Five Tri­als

Mor­ris Ox­ford Se­ries VI

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

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.

Pho­tog­ra­PhY Stu­art Collins

No won­der she’s smil­ing – the Fa­rina’s cabin is big enough for five adults and made from sur­pris­ingly high qual­ity ma­te­ri­als through­out.

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