Buy­ing Guide: Mor­ris Mi­nor

Rugged and sim­ple, the Mi­nor makes an ideal first-time clas­sic

Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS -

All you need to know be­fore you buy Bri­tain’s Favourite Clas­sic.

Even seven decades af­ter the Mor­ris Mi­nor made its de­but, it’s more pop­u­lar than ever – and it’s not hard to see why. It blends prac­ti­cal­ity, af­ford­abil­ity, ease of own­er­ship and charm. With ex­cel­lent parts avail­abil­ity, the Mi­nor is easy to work on and sim­ple to up­grade, plus it has un­sur­passed spe­cial­ist and club sup­port – the MMOC is very ac­tive and even in­cor­po­rates a sec­tion to en­cour­age the next gen­er­a­tion of en­thu­si­asts .

Which one?

Most Mi­nors have a 1098cc en­gine, ei­ther as orig­i­nally fit­ted or as an up­grade. The improve­ment it of­fers over a 948cc unit is mar­ginal and the lat­ter is sweeter, so don’t dis­miss a 948cc Mi­nor – it’s the over­all con­di­tion of the car that mat­ters.

Early Mi­nors with 803cc OHV power aren’t very easy to live with, as they can’t keep up with modern traf­fic. How­ever, the ear­lier cars with their split wind­screens have great charm, so one of th­ese with a later en­gine can be a good bet.

Mi­nor guru Richard Plant con­cludes: ‘A 1098cc Mi­nor is best for reg­u­lar use, but a good 948cc car is bet­ter than a ropey 1098. The later Mi­nor has bet­ter brakes, wipers and heat­ing, while the seat­belts in post-1967 Trav­ellers and four-door sa­loons are po­si­tioned more com­fort­ably.

‘What­ever you buy, check that any mod­i­fi­ca­tions have been done prop­erly; al­ter­na­tors and tele­scopic damper con­ver­sions are of­ten fit­ted badly. Don’t rush to buy an up­graded car any­way, as the stan­dard Mi­nor is very nice to drive and changes from the fac­tory spec are of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by a lower level of re­li­a­bil­ity.’

Body­work

A Mi­nor’s value is in its bodyshell, so be­ware be­cause a car that is vir­tu­ally be­yond restora­tion can look de­cep­tively good, as cor­ro­sion usu­ally starts on the in­side and eats its way out. Most pan­els are avail­able, but if much work is needed it won’t be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able.

The sa­loon, Trav­eller and con­vert­ible share floor­pans, but the lat­ter two have ex­tra sill strength­en­ing. There are lots of rust traps that need close in­spec­tion. Front hang­ers for the rear springs rot pro­fusely and are a real pain to fix; each side takes at least a day to do prop­erly. If both hang­ers have rot­ted, the rest of the car’s un­der­side

is prob­a­bly rusty – es­pe­cially the rear chas­sis ex­ten­sions, sills and front chas­sis legs. Most – pan­els are avail­able, and usu­ally made to a high stan­dard. Good used pan­els are scarce; note doors are dif­fer­ent lengths on two-doors/trav­ellers/ con­vert­ibles and four-doors/com­mer­cials.

The Trav­eller’s wood­work is struc­tural – any sig­nif­i­cant rot means the whole lot will have to be re­placed and the job can’t eas­ily be tack­led in sec­tions. You have to strip the whole car down in one go, and ex­pect a bill of £3000-£3500. A wood kit costs around £1250 and it’s pos­si­ble to fit one your­self as it’s straight­for­ward but time con­sum­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, once you’ve stripped away the wood you may well also find lots of rusty metal.

Oily bits

The ear­lier 803cc A-se­ries en­gine, orig­i­nally fit­ted to Mi­nors up to 1956, has to be thrashed, lead­ing to pre­ma­ture wear. Un­less you crave orig­i­nal­ity

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