We don’t often get the chance to bring Suggs and his crew into the Not2Grand fold. In fact, we never get that chance. That is, until, today. Because today we get to look at the Morris Minor, a car Madness happily sang about back in 19-a-long-time-ago.
Take it away, boys…
Ah, the heavy, heavy sound. If you’re not well-versed in the sounds of Madness, may we suggest you educate yourself post-haste? They really are excellent. But we digress. This is a car site, not Top of the Pops. So on with the car.
The Morris Minor joined the motoring world in 1948, though its genealogy can be traced back as far as 1941. However, the first iteration of the Minor is sought-after beast. Despite being pretty damn common back in the day, there aren’t a lot of them left these days. As such, they command a bit of a premium. The same can be said for early series two Minors.
As such, we’re looking on the third generation, or Minor 1000. Visually, it’s pretty close to the series two. The most notable differences being the one-piece front windscreen, a larger rear windscreen and from 1961, flashing indicators instead of the semaphore-style. If you don’t know what a semaphore-style indicator is, it’s a little arm that sticks out of the side of the car to let other folk know you’re turning. Yes, you’re right, the old days were weird.
The Minor was the brainchild of Sir Alec Isigonis. If that name is firing off receptors in your noggin, but you can’t think why, it’s because he designed the Mini. Yep, he was a dab hand at coming up with clever cars, as the Minor – the first big project he undertook – proved.
He started off designing parts, like suspension and rack and pinion steering. Things that, when they initially spilled from his brain to his pen, were deemed too advanced, too revolutionary. Isigonis was a forward-thinker, there’s no doubt about that. The Minor was the culmination of many a year’s design ideas. it was a huge success from the off. The Minor moved the game on considerably. In comparison to what other manufacturers were offering, the Minor was a revolution. It didn’t matter that it took a little under a minute to get to 60mph. It was still better than the cars before it and, in a struggling post-war Britain, the cars being sold alongside it, too.
By 1956, when the third-generation became available, the Morris Minor was a household name, way before Suggs penned a ditty about it.
Available in two or four door, as well as convertible, van and ‘woody’ estate versions, the Minor was all things to all men. Hell, there was even a pick-up version. There was nothing the Minor couldn’t turn its hand to, and as such, Morris made a mint on the Minor. A lot of Ms there.
And of course, the Minor’s ubiquity would ensure that a great many survived over the decades. Alec would no doubt be proud of the following his little car still has in what must have seemed, back in the 1940s, to be the sci-fi year of 2017.
For your meagre budget, you’re probably going to have to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. There are plenty of cheap Minors, but they almost always need some fettling. But that’s fine – the Minor is a simple beast to work on. If you’re looking for a fun but basic starter classic, you can’t go far wrong.
The A-series engine (the same that you’ll find in the Mini, funnily enough) responds well to the most basic of care, though even if you’re a complete mechanical beginner, you’ll still have to work hard to kill it. Spark plugs, points and rotor, HT leads, coil, it’s car engine 101.
As for the transmission and driveline, it’s all rugged, simple stuff. You have a four-speed manual, drum brakes, rack and pinion steering, torsion bar front suspension with leaf springs at the rear. Simple, effective chunks of metal that do the job. Nothing complicated, nothing scary. The same can be said for everything else. It’s basic nuts and bolts stuff. You don’t need a degree in headlightology to change a bulb here.
Inside, you get some seats and a steering wheel. That’s about your lot. But honestly, in a car like this, you don’t need much more. You drive a Minor for the charm of the thing, not for what it has fitted. Which is good, because it’s about as sparse as a vegan’s lunchbox.
Is it fast? It is not. Is it dynamic? Not on your nelly. Does it offer a driving experience akin to that of a cutting edge race car? Of course it bloody doesn’t. But it does potter about with a warmth and charm that modern car designers have long since forgotten. Well, aside from the pencil monkeys at Morgan. It’s still 1934 in Malvern.
The only big caveat is that as an old British car that has been around forever, rust is going to be an issue. And man alive do Minors like to rust. Arches, the chassis, the sills, the boot floor, the roof, the bulkead – rust-proofing wasn’t a thing in the 1950s. Every bit of a Minor is on the menu for rust.
You needn’t worry though. With companies like Moss and Charles Ware out there to offer aid no matter what your problem may be, there’s nothing that can keep a Minor down. The following for these charming little cars is massive. Gargantuan in fact. As such, the market that serves them is vast, making owning one an absolute breeze. Not only that, but the modification market is huge, too. And we’re not talking about neon lights and chrome alloys. No, there’s a world of sensible stuff out there that will heighten your Minor ownership. More modern engines, disc brakes, better interior trim kits, upgraded suspension and panels that won’t rust. You can not only keep a Minor alive with ease, but you can make it your sensible daily driver.
It’s easy to own one, and own one you should. The Morris Minor is a true classic. It rightly belongs in Britain’s ‘proud of that’ pile. Plus, how many cars can you say a 1970s ska band sang about? Exactly.