Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-01-1255
2019-04-02

The Ford ‘Special’ of the 50s and 60s: A Peculiarly British Phenomenon 2019-01-1255

The aftermath of World War II had a defining influence on the British motor industry up until the late 1950s. The imperative to repay wartime loans resulted in government incentives for motor manufacturers to encourage them to export the majority of their production. Concurrently, punitive levels of purchase tax were levied on those at home who had the will and means to purchase new vehicles: a very effective deterrent.
A range of Ford cars classed as models ‘8’ and ‘10’ (based upon the Royal Automobile Club horsepower ratings [1]), had been in production in Britain, unchanged mechanically, since 1932 and would continue so until 1959. As a result, there was a combination of old cars available at ‘scrap’ prices plus the ready availability of low-cost, new spare parts with which to repair them.
The ‘Ford Special’ was born from these circumstances where, at a minimum, the Ford chassis/powertrain could be refurbished and re-bodied in the style of a sports car, or at the other extreme, these basic building blocks could be developed into genuine high-performance vehicles.
During this period, many new marques and models were announced, some still familiar today, but most now having long faded into oblivion.
This paper covers the evolution and growth of the Ford Specials and their subsequent decline, and it focusses on the options for improving performance which were possible through modifications to the powertrain and chassis.

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