When the older Ford Anglia and Ford Prefect were replaced by the 100E range in 1953 the 103E Popular was developed as a budget alternative, based on the old, pre-war style E494A Anglia. The E494A was, in turn, a facelift of the Anglia E04A, which was a facelifted version of the 7Y, itself a rebodied Model Y. Thus through several adjustments, updates and name changes, a design with provenance dating back to 1932 was produced by Ford for 27 years. It was powered by a Ford Sidevalve 1172 cc, 30 bhp four-cylinder engine. The car was very basic. It had a single vacuum-powered wiper, no heater, vinyl trim, and very little chrome; even the bumpers were painted, and the bakelite dash of the Anglia was replaced by a flat steel panel. The Popular 103E differed visually from the Anglia E494E in having smaller headlights and a lack of trim on the side of the bonnet.
The 103E Popular continued in production alongside the 100E Anglia range until 1959 when the 100E was replaced by the 105E Anglia. At this stage the entry level version of the 100E was badged as a Popular to sell alongside the new Anglia finally being deleted in 1962. The Popular name was briefly revived in the 1970s for the entry level MkII Escort.