Buying Guide: Morris Minor
Rugged and simple, the Minor makes an ideal first-time classic
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 .
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.’
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.
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