MOVES LIKE A MINI
Kevin Webb wanted a Maroon B painted MiniMinor in honour of one owned by his dad. The result is this stunning, restored, example.
Restored in homage to his dad’s 1960s example, Kevin Webb’s Maroon B MiniMinor is an award-winning stunner.
Most feature owners blame a first ride in their parents’ Mini for their interest. This isn’t quite the same for Kevin Webb, owner of the beautiful Maroon B Morris MiniMinor that we have here. Instead, his interest started with the car’s big brother, the Austin 1100. “Just before I was born, my dad bought a nearly new one that had been rolled and written off. He bought a new shell (easy to purchase in 1971!) and transferred all the components from the wreck to the new shell. My mum took me and my brother to and from primary school in that car for years and I will always remember the smell of BMC vinyl trim as a result!”
The Classic Mini influence carried on later, as Kevin remembers rare Minis on a couple of family holidays in Malta in
the late ’70s. “I remember dad pointing out Innocenti Coopers that were buzzing around the island - there was something about the shape that captured my imagination. This was reinforced when I came across my dad’s colour slide collection when I was about 15. There were photos of his Austin 1100 shell swap, and of a Maroon B Morris Mini-Minor De Luxe.” This was another that Kevin’s dad (Don Webb) had restored before the Austin 1100, and seeing those slides for the first time set Kevin on his Mini mission!
The story of that Maroon Mini, which led to this one, was that in the late 1960s, Don was the Assistant Body Shop Manager at Autobody Repairs, the body shop for D Rowe & Company, a Ford Dealer in Chichester. In 1968, a Maroon B Mini-Minor De Luxe came in as a total loss. Don ended up buying the salvage and set about rebuilding it for the road. “He sorted the mechanicals, whilst one of his work mates did the welding and another painted it. Dad was particularly pleased with the double-waisted coachline his mate hand-painted under the window. That became a popular option on Minis in later years, but just as a sticker, not painted on like it was on dad’s,” he explains. Don sold the car three-years later, just before Kevin was born, and sadly Kevin has not been able to find any sign the car has survived.
“The price of the car new was £574, five shillings and one penny”
A TASTE OF OWNERSHIP
Despite learning to drive in his mum’s MkI Ford Fiesta, and his dad insisting that another Fiesta would be a better bet as his first car, Kevin’s heart was set on a Mini of his own. “Sure enough, once I’d left university, dad found a three-year-old Mini 30 on a Rover dealership forecourt and I spent an enjoyable three-years trundling around in it, before the offer of a company car led to its sale,” Kevin says.
Even once the 30 went, Kevin’s interest in Minis didn’t waiver. Although all thoughts of owning another (never mind a MkI like his dad had owned) had faded into the distance. That was until February 2016, when Kevin visited a classic car dealership as he and his other half, Helen, were interested in finding a Maroon B Morris Mini-Minor De Luxe, built before 1966, so they could park it in the GRCC parking area on the Lavant Straight at the Goodwood Revival.
“After a moment’s thought, the dealer said his dad had one just like that in his garage! I went to see it the next day and sure enough, it was the mirror image of dad’s old Mini,” explains Kevin.
So this Mini ended coming up home – on a scary, wet, dark trip, with neither Kevin nor Helen knowing how to turn on the windscreen wipers, headlights or indicators! Oh, and the windscreen wiper worked its way loose and fell off as well!
Built on 8 December 1965 and first registered in Leicester on 1 January 1966, amazingly Kevin has the car’s original bill of sale, which shows that it was sold new by The Stoneygate Garage Company to a Mrs Kathleen Mary Scrimshaw of Oadby, Leicestershire. “The price of the car new was £574, five shillings and
“The paintwork was a quick blow-over job, covered in micro blisters”
one penny. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, that is equivalent to £9,646 at 2016 prices,” Kevin reveals.
The original bill of sale also shows that options fitted from new were: front seat belts, two wing mirrors, under sealing, a parking light and two interior door handles (replacing the standard cable type door releases). “When anyone tells me at a show that the car should have door cables, I politely point them towards the copy of the bill of sale that I always carry in the car. Also, dad changed his to door handles so I feel completely justified in retaining this minor modification,” smiles Kevin.
FUT383D covered just over 60,000 miles in its first 50 years and only about 600 miles between 2010 and 2016. It remained the property of its first owner for 34 years before being passed on to her son in 2000. Then latterly has gone through the hands of several motor traders with Kevin becoming its fifth owner. “It is a ‘matching numbers’ car, meaning that it still retains its original body shell and engine,” Kevin says.
FUN ON THE ROAD
Kevin and Helen then had some fun taking ‘Morris’, as they had named him, to a few shows that year, but it was clear that it was going to take a lot of work to keep him roadworthy in the long-term. “The paintwork was a quick blow-over job, covered in micro blisters," says Kevin. “There were also many ominous rust bubbles trying to force their way through the bodywork. It was clear that without intervention Morris would not be roadworthy for too much longer.”
