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Morris Minor

Morris Minor Published: 8th Nov 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Morris Minor
Morris Minor
Morris Minor
Morris Minor
Morris Minor
Morris Minor
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The timeless Morris Minor is appealing to all age groups so what’s the secret?

The Morris Minor is in a class of its own. Endearing, engaging and yet super practical, they make a lot of sense for those after a useable, affordable classic, and, to many people, their ownership becomes a way of life. And this is starting to entice young drivers. The ‘British Beetle’ also enjoys a cult following but does this make enthusiasts of all ages blind to the way that they drive?

On the move

In common with the Volkswagen, as with many cars made before the 1950s the Minor enjoys a bulbous appearance that you like or hate. BMC head Lord Nuffield was definitely one of the latter calling it a “Poached Egg”. Like the Beetle, it’s no head turner but there’s no mistaking a Minor and its high build style does result in first class all round visibility plus, on the square-arsed Traveller estate, a really practical luggage area. The interior, at the very best, is austere but there’s beauty in its painted metal simplicity with the minimum of dials and switchgear. The seats win no prizes either but are comfier than a Mini and the interior provides ample room for four.

For the purpose of this test, we’re side-steeping the side-valve models and concentrating on 948cc and 1098cc versions, which make up the bulk of the survivors. The evergreen A-Series engine is a legend; always willing to rev and with a super sharp throttle response yet it is also endowed with a big-hearted flexible nature that belies their small capacities. Of the pair, the 948cc is regarded as the sweetest performer but the added pep and torque of the later, larger 1098cc unit is always appreciated on today’s roads.

Minors aren’t even remotely quick, sporting a top speed barely breaking the legal limit but away from the motorways usually feel nippy and adequate enough if you make use of the delightful snick-shift four-speed gearbox. If you’re not in a particular hurry, 50-55mph is a contended cruising speed.

While modifying is a matter of personal taste, anybody who has driven a Minor fitted with the Marina/Midget 1275cc engine will tell you that this transforms the car, not just in outright acceleration but more importantly in overtaking ease. The added power also allows you to slip in a higher geared differential to make motorway work less of a chore. Even in standard tune the 1275 unit makes for a very nice major Minor. On the same subject, five-speed gearboxes are also popular Minor fitments but to make the utmost of that added ratio, you ideally need the extra pull afforded by the bigger 1275 or a tuned 1098 engine otherwise the benefits are considerably nullified, warn specialists.

Round the corners

Before the Mini came along, Issigonis also worked his magic on what was a no thrills family car. With a torsion bar front suspension, it’s strange that when the same formula was transferred to the bigger Marina the effect was the opposite because there’s no doubt that the Minor remains fun to drive.

True, the grip levels are what’s now considered laughably low but, like the MG Midget, this means you stay legal while having the time of your life. Minors handle exceptionally well for what they are, possessed with a sharp turn-in, crisp as a summer salad steering and utterly predictable oversteer if you push it too far – in fact, we’d argue that a Morris Minor is probably the ideal rear-wheel classic in which to learn how to control a car at low speeds in complete safety.

If you wish to improve the Morris’s cornering capabilities then uprated dampers, when the time comes for replacement, are worth opting for as an example along with front anti-roll bar. If there’s one area where you should say “stuff originality” then it’s the braking system. The all drum set up suffices if you drive sedately, but the pedal pressure is high plus they feel a bit dead under foot if truth be told – so much so that you may feel a certain trepidation if you’ve come out of a modern. Front discs and servo assistance is the accepted answer costing around £500 but it’s money well spent and a good number of cars have had this fitted already. We’d also urge owners not to short change the car (and themselves) by considering other MMOC accepted mods such as better seats and lighting.

Go or no go

Life in the slow lane needn’t feel like drudgery – and the happy-go-lucky Morris Minor proves it. These inexpensive, easy owning classics not only provide a welcome weekend break but can also be used as dependable, short haul daily drivers, offering a lot more fun than a Vauxhall Astra! There isn’t another classic quite like the Morris Minor and there probably never will be. One fan is high octane petrol head Dave Richards, ex Aston Martin big cheese and founder of Prodrive and now head of the UK’s motorsport governing body. He enjoyed his for simply pottering around in at his West Country weekend retreat because he says it’s all you need for the rural roads where speed takes a back seat to the scenery. He’s right of course. Smiles per mile have never been so affordable.

Age is no barrier

At 26, Edwin Clifton-Jewitt is another of the growing band of younger Morris Minor fans. A MMOC member, he purchased this tidy 1970 two-door saloon three years ago for £3000 and has kept it completely standard since although he plans to fit a unleaded cylinder head plus is also considering improving the brakes which, he admits, are marginal so has to re-adjust his driving after stepping out of his modern daily Skoda.

Quick spin

PERFORMANCE Feels nippier than it is. Struggles on fast roads but ok on the arterials

CRUISING Not a strong point due to low gearing but ok for pottering along

HANDLING Very good and offers great fun at walking pace speeds

BRAKES Ideally, need uprating for modern roads and expectations

EASE OF USE A fine practical, pragmatic classic - Travellers are versatile

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