Morris Minor: 70 years on the road
The Morris Minor has often been described as Britain’s all-time favourite car, but I think that title should be expanded as it’s equally loved worldwide, including here in Ireland. The car is so instantly recognisable, and immediately memories come flooding back to people – even if they or their family before them didn’t own a Minor, everyone knew someone who had one and everyone had a story about one. I had the pleasure of driving one for a few months in 2015, and I have to say it left a lasting mark. Someday I might own another one. With the car this year hitting seventy this year there has been numerous Morris Minor events and much publicity around this amazing milestone.
A new book from Veloce, written by Ray Newell and entitled Morris Minor: 70 years on the road recently arrived on my desk to mark the occasion, and it’s a very impressive, large-format book with 224 pages packed with information on the life and times of the Morris Minor. Even though the Minor wasn’t launched until 1948, the book starts with a chapter focusing on the work of Alec Issigonis, the brains behind the car, and later the Mini. Alec, who joined Morris Motors in 1936, was part of a team that, in 1943, were asked to modernise the ageing fleet of Morris vehicles, and the early sketches belonging to Alec feature in this part of the book, which tracks the next five years up to the release of the Minor. In 1948 the world got its first glimpse of “the world’s supreme small car”, as it was described by the press at the Earls Court Motor Show. The book gives good pre-production details of the car, and even shows the first production car, which still exists today. The book goes on to look at how the success of the Minor, not only in England but worldwide, was handled by the export department. The CKD production also comes in for coverage, and Ireland gets its own few chapters.
One of my favourite chapters was chapter 5, entitled ‘Quality First’, a slogan used in many of the marketing campaigns for the Morris Minor over the years. This is an extremely interesting chapter on how quality first became synonymous with the Morris Minor, detailing the testing regime and how it was carried out. I also loved chapter 7, ‘The Making of the Minor’, which goes into great detail on the factories, the building of the car and where all the parts were sourced from. The Morris Minor’s big brothers are also remembered, and the chapter on the Oxford and Morris Six make interesting reading. Chapters on the post-production era, modifications and one called ‘Beyond 70 Years’ all give a great insight into where the car stands today as part of the worldwide classic hobby, and those who work tirelessly to provide and reproduce parts for the model. This book would be a super addition to any car collector’s library, and a must-have for Morris Minor fans. It is simply bursting with old marketing advertisements, brochures and production photos, and whoever did all the research and sourcing of the more than 350 images in the book did a superb job. Review by Tom Heavey