JELLY MOULD & POP!
The Ford Popular, often called the Ford Pop, is a car from Ford UK that was built in England between 1953 and 1962. When launched, it was Britain's lowest priced car.
In my DI Sonny Russell series of crime novels I try to help to establish the period by making sure my characters drive the right cars. The police in the 1950s, were known to use the Wolseley 6/80, so that is car that regularly features in my books. However, DC Johnny Weeks has a Ford Popular. They were very basic cars with a feeble 1172cc, 30 bhp engine and a three speed gearbox. The wipers were driven via vacuum from the engine, so when the car laboured up hills the wipers slowed almost to a stop. I know, because it was the first car I ever drove!
In this extract Weeks, in the company of WPC Nettie Sharpe, gives chase to a Morris Traveller. This was the estate version of the Morris Minor, affectionately known as the jelly mould, owing to its distinctive body shape.
"With that the Morris came out of the track and turned in the direction of Collinghurst. Unfortunately Weeks’s car was facing the opposite direction. He started the engine and tried to execute a neat three point turn but the road was narrow at that point and it took him several attempts to turn the Ford. By then, the rain was falling steadily, the pathetic wipers were doing little to clear the windscreen and with only three gears progress was painfully slow. There was no sign of the Morris.
‘Damn!’ Weeks exclaimed. ‘We’ve lost it!’
‘Don’t worry. There aren’t any turnings for a mile or two. Hopefully we’ll catch up with it soon.
Weeks had his foot hard to the floor, the side-valve engine struggling manfully. The initial downpour had eased to a more gentle drizzle, with an occasional squally blast. There was no traffic in front of them but there was still no sign of the Morris. Weeks was leaning forward in his seat, willing the car on. ‘Come on, come on,’ he muttered under his breath. The tyres swished on the wet Tarmac and crashed through the puddles, spraying water out sideways.
Nettie picked up on Weeks’s anxiety. She lightly touched his arm. ‘It’s okay, Johnny. We’ll soon catch up with it.’
But they didn’t."
The Morris Minor is a British car that made its debut at the Earls Court Motor Show, London, on 20 September 1948. Designed under the leadership of Alec Issigonis, more than 1.6 million were manufactured between 1948 and 1972 in three series: the MM (1948 to 1953), the Series II (1952 to 1956), and the 1000 series (1956 to 1971).