MI­NOR TURNS 70

HAPPY AN­NIVER­SARY

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS -

THE 1948 MOR­RIS MI­NOR LAUNCH WAS CHAP­TER ONE OF THE ‘MORRIE’ SUC­CESS STORY – A TALE THAT TOOK OVER 20 YEARS TO TELL

It seems ap­pro­pri­ate that, since Mi­nis are prom­i­nent in this is­sue of Unique Cars mag, we recog­nise an­other prod­uct of Sir Alec Is­sigo­nis – the Mor­ris Mi­nor.

In many ways it was the fore­bear to the Mini even though the two cars ended up be­ing sold side-by side.

Launched in 1948, it was pro­duced un­til 1971 and was as­sem­bled not only the UK, but Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Malaysia. Over 1.6 mil­lion were built.

This was one of a gen­er­a­tion of post-war cars that were in­tended to mo­bilise a ready and will­ing au­di­ence across Europe that didn’t ne­c­es­sar­ily have a whole lot of re­sources. Keep in mind that Bri­tain ex­pe­ri­enced ra­tioning un­til 1954.

Though a lit­tle larger than a Mini, it was no gi­ant, with a two-door weigh­ing some 750kg. It was ini­tially pow­ered by a 918cc in­line-four side valve en­gine (es­sen­tially a 1930s de­sign), matched to a four-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion. Top speed was around 95km/h.

That en­gine was even­tu­ally re­placed by 948cc and then 1048cc A-se­ries pow­er­plants, which saw top speed climb to a more mo­tor­way-friendly 120kmh/h and ac­cel­er­a­tion sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved.

They may not have been fast, but the Mi­nors de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing ul­tra-tough and long-lived. How­ever own­ers in more re­cent decades have of­ten fit­ted al­ter­na­tive pow­er­plants, with a four out of a Dat­sun 120Y for a time be­ing a pop­u­lar choice.

Sev­eral vari­ants were pro­duced over the years, in­clud­ing with two and four doors, soft-tops and wag­ons or vans. Th­ese days they’ve be­come col­lectible, with the Trav­eller ‘woody’ sta­tion wagon be­ing par­tic­u­larly highly prized.

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