|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Magic|
|First Appearance||Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets|
The Ford Anglia is a unique magical artifact. Created by Arthur Weasley, it is a one-time ordinary automobile that is now able to fly and has the capability of becoming invisible.
Fred, George, and Ron Weasley take this car out of its storage shed in order to bring Harry away from the Dursleys', and bring him to the Burrow. They get into rather a lot of trouble for this when they are caught by their mother.
The entire family is carried to King's Cross Station in this car, when it is time to go to Hogwarts. Arthur has placed a spell on the car so that it is larger inside than outside; Mrs. Weasley remarks on how Muggles are able to build a car that looks so small and has so much space inside. None of the others enlighten her.
When Harry and Ron are unable to get through the barrier at Platform Nine and Three Quarters, Harry suggests that they should go back to the car and wait. It occurs to Ron that their parents might not be able to get out of the platform any more than they can get in, and that they should take the car and fly to Hogwarts. They do so, in the process crashing into the Whomping Willow on the school grounds. The car then throws them out and wanders off on its own into the Forbidden Forest.
Harry and Ron, venturing into the Forbidden Forest on the trail of the spiders, as Hagrid had advised them, encounter the car, gone feral but still able to recognize Ron as its owner. They are then captured by giant spiders. The spiders take them to Aragog, their leader, who discusses some past events with Harry and Ron, and then consigns them to their fate: to be eaten by his children. The car rescues them, and leaves them at the edge of the Forest.
As any writer does, the author uses her own experience to provide background and events for the story she is writing. Many fan sites have mentioned that the turquoise Ford Anglia in this story is an immortalization of a similar vehicle owned by a friend of the author's. The author felt it was worthy of inclusion because the friend in question had taken her on excursions at times when she was most deeply distressed by events in her life. The twins and Ron helping Harry escape from imprisonment in this car, and the later rescue from the spiders, seem an obvious parallel to the friend's actions in a similar vehicle... though we expect that the actual vehicle did not ever actually leave the ground.
The main impetus for this vehicle would seem to be the requirement that Harry and Ron have some other way to get to school when the barrier at Platform 9 and Three quarters proves to be impassable. We will learn that the barrier was blocked by Dobby, who, fearful for Harry's life should he return to Hogwarts, was trying to prevent his reaching the Hogwarts Express. Given the author's history with the car, use of a Ford Anglia would have seemed appropriate.
Of course, getting the car back from Hogwarts would be a problem. One wonders somewhat why Mr. Weasley did not attempt to visit Hogwarts to recover the car, which as far as he knew was simply sitting on the castle grounds somewhere. Of course, if Mr. Weasley did attempt to recover the car, Mrs. Weasley would have come along with him, and would not have needed to send a Howler. The existence of this particularly virulent form of Wizarding correspondence is mentioned a few times in later books, and its introduction at this point does give us an understanding of its nature in later episodes. As Mrs. Weasley elected to forward her feelings by Owl Post rather than expressing them personally, as she seems to prefer, we must assume that Mr. Weasley had somehow heard of his car's departure into the wild, and chosen not to try to recover it. The exposure of the events of Ron's escape in the Muggle news may have been a factor in his decision as well.
It is possible that the above could be a rationalization on the part of the author. We have seen elsewhere that the author's plan for the seven book story arc was very well developed at an early stage in the writing. From this, we can surmise that the need for a loyal and armored associate of Harry's to assist in the escape from the Acromantulae would already be in the author's consideration when the Anglia first enters the story. Given the existence of the Ford Anglia, it is not unlikely that giving it sufficient initiative the hide itself in the Forest, and later to come to Ron's and Harry's rescue, would be a relatively small stretch of the imagination. Many automobiles already seem, at least to their owners, to have personalities anyway; assigning the Ford Anglia a certain instinct for self-preservation would be almost expected, and has in fact been suggested in automobiles appearing in earlier fiction. As the exigencies of the story require that the Anglia remain resident in the Forest, it is not impossible that the failure to recover the car on Mr. Weasley's part is simply a way of readying a plot device.