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Morris Minor

Published: 25th Jun 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Morris Minor

Then & Now

To cope with any extra power or, indeed, just to keep up with modern traffic, you’ll want to upgrade the braking system and the suspension of your Minor. Start with the brakes – please! When contemporary larger drums from the Riley 1.5 sufficed but now front discs are a must. Now that Marina ones have all but dried up dedicated fitting kits or a Sierra conversion is the way to go. A servo is optional and Pop’s Place always used to advise owners to try without first. Some Minor experts also advise fitting a servo to the front wheels only so seek advice first. You can improve the feel of the standard set-up with a brake servo, for around £400 along with harder linings. If you’ve got more to spend, go the discs for around £650. When it comes to suspension, a relatively cheap upgrade is to fit telescopic shock absorbers, in place of the lever-arm originals. You can have a new front suspension handling kit fitted from just £242, which includes telescopic shock absorbers, from A front anti-roll bar from the same company costs £169. If you want, you can even replace the torsion bar, using a new crossmember and wide-bottom A-arms, with http://www.jlhmorrisminors selling a complete new suspension kit for £740. At the rear telescopics is a good move and the Marina rear axle is an improvement and their drum brakes suffice. There’s ample space for fatter tyres and rims.

Morris Minor
Morris Minor
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Which classics still have the potential to get up and go? Steve Rowe remembers the cars, the people… and how to make a classic hot car!

Well why not heat up your Morris Minor? Okay, you may not want
to turn your Moggy into a road burner or master of motorsport – some do! – but there’s still a lot of worth while mods and improvements you can dial in to make one better for road use, and perhaps some gentle club sports, yet still not lose that essential character that makes the Morris Minor so magical.

Get one now

To fully detail the Morris Minor would fill this entire issue so let’s concentrate on the essentials. Launched just after the war, and surviving until 1971, the Minor came in saloon, Tourer (convertible), Traveller (estate) and light commercial guises. Essentially the only thing that really changed during the long production run was the engine, where the trusty A-Series (that’s now 60 years old, incidentally) replaced the original sidevalve unit in the early 50s. The rule with the Minor is, is the newer the car the better the basic design; the 1098cc cars have better gearbox and brakes already, for example.

Scan through the classifieds, including those in the excellent Minor Matters magazine from the MMOC, and you can still find MoT’d runners for under £1000, although the going rate for a good example is more like double this and let’s talk £6000 and upwards for top cars, especially the Tourers and Travellers. These are easily the most wanted, along with commercials, especially the rare delightful pick-ups; the ten grand Minor will be with us soon!

Mechanically, the Minor is super easy to repair and rev up - it’s rust that makes Minors look cheap and renovating a scruffy one may not be as cost effective as buying a sound example in the first place. There again, there are loads of specialist around to supply all that you need. If you’re after a cheap hot car then search for a ‘bodily chal-lenged’ MG Midget and transfer over the good oily bits and sell off the stuff not needed anymore!

Hotting one up

One of the most common performance upgrades for your Minor is also the one that’s been around the longest, namely replacing the original engine with a 1275cc A-Series unit, as fitted to the contemporary MG Midget. One of these can be had for as little as £900, as a reconditioned unit. You’ll also want to make sure you fit the twin SU carbs that would have gone with the 1275cc unit, as fitted to the sports car. Another good point is that most classic insurers won’t automatically load your premium if you keep the unit standard.

However you can work on the 1275cc A-series and get great power gains which includes boring the block out to 1360cc or even 1380cc.

Up top, even for the standard 1098cc engine you can improve performance a good deal by fitting a Stage 1 head, with new valves, guides and unleaded valve seats. Stage 1 heads for the 1098cc and 1275cc A-series engine can be bought for £367 from tuning outfits like http://www.aseriesspares. You’ll also want to upgrade the air and exhaust systems at the same time.Further mods include a sportier camshaft, perhaps from the Midget although there are better modern alternatives on offer.

If you’re upgrading the engine performance then it’s also worth fitting a reliable electronic ignition system and specialists will sell you kits that include the electronic distributor along with an upgraded coil. For instance, http://www.aseriesspares. sells a Standard Road Electronic Distributor, together with a Unipart GCL211 High Output Coil for just under £100.

If you’re after the ultimate in performance, then you’ll need to forget any thoughts of originality and think about fitting a new engine, from a modern car, such as a Ford Zetec engine, with up to 170bhp on tap. Supplier http://www.jlhmorrisminors. can supply a 2.0-litre Ford Zetec engine and fitting kit for £3795. You’ll then need to mate this engine to a Ford Type 9 five-speed gearbox, to handle the extra power and give much better suited intermediate ratios as further bonus.

Even if you’re not replacing the Minor’s standard engine, the five-speed Ford gearbox has become a popular modification, making for more relaxed quicker cruising on A roads and motorways. You can buy a modified Ford Sierra five-speed gearbox for your Minor from www. at a cost of £1425, which includes fitting.This gearbox can be mated to either a 1275cc or 1098cc engine with a nut and bolt fitting kit. 

Another popular engine replacement, and one which might sit better with fans of originality, is to fit a Rover K-series engine. After all, if the Minor hadn’t gone out of production in the early 70s, it probably would have been given the K-series engine at some point in the 1990s? As with the Ford Zetec conversion, you’ll also need to fit a Ford Type 9 five-speed gearbox, to handle the extra power. With the 1.8 K-series engine, you can have a rousing 185bhp on tap, doing 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, with a top speed of 130mph! Take granny out for a Sunday run in one of these and and you can actually watch her give birth to kittens!

During the 1980s and 90s it was not unknown to utilise Fiat twin Cam power from the likes of a 131 saloon and even Ford V6s and Rover V8s have found their way under the bonnet. It might seem logical to fit the B-Series engine but it’s not an easy or worthwhile swap because the block is significantly longer so the bulkhead will need drastic altering.

During the 1980s and 90s it was not unknown to utilise Fiat twin Cam power from the likes of a 131 saloon and even Ford V6s and Rover V8s have found their way under the bonnet. It might seem logical to fit the B-Series engine but it’s not an easy or worthwhile swap because the block is significantly longer so the bulkhead will need drastic altering.

How Did It Drive?

Step out of a modern supermini and into a standard-spec Morris Minor 1000 from the late ‘60s or early ‘70s and you’ll be shocked by the wooden-feeling brakes and the slow performance, but the chances are you’ll still be won over by the period charm. Also, you’ll be surprised by the relatively slick gearchange and you’ll be delighted with the light and precise rack-and-pinion steering, which in its day was one of the best steering set-ups, used to great effect in cars like the MG Midget. In comparison, the tiller in a modern hatchback can feel dull and imprecise. Handling was good for its era and easily sorted while a five-speed gearbox certainly makes the car more usable out of town even with a standard engine – money well spent.

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