simpler systems that could easily and affordably be repaired, as was once the case.

Drifting away from engines for a moment, this is especially true with cars that have had a low-speed bump. The complexity of most new cars renders repair, even after a minor shunt, economically unviable for anything over a few years of age, with insurers preferring to write them off and pension the car off to a scrapyard before its time. If car designs, and engines in particular, became simpler as once they were, then perhaps we'd see the re-introduction of exchange engine schemes, and increased manufacturer support, for much older models, as was commonplace four decades ago. There is one manufacturer that bucks the trend however, and that is Mercedes Benz - ok their modern cars are as uber-complex as all the rest, but they have a great reputation for still being able to supply parts to fit models going back many decades, and for that they are to be commended.

All car manufacturers and Government, in my opinion, should be actively supporting the re-use of well maintained older cars and shifting some of their focus away from pushing new cars onto the driveways of British homes. A manufacturer-supported network designed to help keep older cars (say 20-25 years old) in full health, as was offered in 1961, would go a long way in reducing the use of finite resources, and pollution, that goes hand in hand with producing new cars. Somehow I can't see it happening.

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