UK: This Month In Ford's History - October
October 1911: Production of British-assembled Fords begins at Trafford Park, Manchester
October 1931: First vehicle driven off the new assembly line at Dagenham
October 1932: First ever Ford V8 – the V8-18 model – goes on sale in the UK
October 1934: Introduction of new Model C 10hp model
October 1939: Ford agrees to begin making Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engines
October 1950: Introduction of all-new Consul/Zephyr range
October 1953: Production of 100E Anglia begins
October 1965: Launch of the new Ford Transit van range
October 1982: The Cortina replacement, the Ford Sierra arrives
October 1996: Production of 10 millionth British-built Ford, a Fiesta
Henry Ford opened his first assembly plant outside of North America in a former Tramcar factory in Manchester. The Trafford Park facility started assembling Model Ts from kits supplied from Detroit. Within months local manufacture of bodies began and local content built up steadily. Soon the Model T was Britain's best-selling car and by 1927, when Model T production ended, the Manchester factory had produced around 300,000 cars.
Two years after construction began, the new Ford assembly plant at Dagenham in Essex saw the first vehicle come off the production line. That first vehicle was a Model AA truck. Private car assembly (Model A) began during the winter and the all-new 8hp Model Y saloon would follow in August 1932. Over the next 71 years Dagenham would produce almost 11 million cars, trucks and tractors before vehicle production ended on February 20, 2002.
Ford's best-selling Model Y was joined by the closely-related 10hp Model C, a four door saloon which cost £135. It was the very first Ford to use the simple, but rugged, side-valve four-cylinder 1,172cc engine which would feature in many other small Fords in one form or another until 1962.
With the outbreak of World War II, the British government had to build up production of aero engines for new RAF aircraft. After an approach from the Air Ministry, Ford agreed to produce Merlin V12 engines - designed for the Spitfire, Hurricane, Lancaster and Mosquito - at a specially-established factory at Urmston in Manchester. With the full and impressive co-operation of Rolls-Royce, Ford began production of this iconic aircraft engine in early 1940. By the end of the war almost 30,000 Ford-built Merlin engines had gone into service and not one failed the rigorous Air Ministry quality tests every new engine had to undergo.
The first all-new British Ford of the post-war era, the Consul/Zephyr family, was previewed in October. There were many innovations. These were the first cars in the world to use MacPherson strut independent suspension; the first British Fords with a unitary (no separate chassis) construction style of bodyshell; the first British Fords with an overhead valve engines, hydraulic brakes and 12 volt electrics. Sales of the four-cylinder Consul and the six-cylinder Zephyr began in early 1951. In the next five years no fewer than 406,000 cars would be produced.
The 100E Ford Anglia which went on sale this month replaced the long-running family of 'sit up and beg' Anglia and Prefect models which had served Ford so well for more than 20 years. Almost every component and feature of the 100E was new. Although the engine was still a 1,172cc side-valve unit, it was a completely re-designed derivative of the earlier type. The two-door Anglia would be joined by the four-door Prefect model a few weeks later.
The very first Ford Transit van was launched. Not only did the Transit rapidly become a best-seller, but it also became an icon for the entire panel van market, so much so that the word 'Transit' became a generic term for that particular type of vehicle. More than two million Transits, of several generations, have now been built, a great many of them at the Ford plant in Southampton which is the Transit's British home.
The Ford Sierra was revealed as the direct replacement for the hugely successful and long-running Ford Cortina. Not only did the Sierra have a new name, but it introduced an entirely fresh approach to Ford styling, with a wind-cheating hatchback body style. This was the first medium-sized Ford car sold in Britain with independent rear suspension. Hatchback and estate car styles, with four-cylinder and V6 petrol engines were available from launch. Diesel engined versions and notchback saloons, plus 4x4 and RS Cosworth versions were introduced during the lifetime of the Sierra.
A double celebration this month when a Ford Fiesta became the 10 millionth car to be built at Dagenham – and the 250 millionth Ford produced since the company was formed in 1903. Originally announced in 1976, the Fiesta was the first-ever transverse-engined, front-wheel-drive Ford and the smallest Ford to be launched since the 8hp Model Y of 1932. Not only built at Dagenham, but also in Spain and Germany, the Fiesta became an enduring sales and commercial success.