My First Car: 1955 Ford Popular – mechanically simple, super reliable, cheap to run

John Wyatt with his 1955 Ford Popular. Picture: John Wyatt

John Wyatt with his 1955 Ford Popular. Picture: John Wyatt

John Wyatt

John Wyatt’s 1955 Ford Popular never failed him, as he travelled between bases while in the Fleet Air Arm, and doubled up as a camp bed.

The registration number of my 1955 Ford Popular, purchased for £295 in 1957, was 854 DMP. And what a car!

Three-speed gearbox and, mechanically, it was so simple to understand that I could do all the servicing, decoking etc myself – today I wouldn’t know where to start.

Being in the Fleet Air Arm, I travelled a great deal between the air stations of Culdrose in Cornwall, Yeovilton, Boscombe Down, Lee on Solent, Lossiemouth in Scotland and my various homes – the car never failed me.

It was also a great car for short holidays and to camp in. The passenger seat was easily removed and the rear bench seat would take its place, giving me a comfortable bed for the night. The boot flap would open and remain in a horizontal position so loads of room for luggage.

It was cheap to run as, in 1957, you could purchase eight gallons of petrol for £1 plus quadruple Green Shield stamps as a bonus.

The only downside was the six-volt battery which did not last very long, especially when the law said you had to leave side lights switched on if parking on the road at nights, but a long starting handle pushed in through the front overcame the starting problem.

It was a great, reliable car to enjoy during my teenage years and I often wish I had kept it.

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