It’s strange how things work out sometimes, isn’t it? There I was, in Lord Nuffield’s billiard room, recounting his life and times for visitors and just reaching the merger of Nuffield and Austin that was agreed in 1951 to create BMC when we heard a car draw up at the front. That in itself relatively unusual – it normally means a visitor has arrived in an older British, often Nuffield or BMC, car and is therefore directed away from the main carpark. And this one did not disappoint.
In 1948, at the London Motor Show, Morris showed a range of new cars. Best remembered of course is the Morris Minor, Sir Alec Issigonis’s first complete car and perhaps Britain’s favourite and most recognised classic car, but there were others too. Foremost amongst these was the four cylinder Morris Oxford and its longer nosed six cylinder derivative, the Isis. Like the Minor, these were monocoque bodies with torsion bar suspension and rack pinion steering.
Power, all 41bhp of it, came from a 1476cc ohv four cylinder engine and there was a four speed transmission with a column change. This example was built in 1950 and sold in February 1951 to its first owner in Brussels, Belgium. Last weekend, the owner and his wife were touring England, looking at Morris and BMC sights. An interesting weekend to pick, with hindsight, given the national events then on-going.
The Oxford had a Wolseley twin – the 4/50 (four cylinders, 50 bhp), a smarter interior with more wood and leather, and a longer bonnet with a traditional grille for traditional Wolseley buyers. The Isis and its Wolseley 6/80 were visually similar to their counterparts, but longer front ends and corresponding longer wheelbases.
But to turn up at Lord Nuffield’s home in the last Oxford from the pre-BMC Morris…timing.