Morris Oxford Series VI
Ah, the 1960s. Even today you can’t help but marvel at all of those incredible milestones in technology. The Moon landing. The Post Office Tower. Regular UK colour television. Nancy Sinatra’s boots made for walking. LSD in every home. Possibly.
This very same decade saw the launch of the Morris Oxford Series VI, which, amazingly, had something in common with the Telstar space satellite revealed during the car’s first full year of production in 1962 – it lacked a synchromesh first gear… In all seriousness, the Morris did have some minor, but useful improvements over its Series V predecessor (which also had Austin, MG, Riley and Wolseley siblings within the BMC ‘Farina’ range), including an increase in engine size from 1489cc to 1622cc, a longer wheelbase and wider track, along with front and rear anti-roll bars. The earlier car’s fins were reduced in size and there were changes to the dashboard, seats and chrome.
BMC knew that there was no hope of advertising the newcomer on excitement, but proclaimed: ‘ Where else? Such power, space and luxury for only £731, tax paid.’ An extra £82 3s 4d got you automatic transmission; pay a little more than that and you could even have a cavernous estate. It was evolution not revolution, but these detailed improvements mean that this car stands up well when subjected to CCW’s Five Classic Trials today.
Look at the car with fresh eyes and the styling looks neat – classical, even – with its gleaming brightwork. A major surprise is the quality of the materials used throughout the car, from the thick chrome bumpers to the sumptuous seats and gold mesh trim on the dashboard. There’s even a clock. It all looks simple yet effective as you slide on to the leather driver’s seat and the door closes with a reassuring clonk.
The driving position is dominated by an enormous steering wheel, complete with chromed horn ring. Instruments are simple – one housing the speedometer and odometer, the other advising on temperature, fuel and oil.
A flick of the ignition key and the familiar BMC B-series engine springs into life and chatters with expectation. Ease the upright gear lever into first, release the clutch – which, surprisingly, is rather heavy – and we’re off.
Well-chosen ratios mean that performance through the gears is more than acceptable and accompanied by a series of rather fine vintage whines and wails. The steering takes a little getting used to – nothing seems to happen until after you’ve made the manoeuvre – but you soon get used to it. It’s hardly Lotussharp but, like many other aspects of this car, it soon becomes comfortably predictable. It benefits from being on radial tyres as opposed to spindly crossplies, too, though it’s certainly not the sort of car you’d attempt to hurl into a serious of challenging bends.
There’s loads of interior space, the rear fins are a real boon when parking and this car’s quality dampers mean that its ride is beautifully cossetting. The all-drum brakes may are well set up and never throw up any nasty surprises – they simply gently remind you of their limits.
Once you’ve spent some time with a sorted Oxford, any attempt at resisting its many charms soon becomes futile as its relaxing and friendly character shines through and slowly wins you over. Before long, you settle in to the business of bowling along at a resolutely sensible pace, savouring every moment.
No wonder she’s smiling – the Farina’s cabin is big enough for five adults and made from surprisingly high quality materials throughout.