103E Ford Popular top image

Intro to the Ford 103E "Popular" car from the 1950s.

This old-car website, specific to the Ford Popular 103E, will hopefully be of interest to anyone who runs, is restoring, or simply remembers the old upright Ford Populars of the 1950s. In their day, Ford Pops could be seen on virtually every street across Great Britain, their shrewd owners eschewing creature comforts such as electric windscreen wipers, interior heating, and a four speed gearbox, preferring to keep their household motoring bills well and truly pinned to the linoleum. So yes the 103E Popular was a basic car, yet did the job of transporting a family of four (maybe more) to the seaside once a year, carried the bread winner of the house on the daily grind to work and back, consuming fuel and oil in moderate amounts only - at least when new!
Ford 103E Popular saloon car seen parked in London
Previous Ford 8s and 10s.
Beneath the centrally hinged bonnet of the Ford Pop lurked an engine familiar to Ford owners since the 1930s, albeit now in 10hp 1172cc sidevalve form. The basic engine first shuffled the family motorist along our green and pleasant lanes in 1932, powering as it did Ford's cut-price motor-car, or the 8hp Model Y as it was more formally known. Rivals back then included the Austin Ruby, Luton's Vauxhall 10, and the original Morris Minor. The smallest Ford evolved throughout the 1930s, from the Model Y, into the agreeable lines of the Model C and CX, and then the 7W Ten of 1937/1938, the first model to feature coachwork recognisable as being the granddaddy to the 103E of the 1950s, although the rear end owed more to the plusher E93A Prefect of 1938, with its flat rear bootlid. An 8hp car was also still offered by the Dagenham concern, the 7Y Eight of 1937-1939, and was the cheapest car on offer, taking over the mantle from the previous 8-horse cars, and pitched one rung below the 7W Ten.
In 1939 the E04A took over from the 7Y, and featured a similar body to the 7W, but now with a pronounced boot area, and a more upright grille. This car would continue in production until 1948, when the E494A Anglia was launched. Finally the silhouette of the future 103E Popular was born, with smart bakelite interior, large E83W van-style headlamps, and various other chrome detailing.
A black Ford 103E at a car museum
The sit-up-and-beg Anglia would be produced until 1953, the year that the totally new looking 100E range was introduced to the market.
1953, and say hello to the new 103E Popular.
Ford 103E
Rather than ditch the pre-war designed cars altogether, the brains at Ford decided that they still needed a cut-price new car offering to undercut the boxy 100E, aimed at buyers who weren't bothered about a car's archaic styling, to whom value for money was paramount. This is how the 103E Popular came into being - take the E494A Anglia, replace the bakelite trim including the dash, now simply a plain pressed metal affair, de-chrome much of the coachwork, fit the 10hp 1172cc E93A-type engine instead of the old 8hp unit (RAC ratings note, not bhp) and sell them to punters who otherwise might have had to buy secondhand instead.
Production of the 103E Pop continued until 1959, by which time the car's specification was seriously looking out-of-date, especially when compared to offerings from BMC and Vauxhall. The 100E Popular would take over, although by this time it too was no spring chicken either, and was still saddled with a sidevalve engine for propulsion, and outmoded 3 speed transmission for the drive.
Ford Pop - rear view
Today, the Ford 103E, as with all the small sidevalve Fords, continues to be a sound choice for classic car ownership, spares are still readily available from various marque specialists, and so long as you aren't in a hurry, it'll roll down the road and get to you to your destination. There are two distinct groups to whom the 103E Ford Popular appeals, the classic car fan, wanting something old and pre-war-like to drive down to the pub in, and the hot rodder, who is only satisfied once he or she has stripped the car to its bare bones, installed different axles, chopped the roof, and shoe-horned a V8 under a flip fibreglass nose, ready to head off to Santa Pod to shoot the timing lights. The Ford Pop appeals to a wider and more varied band of enthusiasts than any other classic car I can think of.
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Ford motorcar leaflet from the 1950s featuring a 103E

Ford Pop - side view
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