1964 Morris Minor 1000 1.1
An interesting and characterful car - but the owner needs to be handy with a spanner
The hydraulic brakes needed continual maintenance or would leak causing bad brake fade.
The throttle spring gave way leaving the gas full on.
The speedo cable wouldn't stay where it was meant to.
The under bonnet electrics packed up without warning leaving me stranded in the snow once.
The engine driven fan was inadequate at traffic jam speeds and consequently the engine would run hot.
The bodywork and suspension rotted.
It creaked and rattled.
I bought this car from a Morris Minor specialist in '88 for £2300 - a lot of money. That cash would have bought me something along the lines of a 3/4 year old Fiesta or a Micra. But I fancied a decent Minor. Oddly, there was a bit of a vogue for fifties nostalgia in the late eighties - maybe people felt the need for some sort of authenticity after the high tech `Kajagoogoo' years. So buying a Minor was a vaguely fashionable thing to do. Not so now I suspect - these things come and go. Running a classic these days seems to be perceived as being a bit tweedy, an possibly ecologically unsound too.
I'd previously had a Minor - a '61 car with the deeply wheezy 948 cc motor, a perilously rusty floor and no seat belts, and sold it for parts. I wanted to get a quality one.
The paintwork on my `new' B reg car was gleaming - the specialist majored on classy looking paintjobs and he'd done fine work. It's the only car I've owned which prompted other road users in traffic to wind windows down and compliment me on its condition.
Why do we Brits love the Minor so? We must do: we've kept a statistically improbable number of them trundling along, relative to the Austin 1100 series, for example. It's particularly remarkable when you consider how rapidly Minors rot.
I think it boils down to the fact that they're round. Something in us is reassured by curves. Curves are unthreatening, gentle. Minors are even round on the inside - that dashboard looks like the sort of 1950s mantelpiece a chap might lean against to light his pipe, after a hard day double entry book keeping, while his obedient wife boils the sprouts for 45 minutes. So perhaps Minors remind us of what we might fancy was a less stressful age.
They are characterful cars, there's no doubt about it. Even the name reeks of the British class system, reminding the owner to appreciate his place in the scheme of things.
In a Minor you just pootle along, thoughts of overtaking anything other than an artificially restricted milk float miles from your mind, listening to the exhaust note burble unmistakeably and look at the view over the nice roundy roundy wings and bonnet.
Unfortunately after a while you do need to do a lengthy motorway journey and then they're a bit like hard work. They get noisy and creaky. And you need to thrash them. You need to be doing 80 on the motorway - at 70 you lose your momentum on the inclines and have to join the lorries in the slow lane. Unless you change the specification, which many owners do, by uprating engines, braking and steering.
The handling, bizarrely, is actually quite fun and a welcome difference from that of the typical bland front wheel drive eurobox. If you put decent tyres on a Minor you can accelerate through bends quite nimbly. Cresting roundabouts is most amusing, too.
Reliability? Perhaps not all it's cracked up to be. The engine unit itself is bomb proof. They lose a little oil, but that needn't matter. But the Minor owner is forever having to tinker with his car, getting the fuel pump to pump, or fixing a fuse, or bleeding the brakes. The boot wouldn't shut properly on either of my minors.
On the plus side, my experience was that there's plenty of specialist dealers, a thriving owners' club, and parts are easy to get hold of. Insurance is comedy money. Both mine were a bit thirsty, though. Most owners reckon to get 40 - 45 mpg. I got about 35.
I eventually sold mine to replace it with the polar opposite of a Minor: a Yamaha TZR 125 powervalve 2 stroke motorcycle. Plastic, disposable, thrashy and rapid.
But sometimes, if I'm sitting outside a country pub on a summer evening, I experience a faint longing to acquire another noddy car, to smell that wierd plasticky vinyl interior smell they all have which never goes away, to start that engine with the button on the dashboard. Maybe one day.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 24th June, 2003
1st Jul 2004, 06:12
This is a very good review. The writer was correct, Minor's make a lovely exhaust note, almost unreal, and they really are a true English classic. Well done Steven.
24th Jul 2004, 19:15
I owned a black 1950 Morris Minor in Montreal, Canada, around 1956, give or take. Your review brought back good memories -- I loved the car. Still have the owner's manual on my shelves.
I sold the car to a Brit who had flown a Spitfire in the battle of Britain. He took the car to pieces in the underground garage of his apartment building and rebuilt it beautifully.
And I want to add that this review was beautifully written. If this reviewer does not earn his living at writing then he has missed his calling!
Thanks for the memories.