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Ford Anglia 105E review (1966)
Date: August 2009
Model: 1966 Ford Anglia 105E De Luxe
Engine: 997cc Kent 4-cyl petrol, 39bhp
Transmission: four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
What is it?
This is the Ford Anglia 105E, and no you've not fallen into some kind of time slip. First launched all the way back in 1959, the Anglia 105E is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. So MSN Cars has borrowed a pristine one-previous-owner example from the Ford Heritage collection. Principally the plan was simply to take it along to the 2009 Ford Fair at Silverstone, a trip it dispatched with barely a murmour. But this little diamond sunk so far into our hearts we had to tell you more. What would you be in for if you bought one...
Where does it fit?
This particular example is a 1966 De Luxe - making it impressively posh but not quite as hot as a Super, which came with constrasting painted sidestripe as standard and a larger 1.2-litre engine. Yes, larger - our humble 105E makes do with just 997cc and 39bhp. A rocketship it's not. Yet if you fall into the Ford Focus ownership category today, the Anglia 105E is exactly what you would have been driving back in the 60s. The American-influenced styling was a huge hit - radically different to rivals, and its predecessor. Priced around £600 (De Luxe) the Anglia offered good value.
Is it for you?
Ford sold nearly 1.3million of them before the Mk1 Escort came along as the replacement in 1967. These days the Anglia 105E is a popular classic motoring choice - that distinctive shape remaining a major nostalgia attraction, though most youngsters will better recognise it as the flying car from Harry Potter. You don't even need to stick with the standard 'Kent' engine, worthy soul though it is (distant relative of original Ford Ka's 1.3, we kid you not). Modified Anglias deploy everything from period tuner parts to Cosworth running gear, without fear of purisits getting upset. It's all part of the Anglia spirit.
What does it do well?
Sticking with our original example, the Anglia 105E's prime talent is charming the pants off you. The interior is airy and spacious, and visibility is great - thanks to the total absense of modern safety structures, keeping pillars slim. All the controls have a lovely period tactility to them as well. And it's not even a liability keeping up with modern traffic. The engine is surprisingly pokey - we saw an indicated 70 on the motorway, occasionally, although what that actually means is anyone's guess - the four-speed gearbox is wonderfully precise, and even the standard drum brakes operate beyond our expectations.
What doesn't it do well?
At least, until they get hot - the major bugbear with the drum design. The middle pedal's pretty heavy, too, and although the non-power assisted recirculating ball steering appears to be perfectly faithful, you certainly wouldn't want to take any liberties. Modern motors are more forgiving, and safer. No doubt. The wing mirrors probably adjusted originally, but we were afraid to risk forcing them, and ended up with little more than a view of our own elbow resting on the driver's window sill. Actually, that was kinda cool... The lights are basically rubbish (what did you expect?) and the wipers only single-speed.
What's it like to live with?
The overhanging roof keeps the rear window clear, however, creating a funky waterfall effect when the heavens open. And yes we did drive the Anglia in the rain without any sign of mishap. Most other road users love the old girl, but we did experience the occasional bout of 'classic rage'. This is characterised by another motorist desperately needing to overtake you - no matter how fast you are really going - because the car looks old and slow. Getting Evoed at extreme velocity by a young whippersnapper in a Mitsubishi in the middle of Hemel Hempstead tends to stick in the mind.
How green is it?
Beyond that, and the stiff steering making low speed maneuvers a bit of a chore, the Anglia is a relatively painless everyday companion. Fast, no - 0-60 in around 26 seconds, apparently (it never felt that slow), top speed 75mph - but totally livable. Judging greenness is a little more tricky. Driving the Anglia is a three-plane process - in that as well as left/right, forward/backward, you've also got to juggle temperature/speed - so maintaining a steady cruise isn't quite straightforward. Reckon on about 30mpg. Maybe. But using an old car wastes less energy than building a new one. So that's green, right?
Would we buy it?
Justifying a Ford Anglia 105E as the only car in the household wouldn't be easy. Reliability - cold starting in particular - is going to be an issue, safety equipment is rudimentary to say the least (no crash structures, no airbags, no antilock brakes, fixed seatbelts...), and yes, it will definitely rust. But as a second car, or a starter classic, the 105E is overbrimming with appeal. There are plenty of specialists, available parts, performance enhancements and a strong following. Life with an Anglia is bound to be a joy. Trouble is, you'll find that original £600 purchase price considerably out of date...
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