The Ford Anglia was a post-WW2 family-car favourite. It offered reliability and cheap motoring.
With the separate headlamps and prominent wings, you expect the vintage styling to be reflected in the driving experience, but the E494A actually proves to be an agreeable companion on the road. Such modest power will never produce much in the way of performance, but the Anglia is happy to bowl along at a steady pace. The slightly agricultural underpinnings make for a somewhat fidgety ride and grip runs out fairly quickly if you get over-enthusiastic with the throttle, but even fairly long journeys are far from unpleasant, as long as you plan your route to use older A and B roads and avoid the stress of motorway travel.
That simple interior is comfortable enough too and the light controls make for a stress-free driving experience. A well-cared for example should run smoothly with a clean pick-up on acceleration, so be prepared for further investigation if this isn’t the case. If you are looking for a simple and reliable tourer, then you really should consider the Anglia.
1948 FORD ANGLIA E494A
Engine 933cc/four cylinder/side
Power (bhp@rpm) 23bhp@4000rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 36lb ft@2300rpm
Top speed 57mph
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
The 8hp side-valve engine is both strong and relatively simple, but can be labour-intensive to overhaul. A complete rebuild could easily set you back £2500-3000. A low-frequency knock under load almost certainly means the white-metalled big-end bearings are worn, so listen out when test-driving. These can be replaced with more modern materials. Excessive exhaust smoke can be an issue, but doesn’t always signal an impending failure, while oil fumes in the cabin are generally caused by a blocked breather system which is easily cleaned. Original engines are sometimes swapped for the 10hp unit – a larger starter motor is the giveaway.
The simple chassis is a rugged affair, and any damage or corrosion should be easy to spot. Apart from where the chassis travels over the rear axle and an area at the base of the ‘A’ post there is little to concern would-be buyers, though ensuring cracks haven’t appeared around the leaf spring U-bolts is advisable. Check the floorpan too – water leaks are likely to have occurred at some point in the cars life, and these can quickly have allowed rot to take hold so lifting the floor covering is a sensible precaution.
Corrosion. Check the rear valance, boot floor, boot lid panel, and the mounting flanges where the wings attach to the body, while rust around the rain channels and screen surrounds are tricky areas to repair. Wings and doors are more durable. Disintegration of the ‘A’ and ‘B’ posts will be of greater concern, so check these areas carefully as repairs are labour intensive and therefore costly. Panel gaps on the Anglia were considered good for the time so serious misalignment is worth investigating. While there is little in the way of chrome-work, it is worth ensuring that items mirrors, hubcaps, and light units are present as damaged or missing trim will mean a search for secondhand parts.
Worth noting is that engines often lacked a built-in water pump or oil filter (though these are often bolted-on later), so cooling and lubrication systems need to be kept in good order.
The three-speed manual gearbox is a tough unit but can get noisy at high mileages. It is susceptible to jumping out of second gear, so watch out on the test drive. Worn selector forks or bearings will be the likely culprits, but a reconditioned ‘box at around £500 is a reasonably cheap cure.
The rest of the running gear is as simple as the car’s appearance suggests. The all-round drum brakes are cable-operated at the front, by rod at the rear, and provide decent braking ability as long as they are set-up and adjusted correctly – a simple job for a specialist so seek advice if you’re not sure. Suspension is by transverse leaf spring and hydraulic damper while an oil-filled worm and peg arrangement takes care of steering duties. Neither system should give trouble as long as the proper greasing regime has been adhered too. Failed wheel bearings can be costly.
Despite being considered more upmarket than the Ford Popular, the interior of the Anglia is still pretty spartan even by vintage standards. The addition of ‘trafficators’ and two vacuum-operated wipers rather than one are pretty much as far as things stretch in terms of equipment, though the Bakelite dashboard is a nice touch, as long as it is not cracked. Worn window mechanisms can be common. Re-trimming is straightforward but a nice original interior with all the fixtures and fittings in place does add value.Adjust the price you are willing to pay accordingly if refurbishment is required. As with exterior trim, a hunt for used parts will be needed if items are missing, and some parts are now quite scarce.
If you’re a fan of the sit-up-and-beg school of car design, then you will almost certainly like the Anglia E494A. Introduced in 1948, the Anglia was one of the cheapest cars on sale in Britain and set out to provide post-WW2 buyers with a durable, useful and reliable family car.
It certainly achieved that aim and it is that lack of complexity that still makes it desirable today. Modest prices on the used market mean you can get behind the wheel of a very tidy and usable example without breaking the bank, while day-to-day running costs are similarly affordable.
If you’re handy with the spanners the E494A is DIY-friendly too, so unless you really are after a project car, a few simple checks are all that’s necessary to secure yourself an enjoyable, characterful runabout. They're available for a fraction of the price you might pay for a pre-WW2 Ford 12. So for anyone who craves some simple classic motoring, the Anglia could be your period-perfect choice.
There is little to catch the unwary in terms of problems. But even the youngest example is half a century old, so conscientious checking is required if resto bills are to be avoided. With 108,000 built, there's a good selection on the market so don't land yourself with a wreck. Just find a cherished car and keep it that way. You'll enjoy years of affordable motoring.