The Ford Prefix - Upright English Ford Interchange Information
The Ford Prefix
No, it's not a little known English Ford product. It is something that can save the "upright" Enfo owner considerable cost on restoration parts! This holds especially true for Thames E83W components. The larger and more heavy-duty design of the half-ton Thames running gear increases the likelihood of a match with American Fords but the Prefect, Anglia or quarter-ton Thames owner can benefit, too.
The "prefix" is, of course, the first half of the Ford part number. The second half is the "suffix". Why is the prefix so important? Well, it denotes the vehicle in which the particular item was first used. For example, the part number 68 -4221 (an E83W differential bearing) originated in the Ford Model 68. The Model 68 is the 1936 U.S. Ford car. If you order this part from England it will cost you about the same in Pounds Sterling as you would pay in Dollars from one of the many North American purveyors of Ford restoration items. In other words you can get some of these parts for half price if you know what you are looking for!
Sometimes, though, the trail is a little harder to follow. This is where the fun begins if you enjoy a bit of detective work. Take part number E62A -5713. Hey, what's an E62A, you ask? Some research using various books on Ford that I've acquired over the years revealed that the Model 62 was an all British creation using the 60 H.P. V-8 in the Model 48 chassis but with British coachwork. The key here is the Model 48 connection. The U.S. Model 48 was the 1935 car. A visit to the local old Ford parts store netted me new rear spring shackle bushes with tie bars for half the cost of the bushes alone from Old Blighty!
The tip-off to these interchangeable parts lies in looking for prefixes NOT obviously for your vehicle. If the prefix is "E83W' then you probably need that specific Thames-only bit. Look for plain number prefixes like 40, 48, 68, etc. or letters like B or BB. These will be U.S. Ford models. The prefix "E" usually indicates an English Ford item. Sometimes, though, that "E" will precede a recognizable U.S. number (e.g. E62). This combination gives hope that the item may be interchangeable with a less costly U.S. part. The final step in all these searches must be a physical comparison!
Sometimes the parts book will indicate that the part required fits more than one model of English Ford (i.e. the Prefect or Anglia, etc.). While this may not necessarily save you money it could broaden your possibilities for finding the item. The Thames E83W shares many components with the E93A Prefect and the E494A Anglia and their predecessors and some items not reproduced specifically for the big Thames can be found from dealers who specialize in, for example, Anglias. The Anglia's popularity (no pun intended) as a basis for hotrods has spawned a small industry of repro body items that can be useful to other models, too.
The parts book or 'parts list' as the British call it, is the restorer's best friend. As well as listing every component of your vehicle and which models, if any, that shared the same part, all co-ordinated with numbered "plates" (exploded diagrams) for easy identification, it offers a wealth of other information. Dates are given which define the production period of certain items. This can be critical when ordering parts. For instance when I ordered a wiring loom for my Thames I initially received one for an earlier model which had the headlight dimmer mounted on the steering column not the floor like mine. Careful reading of the parts list would have revealed a change in the dimmer switch in 1950. My truck was a '51. Other features of the parts list are sections on "Finish of Standard Parts" (how your part was painted or plated), sections on "Nuts", "Pins, Bolts and Screws", "Locks", "Plates", "Retainers", "Springs", "Fasteners", and much, much more. There is even a chart of spring leafs- valuable when you find that your front spring has some broken leafs and some non-standard substitutes! LHD or RHD- will that part listed on that British website fit your vehicle? If the parts list shows specific parts for LHD (left hand drive) and RHD (right hand drive) then watch out! There are exceptions to this rule- a basic main wiring loom for an RHD E83W will work in a LHD model by flipping it upside down! Sometimes little notes in the list will shed light. I wondered if the E83W pickup frame was any different from the one for a van. A look at the book showed two different part numbers but a note explained to dealers that a van frame could be substituted if the rear cab mounts were transferred from the pickup to the new van chassis.
It's all there before your eyes but you must read it carefully and draw conclusions from the clues! Use it wisely and the parts list will be indispensable. It also illustrates the fascinating historical links between Ford products. Enfo owners don't let those owners of big domestic Fords kick sand in your face! Just casually mention that you got a good price on Model 68 bearings or model 40 axle gaskets from "So & So's Parts" and watch their ears perk up.
So where can you get the Parts List? I got mine through membership in the Ford Sidevalve Owners Club. Although they usually refuse to sell parts to Canada or the U.S. for insurance reasons, they will ease up when it comes to books or regalia. Information on the FSOC and other clubs and much more can be found on the wonderful "Ford E83W Commercials" website (e83w.co.uk). Even if you own another upright Ford this site can lead you to lots of useable information. Small Ford Spares in Britain has them for sale (smallfordspares.co.uk) and there are other dealers both overseas and domestic who might be able to help with either reprints or used books. Check the E-Lines newsletter or the usual old car publications. Service manuals are likewise invaluable and available and tend to be seen more often at swap meets than the parts list. Put the two books together and you are well on the road to a successful restoration!
Finally, if all else fails, feel free to contact me at and I will try help.