Ford Prefect

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Ford Prefect
Manufacturer Ford of Britain
Production 1938–1961
Predecessor Ford 7Y
Successor Ford Anglia

The Ford Prefect is a line of British cars produced by the UK section of the Ford Motor Company, and a more upmarket version of its direct siblings the Ford Popular and Ford Anglia. It was introduced in October 1938 and remained in production until 1941; returning to the market in 1945, it was offered till 1961. The car progressed in 1953 from its original perpendicular or 'sit-up-and-beg' style to a more modern three-box structure.

Like its siblings, the car became a popular basis for a hot rod especially in Britain where both its lightweight structure and its four-cylinder engines appealed to builders.


E93A (1938–49)

Ford Prefect E93A
Ford Prefect E93A The orange indicator flashers have been added for safety.
Production 1938–49
199,493 produced
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door saloon
2-door tourer
2-door drophead coupé
2-door van
2-door coupé utility[1]
2-door roadster utility[1]
Engine 1172 cc Ford Straight-4 side-valve
Transmission 3-speed manual
Wheelbase 87 in (2,200 mm)[2]
Length 151 in (3,800 mm)[2]
Width 61 in (1,500 mm)[2]
Height 63.5 in (1,610 mm)[3]

The Ford Prefect was introduced in October 1938 and built by the Ford plant in Dagenham, Essex. The original Ford Prefect was a slight reworking of the previous year's 7Y, the first Ford car designed outside of Detroit, Michigan. It was designed specifically for the British market. It had a 1172 cc side-valve engine with thermocirculation radiator (no pump) and the ability to be started by a crank handle should the battery not have sufficient power to turn the starter motor running from the 6 Volt charging system. The windscreen wipers were powered by the vacuum ported from the engine intake manifold — as the car laboured uphill the wipers would slow to a standstill due to the intake manifold vacuum dropping to near nil, only to start working again as the top was reached and the intake vacuum increased. The windscreen opened forward pivoting on hinges on the top edge; two flaps either side of the scuttle also let air into the car.

The most common body styles were two- and four-door saloons, but pre war a few tourers and coupés were made. Ford Australia also produced 2-door coupé utility and 2-door roadster utility variants.[1] Post war, only four-door saloons were available on the home market, but two-door models were made for export.

41,486 were made up to 1941[4] and a further 158,007 between 1945 and 1948.[5]

E493A (1949–53)

Ford Prefect E493A
250pxFord Prefect E493A with headlamps now integrated into the front wings / fenders.
Production 1949–53
192,229 produced
Body style 4-door saloon,
2-door coupe utility (Australia)
Engine 1172 cc Ford Straight-4 side-valve
Transmission 3-speed manual
Wheelbase 94 in (2,400 mm)[2]
Length 151 in (3,800 mm)[2]
Width 61 in (1,500 mm)[2]
Height 63.5 in (1,610 mm)[6]

Post war, the Prefect design changed little until replaced in 1952. The headlamps moved into the wings and trafficators were fitted (internally lit semaphores springing out from the door pillars to signal left and right turns), though due to space restrictions these were left out on the Australian-built Ute. Only four-door saloons were available on the home market, the two-door sector being left to the Anglia but some were made for export.[5]

The brakes remained mechanically operated using the Girling rod system with 10 in (250 mm) drums and the chassis still had transverse leaf springs front and rear.

