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