Morris Minor: house owners pay tribute to British motoring icon

Morris Minor: owners pay tribute to British motoring icon

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The British motor business had an enormous 12 months in 1948. It was 75 years in the past that Land Rover was born, Jaguar launched its XK120, Colin Chapman (of Lotus fame) constructed his first automobile, and Morris launched the Minor. Throughout the Channel, Citroen pulled the wraps off the 2CV, whereas Porsche launched its first mannequin, the 356.

All of these vehicles have endured, however for a sure band of fanatics it’s the Minor that’s king. The primary British automobile to promote greater than one million, the Minor is a basic, thanks largely to a thriving house owners’ membership and specialists, who can present just about something to maintain a Moggy ticking over.

In 1943 Alec Issigonis began producing drawings for an progressive post-war household automobile, however he didn’t get the temporary to design a compact four-seater codenamed Mosquito till hostilities have been over. Given a free hand by Morris to create one thing cutting-edge, Issigonis envisaged an reasonably priced saloon with unitary building and a flat-four engine driving the entrance wheels. Coil spring and wishbone suspension would characteristic on the entrance, together with rack-and-pinion steering. Then actuality hit and every thing was downgraded; cue a 918cc side-valve engine carried over from the pre-war Morris Eight, driving the rear wheels.

The primary prototype retained the Eight’s dimensions, so there was hardly any inside area, which is why the bodyshell was widened by 4 inches after the preliminary prototype had been constructed. With this job achieved, the Minor was born – or the poached egg, as Morris boss Lord Nuffield disparagingly referred to as it when he first noticed it.

Saloon

(Constructed 1948-1971)

When the Minor was unveiled in October 1948, it was in saloon and convertible types, in each circumstances with two doorways solely. As quickly because the automobile was unveiled, the press and public went wild, all madly captivated with this new surprise machine that made its opponents look dated. The adoption of impartial entrance suspension produced a automobile that was snug but dealt with nicely, helped by way of 14-inch wheels when 17-inch rims have been the norm.

Regardless of so many key vehicles being unveiled alongside it, the Minor was the star of the 1948 Earls Courtroom Motor Present. Priced at £358, the Morris was £32 costlier than the Ford Anglia with its pre-war styling, however lots cheaper than something Austin or the Rootes Group needed to provide. The motoring press adored the Minor, however Brits couldn’t get their arms on one, as a result of till 1952 the Minor was usually out there for export solely. When Morris might lastly promote freely in its residence market, the orders flooded in, and by 1961 the Moggy had change into the primary British automobile to promote one million. Morris marked this with 350 copies of the Minor Million, every with lilac paint and white inside trim, all two-door saloons with the 948cc engine.

The saloon pictured is by far the oldest Minor right here, and it’s the one one with the side-valve engine fitted to the earliest vehicles. Simon Ekins purchased it earlier this 12 months, however he’s no newcomer to Minor possession. He says: “I bear in mind driving my dad’s 1931 Morris Cowley up and down the drive once I was 14; we repainted it collectively on one event, utilizing Valspar utilized with a brush. Once I handed my take a look at, I purchased a 1936 Morris Eight for £10, then within the early nineties I bought my fashionable Fiat to purchase a 1967 Minor Traveller as my on a regular basis transport. I beloved it; there’s simply one thing in regards to the form and all that wooden down the perimeters.

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“Through the years I’ve owned a couple of Minors, however this one got here up in April and I simply needed to have it, as I had all the time wished a split-screen version. A 1952 automobile that’s received numerous concours prizes, it’s largely unique, which suggests the 918cc engine has simply 27.5bhp, so the acceleration is leisurely. However as soon as it will get going, it cruises properly at 40-45mph.”

Open season

(Constructed 1948 -1969)

We’re unsure {that a} automobile has ever been constructed which is extra charming or quintessentially British than a Minor convertible, which Morris marketed because the Tourer. This instance is owned by Will and Caroline Dickson.

Will notes: “Once I was 12, my dad had a Minor with a ropey engine. Someday he introduced that we have been going to swap its 948cc engine for a greater one out of a smashed-up Austin A35. What he actually meant was that I used to be going to vary the engine; he’d give me directions at every stage, however more often than not he’d be inside watching the telly whereas I toiled away exterior. Trying again it appears mad now, nevertheless it set me up for a lifetime of fixing vehicles, and I went on to arrange a village storage after which a classic-car restoration workshop.”

