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Morris Minor

Morris Minor Published: 12th May 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Morris Minor
Morris Minor
Morris Minor
Morris Minor
Morris Minor
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Why not own a...? Morris Minor

Seventy years since its launch, the appeal of the Minor is as strong as ever for classic enthusiasts of all ages irrespective of the size of their pockets and status. This family Morris is totally classless and fun to drive and own despite an only modest performance. Easy DIY and unbeatable support from specialists and owners’ clubs makes a Minor a brilliant choice as a starter classic as well as an ideal first car for learner and young drivers, too, thanks to cheap classic car insuranc and a welcoming owner’s club.

Model choice

Just under two million Minors were made up until its demise in 1971 and the survival rate has been good so there’s a wide choice around. Most interest centres around the ever trendy convertible Tourer and the pragmatically practical Traveller while commercial vans and pick-ups have soared in appreciation (in values and interest) over the last couple of years. The saloons are the most plentiful with the two-doors preferred over the family friendlier four-door.

All are reasonably roomy four/ five-seaters, the Tourer rag top is one of the most charming chop tops ever made, while the Traveller still makes a handy holdall and a viable second/ school run car. The newer the Minor the better it became boasting better visibility, performance and handling together with more interior space although condition counts the most when buying. If you prefer you can have a ‘new’ Minor built to your own spec from the likes of Charles Ware.

 

Behind the wheel

Like the Mini and Fiat 500 of the same era, the Morris Minor proves that you don’t need lots of power to have fun. That willing A-Series engine, allied to a slick gearbox and crisp, predictable handling makes this family car a joy to drive at any speed and certainly teaches you all about rear-wheel drive control! You also need to respect the all drum brake set up when stepping out of your modern, but these can be easily upgraded, if desired.

It has to be admitted that the original sidevalve models are painfully too slow and really only for the ardent Minor fan. Of the ohv units, the 948cc engine is the sweetest of the lot but the 1098cc unit is usefully more powerful for hill work.

Talking of which, you may find that the Minors you view won’t be completely standard as many now sport 1275cc engines, five-speed transmissions and better brakes and, unless you are a stickler for originality, are all worth having as it makes this great car even better.

Minors on a daily basis and by and large the Minor acquits itself well. Apart from the tuning and uprating which we deal with elsewhere, other worthy deviations from originality include more comfortable front seats, better heating, alternator (£95), electric screen wash (£30), halogen lights (£40) and a lot more, all available from the majority of Minor specialists. If you intend to have some of these upgrades perhaps a new wiring loom at £100 is also wise. Even if you don’t want to mod your Morris, fitting electronic ignition (£30) has to be a good thing.

 

What to pay

The burning question is will values rise during the car’s 70th? The trade says no but if it does, it will concern only most desirable Minors such as Travellers and Tourers versions where mint examples will set you back around £7000 easily but concours ones often sell for a lot more. Around £3000 and £5500 appears to be the typical outlays for presentable runners. Modded Minors may carry a price premium depending on spec.

 

Making one better

As we commented earlier, it’s rare to find a totally standard Minor because they are easy to improve and nine times out of ten they are worthwhile deviations from standard – such as a disc brake conversion. Suspension can be uprated in various stages, but damper and springs suffice, perhaps with harder bushes where appropriate, complemented with wider tyres. Many cars run with the later Marina/Midget 1275cc engine and it makes out-oftown motoring much easier.

Five-speed gearboxes are also pretty popular but won’t pull that extra ratio with smaller engines; you need around 60-65bhp to make it effective.

 

Maintenance matters

Few other classics are as easy to maintain as this Morris. A normal toolkit suffices for the majority of jobs and many body panels are bolt on. As with all oldies, rust is the main worry and the Travellers have the double worry of rotting woodwork due to the fact it is structural. If repaired by a professional (and it’s a big job) costs in the region of £2000. The good news is that everything you need from a simple service to a full restoration is readily available. The beauty of Minor ownership, apart from its simple mechanics, is the superb support you get from the MMOC and the army of specialists.

Engines are least of your problems, it’s mainly the suspension and brakes that need particular care, the former due to trunnion wear which is so bad that it can cause the wheel to fall off and the out-of-sight brake master cylinder which is usually neglected. Gearbox parts can be hard to obtain so you may need to use a Midget unit.

 

In conclusion

One of best budget classics ever, suitable for all ages and tastes, Minors become one of the family. Why not make room for one?

 

Buying tips

 

1. General

Possible to convert a two-door into a drop-top. Done properly okay, but such conversions are passed off as genuine cars and similarly charged, so check with care.

Woodwork on Travellers is structural and has to pass MoT so needs checking with care and watch for bodges. Repair sections readily available and a kit for a grand but can cost £2000 upwards once fitted.

You can have a ‘new’ Minor made by the likes of Charles Ware’s Morris Minor Centre to your own spec – could be a cost effective move in the long run.

 

2. Running gear

Trunnions and swivel pins wear out. A new kingpin leg some £75. At the rear see the leaf springs are ok especially the front mounting. The brake master cylinder lives inside the chassis rail consequently it suffers.

Master cylinder resides inside chassis rail and usually neglected. Brake adjusters seize.

Gearboxes and axles are noisy and only 1098cc cars have good supply of replacements. Car stalls when clutch is disengaged? It could be the crankshaft thrust washer wear meaning a strip.

 

3. Engine

Tough and tolerant. Look for oil leaks and when hot, remove oil cap and check for fuming and smoking. Rattles can be tappets or camshaft wear.

 

4. Body and chassis

Terminal rot can be well hidden, but in particular the floors, inner wings and suspension legs, rear axle mounting points, sills, bulkheads and so on. Replacement panels are available but certain repairs can be involved.

 



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