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Ford Popular
RRT339 020510 CPS (4576174140).jpg
Ford Popular (103E)
ManufacturerFord UK

The Ford Popular, often called the Ford Pop, is a car from Ford UK that was built in England between 1953 and 1962. When launched, it was Britain's lowest priced car.[1]

The name Popular was also used by Ford to describe its 1930s Y Type model. The Popular name was also later used on basic models of the Escort and Fiesta cars.

Ford Popular 103E

Electrics were 6 volts, a provided starting handle often necessary. Rod operated drum brakes, synchromesh only on 2nd and top gear. The boot accessed with a coach key, no heater or demister, semaphore indicators, pull-wire starter, manual choke. No water pump, engine cooling by thermosyphon – this was very basic motoring.

Ford Popular 103E
1955 Ford Popular (13027999655).jpg
AssemblyUnited Kingdom
Australia [2]
Body and chassis
Body styletwo door saloon
two door coupe utility (Australia) [3]
chassis-cowl (Australia) [3]
RelatedFord Anglia
Engine1172 cc straight-4 side-valve
30 bhp
Transmission3-speed manual
Wheelbase90 in (2,286 mm)[1]
Length151.5 in (3,848 mm)[1]
Width56.5 in (1,435 mm)[1]
Height64.5 in (1,638 mm)[1]
Curb weight1,624 lb (737 kg)[4]
SuccessorFord Popular 100E

When production of the older Ford Anglia and Ford Prefect was stopped in 1953 the Popular was developed as a budget alternative, based on the old, pre-war style E494A Anglia. The E494A was, in turn, a facelift of the Anglia E04A, which was a facelifted version of the 7Y, itself a rebodied Model Y. Thus through several adjustments, updates and name changes, a design with provenance dating back to 1932 was produced by Ford for 27 years. It was powered by a Ford Sidevalve 1172 cc, 30 bhp (22 kW),[4] four-cylinder engine. The car was very basic. It had a single vacuum-powered wiper, no heater, vinyl trim, and very little chrome; even the bumpers were painted, and the bakelite dash of the Anglia was replaced by a flat steel panel. The Popular 103E differed visually from the Anglia E494E in having smaller headlights and a lack of trim on the side of the bonnet.[5] Early 103Es had the three spoke banjo type Anglia/Prefect steering wheel as stocks of these were used up, but most have a two spoke wheel similar to the 100E wheel but in brown. Early Populars also had the single centrally mounted tail/stop-lamp of the Anglia, but this changed to a two tail/stop lamp set up with the lamps mounted on the mudguards and a separate number plate lamp. In total, 155,340 Popular E103s were produced.[4]

This car proved successful because, while on paper it was a sensible alternative to a clean, late-model used car, in practice there were no clean late-model used cars available in postwar Britain owing to the six-year halt in production caused by the Second World War. This problem was compounded by stringent export quotas that made obtaining a new car in the late 1940s and into the early 1950s difficult, and covenants forbidding new-car buyers from selling for up to three years after delivery. Unless the purchaser could pay the extra £100 or so for an Anglia 100E, Austin A30 or Morris Minor, the choice was the Popular or a pre-war car.

In later years, these cars became popular as hot rods since the late 1950s when people started drag racing them due to their lightweight construction. This practice started in the United States with Ford's 1932 Model B/18, while the Ford "Pop" as it was affectionately known became the definitive British hot rod – a reduced sized but readily available British alternative, a role it still plays today to a considerable extent.

A car tested by The Motor magazine in 1954 had a top speed of 60.3 mph (97.0 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 24.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 36.4 miles per imperial gallon (7.8 L/100 km; 30.3 mpg‑US) was recorded. The test car cost £390 including taxes.[1]

In Australia

The Popular 103E was available in Australia up to 1955 as a two-door coupe utility and also in chassis-cowl form to accept custom built bodyworkwork.[3] It utilised the 94 inch wheelbase of the Ford Prefect with 103E front panels.[3] The utility was designated as 103E-67 and the chassis-cowl model as 103E-84.[6] The Popular utility differed from its Anglia A494A utility predecessor in that the Popular did not have running boards [7] whereas the Anglia did have them.[8]

1954 Ford Popular 103E Coupe Utility
1954 Ford Popular 103E Coupe Utility

Ford Popular 100E

Ford Popular 100E
Ford Popular 1959 photo 2008 Castle Hedingham.JPG
Body and chassis
Body styletwo door saloon
RelatedFord Anglia
Engine1172 cc straight-4 side-valve
Transmission3 speed manual
Wheelbase87 in (2,210 mm)[9]
Length149.75 in (3,804 mm)[9]
Width60.75 in (1,543 mm)[10]
Height58.75 in (1,492 mm)[10]
Curb weight1,708 lb (775 kg)
PredecessorFord Popular 103E
SuccessorFord Anglia