Again within the late eighties, certainly one of Will’s clients got here into the storage with a request: he wished a fundamental automobile, so a Minor saloon that wanted some fettling was tracked down, and this was returned to the highway. The automobile was then handed over, just for the client to announce that he had one thing in his storage that he wanted to promote: a two-door Minor saloon! Will and Caroline determined to purchase it and use it as their household transport, and since then they’ve run a string of Minors of each sort, together with a van and a pick-up.

Will provides: “Just a few years in the past our daughter bought married and wished a Minor Tourer for her wedding ceremony automobile, so we purchased the one within the photos. Our different daughter then bought hitched and requested for an additional Tourer to go together with our first one, as a result of she had extra bridesmaids. We’ve ended up with an identical pair, however the later automobile has had a couple of tweaks for normal use.

“The Minor is an excellent automobile, however for us a key attraction is the social scene and the membership. Just a few years in the past we have been touring the west coast of Scotland in our Minor, when the starter motor packed up. We rang the membership, who gave us the small print of a member who might assist. He had a spare starter motor in his shed so we drove over there, purchased the half and fitted it the following morning. Most of the components fitted from very early in manufacturing will match the final examples made.

“They’re additionally very simple to work on. Caroline floor to a halt within the native sq. on market day. She jumped out, took off her shoe and used it to present the gasoline pump a great whack. The automobile sprang again into life and he or she drove off, having acquired a spherical of applause from the native merchants.”

Travelling man

(Constructed 1953-1971)

The Minor Traveller was a pure match within the Minor vary; the van model had already been launched, and Morris already supplied the larger Oxford MO in load-lugging type. Impressed by the woodies that have been so widespread within the US on the time, the Traveller was the identical because the saloon forward of the B-pillar, however behind the doorways was all-new bodywork, together with an ash body that gave the automobile its energy. Priced at £442 when it was launched in autumn 1953, the Traveller proved to be one other hit for Morris, which might provide the identical automobile for the following 18 years, with comparatively few adjustments.

Terry Johnson’s Minor Traveller is without doubt one of the final made, and whereas it’s not utterly commonplace, that eye-popping blue paint is the unique hue (formally labelled Aqua, because you ask). As with everybody right here, Terry is a serial Minor proprietor, having owned a string of them since he purchased his first in 1964. The Traveller arrived 5 years after the Minor saloon was unveiled; again then few automobile makers supplied property vehicles, with some rivals counting on impartial firms to transform their saloons into load carriers.

Says Terry: “The Minor was all the time thought of to be a great workhorse, which is why I purchased that first one within the sixties. I took it everywhere and it by no means gave me any hassle, so once I retired in 2000 I knew precisely which basic automobile I used to be going to purchase as a venture to revive: a Minor Traveller.

“Membership member Sandy Hamilton had simply the automobile, so I did it up along with his assist, studying tons from him alongside the best way. That’s why membership of the house owners’ membership is so necessary; Sandy had the information, the instruments and the components, which enabled me to return the Traveller to the highway.

“Six years in the past I bought that Traveller and changed it with the one  you see right here, purchased for simply £500. It was in significantly better situation than I anticipated, so it was a straightforward restoration,” Terry explains “On the finish of Minor manufacturing, Morris acquired a bulk order from an organization, for 60 Travellers with a 1,275cc engine. This engine was by no means formally supplied within the Minor, though many have since been fitted to pep issues up a bit. The V5 claimed this was a Minor 1300, however the 1,275cc engine had been swapped for a 1,098cc unit; I reversed the change and the automobile now has loads of go to maintain up with fashionable site visitors, whereas the fitment of disc entrance brakes and LED headlight bulbs makes it that bit extra usable.”

Minor commercials

(Constructed 1953-1971)

Gentle Business Automobiles (or LCVs) accounted for about 326,000 of the Minors constructed, however onerous lives, and a scarcity of curiosity in them till it was too late, imply there aren’t many left. 5 years after the Minor saloon appeared, the 1/4-Ton Van arrived, together with a pick-up model. Primarily based on the Sequence II Minor, these first commercials featured a cut up windscreen and an 803cc overhead-valve engine with the bodyshell sitting on a separate chassis.

In October 1956 the Sequence III appeared with a 948cc A-series engine and a one-piece windscreen, however essentially the most usable Minor LCV of all arrived in September 1962: the Sequence V (there was no Sequence IV), with a 48bhp 1,098cc A-series engine. In 1968 an Austin-badged Minor LCV entered showrooms to take over from the A35 van; the ultimate Minor LCV was inbuilt December 1971.

Garry and Cheryl Steele personal the Minor van. Garry says: “One in all my first recollections is from the late fifties, once I was a small boy and the native butcher made weekly deliveries to our home out of the rear of his Minor van, and I can nonetheless keep in mind that distinctive exhaust sound.

Cheryl and I bought married in 1978 and I handed my take a look at solely simply earlier than, so cash was tight. I used to be supplied a 1965 Minor saloon for £60, so I snapped it up and we used it as our on a regular basis transport. The webbing had gone on the motive force’s seat, and with Cheryl being fairly small she’d sit with the seat resting on high of a thick size of wooden in order that she might see over the dashboard. We didn’t fear a lot about well being and security in these days!

“As soon as I’d purchased the Minor, what turned instantly obvious was how everybody I knew might relate to it; they’d owned one, realized to drive in a single or had a member of the family who owned one. That unique saloon was changed by one other, then in 1983 I spent the better a part of our meagre financial savings on a 1956 Tourer which we nonetheless personal, and regardless that it has only a 948cc engine instead of the unique 803cc unit, it has taken us on many adventures in mainland Europe over time.

“The plan is to do the identical with the van, which we purchased seven years in the past. Cheryl makes use of a mobility scooter and we wanted a Minor that might carry it, in order that we might proceed to take pleasure in touring and collaborating in membership occasions. We use a few ramps and the scooter goes simply at the back of the van.”

In the meantime, the pick-up pictured above left is owned by Brian Liggins, who acquired the business Moggy a decade in the past. He says: “It had been laid up for 23 years and wanted plenty of restoration, however I purchased it and returned it to the highway. I by no means went searching for a basic automobile and by no means thought I might ever personal one. Whereas it wasn’t constructed with consolation in thoughts, as a result of it’s drafty, noisy and the suspension is fundamental, it nonetheless has the power to place a smile on individuals’s faces wherever she goes, which could be very satisfying.

“The Minor has taken me to Holland, France, Belgium, the Isle of Man and Scotland. On one journey to Germany she blew the top gasket and suffered valve harm, however a member of the German Morris Minor membership got here to the rescue, providing us a rebuilt engine that he had able to go. We fitted it and continued our journey; that’s the ability of the Minor group.”

Hooked on Minors

Sandy Hamilton has a clowder of 15 Moggies in his storage, however they’re not the one Minors he’s owned

The phrase ‘stalwart’ was made for Sandy Hamilton, who has a 15-strong dependancy to Morris Minors. That’s not what number of he has owned by the best way – it’s what number of he at present has, together with many early examples. He’s a number one gentle of the Morris Minor Homeowners’ Membership (mmoc.org.uk), and it began in 1953 when Sandy’s father purchased a brand new Minor saloon, which was stored till 1969. By then Sandy and his spouse Rosie had purchased their first Minor, nevertheless it was solely in 1989 that they joined the MMOC, which had burst onto the scene 11 years earlier.

Sandy feedback: “In 1989 I had a disturbing job and wished one thing that supplied me some escape. I discovered a 1953 Minor saloon, constructed simply two days after my dad’s 1953 instance. Then I fancied

a side-valve automobile, so I tracked one down and inside a month I’d purchased one other saloon and added that to the gathering. Issues simply multiplied after that; I used to be as much as 20 Minors at one level. When Rosie and I went on vacation to Canada in 1996 we ended up bringing again a 1950 instance, which is the oldest-known four-door saloon within the UK.

“Minor possession brings fanatics collectively from all walks of life; you get to satisfy all kinds of people that you wouldn’t in any other case meet. We’ve additionally had plenty of experiences that we wouldn’t have had, together with many European journeys via the MMOC’s annual Minors on Tour, which works to totally different locations. For us, the Minor is the proper basic automobile and the MMOC is the proper membership.”

Minor evolution

The Minor made its debut in October 1948 because the sequence MM, in any other case often called the low-light, as a result of its headlamps have been mounted low down within the grille. At first it was out there solely as a two-door saloon or a convertible named the Tourer, however following UK introduction of the Sequence II in February 1953, the Traveller joined the vary that autumn.

