Reviving the name of a 1920s competitor to the Austin 7, Morris Motors came up with a small saloon that would turn the tables on that formidable prewar rival, for Austin entirely failed to match the success of the Morris Minor, which thrived for over two decades following its launch at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948 –an event that saw many of Britain’s first all new postwar cars presented to an eager public.
Later to become famous for creating the Mini, Alec Issigonis was responsible for the Minor’s innovative design. It was conceived as a vehicle for the mass market at a very reasonable price for the build quality. There were three versions in Series I – two- and four-door saloons and a convertible tourer. Plans to use a flat four motor were scrapped late in the day and a straight four sidevalve was substituted. Around a quarter-of-a-million Minors were built in under four years, with the convertible taking a third of sales.
Series ІІ in 1952 saw the fitting of a smaller but more powerful OHV engine (from the competing Austin А30, as Austin and Morris had merged to form the British Motor Corporation). Three new body styles appeared, too – the van, pickup and Traveler with its signature wooden frame. Series ІІ lasted until 1956.
Cosmetic modifications were made for Series ІІІ, including a further uprating of the engine and in 1961 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than one million units. An even larger engine was introduced the following year but it was the beginning of the end. The 1960s saw a steadily declining sales graph until the convertible went in 1969 and the saloon in 1970. The last of the line were Travellers made in 1971. Sadly, the Minor’s replacement was the eminently forgettable Marina.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1948 (until 1971)
918 сс Straight Four (Series I)
Series 1 had a top speed of 60 mph (97km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The names Morris Minor (and Iater Minor Thousand) undoubtedly have a familiar ring but they might have sounded strange to modern ears had the original name been kept – the prototype was known as the ‘Morris Mosquito`, though this was wisely dropped.