An Oily Rag Pop

A glutton for punishment, The Automobile‘s Publisher has invested in perhaps the archetypal example of post-war British ‘grey porridge’. Acquired at Brightwells’ sale in Leominster in November, it is a 1954 Ford Popular 103E saloon – an Oily Rag example if ever there was one.

As Douglas says, like it or loathe it, the Ford Pop is the car that put Britain on wheels after World War Two. Developed largely by stripping out even quite basic fittings from its immediate predecessor, the Anglia E494A, the Popular was introduced in 1953 as the cheapest car on the UK market, retailing at £390 including purchase tax. Selling in opposition to dearer but much more advanced Ford models such as the three-box ohv 100E Anglia and Prefect, the Popular soldiered on until 1959, selling so well that Ford had to move production from the main Dagenham works to a smaller Briggs body plant nearby. In all, 155,340 examples were built and sold.
The latest, 60-year-old addition to the Oily Rag fleet was acquired after spirited bidding for £2600 plus commission, interest centring (we were told) on its transferable period number plate, MCJ 114, rather than the car itself. We had been attracted, as usual, by its history. With only 40,000-odd miles recorded, it had had but three owners, all of them living in rural Herefordshire and the last in possession for 47 years, having acquired the car aged 15 before eventually putting it away in a barn.
Cleaned of many years’ worth of straw, bird droppings, dust and detritus, the car turned out to be delightfully original in all respects. The paintwork, almost unblemished, responded well to a coat of T-cut, and the filthy interior, cleaned up, showed no signs of wear. As we write, Richard Naughton of Naughton’s Garage in nearby Knighton is going through the electrics and mechanicals from stem to stern. He has found nothing amiss – even the 6v battery was replaced by the last owner before sale – but the car does need new tyres and attention to its original plywood floorboards and rear seat backrest, which have succumbed to woodworm attack.
We can’t wait to drive it…
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