The Morris Minor is 65 years old and is still going strong with over 14 thousand registered as ‘on the road’ at the DVLA.
The ‘Moggie’ Britain’s first post-war mass utility car, was the first car to reach one million sales and today enjoys a new following of both classic car enthusiasts and a new breed of insurance-conscious young and new drivers.
In 1948, the new £358 Morris minor was an economy car that drove, steered, and handled outstandingly yet was still roomy, affordable, and economical.
Company founder William Morris, by then Lord Nuffield was disdainful, stating the car resembled ‘a poached egg’.
However, the old boy had to eat his words when the Morris Minor became Britain’s best-selling car.
Its creator Alec Issigonis (later designer of the Mini) sought a new benchmark in road holding. So he moved the engine further forward in the nose of the car for a better center of gravity, specified rack-and-pinion steering, and designed torsion bar independent front suspension, which gave the Minor a less jarring ride than rivals.
A throwback to older Morris cars was the 918cc side valve, five-cylinder, 27.5bhp engine, which meant the Minor huffed and puffed to its maximum speed of just 60mph.
Many early Minor MM-type saloons and convertibles were earmarked for export, and in 1950 the headlamps were moved from the grille to high up on the front wings, to satisfy American lighting rules.
Ironically, transatlantic sales collapsed thereafter because Americans found the Minor too underpowered.
In 1950, too, a four-door saloon was announced, the two-door Traveller estate following in 1953, by which time the car had gained an 803cc overhead valve engine.
In 1956, the Minor’s engine size was boosted to 948cc to become the Morris Minor 1000.
In 1962, engine size jumped again, to 1,098cc.
Alec Issigonis devised the rear of the Traveller as a timber structure, cladding the frame with aluminum panels.
There are 80 interlocking structural body parts to it. Along with van-like doors and flat glass, the rump of a Traveller fitted together like Lego, making it easy to restore today when trying to rid a Traveller of the inevitable woodworm.
Surprisingly there are still 830 well loved travellers still gracing the roads of the UK.
The Minor lingered on until 1972 when the last, a Traveller, was made at Cowley, Oxfordshire.
By the end, it was the motoring equivalent of a Chelsea Pensioner.
Minors are sedate performers with delightful details like the flashing green light on the end of the indicator stalk, the central Speedo, and that strange farty noise when you change gear, caused not by any engine malfunction, but by the shape, or bore of the exhaust.
Any lack in performance is easily compensated with an excellent ride and steering, which makes them perfect for new or inexperienced drivers who are looking to build up their own no-claims bonuses with affordable annual insurance premiums. Because of readily available parts and the cheap nature of repairs Morris Minors offer on of the best insurance propositions out of all models of car.
Get a quote for a Morris Minor and see how much you could save by driving a small-engined British classic.