By Dave Turner
All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
“The First Light Cars in the Five Star Class”
Ford Prefect 100E/107E 1953-1961
Ford UKs smaller cars had remained in production virtually unchanged from their pre-World War Two form right through into the 1950s but the much needed development of a new modern replacement had been under way since 1951. In the event a continuation of the old upright styled cars of the 1930s in the shape of the old Anglia (now re-named Popular) did continue alongside the thoroughly modern new 100E range.
Totally different to their predecessors, the new cars featured unitary construction with MacPherson strut front suspension and conventional rather than the old torque tube rear drive. A side valve engine was continued to avoid further development costs whilst the only other left-over feature was the vacuum operated windscreen wipers. In appearance the new models presented a refined but scaled down image of the Consul/Zephyr range.
Derivations of the 100E range were varied with two and four door saloons, vans and estate cars but in the interests of practicality the four door Prefect will be the subject of this review of miniatures – the rest will follow eventually.
On the market from December 1953, changes in the production of the Prefect were usually minimal but sometimes significant – for example in October 1955 a De Luxe version was created featuring a more attractive flat facia and identified by the waistline plated strips. At the same time both versions got a separate rear flasher light below the circular reflector. From May 1957 the bonnet mascot changed from the winged style to a flat V but big changes came five months later in October when a larger rear screen was accompanied by slimmer bumpers and the Prefect name now in script on the boot lid. At the same time the rear reflector became a larger rectangular design, a new instrument panel arrived along with a locking glovebox on De Luxe examples and a triangular badge replaced the long rectangular pattern on the front wings. Another worthwhile change happened in September 1959 when the overhead valved engine from the new Anglia replaced the old side valve. unit. These cars were designated 107E as a result. The only external evidence of this was the short piece of plated strip on the forward part of the front wing, plus many sported the same pattern hub caps as the 105E Anglia. In May 1961 the Prefect came to an end – in theory replaced by the Consul Classic that appeared the following month.
A strange result of the research into miniature Prefects was the number of projected models in the 1:43 metal/handbuilt category. One of these – Sanger – was a rather mysterious range that issued a quite extensive list of models in the mid 1990s that included eight Ford subjects. Minimarque 43 also listed a couple of 100E Prefects but as far as this column is aware issued only an Anglia and Popular were produced in 1994 while Pathfinder also listed a Prefect that has yet to be seen in the metal. The majority of the miniature Prefects that were made are in the smaller scales but among the smallest is the 1:88 resin/aluminium solid from Autosculpt. This is so well detailed despite its modest size that it can be more or less identified as a late example of the 100E De Luxe – triangular front wing badge, Prefect script on boot lid. V bonnet mascot, bumper over riders, rectangular reflectors and waist line plated strips. An even smaller example came from Skytrex in their range of hollow castings intended for use on N gauge model railways.
Meccano launched a range of vehicles to accompany their Hornby Dublo model railways under the Dulbo Dinky Toy label. Their Prefect appeared in 1958, a rather badly proportioned effort to say the least both the bonnet and boot lid being noticeably too long while the detail would best be described as ‘minimal’. As Matchbox also produced the self same Ford Prefect in a much better fashion at the time the Dublo item was soon deleted in 1959. While the railway scale is 1:76, the over-long dimensions of the Dublo Prefect result in that it scales out, by its overall length, at 1:66. This didn’t prevent a repro of the Dublo item being produced in later years by Bob Wharrier.
The Matchbox was made from 1957 and is a much better likeness, despite it being from the time that door shut lines etc were depicted by projecting rather than inserted casting details. From the early type of bonnet mascot it can be dated as representing a pre- May ’57 example. As was also frequent at the time the Matchbox Prefect features a relatively huge tow hook. Like the Dublo Dinky, the Matchbox has also inspired copies, at least a couple, one from Midget models and another in the Scale Link range of model railway accessories. the latter including seats, previously missing. An anonymous plastic Prefect that is very likely derived from the Matchbox has been included here, it could be from the Blue Box range of cheap copies but has several differences.
In the 1950s DCMT produced many diecast toys in their Lone Star Series, however a small range of simple diecast vehicles were made under the River Series banner, including a Prefect. The shape is almost a caricature of the real thing with a long bonnet, short boot and high roof. Apparently the tooling was loaned to Lincoln Industries in New Zealand where more Prefects were made, and that wasn’t the end as the tools then found their way to Israel and Prefects then appeared in the Gamda range of toys. At least the latter had clear plastic windows installed.
At least one superb 1:43 model of the Prefect is available and that came from Brooklin’s Lansdowne range of UK vehicles. This depicts a very early example of the De Luxe series in that it retains the early pattern of rear lights that lacked the separate flasher below the reflector. This is acceptable simply because Fords own sales material from October 1955 shows a car so equipped. The model displays an appropriate registration – SLJ 980 – a late 1955 issue from Bournemouth.
Wells Brimtoy were well-known toy makers in the post war years but an unusual issue from them in the late 1950s was a plastic Prefect, along with a companion Squire estate. These were said to be used as promos by Ford, although no evidence of that has been found. Despite the modest size – 1:60 – there is a lot of subtle detail, just enough to date it as a later 100E, only the rectangular reflectors are missing. No interior or any markings on the base however.
The Classix range of 1:76 vehicles includes almost the whole range of 100E/107E Fords, the Prefect example depicts a 1961 107E and is an excellent model – even the facia is the correct pattern. while the licence plates show 718 BLC – a London issue from 1961. The real car is itself well known in the Ford Sidevalve Owners Club and had its regular column in their club mag. Whether the realistically applied sun visor on the model is from the real cars early life is possible – it was missing in later photos.
Ford Prefect Models 1953-1961
|Dublo Dinky Toys||UK||1958/9||061||1954||58mm||1:66||diecast|
|Bob Wharrier||UK||1990||061||1954 copy||58mm||1:66||metal|
|DCMT River Series||UK||1950s||1954||96mm||1:40||diecast|
|Lincoln||New Zealand||1957-60||1954 re-issue||96mm||1:40||diecast|
|Lansdowne||UK||2000||59||1955 De Luxe||90mm||1:43||metal|
|Lansdowne||UK||2012||59a||1955 De Luxe||90mm||1:43||metal|
|Midget Models||UK||1990||21||1956 copy||53mm||1:70||metal kit|
|Scale Link||UK||2000||213||1956 copy||53mm||1:70||metal kit|
|MiniMarque 43||UK||30a||1953 not issued?||1:43||metal|
|MiniMarque 43||UK||30b||1957 not issued?||1:43||metal|
Illustrations: Ford Prefect 1953-1961.
Autosculpt 1:88 resin/aluminium from UK: F14, 1958 De Luxe
Dublo Dinkly Toys 1:66 diecast from UK : 061, 1954
Bob Wharrier 1:66 metal from UK: 061, repro of Dublo Dinky Toy
River Series 1:40 diecast from UK: 1954
Gamda 1:40 diecast from Israel: 12, repro of River Series
Lansdowne 1:43 hand built from UK: 59, 1955 De Luxe
Matchbox 1:70 diecast from UK: 30, 1956
Midget Models 1:70 metal kit from UK: 21, copy of Matchbox
Scale Link 1:70 metal kit from UK: 213, copy of Matchbox
Unknown 1:70 plastic: copy of Matchbox?
Skytrex 1:147 metal from UK: 106, for ’N’ gauge model railways.
Wellsotoy 1:60 plastic from UK: 1957
Classix 1:76 diecast from China: 76864, 1961 107E
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