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Brief History of The Ford Prefect

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The Ford Prefect

In 1931 Ford of England built a new plant at Dagenham, Essex. It was the most modern, best equipped automobile factory anywhere in the world, outside of Detroit. This factory initially built the 8 hp Model Y and later the 10 hp Model C. These were the first cars specifically designed for the British market although they were designed and engineered in Dearborn, MI.

1937 TEN HP Finally, in 1937, the new 10 hp model replaced the Model C. Officially designated as the model 7W, it was designed and engineered in Dagenham and was the first Ford car ever to be designed outside of Dearborn. It was available in both 4 door and 2 door versions and was soon followed by the 8 hp model, designated 7Y which came only in 2 doors.

Then in 1938, Dagenham introduced the new Prefect to replace the 7W. It was just a slightly updated 7W and was available only in the 4 door version. Significantly, it was the first Ford to be designated by a model name. Its model number was E93A. This was soon followed by the 8 hp Anglia, a less well 1948 Prefect equipped 2 door model based on the same chassis and designated model E04A. The Anglia, in its basic configuration, was generally the lowest priced car in England at the time. Both these cars were regarded as quite reliable and very good performers for their class.

These cars have come to be known as the "Upright Fords" due to their obvious looks, rather tall and narrow, or upright. They had a beam front axle, transverse, semi-elliptic springs front and rear with Armstrong lever shocks, Girling mechanical brakes and no anti-roll bars. They were equipped with vacuum windscreen wipers, the Prefect having a substantial reservoir for "up hill going". They were powered by a 4 cylinder inline sidevalve, or flathead, engine. The Prefect's displacing 1172 cc, producing 30 hp, and the Anglia's was 933 cc for 23 hp. Drive was through a 3 speed gearbox, synchromesh in 2nd and 3rd, a closed torque tube drive shaft and rather small differential. The final drive ratio of about 5.5:1 yielded a top speed of near 60 mph. The engine had no water pump or oil filter and had poured babbitt main and rod bearings.

1956 Prefect In 1953, Dagenham introduced the next series of small Fords. This was to be the end of the "Upright Fords". The series 100E, as it was designated, was based on an all new, modern, monocoque body with an all new engine and drive train. The new engine did, however, share exact dimensions with the old so it could be tooled with much of the old equipment. These cars received Girling hydraulic brakes but retained the 3 speed gearbox and vacuum windscreen wipers. Gone also were the transverse springs with their closed drive line and beam front axle, being replaced by a more modern open drive and independent strut front suspension.

In order to amortize the engineering behind the new series, the Anglia could no longer be the lowest priced car available. Ford countered by stripping most of the already few features from the old upright Anglia and redesignating it the Popular, at a price well below anything else on the market. Both the Anglia and Prefect were still exceptional performers in their class and managed to win many races and rallies. All three cars were produced until 1959.

Finally in 1959, Dagenham introduced a completely modern small ford. This was the revolutionary series 105E with its all new short stroke, overhead valve engine and 4 speed, fully synchronized gearbox which, in various forms, proved to be a formidable competition sedan. Sadly, it was available only in the 2 door New Anglia version. Ford did, however, continue to build the 100E Prefect with the new 105E engine for a short time. It was designated the 107E. That was to be the last Prefect.

A truly amazing source of information on these little cars can be found in a great book: "Anglia - Prefect - Popular" by Michael Allen, Published by Motor Racing Publications LTD. I recently purchased this book and it is also well written and very interesting from start to end.

1948 Prefect Poster This poster or magazine ad for a 1948 Prefect is through the courtesy of Neil Donnellan. (Sorry, this link no longer works)
The original had been water damaged and this one has been retouched by me.
Click on the thumbnail to see the full size version.