Nineteen fifty-nine was a most significant year for the international automotive industry. It's fair to say that, for the first time, manufacturers displayed new cars that reflected the 1955-56 Suez Crisis with its implications for the supply and price of petrol. Alec Issigonis's Morris Mini-Minor and Austin Seven twins were the most obvious of these. There were at least two other important new small British cars making their debut at that year's Earls Court Motor Show in London – the Triumph Herald and the Ford Anglia 105E.
It was also the year that Detroit revealed its new Compacts, one of which, the Valiant (which in its earliest days was a brand in its own right), made its debut at Earls Court. These Compacts constituted a direct response to the strong sales of the Volkswagen – dubbed 'that little sh#tbox' by no less a luminary than Henry Ford II. (The Renault Dauphine was another small import that achieved some popularity in the US but the undoubted star was the Beetle.)
The new Anglia may have been the most conservative of these three new small British cars, but for Ford of England (as it was then known) it was a major forward step. It was the first modern small Ford, about as different from the outgoing ‘sit-up-and-beg’ entry level Popular as could be imagined. Somewhat remarkably, General Motors (GM) – unquestionably the world's first true multinational automotive manufacturer –offered no car smaller than the Vauxhall Victor, although Opel had produced the monocoque Cadet in the late 1930s.