Following the successful launch of their revolutionary Consul/Zephyr range in 1950, the development team at Ford began to turn their attention to the development of replacements for their compact Anglia and Prefect models, which still retained a definite prewar look.
Announced in September 1953, the new Anglia (2 door) and Prefect (4 door) models were given the designation of 100E and undoubtedly represented a considerable advance in almost every respect by comparison with the cars which had hitherto carried these long-running and well respected Ford brands.
To begin with, a completely new body shell was evolved for both the models, which while resembling a slightly crisp, scaled-down Consul, had been designed from scratch around the smaller dimensions necessary for the economy end of the market.
Though more Anglicised than the still-modern Consul/Zephyr series, these machines followed the same basic layout, with slightly boxy unit-construction bodies, MacPherson strut independent front suspension, a three-speed gearbox, and hydraulic braking.
All that was novel enough, but these were also the first Anglia/Prefect cars with 13in road wheels and conventional half-elliptic leaf spring rear suspension.
A substantial front scuttle/bulkhead structure swept forward into the engine bay on each side to form the front suspension upper mounting points.
The wide bonnet top was hinged at its forward edge, and when opened revealed a usefully wide engine bay which provided excellent accessibility for routine maintenance.
At the rear, the full-width square-shaped boot housed a 7-gallon fuel tank inside the nearside wing: its filler cap being situated on top of the bodywork aft of the rear quarter pillar.
The spare wheel was carried horizontally on the offside of the compartment floor, a position which, whilst not obstructing the useful width of this compartment, would nevertheless be inconvenient should a puncture
The 1172cc engine shared the same bore and stroke as the old unit (tooling considerations had much to do with this), but was totally new.
The Anglia still had side valves, but now with pump (not thermosyphon) cooling, and produced 36bhp instead of the spartan 30bhp which the previous models were capable of giving.
Irrespective of which of these units were installed, the Anglia and Prefect provided its owners and drivers with a versatility of performance which could not be matched elsewhere in the compact car class.
Overdrive second successfully bridged the gap between direct second and top gears, while in overdrive top, the 100E now offered a leisurely 65mph cruise or, alternatively, a substantial fuel saving at the model's more normal 50mph cruising gait.
To prove that the period of austerity was gradually departing the British Isles, Ford introduced a De-Luxe version of both models in October 1955, meaning that they were instantly recognisable externally thanks to the addition of full-length chrome strips along the waistline and twin wing mirrors.
The De-Luxe interior appointments included an improved facia panel housing two circular instruments in front of the driver, ivory finish for the control knobs, strap type door pulls, and a useful increase in the front seat adjustment.
To the UK motoring public the De-Luxe versions appear to offer better value than the basic models which were continuing at their original price, and this despite some de-chroming which now resulted in a somewhat spartan appearance.
A lockable glove compartment facing the passenger was a De-Luxe feature only, as was a bright metal embellishment along the recess in which were situated the various control knobs.
Similar improvements were incorporated in the estate cars, although the Squire now lost its distinctive timber decoration, this being replaced by the chromium waistline strip as on the De-Luxe saloons.
In response to demand for a dual function alternative in 1955, Ford introduced estate car variations of the Anglia and Prefect. These newcomers featured rear end bodywork based closely on the 5cwt van derivative of the model which had already made its appearance, with the van doors however gave way to a split horizontal tailgate.
The interior trim was to De-Luxe specification in both cases, and the Squire, as the estate version was known, was additionally equipped with a sliding mechanism for the rear side windows; and decorative timber side strips with which to give its appearance just a hint of the "shooting brakes" of the past.
a href="http://myclassiccarsnews.com"> To make for a better ride slightly stiffer rear springs and 5.60 x 13 tyres of 6 ply construction took care of the extra load capability, but provided a somewhat harsher ride in the unladen state.
As testament to their popularity, the Anglia and Prefect estate cars outlived the saloon versions, marketed as one combined model, under the Escort name, until they were discontinued in 1961.
During 1957 the Prefect lost its distinguishing winged bonnet motif when the whole range acquired a flush-fitting V-shaped adornment.
In October that year the 100E models underwent an extensive face-lifting operation designed to keep them in the forefront of small car sales in Britain whilst development of the OHV engined replacement cars were still in the pipeline.
In the meantime, the updated 100E models were recognizable externally by an enlarged rear window of 25% greater glass area than before, a much appreciated change which gave a marked improvement in rearward vision.
All models now featured chrome plated bumpers and grilles, and the De-Luxe versions had chrome inserts to the headlamp surrounds, grilles, while those on the Anglia boasted a new, mesh design.
Both the Anglia and Prefect 100E models were discontinued in 1959 to be replaced by the Anglia 105E and the Prefect 107E.
While the Anglia 105E remained in production for eight years and was an outstanding seller, Ford pulled the plug on the Prefect just two years after its release, probably due to its dated body shape.
During the six years that they were in production, Ford sold close to 350,000 of the 100E Series in all of its variations.