I don’t see too many almost-50 year old cars in normal weekday traffic in Melbourne, and I assume that the same is true for most CC readers, so this Morris Minor convertible had me scrambling for a camera.
The Morris Minor was one of the London Motor Show debutants in the magical 1948 year for the motor industry, and would go on to become of Britain’s most beloved cars by virtue of its characterful appearance (most often described as “friendly”), simple mechanicals, easy handling and in particular an unusually long production run.
Mind you I think it was the later version that had the charm, rather than the original “lo-light”! Both versions are available to compare here.
Our feature car is a 1958 model, which is arguably in the peak era of the Minor – the 1000 model of 1956 was the second of three upgrades, or mid-cycle refreshes in today’s terminology, but before the car became increasingly outdated as time marched on. In addition to the more powerful engine (a 50 cc increase over the Mark II), there was now also a one-piece windscreen.
The alloy wheels on this example may signify that it has wom Datsun mechanical components used to upgrade performance and reliability, because after Datsun formed a technical partnership with Austin based on a relationship dating back to 1931 and the production of Austin 7s. Nissan’s A-series engine introduced in 1967 A10 Sunny with 988 cc, as a development of the 1950’s BMC original, seen here in the 1960 special edition, lilac-coloured Minor Million.
While it was taken out to 1487 cc, it is the 1397 cc version from the 1977-82 HB310 Sunny/210 that is more common in Australia, and an easy swap into a Morris Minor. Note this is roughly 20 years newer than the last Minors built in Australia, as production here ceased once the car had been superceded by the more modern 1100. Ironically while this sort of transplant was originally an expedient way to upgrade cars or keep them on the road, I presume that in more recent times such a swap may have been reversed in the name of originality.
While the car is definitely in very good condition, it is by no means a show queen. Daily-driver Minors are by no means unheard of, and it is a special car that can inspire the devotion needed to keep them on the road in significant numbers over half a century.
Roger Carr’s brilliant history of the Morris Minor: