Classic Morris Minor Saloon, Convertible, Traveller & Van

1948 – 1971

A Morris Minor

Sarah Says

A Morris Minor always raises a smile on the show circuit, with the Morris Minor pickup being a firm favourite of mine.

Highlights

  • Enchanting 
  • Simple 
  • No frills 
  • A Morris Minor is a classic, classic 

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A Morris Minor is a smile-inducing slice of nostalgia that is beautifully simplistic and simply beautiful. It stands the test of time and is now an utterly charming classic car to own and use everyday. 

Design

The utilitarian-like Morris Minor was designed by the genius Sir Alec Issigonis. It started life around 1941 and was finally launched at the first post war British Motor Show in 1948. Developed in a period of war time and launched in a period of post war austerity the Minor had a troubled conception and birth. That fascinating story is very worthy of a separate piece all on its own, which we will publish, so keep an eye out for it. We’ll give you a little taste. Issigonis wanted to name the Minor, the Mosquito. However, in his many struggles with William Morris, later Lord Nuffield, founder of Morris Cars, who disliked Issigonis intensely, William Morris’s view prevailed, this time! 

Morris Minor Models

The ‘original’ Minor sometimes referred to as the Series I or more usually the ‘MM’ was produced between 1948-53. They are pretty rare now and as a result prices are getting very trumpy. 

The Series II was born in 1952 as a result of the merger of the Nuffield Organisation, Morris’s Car Company owner, with the Austin Motor Company to make the grandly named British Motor Corporation at that point the Minor was significantly re-engineered. 

After that, the Series III came along in ’56 and shortly after the Series V – we’re not sure what happened to IV, this was BMC after all – popped up in ’62.  

That is the basic model overview. We’ll concentrate mainly on the later cars, because these are the ones you’ll be buying. 

Backtrack a little to the start, nearly, the split-windscreen Series II 1952 – 1956, It was powered by a the mighty 803cc version of Austin’s A-series engine. It sprinted from 0-60mph in about a minute. We’re going to be honest, we’d get bored measuring that. What the Minor lacked in pace it makes up for in frugalness. You’ll easily get 40mpg+ from the little Minor. During the Series II period in the mid 50’s the Traveller estate and a range of light vans were introduced which opened up the appeal of the classic Morris Minor even more. The merger brought other changes, some positive others, less so. So called luxury items such as leather trim were replaced with cheaper vinyl. Many of the ancillary items such as wipers, heaters, switches that were unique to Morris were replaced with BMC cross-overs. This is good news for today’s owners.  

The Series III 1956-1962 saw further updates to what by now was a very successful car. The pop out semiphore trafficators were replaced in favour of ‘proper’ indicators. We mean, who thought up semiphore trafficators, you might as well have just stuck your head out of the window and YELLED! Anyway. Changes were made also to running gear and gearbox. This was the time of course of the new fangled motorways, the Minor had to keep up. The biggest alteration was junking the might 803cc engine and replacing it with the 948cc unit. This reduced the 0-60 times dramatically – about 58secs now! The Minor could now exceed 70mph.  On top of that, in 1960 the Minor broke through the 1,000,000 sales mark. A classic Morris Minor was motoring.  

The Series V was launched in 1962 and endured to the end of production in ’71. Oddly, sometimes the Series V is also referred to as the Series IV too. Yeah, we’re confused as well. We don’t think it matters frankly, not to us anyway. The Series V enjoyed more updates; body, wings, indicators, switches, carpet, heater, blah, blah, blah, etc, etc. The most meaningful change was the classic A-series engine. The 948cc was enlarged to thundering 1,098cc, giving the Minor the ability to hit nearly 80mph and generally making it even more fun. If we had a choice, this is the model we’d probably focus on. 

Vans

It is worth mentioning these as they are enduringly popular.  Classic Minor commercials were built from 1953 right through until production ended in 1971. They were double popular with small businesses and larger corporations alike. The GPO deployed them extensively. Very early versions of these, around 1956, were fitted with rubber front wings! They’d be like the proverbial now, we’d guess. All the commercial range, van and pickup differed in construction of the classic saloon and Traveller variants by having a separate chassis. As you’d expect suspension was uprated too. Today commercials remain very popular 

The Morris Minor Traveller

The Traveller was launched in 1953 and it stayed in production until the end in 1971, after the saloon in fact. The classic Traveller’s appeal, is its astonishing sensibleness. It will easily accommodate four adults but with the Traveller, you don’t have to skimp on luggage either. Those rear loading doors are wonderfully practical. It really was the UK’s first SUV, surely. If you’re thinking of plumping for the Traveller, look at the later models, 1962 onwards. There is a bit more heft to the engine. About 48bhp might not sound like much, but the 948cc engine produces 37bhp, and the 803cc a paltry 30bhp! 0-60 eventually. 

The Convertible

Interestingly, in Minor circles, the convertible is referred to as the Tourer. We’re fine with that, classic Tourer it is. Aside from being ultra-cool, and in our opinion the one to have if you’re going to buy a classic Minor, it is the same car without a tin lid. There are some ‘conversions’ around. Don’t immediately be put off. Done professionally and with care and attention the conversions can be okay. Try, if you can, to find a factory built one though. Uber-cool car, in our view. 

By the mid 60’s the end was nigh for the classic Morris Minor in all its forms. BMC were looking to its successor, the Morris Marina. Another great car, but its not a Moggie is it. Production ended in 1971 with a reported near-on 1.7m units sold. Classic car. Classic results. Classic cool. 

Summary

Alongside its contemporaries of the time, such as the Jaguar E-type, MGB, Mini etc. the classic Morris Minor is often in their shadow. But do not overlook it or indeed under-estimate it.

It is a fabulous classic car. The sheer simplicity means it is easy to maintain, which you won't be doing a lot of. There is a massive fan club, formal and informal, you’re sure to meet and make friends and have loads of fun.

Above all, any car that was born in the second world war and is still revered, loved and much sought after today well... that is a great classic car.  

 

 

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