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.....to earth was the Ford image then.
Dagenham went into production just as the economic crisis hit Britain, and Ford in this country was saved from disaster by hurrying into production with their first small car, the Eight. The Model Y as it was called, was designed at Dearborn and although the first prototypes to reach Britain early in 1932 looked like scaled down Model Bs, it was restyled by the top Ford designer in America, Eugene T. Gregorie, to look like next year's V8 before it went into production at Dagenham. The Model Y was an immense success, saved Ford in Britain and eventually sold in a basic version fora round £100.
After World War 2 Ford of Britain continued on its loner course, making rugged, but inexpensive cars with side valve engines and transverse leaf springs at front and rear. Only with the introduction of the independently sprung unit construction Consul and Zephyr in 1951, did the modern era begin.
In the last 25 years Ford of Britain has changed out of all recognition. It has been the era of enormous expansion and the combined effects of a succession of brilliantly engineered cars and a highly successful competition programme has changed completely the image of Ford in Britain. Cars such as the 1959 Anglia powered by that incredible, oversquare 105E engine destined for Formula Junior triumphs when modified by Cosworth, the original Cortina in 1962 that combined simplicity with excellence, the Escort in 1968, the Capri in 1969, and now the Fiesta.
The 665 acre Dagenham plant with its own blast furnace, foundry, forge and power station has been expanded many times since the War. The adjacent Briggs Motor Bodies plant was acquired in 1953 and expanded and a paint, trim and assembly plant added in 1959. The engine plant was expanded in 1965 at a cost of £22 million, again in 1969 with another £18 million spent on it until now it is the largest engine plant in Europe with a capacity of more than 1.5 million engines a year.
Even the tremendous expansion of Dagenham has not provided the increased capacity that Ford needed. A whole new complex was therefore built at Hailwood, on Merseyside, the body and assembly plant starting production in 1963 and the transmission plant in 1964. Truck production was moved out of Dagenham to plants at Langley and Southampton, rear axle production to a new plant at Swansea. The production of radiators is now at Basildon, which is also the centre for tractor production, carburetters come from a Belfast plant and electrical equipment from Enfield.
Last year saw further great change for Ford of Britain. Capri production was moved out of Hailwood and concentrated in Germany to allow Hailwood to increase production of the new Escort, for which there is a great demand. Dagenham was retooled for production of the new Cortina and production of the Granada range was transferred to Germany to make room for the Fiesta. The foundry, engine and metal stamping and body plants have also been retooled for the production of Fiesta components and body. With all these changes now complete, 1977 could well prove to be the best year ever for Ford of Britain.
Ford of Germany - Ford's second string
Ford's most powerful European company after the British operation is undoubtedly Ford of Germany, which to date has built around nine million cars. It began in a very humble fashion, for the Ford Motor Co Aktiengesellschaft was founded on August 18, 1925 to import 1000 tractors: However, as soon as the ban on importing foreign cars into Germany was lifted, it began bringing in Model Ts from Holland and Denmark.
So strong was the demand, that the following year the company.....
Top-Middle - Last Ford to be built at Trafford Park and the first at Dagenham, the Model A
Top-Right - Ford's first small car, the 8 hp Model Y, saved the British operation from ruin
Middle - First modern British Fords, the 1951 four-cylinder Consul (left) and six-cylinder Zephyr
Middle-Right - The first Cortina, a triumph of cost effective engineering that won sales and races
Middle-Right - The Anglia 105E powered by an engine that spawned Ford's Formula 3, 2 and 1 efforts
Bottom - Ford's first German plant, in Berlin-Westhafen, where in April, 1926 the first Model T left the assembly line