The Morris Minor: A review

All of us at Talk Wrench are very privileged to be surrounded by a rusting* of old cars, one of which, as you have no doubt heard us mention, is a Morris Minor. This particular example has recently undergone a relatively extensive renovation and has now entered full "village-green picnic" spec. Having given the car a small 'run' lately (more of a leisurely trot), I think it's high time that this quintessentially British classic gets its own review.

Firstly, some history. The Morris in question is a 1955 Series 2 Minor, recognisable as such by the split windscreen and, for the real BMC nerds among you, the later horizontal slat grille. Upon arrival, the car was equipped with a gold seal engine, meaning that the original A-series that it had left the factory with, had probably thrown a rod somewhere circa 1976. This was soon to be replaced by a beautifully reconditioned A-series sporting a face-melting 948, yes 948, cc's! The body is a 2 door saloon but a 4 door was available. The "Tourer" (convertible) and "Traveller" (estate car) were also available in the Morris range.

TW Trivia: A ropey example of the 4 door version of the Morris Minor series 2, is the car Jack used to demolish a neighbours garage.

As you can probably imagine, what with the 'humble' engine size and a concerningly large array of ancillaries and badges bolted to the front, the car isn't exactly, hmmm, what's the word? fast... which is a good thing, because the brakes are roughly as effective as scraping your boots along the floor and praying. But of course, one has to approach the car with some open-mindedness; as I've mentioned, much like our BSA, the Morris reached a tender 66 years of age this year, so some unreliabilities here and there are excusable, it happens to us all. Despite there being no such luxury as a synchromesh between 1st and 2nd gear, the change is (albeit rather antiquated) quite positive, and thanks to its skinny tyres, steering the car while underway is a doddle. Sure, it's no modern Volvo, but you don't have to be Heracles to traverse your local double-mini-roundabout. The effortless starting procedure and comfy seats may also make you question what all the fuss is about.

"This particular example has recently undergone a relatively extensive renovation and has now entered full "village-green picnic" spec"

Naturally, the car does have some period 'quirks' that may complicate the experience for the uninitiated. For example, the semaphores are operated via a bakelite switch by the driver's right knee, and the headlights are dipped using a footswitch above the clutch pedal. The unusual switch placements seem to choreograph a bizarre dance routine for the driver when pulling away from a junction, bewildering fellow motorists in the process. Whatsmore, the accelerator pedal is no bigger than the end of your thumb so driving in anything more than winklepickers becomes a challenge in itself. The car isn't exactly subtle either. While the A-series is a famously quiet engine, the transmission and exhaust setup on the Minor is quite the opposite. The biblical gearbox whine dominates the cabin at any speed above 1, and the tailpipe sounds like a Glenn Miller warm-up session. Additionally, the car is leaf-sprung, making the ride a little agricultural and daren't be driven on a rainy day because the windscreen is incontinent and the wipers go into retirement after about 10 minutes, reprising again half an hour later by which point, you've already squashed 3 pheasants and ruined the 'best in bloom' garden in your blindness.

"Whatsmore, the accelerator pedal is no bigger than the end of your thumb so driving in anything more than winklepickers becomes a challenge in itself"

In every proper car review comes the inevitable question of practicality. In short, the Morris Minor is not a practical car. It's old, it's slow and it will break down. The safety features, or rather, lack thereof, don't even bear thinking about; it's probably safer to unicycle around town blindfolded. For your daily commute from Birmingham to Droitwich, zipping up and down the M5, you'd be better off buying a Mazda. "But that's not what it's for!" I hear you cry, and you're absolutely right.

For those among you who live and work in villages that haven't changed much since the local vicarage was remodelled in 1610, the Morris is perfect for trundling to the shops or going to watch the cricket on the village green. It's good on fuel (probably), easy to park on narrow village high streets, light enough to push home and reeks of "the good old days". The quite frankly lavish amount of boot space is more than ample for the "medium" Fortnums hamper (tried and tested), and a good amount of 'picnic' accoutrements for the car too.

In the market:

Don't be fooled by the frequency at which you may spot Morris Minors. A crusty example of a Series 2 may still set you back ~£5000, while you can expect a 'sorted' car to go for as high as £8000. Keep your eye out for a bargain because they'll always be a British favourite.



* A rusting [ruh-sting], noun, plural. The plural noun for a group or collection of old cars.

Example: "My driveway is plagued by a rusting of old Vauxhall's"

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