The Minor is a stalwart of the classic car movement. Ian Seabrook looks at buying, and how the Minor continues to charm
Early Minors require some dedication. The earliest MMs are thoroughly charming, but remarkably slow.
The Series II is a little perkier, but that’s more down to short gearing than anything – travelling at more than 45mph is quite painful, even more so in a Traveller. So, go for a later Minor 1000 for a more comfortable life. A faster speed is achievable and you can really begin to enjoy the wonderful steering and fabled handling. Do be warned though – the simple ‘cart spring’ rear axle is not in the same league as Issigonis’ front suspension design, and it is possible to unsteady it if you corner too hard. There are also a great many modifications out there – braking is one area that the Minor never really excelled. However, piloting a Minor really is one of life’s true pleasures.
Morris Minor 1000
Top speed 77mph
Gearbox 4-spd manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Corrosion is far more costly to remedy than mechanical faults. Start right at the front. The crossmember behind the front valance carries tied rods to secure the front suspension. Check for rust but also poor plating repairs. During 1950-1951, raised headlamps were phased in; lighting was improved but new rust areas created. Check for bubbling beneath the paint, though some cars may wear glassfibre wings – the fit of which can be variable.
Door bottoms are very easy to check.
A repair section is only £20, but that cost will rise significantly if you’re paying someone to fit it and repaint the door. Check the sill too, and give the carpeted inside edge a good squeeze. You should definitely check the floors, which will also give a feel for whether the car leaks. Underneath, there’s a crossmember that runs the full width of the car: examine this carefully, below and above, and the chassis rails that run forward from it, either side
of the engine.
Returning underneath, check the rear chassis rails, which are closer to the edge of the body than those at the front. Suspension spring hangers also need close inspection, and check for broken leaf springs while you’re under there. ESM sells a replacement spring hanger section for £34. The boot floor often rots just behind the bumper, and check the inner wings too. Watch also for bubbling around the seams for the rear wings.
Initially, the Minor used the 918cc sidevalve engine from the Morris Eight. Listen out for tired bearings and watch for blue smoke, though it’s a very easy engine to work on. As a result of the merger between Austin and Morris in 1952 to form BMC, the Minor received Austin power that year – the first 803cc incarnation of the fabled A-series engine. It isn’t that good to be honest, with white metal crankshaft bearings that do not appreciate long high-speed journeys. Listen out for deep knocks from the bottom end. Many Series IIs have received later engines, but not always the longer-legged gearboxes that went with them. The ‘1000’ 948cc and 1098cc engines are much stronger, the latter accompanied by a stronger gearbox too. There’s no first gear synchromesh on any Minor, but the 1000 used a remote gearlever. Check the other gears for an easy change and listen out for excessive transmission whine over and above the usual (and extremely familiar) Minor tune.
Travellers naturally need a thorough check of the wood. Look for dark patches suggesting that moisture has got in. Check any iffy-looking areas for softness. Some sections can be replaced fairly easily, but a complete overhaul won’t leave much change from £3000.
The Minor is charming and delightful to drive, exceedingly simple to work on and boasts huge club and specialist support. The Morris Minor Owners’ Club is also very keen to attract younger members, to ensure the Minor continues, 66 years after production began.