6/8/11

1959 Ford Anglia - Whither now, Yankee Brit?

American car companies generally have a presence in the UK market. However, they usually sell totally different (some would say "better") models there, that are entirely unavailable here in the states. In the past, this has inspired many MANY shoutings of "double-you tee eff?" Ostensibly, this is attributed to "differing tastes". The car company will simply tell you that Americans don't like that type of car, and thus YOU don't want that car. Things were different in 1959.
This is a '59 Ford Anglia - a compact car designed for the British market. Smaller cars are more popular in Europe, where gas prices have always been high due to a lack of government subsidies keeping them artifically low, as we have here. Also, most cities in Europe are really old, many dating back to the middle ages, when the largest vehicles around ran on hay. The streets in cities like this are narrow and twisty, and are ill suited to a thing the size of a medieval house shooting around at sixty miles per hour. Streets in the middle ages were mostly filled with foot traffic. So, giant cars just don't work there.

So yeah. The British like small cars out of practicality. Some weirdo Americans like small cars because they handle like crazy and are basically fun to drive. And how bout that? This ad shows a mom picking up her kids in a non-SUV. Can this be possible? It's just a painting. It must be fictionalized.

The Ford Focus was released in Europe in a go-fast turbo version with 223 horsepower that never made it to the U.S. market. This is just one part of a long history of U.S. car makers snubbing their domestic market, which baffles and disappoints certain American car lovers.

Surprisingly, the new Fiat 500 WILL be available in the States in sportier Abarth trim. So, maybe this is a sign that things will change?

Anyway, back to the ad. The Anglia is a car that I'd have been interested in if I were a licensed driver in '59. The two kids in the picture seem divided on the subject. The boy is more concerned with picking up his fallen pancakes and his sister seems to maintain a serious relationship with the car... or maybe just her own reflection.

The other "foreign" Ford models are listed in the lower right of the ad. It's interesting to see that the Ford Escort has existed way back then. Also, the Ford Prefect is something that confused me back in high school when I read Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy*. The main character's best friend was an alien who, in a blunder of cultural camouflage, chose "Ford Prefect" as his "nicely inconspicuous" fake name. The humor of this was lost on me at the time, as I didn't know what a "prefect" was (It's a rank of authority in English boarding school), or that Ford sold a car with the same name in England. I just thought it was a misspelling of "perfect". FoMoCo ruined this joke for me by not selling the Prefect in America. Jerkholes.

*I cannot recommend the Hitchhiker books strongly enough. Funny, smart, and terribly clever. Also available in audio form read brilliantly by the author (before he died - not after), although the one by Stephen Fry is probably also great.

5 comments:

Craig F. said...

In those days, the Escort was a "de-contented" (i.e., "stripped) version of the Ford Squire, which was an Anglia "estate car," (i.e, "station wagon") rather than a "saloon" (i.e., "sedan") in "the Queen's English" (i.e., "gibberish")

When the Escort became its own model in 1968, it was a kick-ass car. The Mk1 RS2000 was THE dominant rally car of the era, like the Subaru WRX is today.

Lots of British cars came over here with other names. My favorite was the "Plymouth Cricket" (i.e., "Hillman Shitbox of Epic Proportion.")

Phil Are Go! said...

Aaah yes, I had heard of the Escort tearing the rally circuit a new rally-hole. I think I may have that escort in my garage in Forza 3, unless I've confused it with something else. I knew I could count on your fleshing out the facts in this post. Thanks for the detailed car minutiae, as always, Craig!

[-Mgmt.]

pjcass said...

Nice! My first car in 1978 was a 62 Anglia Deluxe. Cost 300 bucks. Never knew how fast I was going cuz the needle just flew back and forth....always grinded gears between 2nd and 3rd. I killed the transmission by 1980. But I sure had alot of fun in that car.

Doug said...

My 1st registered car was a Ford Prefect.
Using my expert shifting technique, I managed to make the transmission last six days.

Phil Are Go! said...

Six? Weren't those gearboxes rated for at least a month? You must have been a little rough on it!

Thanks for posting, guys!

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