MINOR TURNS 70
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.