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The Other Y Type – The Ford Model Y

That Other Y Type!

Have you ever told someone that you own a Y Type and they appear to think you run an ancient Ford saloon, the Model Y? Well, you cannot blame them as Ford UK was saved by this little, cheap, 8hp saloon car. It was very basic indeed and was designed in the USA by Ford specifically for the UK market. In its very minimal specification it was reduced in priced until 1935 was at the magic £100.


They were first made at Trafford Park (west of Manchester next to the Ship Canal) but a huge new plant was built at Dagenham in London specifically for this model. Introduced to the public in 1931 at £120, the car appeared on our roads in August 1932 and versions of it lasted up until the 103E Popular in 1959 and its engine was still in use in 1962 in the 100E Popular though by now it had a water pump.


YTypeFordbThe actual Ford Y Type itself was replaced in August 1939 by the restyled 7Y, the E494. There were two engine sizes 933cc and eventually 1172cc, an 8hp and a 10hp, both simple sidevalves. In 1932 William Morris was building the expensive little ex-Wolseley OHC engine for his smallest car, the Morris Minor. He needed to reduce costs so the design office purchased a Ford 933cc car and drew up a mirror image of it and put the ‘new’ engine into the Morris 8. It was of 918cc and an ohv version fitted to the Wolseley Eight looked for all the world like a miniature XPAG!


Are the two Y Types similar?


Well, no not really, they are of two separate ages. The Ford ‘Y’ had finished in 1937 and our Y Type did not arrive until 1947. But ‘our’ Y Type was on the drawing board in 1937-38. The Ford ‘Y’ was aimed at the bottom of the car market, the MG Y Type at the top end of the small sports saloon market. Both had separate chassis but the Ford had horrible transverse leaf-springs and rod brakes where as the MG had a stiff and very strong boxed-in underslung chassis with independent front suspension.


The Ford rolled horribly with four adults aboard and its very direct worm & peg steering accompanied by those transverse leaf springs caused the car to wander very easily on the road. The MG Y Type was famous for its excellent road manners and very accurate rack and pinion steering. The Ford had rod brakes where as the MG had hydraulic. The Ford could get nearly up to 55mph but only a very brave driver would attempt this; the MG could get to 70mph and get there much quicker. The Ford has just three gears with a huge gap between second and top. It also had those infamous vacuum windscreen wipers that stopped when you accelerated.


UMG290Its engine was of the old school with side-valves with no adjustment, white metal crankshaft bearings and no water pump relying on thermo-syphon circulation. The cast iron used was of a lesser quality than the MG and engines would require re-boring at 30,000 miles. The XPAG ran happily until at least 80,000 miles normally if serviced correctly. Ford knew this and offered reconditioned-exchange engines for just £30 in the 1950s, but that was equivalent to three weeks wages to a working man then.


When the MG YA was first put on sale it sold for £672; the equivalent Ford Anglia 1172cc E494A (the updated Model Y) sold for just £293. An MG Y Type was a luxury car, the Ford Model Y was a very basic machine. They were at opposite ends of the market. The MG Y Type sold just 8,336 where Ford sold 157,668 in the UK. Oddly, both cars are styling icons as the Ford looked much better than the spindly Austin or Morris equivalent, spindly and frail offerings.


Even today people admire the flowing lines of the MG Y Type.


Neil Cairns.