While the 50s were a period of unprecedented prosperity in the United States, the whole world did not experience them the same way, and in Great Britain, the mood was certainly different, with rations and austerity inspired by the War and the collapse of the Empire lasting well into the 1950s. It is with this austere mood in mind that Ford produced the 1954 Ford Popular 100E. It was, quite simply, one of the cheapest car one could buy in post-war Britain. Based on pre-war and post-war Anglias, it featured super-low-spec everything: tiny headlights, no rear lights, a minimalist dashboard (that’s the nice, generous term) and of course, a canvas top that didn’t open, to cut down on steel use. Thanks to its axle suspension, it handled terribly, and was just as uncomfortable as it was cheap, which is ‘very’.
The Popular 100E was fitted with a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine that produced a meager 30 horsepower. To add insult to injury, this anemic engine wasn’t even particularly cheap on gas, considering its size. A driver of the Popular 100E, endowed with tremendous patience, could hope to see the car’s top speed of 60 miles per hour, but the story doesn’t say how long it would have taken to get there.
Despite the fact that is was, by all accounts, a pretty terrible car, the 1954 Ford Popular 100E is remembered with affection by thousands for whom this was their first car. I correct myself here. The 100E wasn’t bad; it just gave you your money’s worth. And it was cheap.