Eric and Ford
Eric Jackson wasn’t just a Ford dealer – he truly believed that Ford Motor Company produced the best mass-produced cars. After all, he had tested them to the limit. Very few drivers gave Ford’s cars the gruelling tests undertaken by Eric Jackson.
Ford Motor Company had phenomenal successes in motorsport with many drivers. Yet Eric was the driver who stayed with Ford throughout his entire motorsport career. Apart from the Monte Carlo Rally in 1958, in which he drove a Vauxhall, Eric remained true to Ford Motor Company, proving to the world exactly what their cars were capable of. Imagine driving an ordinary family saloon around the world in only 43 days. And it was a different world – in 1963, there were no cellphones, no GPS, no laptops … when Eric and Ken drove round the world it was just two men and a Ford, tackling roads and terrain that would be inthinkable to traverse today in anything other than a 4 x 4.
The Cortinas and Corsairs used for the endurance trips had very few modifications and most were concessions to the isolated areas they would be travelling through, such as larger fuel tanks. Even though their marathon drives took them through blindingly hot deserts, their cars didn’t even have air-conditioning – basically, they were driving the same cars that tens of thousands of people were using every day to drive to work or pop to the shops.
Eric and Ken’s achievements on their marathon runs were more than just appreciated by Ford Motor Company, right up to Henry Ford ll. When Eric and Ken were on the round the world trip, and driving in an isolated area in Tehran, they saw a solitary figure by the side of the road ahead. As they drew closer, they saw that the man was holding two flags - one a Union flag and the other the Ford oval. Yes, Henry Ford ll had been flown and helicoptered to a remote area to cheer on his ‘boys’.
The car was battered and bruised after its many adventures. Mr. Ford knew that they still had a long way to go and asked Eric if he thought the car would make it. “of course” said Eric, with his trademark cheeky grin, “it’s hardly run in yet.”
Henry Ford quickly realised that Eric was a Ford man through and through and researched Eric’s Ford dealership activities. To his surprise he found out that Service Garage, Eric’s Barnsley dealership, was beating larger dealerships hands down when it came to sales. This led to secret meetings in Walter Hayes’ Grafton Street office when Henry Ford was in the UK. At these private weekend meetings, Eric and Henry Ford discussed sales strategies. It’s unlikely that people selling Fords in dealerships today realise that many of the sales systems they use were developed by Eric Jackson and Henry Ford himself during London meetings many years ago.
Eric Jackson’s company, Polar Motor Company, had the following Ford main dealerships: Service Garage (Barnsley), Polar Bradford (formerly Parkinson’s) and Polar York (formerly Unwin’s).