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Homepage. This page: Recollections of owning a pre-war Morris Minor tourer, and also of a 1930's Minor saloon.

Pre-war Morris Minors.

John sent over his recollections of owning and driving in pre-war Morris Minors, in March 2011. His Minor, a tourer version, was purchased in 1957, while his brother owned a similarly-aged Minor saloon. Here are John's memories of both these British pre-war cars ...

1934 Minor tourer reg. SW 4468.

Browsing through your website, looking for a 1934 Morris Minor tourer similar to the one in the attachment, which I bought for 50 pounds in 1957, I was reminded of the fun I had driving this wee car. It had an unusual pedal arrangement with the accelerator in the middle, which worked reasonably well for "heel-toe" downshifting.
1934 pre-war Morris Minor saloon
The 4 speed gearbox was a bit strange being the traditional 3 speed with an extra cog for top gear together with a slightly lower ratio back end. It used to wind up in 1,2, and 3 then chug along up to 60 mph in top getting about 40 mpg. When you got up to 60mph it stayed there all day regardless of hairpins, reverse camber, single roads with passing places etc. One time a Jaguar came storming up my tail on one of the winding loch side roads and sat there filling my rear view mirror. When we came to a long bend which practically came back on itself AND changed camber half way through, the Morris sat on the road like it was glued and I saw the Jaguar disappear down the slip road in a cloud of dust as he lost it on the wet road surface.
The brakes were large diameter and narrow and you had to be careful on long downhill stretches for if you used the brakes too often they used to fade quickly.
The tourer top was a lot of fun. If you forgot to tighten up the two wingnuts it usually flew up and back around 40 mph acting like a very effective air brake!
Around 1963 I gave the car to my father who drove it around my hometown (Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland) and entered it into Veterans Rallies. When he was in his 80's he stopped driving, put the wee car up on blocks and used it as a smoking room where he and his pipe thought over all the good times he had driving the car around.
When he died, a collector bought the car to refurbish it which gave my sister and her husband the funding to come to Canada for a long vacation here in Ontario.
I have often wondered what happened to SW 4468 and whether the buyer refurbished it...I would imagine there is some kind of registry for these classics somewhere.

Now, a pre-war Minor saloon and other family Morrises.

My brother had a 1930's Minor saloon...not quite as lively as the tourer. There are lots of steep hills in and around Dunoon and when climbing these (invariably in 1st) radiator water would squirt out of a hole in the cap all over the windshield and (of course) the wiper being vacuum operated couldn't cope.

Paraffin conversion during post-war rationing.

Come to think of it our family was Morris oriented. My father bought an ex-ARP Morris Oxford (PG 8415) saloon for 5 pounds just after the war, did a conversion job (because of petrol rationing) and ran the thing on paraffin which wasn't rationed ... he had copper pipe wrapped round the exhaust to thin out the paraffin, some complicated bits and pieces, an extra air valve etc.
It was a bit like flying an aircraft but it worked, until he forgot to switch over to petrol to get it started. Paraffin fumes belched out the exhaust just as the local constabularly walked past, so, my father got charged for unauthorized use of a restricted fuel. The Judge fined him a nominal sum but put on record. "Authority does not exist to suppress inventiveness ... next time around the fine will be much higher".
My father was the local McIver and some of the antics he got up to had the local establishment roll their eyes and shake their heads. Shortly after that he bought a Morris Cowley and grafted its engine into the Oxford so maybe the short lived experience with paraffin did a number on the original engine.
Thanks for the photo and the stories John. I wonder who owns this Morris now?
Visit the motoring memories pages at oldclassiccar for more stories like this. Other items on the site relating to pre-war Morris Minors include a collection of black and white Minor photographs, and period advertising for a four seat tourer.

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