Inevitably, I saw an awful lot of cool conveyances last year and didn’t get a chance to write about all of them, but some of them were just too worthy of attention to go forgotten. So here we are with one of the stars of a show I visited in the summer.
There’s no telling just how many Hitch-hikers this particular Ford Prefect ever helped out on their journey, all we can see is that the thing is so clean, there’s not even Arthur Dent anywhere to be seen. Don”t Panic, here comes a full write-up.
I feel a little guilty, actually, that I only picked this car up on my second lap of the ranks of vehicles that had assembled, my head was swiveling to take in all the Aston Martins and this poor little chap barely made it onto my radar. Time to make amends, because it’s a lovely little thing.
Let’s go ahead and make another of those ridiculous, sweeping, throwaway generalisations. This, for so many ordinary people, was THE family car of the late ’40s, early ’50s. A tiny car with a 1172cc sidevalve engine that was more steam-age than Jet-age. I’m currently trying to work out what would be the direct equivalent nice-but-affordable family Ford for the US at the time, probably some kind of straight-six dreamboat of a car. Suggestions below are welcome.
No, our cars of the time didn’t amount to much, but we could dream, couldn’t we? As if to show some kind of optimism there’s a wonderful (and slightly incongruous) hood ornament atop that tall grille; not identifiably rocket or jet-plane inspired but streamlined and chromish enough to lend a little glamour, even though Art-Deco had been and gone by 1953, the date of this machine.
Directly below this was another chrome embellishment; and reading it makes me stand tall, chest in, chin up; A Ford Product, “Made In England”. Salute, at ease.
The snappily named E493A Prefect and its lesser sibling, the Popular, broke barely any new ground and were basically a retread of the technology that was doing the rounds prior to the outbreak of war. It’ followed the exact same formula as those cars, with more than a hint of the vintage lines of the 20’s and 30’s. The front fenders/wheelarches had not yet made full union with the engine compartment, there are still running boards and a hole for a starting handle, although that latter feature would survive for a few years yet.
The olde-worlde charm of the Prefect wasn’t to last long after this car was built. The photo above shows the next two generations of Prefect and its two-door Anglia sister to serve, the 100E and 105E that has become so sought-after recently since an adolescent wizard got one airborne, an activity which wouldn’t usually lead to survival of either car or crew.
The styling of the 105E, with its reverse-angle rear screen (a la Lincoln and Mercury Breezeway, but non-opening) little fins and smooth front end couldn’t have been more different to the earlier car if it tried, but both are redolent of their own eras, and equally worthy of preservation. Although a little 21st century optimisation might be rather fun, so long as it was done with a little restraint.
[Images: Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Chris Haining]