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TECHNICAL ARTICLES    © Morris Minor Car Club of Victoria Inc.  

Notes on Buying a Morris Minor

Okay, so you want to buy a Morris Minor - or you think you do! Before taking the plunge think carefully about what sort of car you want and how you will use it. Most Morris Minors in Australia are now 50+ years old and were not designed for the driving conditions of these days.
Don't expect a Morris Minor to keep up with modern traffic - there is no way that one can accelerate or stop like a modern car. The Morry even has difficulty keeping up with buses and trucks - especially going up hills!
And don't buy one for cheap transport - old cars take a lot of work to keep going which can be expensive unless you do the work yourself. So a Morry is fine as a hobby car but not really the vehicle to chose for every day transport.

Which Morris Minor?

The Morris Minor was produced in a surprisingly large range of models. The Minor two-door was made in the greatest numbers and is probably still the most common model. The four door Minor has the advantage of easier access to the rear seat and more windows to open on hot days!
The Traveller (or Woody) probably ranks as the "top of the range" of the Morris Minor models. Its wooden framework gives it a very pleasing and unique character. However, this model was not sold in Australia and they are fairly rare. It is probably the most versatile model with excellent space for seating or a long flat loading bay.
One of the most delightful models to drive is the Minor Tourer or convertible. However, on cold and wet winter days it may not be the most comfortable car with the inevitable draughts and leaks that soft-top cars are prone to have.
Finally, there is the Minor Van, which has the attraction of having the greatest load carrying capacity of any model of Minor.

Series MM (Sometimes referred to as Series 1 or Low Light)

The MM is the earliest of the Morris Minors and the only model that can be classified as a "true" Morris produced by Morris Motors Ltd.
The MM is fitted with the pre-war side-valve engine that was used in the Morris Eight and consequently tends to be underpowered.
The car was produced with a split windscreen and with headlights originally situated beside the grill (low light). The headlights, after two years, were raised to the more common "high light"position in the front guards.
Parts for these earlier cars are sometimes a little more difficult to obtain.
This is a slow car and not suitable for every day use but rather the choice of the serious collector of Morris Minors.

Series II

The Series II was produced after the merger of Morris and Austin into the British Motor Corporation. It was the first production Morris Minor to be fitted with an overhead valve engine.
The engine was the Austin A-Series with a capacity of 803cc as used in the Austin A30. The car was considered satisfactory for English roads but gained a poor reputation overseas for having a weak engine and a gearbox with unsatisfactory ratios. It has been referred as the car with an engine fitted with a crankshaft made from a piece of bent wire!
The Series II was still produced with a split windscreen which was probably old fashioned even in the early 1950's!
This model cannot be recommended, unless is has been fitted with the superior engine and gearbox from a 1000.

Minor 1000 (Sometimes referred to as Series III)

This series of Minor was fitted with a slightly larger engine of 948cc and a new gearbox. The combination of a larger and stronger engine, and an improved gearbox, produced a more reliable and sprightly car.
The Minor 1000 was also fitted with a single piece windscreen and a larger rear window greatly improving visibility all round. This was probably the most popular series of Morris Minor in Australia and consequently most spare parts are still readily available.
This is probably the best series for every day use or even for a club run in the country!
During 1962, the Minor 1000 was fitted with a larger 1098cc engine and a much improved transmission.
But, production of the Morris Minor ceased in Australia before this model was released and was largely replaced by the Morris Major and then the Mini.
However, most of this Series were fully imported into Australia.

Hints on How to Buy a Good Morris Minor

 

Morris Minors are now between 36 and 60 years old and unless meticulously looked after may well contain serious faults.
Probably rust ('cancer' of old cars!) is the worst enemy of the Minor and very common in cars of this age.
To assess the condition of a Morris Minor takes time, skill and experience, and should be undertaken by a person with some mechanical knowledge.
Therefore, it is recommended that after a car has been found, it should be inspected by an expert (of Morris Minors!) before purchasing it.
If not, then before purchasing a Morris Minor, inspect it very carefully.
Otherwise you may find restoration too expensive. Don't get caught like the author was and have to scrap the car.
Unless an expertly renovated Minor is purchased, it is unlikely that a car will be found without some faults. It is therefore necessary to decide which faults can or can't be lived with either in the short or long term, and let the cost of repairing the faults be the main determining factor in buying the car.

It is suggested that a prospective car be checked in the following order:-

1. External Appearance.

The outside appearance of the car is some indication of how carefully the car has been maintained.

2. Underbody.
The underbody structure is crucial to the overall strength and safety of the car. It is imperative that this area is examined thoroughly, preferably by lifting the car up on stands, ramps or a hoist. It should be noted that any visible rust found on the outside is likely to be considerably worse on the inside once the panel has been removed. A heavy object such as a screwdriver or hammer should be used to tap the floor and major chassis members to detect weakened areas.

Body

Ensure when working under a car that the wheels are chocked, and ramps or stands are used. Never go under a car only supported by a jack. Refer to the figure below for the location of sub-structures.

sill sill2

eye

 

The sill areas below the doors are prone to rust.

3. Mechanicals.

Check the condition of the exhaust system.

Engine:-

Steering/Suspension:-

Brakes:-

Transmission:-

4. Road Test:-

The above list is by no means complete. I would strongly recommend the intending purchaser of a Morris Minor to buy or borrow the excellent book by Lindsay Porter or the other books listed below, from which I acknowledge obtaining many of these ideas.
The above check list does appear to be daunting. However, when purchasing an old car it is almost a certainty that numerous faults will be found in almost every car examined. A final word of warning, never trust a Road Worthy Certificate to indicate that a car is free from faults.

 

References:-
1. Morris Minor & I 000 - The guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration by Lindsay Porter
2. Morris Minor- The Worlds Supreme Small Car by Paul Skilleter
3. Morris Minor 1000 Owner's Workshop Manual by J H Hayne