Even though Kevin’s dad had rebuilt three written-off cars in his time, Kevin was better qualified as a trombonist, rather than a mechanic. Therefore, he needed to find somewhere that could do justice to Morris. In the end, he entrusted him to the capable hands of Somerford Mini, in Calne, Wiltshire, just over 150 miles from home.
A date was set, and in mid-December 2016, Kevin headed to Somerford. “Morris had developed some engine issues by this time and I was lucky to get there without breaking down,” grins Kevin. In fact, when Somerford went to move Morris into the workshop later that day, he wouldn’t fire up! That would be the last time the engine ran until the restoration was almost complete.
Somerford assigned the rebuild to John, one of their most experienced restorers, with the aim of returning Morris to near showroom condition — whilst retaining as much of the original structure and fittings as possible. Some MkI panels are no longer available, so it was necessary to use replacement panels designed for later Minis in this situation. These were welded and/or drilled as necessary to make them suitable for a MkI restoration.
Plus, soon after John stripped the car down, on top of the expected rusted-out rear subframe, the front one turned out to be scrap as well. “Not due to rust, because as is traditional, it had a fine coating of engine oil on it, but because it was bent!” So, it turned out Morris had been damaged in a shunt some years ago and poorly repaired!
The list of replacement panels was extensive and included a complete floorpan, boot floor, rear wheel arches, rear quarter panels, door skins and lower part of the door frames and a complete front end including A-panels, but excluding the front bulkhead.
Inside, the original seat frames, vinyl fabric and doorcards have been retained, but the headlining and carpet have been replaced with modern reproductions.
That original 848cc engine was also converted to run on unleaded petrol. Plus, electronic ignition and an alternator were fitted, but in such a way that they didn’t interfere with the original look
of this Mini. A laminated windscreen (an option available in period) was also fitted.
The more supple hydrolastic suspension was a major selling point of these cars when new and Kevin’s dad had spoken enthusiastically about the hydrolastic suspension of his old Mini. So Kevin decided that this Mini’s hydrolastic components should be refurbished, rather than having them converted to the later ‘ dry’ setup.
The whole restoration took six months, with Kevin and Helen making the 300mile drive every three weeks or so, to see how Somerford was getting on. “To begin with, there seemed to be less and less car to see as John removed the rusty panels, but he was always adamant that it was not the worst he had seen! In fact, when he had removed all the paint from the roof, bonnet and bootlid they were rust-free. Morris had clearly been garaged all his life but had been driven in all weathers and exposed to winter road salt. Hence the rusty patchwork quilt of an underside,” explains Kevin.
In June 2017 Morris was finally ready to come home! On the hot journey back to Essex, there only appeared to be one ‘ fault’ - the heater was stuck full on, even though it had not worked at all prerestoration! However, several weeks later Kevin finally got around to reading the owner’s manual he’d had bought on eBay, and it turns out that in order to switch the heater off you needed to pull the control fully out!
Morris is a high-day-and-holiday car now and only comes out to play from mid-March to October on dry days. He goes to local shows and village fetes and the only lengthy journey undertaken was this year’s London to Brighton Mini Run and will be the forthcoming Goodwood Revival.
Talking of this year’s London to Brighton Mini Run, Kevin’s first since 1994 and with Morris, they decided not to enter the show ’n’ shine, as they just wanted to enjoy themselves, without the bother of trying to keep Morris squeaky clean all day. So, it was a complete surprise when Kevin’s phone rang... “We were relaxing in a nearby café towards the end of the afternoon. The call was the organiser of the run, wanting to know if we were still on site as Morris had won Best in Show! We hadn’t realised that all Minis on the run were eligible for it! ‘Gobsmacked’ was the word that sprung to mind!” So they raced back to the London and Surrey stand, just in time to be presented with the trophy by TV’s Edd China. What a memorable day — well done Morris!
As Kevin explains, Morris’s future value may well overtake the combined purchase price and restoration cost. But for now, because Morris isn’t a more coveted MkI Cooper S, the restoration does not make economic sense. This is definitely a case of the ‘ heart ruling the head’, but we’re so pleased Kevin did as Morris is a stunner and very deserving of all the awards he’s picked up. Here’s to many more!
“Morris had clearly been garaged all his life but had been driven in all weathers”
Original doorcards and seat vinyl with new carpet and headlining supplied by Newton Commercial.
Original instruments were retained...
...during the refurbishment process.
Morris was resprayed in original Maroon B, as per Dad Don's car.
Amazingly, the bonnet is still the original item.
1960s steering wheel taking pride of place.
M is for Morris.
Replacement parts included the rear subframe and quarter panels, and rear-wheel arches.
The original Morris Minor badge.
Original 848cc was overhauled and fitted with an unleaded head and electronic ignition.
It's no surprise this Morris Minor has started winning silverware.
Period correct standard 10-inch wheels.
Kevin and Helen standing proud with 'Morris'.
Bulkhead was only front part not replaced.