Nick Larkin

Nick’s per­sonal take on 70 years of the Mor­ris Mi­nor

Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS - NICK LARKIN Nick Larkin has ap­peared in many clas­sic car (and a few bus) pub­li­ca­tions since 1989. He joined Prac­ti­cal Clas­sics in 1996, and re­mains a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor.

Nick cel­e­brates 70 years of the Mor­ris Mi­nor.

The Mor­ris Mi­nor was never meant to be glam­orous. So how come its 70th birth­day was marked by an event of ado­ra­tion that would make Mariah Carey jeal­ous dur­ing which a group of own­ers club lu­mi­nar­ies of a cer­tain age gave a ren­di­tion of the Full Monty?’*

And why is the Mi­nor a car that would even bring a smile to Si­mon Cow­ell’s face while judg­ing a posse of ladies from a jam fac­tory squawk­ing through The Weather Girls’ It’s Rain­ing Men af­ter over­dos­ing on liq­uid hos­pi­tal­ity? Yet if you look back to the 1948 Mo­tor Show, Mor­ris re­ally thought its medium-sized Ox­ford would bring on the sales.

In the be­gin­ning

In fact Lord Nuffield likened the Mi­nor, with its domed shape, to: ‘A ham­burger and a par­tic­u­larly large spot I de­vel­oped af­ter too many fried beef drip­ping sand­wiches at en­gi­neer­ing school.’

I can’t help think­ing that if you were running a ma­jor car com­pany you might in­spect the progress of new mod­els be­fore they ac­tu­ally built any, though Nuffield can be praised for the great faith he placed in his en­gi­neer­ing team. And let­ting them get on with it. The car’s his­tory is still con­tin­u­ing, and a whole chap­ter could be de­voted to the re­cent 70th an­niver­sary event or­ga­nized by the won­der­ful poe­ple of the Mor­ris Mi­nor Own­ers Club, which at­tracted 1000 ve­hi­cles.

Ex­hibits in­cluded the three old­est ex­am­ples, plus the old­est four door and the last sa­loon built. There was even the model of Mi­nor pro­to­type the Mos­quito pre­sented to the car’s de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer Jack Daniels, in 1941. As John Frye, who re­tired as chair­man dur­ing the event af­ter FORTY years in the post said: ‘There is noth­ing like the MMOC in the world. The peo­ple are in­cred­i­ble.’

In­deed sev­eral own­ers I spoke to did say that the club and its so­cial side were the big­gest rea­son for own­ing a Mor­ris Mi­nor. I have a copy of a book that was pub­lished to mark 40 years of the club and it’s jaw-drop­ping. Re­mem­ber the end of the 2002 Com­mon­wealth Games and all those Mi­nors? Even young en­thu­si­asts who prob­a­bly think the CD player is old hat love their Mi­nors.

For the peo­ple

The car is a to­tal part of the fab­ric of Bri­tain since 1948 and part of the sound­track of so very many peo­ple’s lives. In fact a Mi­nor was the first car in­side which I ever trapped part of my anatomy (arm, pas­sen­ger door, lift home from school).

They are also such lovely things, es­pe­cially when they have leather seats and a spoked steer­ing wheel plus a vast man­tel­piece clock like speedome­ter, a ceil­ing so high above youth it’s like be­ing in a mini Sis­tine Chapel as you bowl along lis­ten­ing to all those Mor­ris Mi­nor sounds.

What a bit­ter irony it is that in an era when man­u­fac­tur­ers spend bil­lions on bring­ing us bland blob mo­biles on which it costs £100 or more to re­place a head­lamp bulb, a Mor­ris Mi­nor with 55-60mph cruis­ing, 40mpg, cheap in­sur­ance, no de­pre­ci­a­tion and ex­cel­lent spares avail­ably re­mains a prac­ti­cal propo­si­tion even from a clin­i­cal fi­nan­cial stand­point. Fried eggs any­day, sunny side up!

*Thank­fully this spec­ta­cle was ex­tremely well re­hearsed and in aid of Prostate Can­cer Re­search, so we can for­give.

‘There is noth­ing else like the MMOC in the world to­day’

TOP Mor­ris Mi­nors can make peo­ple do strange things.

LEFT First production Mor­ris Mi­nor, NWL 576, among many at birth­day cel­e­bra­tion.

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