In July 1967, a Morris Minor saloon was delivered to its new owner. We can be sure he was pleased with it, as he allowed it to accumulate just 190 miles before storing it in his garage. It stayed there for 47 years, before being offered at auction, in Yorkshire, in February 2015, 47 years later.
The Minor needs no introduction here – I have already nominated it as the most influential car of the 1940s and as Britain’s favourite car. There are many still on the roads, and the car show circuit, of Britain, but not many still have the dealer’s plastic cover on the seat.
The handbook is still in its original envelope, the first service probably not yet completed even if the supplying dealer is either now buried under a retail shopping centre or, if still trading, insisting on addressing its customers by their given name and not as “Mr……. Even the currency the car was purchased with has been changed.
This car was recently offered for auction, with an expected price of up to £10,000.00, say $15,000.00 or so. The original sale price was £656, around £7,500.00 in current value. That surprised me, as a common understanding is that cars are much cheaper than they were. Petrol was cheaper though, at 6 shillings (equal to 30p in 1971’s decimal currency), which would be around £3 a gallon, compared with around £4.75 now.
The owner was quite content to keep his new car in the garage: he already had a Minor Traveller (the wood-framed station wagon version) for daily use. This car was kept cleaned, polished and working, but just not used.
And, for the avoidance of doubt, the Smiths speedo’s mileometer is not reading at 190.2 miles because it is connected to a Lucas electrical system.
hat tip www.telegraph.co.uk
I was expecting to see one of the “Million Minors” special models not an ordinary ones.
Apparently it sold for £17,000!
Smith’s instruments were actually quite durable and reliable. Lucas electrical systems were . . . . . . . badly underrated in modern parlance. A lot of the cloud they currently operate under has a bit to do with forgetting that most of those parts are 40 and 50 years old.
All the years I owned Triumphs and BSAs, I didn’t have that much electrical problems. The only bad year I’ve had was 2013, the final year I owned my unrestored ’69 Bonneville. Yes, I started having electrical problems. And my mechanic told me flat out that I needed a new wiring harness – after 44 years it had finally reached the point where it needed replaced. Period.
My MGB Smiths speedo stopped working once. Oh boy, another adventure in British car maintenance, right? So I removed it from the dash, took it apart, noticed a loose screw rolling around, found where it went, put it back in, and problem solved. Try doing that with a modern speedometer!
So yes, I 2nd the above motion. And it’s still nice to look at, too; doesn’t look dated at all.
I like that wonderfully verbose, Victorian “Warranty Form and Other Informative Literature.”
BTW, keeping furniture wrapped in plastic seems to be a mysterious habit of certain immigrants. This is from firsthand sources, e.g. Greek & Chinese.
I just noticed that the warranty envelope is marked “BMC”…which in 1971 had not existed for 3 years. Hmmmm….
The car is a 67.
Speaking from experience , Lucas stuff was fine in a Marina or Mini, but when they got into the XJ12 or SD1 class of cars they were disasters. In addition, anything Lucas had horrid quality control, so often replacement parts were defective. The Americans did accessories better.
One has to wonder ultimately how much of that should be laid back at the door of British Leyland. If you have a cash-strapped manufacturer and/or one that’s determined to cut every pfennig out of manufacturing costs, something has to give.
Also, there were some cases of manufacturers tinkering with a component’s design for various reasons. The engineers who developed the Lucas mechanical fuel injection system were (allegedly) dismayed by Triumph’s Mk2 production system, which had a lot of additional complexity the Lucas engineers hadn’t added and didn’t think was an especially good idea.
Lucas electric fuel pumps were universally panned.
I bought a brand new ’61 Minor for my mother (paid $1345) in the summer of 1961
She tired of it 4-5 years later, so I drove it cross country, NY to OR.
Every few hours the fuel pump would just quit. No amount of tinkering with the points (the way they were supposed to be adjusted) would bring it back to life.
Like a mule it would sit there until at least an hour went by.
Then it would run again.
Then it would stop again.
It was a long trip.
This is an amazing time capsule. Thanks for sharing.
I like the woody Minor wagons
Had no idea these were still being made in the late ’60s (and, I see elsewhere, up to 1971!), through the BMC and into the BL period!
The vans were still being made until 75 I drove a near new 74 that was badged Austin Minor, not many of those about then or now. The only difference was the badge on the steering wheel and crinkled grille bars.
Thanks for another car from growing up in 60s & 70s Britain.It shows how far BL fell when they could make the much loved Minor and the wretched Marina
I had an opportunity to drive it once, and frankly, I am not surprised that owner opted not to drive it 🙂
Comparatively, my Renault 4 felt like a proper limousine. Maybe it was something wrong with the specimen I tried, but it was really awful, like it will fall apart over the slightest bump on the road.
Definitely some fault with the example you tried these things take rough roads in their stride with ease.
Well the Renault 4 was a much later design but the Morris was built from 1948-1971 and gave good service to a lot of owners in the UK.Very dated by the 60s but it was still well loved unlike the Marina which was supposed to replace it and continued to use its 1940s front suspension.Its the one old car you still regularly see on the roads here.Theres 2 saloons a Traveller (Woody) and a convertible all in daily use within about 2 miles of where I live.Feature car looks great in rose taupe which was also a very popular colour on the Morris Oxford at the time..another old fashioned but good and sturdy much missed car.
I wonder what’s up with the masking tape by the speedo? Was it put there to cover the screws when new to show the mileage has not been tampered with? Great looking new old car!
It was probably holding a notice stating that the seller/auctioneer had not independently verified the mileage and the buyer should etc etc
Makes sense. Thanks.
I had a 1957 model back in the 80’s in New Zealand. The hood latch had broken and the previous owner had hammered a railway sleeper stake into it to keep it closed. I never opened the hood in the time I owned it. It just went forever. Incredible solid, built like a tank. I think I paid $400 for it. Sold it for $600 if I remember correctly a year or so later.
My favorite British car of all time – in that color, too! Beautiful. I’d still buy one if it made sense.
Best selling import car in the US in 1959!.
Umm….that would be the VW.
The elephant in the room no one talks about is : _WHY_ was the engine taken apart ? .
A nice car I’d have loved to buy if I have that kinda money lying around .
OBTW : they just sold _the_ Millionth (Not one of the many ” Million Models”) Morris here in the United States , for not much money , it had been faithfully restored and was a U.S.A. Specification LHD Saloon .
The Morris Minor also featured prominently in this music video.
They are still on used car lots here amongst all the Jap imports a Morry thou, gotta love the manual banner, like there was a choice.
Being consumed with old Mechanix Illustrated articles these days (thanks to Paul), I’ll post this link to a very complimentary review of the Minor Traveller.
The car is a 67. It would have had an 1100cc engine fitted as standard that road test is of a 54 that had the 803cc Austin A30 engine which were not very good and was soon replaced with the 948 motor creating what we called the Morry Thou.
Your adjustment for price inflation is slightly off, Roger! £656 in 1967 would correspond to c £10,400 in today’s money according to the Retail Price Index. By way of comparison, a basic Ford Escort 1100 cost me £826 (with discount!) in 1973. That was on the road with a year’s tax. Doesn’t seem a lot with hindsight although it would still correspond to £9500 in today’s money. Bearing in mind the amount of standard kit even the cheapest cars now sport, it has to be said that we are much better off today. The only thing more basic than a basic Escort was a baked bean tin.
Usually when you see antique chairs in fine original condition it turns out that they were so uncomfortable that no one would use them. I have to wonder if that was what happened for the original owner of this Minor. “Hmm…I like the old Austin Seven better, good thing I didn’t trade it….”