(an article by Jim Norman)

This Article was originally produced for the Anglebox Magazine

The appearance of the Anglia and Prefect in 1959 must have caused some confusion to the car buying public, which expected the two and four door versions of a car to have more than a passing resemblance.

The Prefect shape first appeared in 1953, and despite a substantial face lift in 1957, was a very orthodox shape. The Anglia 105E on the other hand had leanings towards a “space age” that had still to arrive, and so customers paid little attention to the number of doors required when making their purchase choice


Cousins Under the Skin?

The elderly gentleman whose kids have long since left home chooses the Prefect, even if he never opens the rear doors, because he won’t be seen in one of those new fangled contraptions with the fins.

Meanwhile our Eddie Cochran fan, complete with quiff and boot lace tie, struggles to shove his arthritic granny and four kids through the only two available Anglia doors. “He just doesn’t dig the Prefect Man!”

There were far more differences between the two models than there were similarities, and a quick comparison could be useful. This is not an attempt to score points off one car in favour of the other. Both had their vices and virtues, and if one was deficient in one area, it invariably made up for it elsewhere.

Having made his purchase, the new owner sits behind the wheel and contemplates the interior. If he has an Anglia 105E he is looking at a rather odd speedometer which owed not a little to various transistor radios which were appearing at the time. The Prefect on the other hand, had twin circular dials directly in front of the driver, a system which had been much used in the past, and was to continue in new cars for years to come. Surprisingly, the Anglia’s speedo used a conventional needle, while the Prefect used an ultra modern moving band.

The Prefect Dashboard
The Anglia Dashboard



Meanwhile the passengers of both cars contemplate the glovebox. The Anglia’s is quite small; larger items must go on the parcel shelf below. By Comparison, the cavernous receptacle on the Prefect will accept almost everything but a suitcase, although once inside, small items disappear into the far dark corners never to be seen again. A parcel shelf in a Prefect would be superfluous.

The Anglia wins hands down with its electric wipers, although the Prefect’s vacuum unit does keep going, albeit very slowly.

Heaters are optional extras on both cars, and again, the Anglia’s fresh air unit wins in that it also provides some ventilation. The Prefect’s unit merely re-circulates the air already in the car. Both are more than capable of keeping the occupants warm though.

The trimmings are also quite different. The Prefect wins by having carpets as opposed to rubber mats, whilst its trim colours are more subdued than some of the Anglia’s more striking shades. The seats are different shapes, but both are fairly awful. OK for pottering around town, but anyone who can endure them for four or five hours at a time should consult their doctor, as they are obviously the wrong shape!

Mechanically, the cars are very similar, the main difference being the rear axle ratio – 4.425:1 for the Anglia and 4.429:1 for the Prefect. The Prefect’s ratio was chosen to offset it’s greater weight, about 140 lbs more than the Anglia, and it gave improved acceleration up to 50 mph, but at the expense of cruising and top speeds. It also accounts for the Prefect’s slightly higher thirst, although aerodynamics also had a lot to do with it. The Anglia had a very low drag co-efficient for its day, with 0.46 being mentioned. The Prefect by comparison has the aerodynamics of a breeze block, and while it will cruise at 60-65 mph, the fuel consumption at these speeds is alarming. Every 1 mph above 50 in a Prefect is dearly bought.

The Anglia’s re-circulating ball steering box is a bit lighter than the Prefect’s worm and peg assembly, but both are more than adequate for the job. The Prefect’s track is some two inches wider than the Anglia’s. There is an urban myth of a young Company Rep who received a new 105E Anglia in replacement of his previous 100E Anglia. Driving like Reps always have, he rounded a tight bend on the way to the office at the same speed he used to do in the 100E, and was surprised when all further progress was attained on the car’s roof. Fortunately it had rolled over on to soft ground and little harm was done, but rumour has it that when he was next due for a new car, he specified a 100E Popular! The 107E does handle better than the 105E, although the latter can hardly be described as poor. The Anglia wins in a straight line though; its 3.5 extra inches of wheelbase improving stability.

The longer wheelbase showed up most inside the car, giving rear seat passengers much more leg room. The Prefect was a full four-seater, but in practice, this depended on the driver having short legs, and not having his seat in the rearmost position. If the driver had long legs and pushed his seat back, it was a considerable advantage if the passenger behind him had had his legs amputated just above the knees ……

The cars then come out reasonably even, and represented good value for money. How did they compare to other Marques? Their competition at the 1959 Motor Show was from the Herald and the Mini, the latter in particular selling in very large numbers for reasons that escape me.

Herald, Mini and Anglia - half a century old in 2009

The Herald’s performance was inferior to either of the Ford’s, while the body rattles could deafen you in a short time. The Mini’s performance was similar to the Herald’s, although the suspension felt like the wheels were bolted directly to the body. The interior trim was so crude it even made the basic 100E Popular seem quite luxurious. Why people bought them, then and now is beyond me.

Article © Copyright 2010 – Jim Norman