History of the 10 cwt E83W Range of vans.
Built 1938 - 1957.
The following is a brief summary of UK-spec E83Ws - some export models differed
slightly in specification and badging.
March 1938 saw the introduction of Ford's new lightweight commercial vehicle chassis, the E83W.
The model name can be broken down into E (for English-build) 8 (the year number of introduction -
in this case 1938), 3 (engine hp, in this case 1=30hp V8, 2=22hp V8, 3=10hp 4cyl) and W (Forward Control truck).
At this time this model was badged as a Fordson, the Thames rename occurring later in the vehicle's life
(1952 to be exact).
Some of the contemporary saloon car's mechanicals made their way into the truck, although not as
much as may be expected - in fact only the engine, parts of the gearbox and sundry switchgear were
liberated from the 10hp saloon, with everything else (chassis, panelwork, axles etc) being brand new -
see chassis layout here.
This was largely due to the semi-forward control layout, whereby the engine sat to the nearside
(on RHD vehicles). This afforded a distinctively stubby 'nose' to the van, but offered little in
the way of footwell (ie none) for the poor passenger - probably why the passenger seat was on the
options list! This new model ran with the familiar 3 speed gearbox arrangement of the saloon, but
with modified gearbox casing. The bodywork itself, a composite of wood & metal construction, was developed by
Briggs Motor Bodies.
On introduction, the E83W cost £168 in basic van guise, although there was the option to purchase
just the chassis and/or cab.
Curiosities, unique to these early versions, are the central throttle pedal arrangement, out to catch
the uninitiated driver and, on the very earliest models, the luxury of wind down windows, these later being
replaced by simple weighted pull up/down replacements. Real anoraks of the breed will also be able to point
out that on the early vans, the rear arches run straight down, whereas on later variants they flare out to the rear.
During the war, the E83W (along with many other Ford products) were pushed into all manner of support roles,
for example as Ambulances, fire tenders with the AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) and notably as mobile canteens
operated by the Y.M.C.A., Salvation Army, Church Army, and Society of Friends (indeed Henry & Edsel Ford
funded the build of these special 'Ford Emergency Food Vans' on the 10cwt chassis).
After hostilities, the E83W soldiered on, being designated for all manner of roles, from being estate cars,
pig swill recoverers, luton bodied removal vans or just the simple pickup. By the time production ended in
September '57, over 188,000 had been built in Dagenham, then to be replaced with the new cutting edge 400E.
Throughout it's 19 year life, the humble E83W changed little, still finding eager buyers right into the 1950s,
despite great competition from other manufacturers such as Bedford (with their new CA) and Morris
(with it's new J Type). Right to the end it still had all the hallmarks of a pre-war vehicle, both in it's
styling and component parts. Wiper power (only a single wiper was standard) came from a vacuum pipe leading
off from the inlet manifold, an oil filter was an extra cost option, and cooling relied on the thermo-syphon
principle (a water pump was available as an optional extra in certain markets iirc). Transverse cart springs
could be found at either end of it's unique-to-model chassis, and of course grease nipples were everywhere.
It's on-the-road performance can best be described as 'extremely leisurely', largely down to it's super-low
gearing and mediocre 30 bhp power output. Despite this, the handbook gives advice to the chirpy delivery
driver on all matters relating to good road sense, for example "When driving, both hands should be kept
on the steering wheel unless a necessary driving function is being performed.". Wise words. Bearing in
mind it's lowly performance figures, the following instructions seem overly-cautious nowadays .. "Never
Brake or accelerate violently at corners and on bends if this can possibly be avoided, as it may induce
skidding, especially on loose or greasy surfaces.". The thought of an E83W, fully laden, power sliding
on opposite lock down the high street, scattering prams and district nurses in all directions, is at