The headlamps had been relocated to the highest of the entrance wings in 1949, and the four-door saloon arrived a 12 months later, so the primary change for the Sequence II was the adoption of the 30bhp A-series 803cc overhead-valve engine instead of the 27.5bhp Morris Eight Sequence E-derived 918cc side-valve unit that had beforehand been fitted.

In 1956 there have been main adjustments, with the launch of the Minor 1000. Not solely was a 948cc model of the A-series engine launched, however the cut up windscreen turned a single-piece unit and a bigger rear window was fitted. The ultimate variation on the theme was the (unofficially titled) Minor 1100, which regardless of having a 1,098cc engine was nonetheless bought because the Morris 1000; it reached showrooms in September 1962. The Minor 1100 used a 48bhp model of the 1,098cc A-series powerplant and the entrance drum brakes have been enlarged.

By the point UK manufacturing of the mannequin ceased in December 1971 (New Zealand manufacturing continued till 1974), 1,293,331 Minors had been made, plus 326,626 business editions; the latter determine consists of three years’ price of Austin-badged vans.

Mannequin Sequence MM Sequence II Sequence III Sequence V
Constructed 1948-1953 1953-1956 1956-1962 1962-1971
Engine 918cc, 27.5bhp 803cc, 30bhp 948cc, 37bhp 1,098cc, 48bhp
High pace 60mph 62mph 72mph 73mph
Quantity made 176,002 269,838 544,048 303,443

Honest cop

Throughout the UK within the sixties, cities and villages have been teeming with panda vehicles comparable to Mike Sharp’s, which was first registered to Devon & Cornwall Police in June 1968. He and his daughter Lynda purchased the automobile 20 years in the past, pondering that it simply wanted a bit of sunshine work. But it surely had been badly bodged and wanted an entire restoration; now the automobile is in higher form than when it rolled out of Morris’s Cowley manufacturing facility.

Mike says: “Once we purchased our Minor it wasn’t offered as a police automobile, however we knew that it began out as one, so we tracked down the uniforms, a two-way radio and the roof-mounted gentle field.

“We additionally had it restored as a panda automobile and now it will get numerous consideration wherever we take it, which is principally to classic-car exhibits. Final 12 months it was certainly one of 19 Minors that took half within the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant, which was a wonderful expertise; have a look at the footage on-line and you may see Lynda and me in our uniforms, as our Minor drives previous the crowds.”

Minor buy

Helpful ideas for those who’re shopping for a Moggy

Fancy your individual Minor? Begin by becoming a member of the Morris Minor Homeowners’ Membership and purchase one from a fellow membership member. Costs start at £3,000 for a usable saloon, whereas affordable Travellers and Tourers are £5,000-plus. The most effective Minors fetch between £15,000 and £18,000, however vans and pick-ups can command as much as £22,000 once they come onto the market, which isn’t usually.

Actually ropey vehicles can look basically good, so an skilled inspection is really helpful earlier than making a purchase order. Underside rot is frequent and the Traveller’s wooden is structural, so it actually must be in tip-top situation – however usually isn’t. Some saloons are transformed (usually very poorly) to Tourers and handed off as the true factor. The chassis plate is on the motive force’s aspect bulkhead; the second letter of a 1952-1958 Tourer’s chassis quantity will likely be C, whereas later vehicles used a MAT prefix. Any automobile constructed after June 1969 will likely be a conversion.

Examples with the later A-series engines (948cc or 1,098cc) are a great wager when it comes to usability and components availability. Engine oil leaks are regular, as is a little bit of smoke on start-up. But when there’s clouds of it, and if there’s any trace of knocking, an engine rebuild is due.

Gearboxes are Morris Minor weak factors and components are onerous to search out, apart from 1,098cc editions. Leaking shock absorbers aren’t uncommon with Moggies, both, however every thing might be sourced cheaply to place issues proper, and upgrades are available.

Have you ever owned a Morris Minor? Inform us about your recollections within the feedback part under…

Pete has over 20 years journalistic expertise. Having beforehand labored for Ladbrokes and the Racing Submit, he switched from sports activities writing to automotive journalism when becoming a member of Auto Categorical in 2015.

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