Nobody born within the last 50 years was alive when Ford stopped building the Anglia, but millions of much younger people can recognise it thanks to its appearances in the Harry Potter books and films. Launched six decades ago in 1959, it was a very popular car over the next few years, though it’s important to point out that the ability to fly was never offered by Ford even as an optional extra.
The Anglia we’re talking about, officially known as the 105E, was actually the fourth Ford of that name. The first was launched in 1939, a month after Britain entered the Second World War, and revised nine years later. Its 1953 successor, pictured here, was the first Anglia with headlights enclosed in the bodywork rather than mounted on the front wings.
Designed by Elwood Engel, the new Anglia looked very unusual with its hooded headlights and controversial reverse-angle rear window. The window arrangement, also found on the much less successful Consul Classic, was not used for the estate (pictured) or van versions.
The Anglia was the first car fitted with a new engine called the Kent, which Ford continued to use (admittedly with several major alterations) until the early years of the 21st century, latterly in the first-generation Ka. In most Anglias, it was a one-litre producing a maximum of 39bhp.
What you could have bought
1959 was a significant year for the British motor industry. As well as the Anglia, new models included the Triumph Herald (pictured) and the Mini. Both lasted longer, since the Anglia was the only car of the three to be replaced in the 1960s. The Herald outlived the Anglia by four years, the Mini by 43.
The smallest Ford
For its entire life, the Anglia was the smallest Ford built in the UK, and was in that respect the equivalent of today’s Fiesta, though its true descendant is actually the Focus. The modern Fiesta is taller, longer and wider than the Anglia and around 400kg heavier.
In 1962, Ford introduced the 123E Anglia, which has been described as “a high-performance luxury version”. With its 49bhp 1.2-litre Kent engine it was certainly quicker, as well as having more standard equipment.
There were many Anglias on UK roads in the 1960s, but Ford could not keep up with a rival launched slightly later. During two of the Anglia’s final three years (the first three in which the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders kept records of registrations in this country) the most popular model was the Austin/Morris 1100/1300. That car slid briefly to second place in 1967, but the Ford which temporarily replaced it was the Cortina, not the Anglia.
End of the line
Although you could still buy a new Anglia in 1968, production stopped in November 1967. Over one million had been built in eight years and two months. This wasn’t an unusually long run, but the Anglia had to make way for Ford’s next small car, the first-generation Escort.
Anglias in motorsport
The Anglia has been used in most forms of motorsport almost since day one. Some versions were fairly standard, others were heavily modified with much larger engines not necessarily built by Ford (such as the 3.8-litre Jaguar unit in Mick Hill’s famous racer). In extreme cases, there have been wildly powerful cars built to look like Anglias but with no original components at all.
Wanted by the police
Anglias were used as police cars both in real life and in fiction. They featured in two long-running police TV dramas, the BBC’s Z Cars and ITV’s much later Heartbeat.
The most famous Anglia in fiction is of course the one modified by Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter stories. There were seven different cars used in the movie and one is now on display at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Hampshire.
Another, painted bright yellow with red flames, was owned by Vyvyan, the noisiest lead character in the TV comedy series The Young Ones.