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Morris Minor
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Old Morris Minor.jpeg

Morris Minor 1000

The revolutionary Morris Minor (originally called Mosquito) was launched at the Earls Court Motor Show on 20 September, 1948. Named for an earlier Morris Minor car , it was the work of a team led by Alec Issigonis, who later designed the Mini. Sir Alec became famous for his creation of the Mini but he was really proudest of his participation in designing the Morris Minor. He considered it as being a vehicle which managed to combine many of the luxuries and conveniences of a good motor car with a price suitable for the working classes, while the Mini, introduced in 1959, was a spartan mode of conveyance with everything cut to the bone. The Morris Minor, when compared with competitor products in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, excelled as a roomy vehicle with superior cornering / handling characteristics.

Internal politicking inside manufacturer BMC (British Motor Corporation) may have led to the limited American sales of the Minor.

Over 1.6 million were eventually produced from manufacturing plants at Cowley, Oxfordshire, and exported around the world, with many variants of the original model. Production continued through to 1971, although it remains a well loved and collected vehicle. It also became a popular basis to build a hot rod on, because of the transatlantic styling that resembles a late 1940's Chevrolet. It was also lightweight and rear wheel drive, with the possibility of swapping in the Rover K-Series engine or the Fiat Twin Cam.

Minor MM

The original Minor MM series lasted from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of 4-seat saloons, 2-door and 4-door, and a convertible 4-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a Jowett flat-four engine, with four distinctive gaps in the engine bay to accommodate it, late in the development stage it was substituted for a 0.9 L (918 cc/56 in³) side-valve straight-4 producing 27.5 hp (21 kW) and 39 lbf·ft (53 N·m) of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph (103 km/h) but delivered 40 mpg (5.9 L/100 km).

Early cars had a painted section in the center of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of four inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet (American hood). Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille to be mounted higher on the wings (American fenders) to meet safety regulations. These became standard on all Minors for 1951. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold with a surprising 30% being the convertible Tourer model.

Minor Series II

In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 0.8 L (803 cc/49 in³) overhead valve A-Series engine replacing the original sidevalve unit. An estate version was introduced, the Traveller, along with van and pick-up versions. The Traveller featured "woody" rear bodywork with two side opening rear doors. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well.

The engine had been designed for the Minor's main competition, Austin's A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were worse than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph (97 km/h) was still calm, with 63 mph (101 km/h) as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg (6.5 L/100 km).

The grille was modified in October, 1954, and a new dashboard with central speedometer was fitted. Almost half a million examples had been produced when the line ended in 1956.


  • 1952–1956 - 803 cc A-Series Straight-4, 30 hp (22 kW) at 4800 rpm and 40 lbf·ft (54 N·m) at 2400 rpm

Minor 1000

The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 0.9 L (948 cc/57 in³). The two piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window enlarged. An upmarketcar based on the Minor floorpan but with larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957.

In 1961 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell over 1,000,000 units. To commemorate this event, a limited editon of 350 two-door saloons were produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read "Minor 1,000,000" instead of the standard "Minor 1000".

The Minor 1000 gained an even larger engine, 1.1 L (1098 cc/67 in³) in 1962. It could now reach 77 mph (124 km/h), yet consumption was down to 6.2 L/100 km (38 mpg). Other modifications included a new dashboard layout (a lidded glove box on the passenger side, an open cubby hole in front of the driver), a different heater, plus new, larger tail/flasher and front side/flasher lamps. The car was beginning to seem dated, however, and production declined. The Tourer was deleted in 1969, with the saloon line gone the next year. 1971 was the last year for the Traveller and commercial versions. Nearly 850,000 Minor 1000s were made in all. The car was officially replaced by the Morris Marina, which replaced it on the Cowley production lines, but for the management of what had, by 1971, mutated into the British Leyland Motor Corporation, the Morris Marina was seen primarily as a 'cheap to build' competitor to Ford's top selling (and in many respects conservatively engineered) Cortina, rather than as a replacement for the (in its day) strikingly innovative Morris Minor.

Today the Morris Minor and 1000 are amongst the best served classic, family sized cars in the old vehicle movement and continue to gain popularity. The affection in which the model is held is reflected in the number of rebuilt and improved Morris Minors currently running in Britain. In addition to more powerful engines, desirable improvements necessitated by the increase in traffic density since the Minor was withdrawn from volume production include the replacement of the 'original equipment' drum brakes with disc brakes.


  • 1956–1962 - 948 cc A-Series Straight-4, 37 hp (28 kW) at 4750 rpm and 50 lbf·ft (68 N·m) at 2500 rpm
  • 1962–1971 - 1098 cc A-Series Straight-4, 48 hp (36 kW) at 5100 rpm and 60 lbf·ft (81 N·m) at 2500 rpm

See Also

image (between 170-190 pixels)

British Leyland

Triumph | Lanchester | Woleseley | Alvis | Rover | BSA | Standard | Jaguar | Morris | Austin | Vanden Plas

P3 · P4 · P5 · P6 · SD1 · 25 · 75 (post-P4) · 45 · 400 · 200 · 100 (post-P4) · 800 · 600 · CityRover · Estoura · Streetwise

Include notable internal links here

John Kemp Starley and William Sutton Corporate website A brand of the SAIC group


External links