Ford Prefect

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Ford Prefect
ManufacturerFord of Britain
PredecessorFord 7Y
SuccessorFord Anglia
ManualsService Manual

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 1938 and remained in production till 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 3-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 will have been retrofitted for safety reasons.
199,493 produced
Body style(s)4-door saloon, 2-door saloon, tourer, coupé, van.
Engine(s)1172 cc Ford Straight-4 side valve
Transmission(s)3 speed manual
Wheelbase87 in (2,200 mm) [1]
Length151 in (3,800 mm) [1]
Width61 in (1,500 mm) [1]

The Ford Prefect was introduced in 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 1200 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 null, only to start working again as the top was reached and the intake vacuum increased.

The most common body styles were two and four door saloons but pre war a few tourers and coupés were made. 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[2] and a further 158,007 between 1945 and 1948. [3]

1950 Canadian-distribution British Ford Prefect
1950 Australian Ford Prefect Ute

E493A (1949–53)

Ford Prefect E493A
Haworth vintage car.JPGFord Prefect E493A showing the headlamps now integrated into the front wings / fenders.
192,229 produced
Body style(s)4-door saloon,
2-door coupe utility (Australia)
Engine(s)1172 cc Ford Straight-4 side valve
Transmission(s)3 speed manual
Wheelbase87 in (2,200 mm) [1]
Length151 in (3,800 mm) [1]
Width61 in (1,500 mm) [1]
Height63.5 in (1,610 mm) [4]

Post war, the Prefect design changed little in design 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.[3]

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 Template:Convert/foutmig (Template:Convert/L/100 km mpgus) was recorded. The test car which had the optional leather upholstery cost £412 including taxes. In standard form they commneted that it was the cheapest 4-door car on the British market.[4]

192,229 were made. [3]

100E (1953–59)

Ford Prefect 100E
Ford.prefect.arp.750pix.jpgFord Prefect 100E (1959) seen in the UK.
100,554 produced
Body style(s)4-door saloon, pick-up
Engine(s)1172 cc Ford Straight-4 side valve
Wheelbase94 in (2,400 mm) [1]
Length152 in (3,900 mm) [1]
Width57 in (1,400 mm) [1]
Height58.5 in (1,490 mm) [5]

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 with 8 in (200 mm) drums were used. The old side valve 1172 cc engine was retained. 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. 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.[5].

100,554 were made.[3] caters for the prefect 100e range

107E (1959–61)

Ford Prefect 107E
38,154 produced
Body style(s)4-door saloon
Engine(s)997 cc Ford Straight-4 overhead valve
Wheelbase87 in (2,200 mm) [1]
Length150 in (3,800 mm) [1]
Width61 in (1,500 mm) [1]

This was a reworked 100E body with the engine and four speed gearbox from the Anglia 105E, produced until replaced by the Ford Cortina. 38,154 were made [3], all in a two-tone colour scheme.

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.[6].

Optional extras included a heater, windscreen washers, radio and leather upholstery to replace the standard PVC. caters for the prefect 107e range


In addition to the UK, Ford Prefects were also sold in Australia, 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.

Ford Prefect in popular culture

In Douglas Adams's science fiction/comedy series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, one of the characters is an alien who adopted the name Ford Prefect while visiting Earth, believing that the name would be "nicely inconspicuous". Adams himself noted that Americans totally missed this joke (as this vehicle was never sold in the US). In the TV series, the character chose his name from a list including Anna Ford, Henry Ford and various other Ford automobile models. In the 2005 film adaptation, the character is seen to be nearly run over by a real Ford Prefect automobile.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-16689-2. 
  2. Sedgwick, M.; Gillies (1989). A-Z of cars of the 1930's. UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-38-9. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Sedgwick, M.; Gillies (1986). A-Z of cars 1945-1970. UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-39-7. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Ford Prefect Road Test". The Motor. October 27 1948. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "The Ford Prefect de-luxe". The Motor. June 5, 1957. 
  6. "The Ford Prefect 107E". The Motor. April 20 1960. 

See also

External links