As much of America redevelops in the direction of increased urbanization and strip-mall suburbia, small downtowns have either dried up or re-purposed themselves as purveyors of quaint fashion and entertainment. Such is the case with Opelika, the sister town to Auburn. Boutiques, restaurants, and antiques places have mostly replaced the hardware stores and other obsolete staples of small-town commerce. I come from a family of enthusiastic collectors of rare junk, but even I can see the occasionally sad irony of a town selling pieces of itself just to get by. A few weeks ago, however, I spotted a prominently displayed chunk of the past that defied my expectations. Instead of distressed Americana on sale, one shop had a very English relic I didn’t expect to see in this part of the country. I returned later to take a closer look.
This Ford Anglia was pulled from a field somewhere in East Alabama. The proprietress of the shop knew of the car’s British origins, but didn’t know how it came to rest in a Southeastern cow patch. She received it “from a friend” and converted it into a display piece for her downtown antiques emporium. Lodged in the front window of the shop with a couple of artfully-positioned suitcases, it’s not for sale. Its value as a conversation piece and an attention-getter clearly outweighs whatever sum someone might be tempted to pay for it. Rest assured, Anglia diehards: this isn’t one that you’d want to save. It’s pretty rotten in the floors and the sills, there’s plenty of bullet holes, and a number of hard-to-find bits are missing. Still, I’m glad that it wound up here rather than in a China-bound scrap steel container. It took me a while, but I managed to get some decent shots of the car despite it being surrounded with stuff.
Who in Alabama would have bought this car new? I’m guessing it was sold here as a new or nearly-new car because of the chrome trunk tag. Brewbaker Motors is a large multi-franchise family dealership in Montgomery that still operates today. They aren’t a Ford store, though, so they must have acquired it secondhand. I like to think that some expat British professor brought the car with him when he came to teach at Auburn in the 1950’s. He might have traded it in after discovering that English Fords didn’t have much repair or parts support in the Deep South. Or maybe some hardworking Dixie resident snapped the Anglia up as an alternative to the big Fords of the era. In any case, it went the way of all discarded cars in Alabama and became somebody else’s target. Now it serves as a reminder that not everyone wanted a Detroit land yacht in the 50’s.
Thanks to the owner of Resurrect Antiques for her permission to photograph the vehicle.