Ford Pilot


A misunderstood car, the Ford Pilot E71A. Launched in 1947, it was Dagenham’s first major new model after the war, and was derived from the 1937 22HP V8-62. This most prolific of the pre-war V8s had been created by putting the Alsace engine of the French-made Matford in a V8 60 chassis. It adopted the Matford body as well, except for its rear-hinged doors. After the war the cheap way to create a new model was to resurrect an old one, using as many existing body pressings as possible. The expensive middle parts, roof, floor, doors and so on remained and a new radiator grille was designed by Ford’s Australian chief body engineer Don Ward. A lockable boot and outside spare wheel completed the transformation along with much the same sturdy chassis and a bigger engine. Ford planned cylinder dimensions of 65mm x 95mm (the old 22HP was 66mm x 81mm) giving 2535cc, but with only 66bhp (49.22kW) it was a bit feeble for a ton-and-a-half car.

Half timbered houses were obligatory for publicity pictures. Ford put it diplomatically, “after further research into overseas markets, it was decided not to proceed with a 2.5litre”. The 95mm stroke was retained, even though a 3.6litre engine’s fuel consumption was inappropriate in an era of austerity and shortages. Among the innovations were a front anti-roll bar and a Clayton Dewandre heater, with demisting and de-icing vents under the windscreen. The Smith’s Jackall four wheel jacking system had hydraulic rams that could be pumped down to raise the car for wheel-changing. The Pilot chassis-cab, which continued into 1952 as the E71C commercial, encouraged wood-paneled estate cars and even pick-ups. King George VI had a Pilot shooting brake, on a rare long wheelbase chassis, preserved at Sandringham. A 12-volt electrical system was produced for export police cars, and heavy-duty clutch and high capacity water pumps were optional. Several Pilots appeared in Monte Carlo Rallies, in which V8s had done well before the war, and Ken Wharton used one to win the 1950 Tulip Rally.

The Pilot was well received but by the 1950s was not highly regarded. Chassis frames were passé, side-valve engines so-o-o 1930s, and Old English Perpendicular styling had run its course. Notwithstanding the anti-roll bar, transverse leaf sprung axles were not up to the job, the ride was harsh and Pilots suffered from a bendy steering column shift to its three-speed gearbox. Still, thanks to the stout frame and robust engine quite a lot survive. They have a fine period feel, redolent more of the 1930s than the 1940s.
Ford material from Dove Publishing Ford in Britain File
INTRODUCTION August 1947, production to May 1951.
BODY saloon, 4-door, 5-6-seat, weight 29cwt (1473kg) (3248lb).
ENGINE 8-cylinders in 90deg Vee; 77.8mm x 95.3mm, 3622cc; compr 6.15:1; 85bhp (63.4kW) @ 3500 rpm; 23.5bhp (17.5kW)/l; 140lbft (190Nm) @ 1500rpm; Treasury rating 30.01HP.
ENGINE STRUCTURE side valves; centre Celeron helical-cut gear-driven
3-bearing camshaft; cast iron detachable cylinder heads, blocks and upper crankcase unitary cast iron; Solex twin choke downdraught carburettor, coil ignition, camshaft-driven distributor; electric fuel pump; 3-bearing cast steel crankshaft, separate bearings for each big-end; thermosyphon cooling, two belt-driven pumps, pressure lubrication by camshaft pump.
TRANSMISSION rear wheel drive; 9in (23cm) sdp cushioned clutch; 3-speed manual gearbox, synchromesh on 2 and 3; steering column change; torque tube; spiral bevel final drive 4.11:1.
CHASSIS steel X-braced frame with 4 cross-members; suspension by transverse leaf springs; front anti-roll bar; 4 hydraulic lever arm dampers; hydro-mechanical drum brakes; worm and sector steering; 12.5 gal (56.8l) rear fuel tank; 6.00-16 tyres; bolt-on pierced steel wheels.
DIMENSIONS wheelbase 108.25in (275cm); track 55.25in (140.3cm) front, 58in (147.3cm) rear; length 174.75in (444cm); width 69.5in (176.5cm); height 66in (167.6cm); ground clearance 8.25in (21cm); turning circle 40ft (12.19m).
EQUIPMENT 6 volt electrics; automatic voltage control, cloth upholstery, leather £16 extra; interior heater; radio optional; combined ignition and steering column lock; carpets; hydraulic jacks; colours available black, dark blue, beige, or light green.
PERFORMANCE maximum speed 82.5mph (132.4kph) The Autocar; 0-60mph (96kph) 20.5 sec; 17.3kg/bhp (23.2kg/bhp); fuel consumption 17-20mpg (16.6-14.1l/100km).
PRICE £585 plus PT £163 5s, £748 5s (£748.25p). PRODUCTION 21,487, 668CKD.