A Prefect tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1948 had a top speed of 61 mph (98 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 22.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 33.2 miles per imperial gallon (8.51 L/100 km; 27.6 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car which had the optional leather upholstery cost £412 including taxes. In standard form, they commented that it was the cheapest 4-door car on the British market.[6]

192,229 were made.[5]

1950 Canadian-distribution British Ford Prefect
1950 Australian Ford Prefect Coupe Utility

100E (1953–59)

Ford Prefect 100E
250pxFord Prefect 100E (1959) seen in the UK.
Production 1953–59
100,554 produced
Body style 4-door saloon, pick-up
Engine 1172 cc Ford Straight-4 side-valve
Transmission 3-speed manual
Wheelbase 94 in (2,400 mm)[2]
Length 152 in (3,900 mm)[2]
Width 57 in (1,400 mm)[2]
Height 58.5 in (1,490 mm)[7]

In 1953 a much redesigned Ford Prefect was introduced alongside the similar Ford Anglia and remained in production until 1959. The old separate chassis had gone, replaced by integral construction, and coil independent front suspension supplanted the transverse leaf spring. Girling hydraulic brakes were fitted, initially 7 in drums but quickly increased to 8 in (200 mm) A new side-valve engine of 1172 cc engine was fitted having the same bore, stroke and layout of the previous engine, but in all other respects completely different. Externally, it can be distinguished from the Anglia by having vertical bars on the radiator grille and four doors.

Inside there were separate front seats trimmed in PVC with leather as an option and two circular instruments in front of the driver one containing the speedometer and the other a fuel and water temperature gauges. De Luxe models included glove box locks.[8] The gear change was floor-mounted. The heater was an optional extra.

From 1955, the estate car version (the Squire) was introduced, mechanically identical to the estate car version of the Anglia 100E (the Escort) but with wooden strakes.

The Motor magazine tested a de-luxe 100E in 1957 and recorded a top speed of 71 mph (114 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 32.2 seconds. A "touring" fuel consumption of 33.1 miles per gallon (imperial) was recorded. On the home market it cost £658 including taxes of £220.[7]

100,554 were made.[5]

107E (1959–61)

Ford Prefect 107E
Production 1959–61
38,154 produced
Body style 4-door saloon
Engine 997 cc Ford Straight-4 overhead valve
Wheelbase 87 in (2,200 mm)[2]
Length 150 in (3,800 mm)[2]
Width 61 in (1,500 mm)[2]

This was a reworked 100E body with the new 997cc overhead valve engine, four-speed gearbox and 'banjo' style rear end from the Anglia 105E, produced to offer a four door model until replaced by the Ford Classic. 38,154 were made,[5] most of them in a two-tone colour scheme and deluxe trim.

Drum brakes of 8 in (200 mm) diameter were fitted, hydraulically operated, and the suspension was independent at the front using MacPherson struts. The rear driven axle used semi elliptic leaf springs. The steering mechanism used a worm and peg system.

On test, The Motor magazine recorded a top speed of 73 mph (117 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 27.2 seconds. A "touring" fuel consumption of 36 miles per gallon (imperial) was recorded. On the home market, it cost £621, including taxes of £183.[9]

Optional extras included a heater, windscreen washers, radio and leather upholstery to replace the standard PVC.


In addition to the UK, Ford Prefects were also sold in the USA (Advert from 1958), Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Canada. The Canadian model was left-hand drive. The Australian built model was also available in a Coupe Utility or "Ute" form that had an open rear tray area similar in design to an American pick-up, but based on the sedan and not derived from a truck or commercial vehicle. It was also license built in Latvia by Ford-Vairogs as Ford-Vairogs Junior.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Darwin, Norm (1986), The History of Ford in Australia, p. 93 .
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-16689-2. 
  3. "Design Progress: Small Fords". Autocar 134 (3918)): 10–12. 29 April 1971. 
  4. Sedgwick, M; Gillies (1989). A–Z of cars of the 1930s. UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-38-9. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Sedgwick, M.; Gillies (1986). A–Z of cars 1945–1970. UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-39-7. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The Ford Prefect Road Test". The Motor. October 27, 1948. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "The Ford Prefect de-luxe". The Motor. June 5, 1957. 
  8. "Second Hand car guide supplement". Practical Motorist 6 (68): 768–9. April 1960. 
  9. "The Ford Prefect 107E". The Motor. April 20, 1960. 

External links

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