In 1959 the old Popular was replaced by a new version that was in production until 1962. Like the previous version it used a superseded Anglia body shell, this time that of the 100E, and it was powered by a strengthened 1172 cc sidevalve engine producing 36 bhp.[10] The brakes were now hydraulic with 8 in (203 mm) drums all round.[10] The new Popular offered 1,000 mile (1,500 km in metric countries) service intervals, like its predecessor, but it only had 13 grease points as against its predecessor's 23 (or 28 for the pre-war cars).[11] The basic model stripped out many fittings from the Anglia but there was a large list of extras available and also a De Luxe version which supplied many as standard. 126,115 Popular 100Es were built.[4]

The Motor magazine tested a 100E in 1960 and found it to have a top speed of 69.9 mph (112.5 km/h), acceleration from 0–50 mph (80 km/h) in 19.6 seconds and a fuel consumption of 33.2 miles per imperial gallon (8.5 L/100 km; 27.6 mpg‑US). The test car cost £494 including taxes with a comment that it was the lowest-priced orthodox saloon on the British Market.[10]

In 1960, the manufacturer's recommended retail price of £494 was equivalent to 26 weeks' worth of the average UK wage.[11] The £100 charged in 1935 and the £1,299 charged for the Ford Escort Popular in 1975 both also amounted to 26 weeks' worth of average wage for the years in question.[11] In the 1950s, however, the country had been undergoing a period of above average austerity: in 1953 the car's £390 sticker price represented 40 weeks' worth of the average UK wage.[11]

Ford Popular deluxe (100E)
Ford Popular deluxe (100E)

Popular trim level

In 1975 the Popular name was revived as a base trim level of the newly released Ford Escort Mk2. This model featured a standard 1.1 litre OHV Kent engine, 12-inch wheels with cross ply tyres and drum brakes all round. The 1975 Ford Escort Popular was the first Ford to carry the Popular name that also featured a heater as standard equipment.[11] The "Popular" trim level proved long-standing across the Ford range, featuring on later Escorts and the Fiesta, from 1980 to 1991. A 'Popular Plus' variant was also available.

Ford Popular in television shows

In 1970, a 1954 Ford Popular-based kit car, the Siva Edwardian (MTR 5), was used by Jon Pertwee to become "Bessie", the Doctor's sprightly Edwardian roadster on the long-running science-fiction television show, Doctor Who. (The plate number "WHO 1" had already been taken, so Bessie's legal plate number was MTR 5. A special set of WHO 1 plates were made for filming sequences only. In Bessie's last appearance in Sylvester McCoy's story "Battlefield" (Doctor Who), the plate number was WHO 7, possibly as a nod to McCoy's 7th Doctor. A black Ford Popular 103E (EBW 343) was also used in the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch Mr. and Mrs. Brian Norris' Ford Popular. In a spoof of epic journeys, the Norrises (Michael Palin as Brian Norris and Graham Chapman in drag as Betty Norris) set out to see if the journey from Surbiton to Hounslow was possible; they were thwarted by the Thames and had to finish the trek by rail. Between 1992 and 1997, two black Ford Populars (8253 PU and VXL 794) were used in Heartbeat as Oscar Blaketon's car.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Ford Popular". The Motor. 28 April 1954.
  2. ^ Bill Ballard, English and Australian Small Fords: Recognition and Restoration, 2003, pages 133 & 134
  3. ^ a b c d Bill Ballard, English and Australian Small Fords: Recognition and Restoration, 2003, pages 74 to 76
  4. ^ a b c d Robson, Graham (2006). A-Z British Cars 1945–1980. Herridge & Sons. ISBN 0-9541063-9-3.
  5. ^ Bill Ballard, English and Australian Small Fords: Recognition and Restoration, 2003, page 74
  6. ^ Bill Ballard, English and Australian Small Fords: Recognition and Restoration, 2003, page 134
  7. ^ Bill Ballard, English and Australian Small Fords: Recognition and Restoration, 2003, page 76
  8. ^ Bill Ballard, English and Australian Small Fords: Recognition and Restoration, 2003, page 71
  9. ^ a b Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-16689-2.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "The Ford Popular". The Motor. 24 August 1960.
  11. ^ a b c d e "By Popular demand...". Motor: 32–33. 2 July 1975.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 July 2020, at 06:10
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