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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here's how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come…
What can you say about the Morris Minor that hasn’t been said before? Designed by Alex Issigonis, who famously went on pen the Mini, it has evolved from a reliable new family runabout in the 1950s and ‘60s, to a cheap old banger for students in the ‘70s, and, from the ‘80s onwards, has become many people’s introduction to the classic car scene. It’s sheer popularity ensures that there’s an army of specialists around to help you to maintain your Moggy and special tools are practically non existent in requirement. Parts interchangability is also good.
Thanks to the 1970s custom car scene, everything from a Rover V8 to an Alfa or Fiat twin-cam has been fi tted under the bonnet of a Minor. These days, sensible upgrades are the order of the day and most people fi t a larger 1275cc A-Series engine, to replace the original 1098cc unit. A reconditioned 1275cc unit can be supplied from around £900 but some owners are now looking to Rover’s K Series engines.
For instance www.aseriesspares.co.uk sells a stage 1 unleaded 1098cc cylinder head, with new valves, guides and unleaded seats, for £367. You can also buy new carbs, from around £200 for a single HS2, up to nearer £600 for the twins, normally fi tted to the 1275cc MG Midget. Pricey, but these carbs are easy to overhaul at much less cost. Marina/Midget engine fi t with minor mods to the front pulley assemblies.
It’s possible to bore the cylinders out to 1380cc, plus you can even consider turbo charging the unit. For the ultimate www. jlhmorrisminors.co.uk supplies a 170bhp, Ford 2.0-litre Zetec engine and fi tting kit, which is mated to a Ford Type 9 fi ve-speed gearbox. The price for this specially built engine is £3795.
Leaking crankshaft oil seals are a common problem, so new or upgraded seals should be on your shopping list. To get round this problem www.jlhmorrisminors.co.uk has devised a Maestro crank and breather conversion for any 1275cc A Series unit. It’s a good idea to drop the sump and renew shells and bearings every 50,000 miles and easily done.
If you’re after modern-feeling front suspension, it’s possible to replace the original torsion bar system; www. jlhmorrisminors.co.uk sells a modern-style coil-over-shockabsorbers set up for £740. The kit includes a new cross member and wide-bottom A-arms.
You must keep the trunnions well lubricated. Many prefer to upgrade to telescopic shock absorbers. From www. morrisminor.org.uk (Charles Ware’s Morris Minor Centre) you can have a new front suspension handling kit fi tted from just £242, which includes telescopic shock absorbers. A front anti-roll bar from the same company costs £169.
The most popular brake modification is to fit front disc brakes; initially by using Marina parts but now Ford Sierra bits are popular. A complete conversion kit from www.morrisminor. org.uk costs £650 and, if you’re upgrading the brakes, it makes sense to upgrade the suspension at the same time.
One way to improve the feel of the standard drum brakes is to fit a servo, and www.morrisminor.org.uk will supply and fit a servo for £395. The brake master cylinder lives inside the chassis rail, and it suffers after a while and because it’s out of sight it’s also usually out of mind.
GEARBOX AND TRANSMISSION
Many people elect for better gearing and it transforms daily drivers. You can buy a modified Ford Sierra five-speed gearbox from www.morrisminor.org.uk for £1425, and includes fitting. This gearbox can be mated to either A -Series unit.
It’s possible to buy reconditioned ‘boxes on an exchange basis, with www.morrisminorspares.net selling a 1098cc engine gearbox for £490. The synchros are the fi rst thing to go especially especially second. The only model that has decent parts supply is the 1098cc; sidevalvers are poor. A Midget ‘box is the same unit.
BODY AND CHASSIS
If you’re worried about corrosion, or just want to save a bit of money, you can buy glass-fi bre front and rear wings, for about half the price of steel versions, though these are hardly expensive, at around £90 for a pattern steel wing of £140 for an original. If you’ve got a two-door Minor, you can also turn it into a convertible, but be sure to fi t all the correct strengthening panels. All the panels you need are available, and usually at good prices but it can get expensive on Travellers with rotten wood.
A complete kit costs around £100 and pro fi tting is as much again, though you can buy the individual sides pre-assembled. It’s an MoT fail point; check for softening. Ideally it needs checking every year and re-varnishing every two years.
INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR TRIM
A daily driver? Then you’ll want to upgrade to modern recliners, trimmed in vinyl, from www.morrisminorspares. net. Fitting modern inertia reel seatbelts is also a worthwhile safety option, with kits costing around £25.
Minor trim was always basic and there are many suppliers who will sell you original-style trim, at keen prices; www.morrisminorspares.net has a carpet kit for just £64.50, or original-style blue vinyl front seat cover for £97. Doors are hard to obtain as are four door handles.
If you’ve upgraded the suspension, then you may want to fi t modern wheels and wider tyres. Prices start at around £60 with www.morrisminorspares.net selling a Minator eight Spoke Ally Wheel for £62.95.
Marina/Spridget wheels will fit. Stock tyres are still easy to buy, with a premium 145 x 14 radial Bridgestone costing around £50. For an original steel wheel you’re probably best to look to breakers or get an original set repainted. 13 inch fi t but seriously lowers the gearing.
For the ultimate www.jlhmorrisminors. co.uk sells a fi ve-link kit for £1100 (fitted by the company as it is a complex job). This does away with the rear leafs, for the handling of a modern. You can buy a simpler upgrade kit from www.morrismonor.org.uk for £592.
Spring hanger repairs due to rust are complicated and labour intensive. Swapping over to telescopic dampers is wise and inexpensive; some fi t Marina/Spridget rear axles for better choice of ratios and brakes.
The Morris Minor is one of the few ‘old’ classics that can cheerfully be used as an urban daily driver in mostly standard trim although we fi t an alternator conversion for £95, as well as halogen headlamps (£40) and an electric screen washer system (£30). Even if your car needs a complete rewire, a new loom is just under £100 and easy enough to fi t. Many Minors on sale will have had some level of alteration and modifi ying done to them though – it’s for you to decide on their worth.
There’s a Minor to suit every pocket, although doggy Moggys are common for under £1500. Between £2500 and £4500 buys a better car as well as peace of mind and low future expense. Tourers and Travellers are most desired of them all but there’s increasing interest in the vans and pick-ups. Remember that specialists like the Minor Centre can sell or make you a ‘new’ car to your specification.
Engine Oil: (20W/50 or 60): 7pints
Gearbox: Use engine oil 2.3pints
Rear axle: EP90 1.75pts
Cooling system: 28.5 pints
Spark Plugs: N5, N9Y or equivalent gap 0.025in c.b. points: gap 0.014-0.016in
Timing: 948cc 5 degrees BTDC 1098cc 3 degrees BTDC
Valve clearances 0.012 in & ex recommended to set cold
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