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Homepage. This page: The Morris Eight saloon - memories of a 1930s car.

Morris 8hp saloon

Roy contacted me in June 2007, with various recollections from his own motoring past. These will feature in the motoring memories section at oldclassiccar over the coming weeks. First up, various stories about a Morris 8, registration number BRR657, plus a warning about the use of a Krooklock:

Driving test and the 30s Morris.

"My father bought a 1935 Morris 8 in 1956 for £90 and three years later sold it to me for the princely sum of £45 (lot of money in those days). I had to take my driving test in the Morris and despite working and manoeuvring cars for a living (wheel happy as we all were once), it took me three attempts before finally passing the test. It is the second of the three tests that you might find amusing.

Morris 8 saloon car
My Morris was a two door with the doors opening towards the front of the vehicle (suicide doors seems to be the present term). The front passenger seat in the Morris 8 was hinged and typical of a two door car this was to allow passengers access to the rear seats, some later vehicles were fitted with a wooden stay to prop up the seat whilst using the rear seats but not on my vehicle. I carried a small tool box behind the passenger seat, this was my prized possession as in those days we used to have to buy a tool per week until eventually you built up a comprehensive tool kit, the money was deducted from my weekly wage of £3.10 shillings so I always kept it with me. At the front of the doors there is a lever that opens and shuts the doors from the inside, when pushed fully forward it locked the door.

I was about half way through the test and all seemed to going ok until the emergency stop. It was explained to me by the examiner that sometime in the next few minutes he would tell me to hit the brakes. The brakes on the Morris were hydraulic and very efficient as I had recently overhauled them.

The result was disastrous, there was a child on the pavement with a ball and I was already covering the brakes when the examiner shouted STOP! I hit the brakes hard and he was not expecting the car to stop so suddenly. His head hit the Morris' windscreen (no seat belts of course), the seat lifted forward and the tool box slid forward under seat trapping the poor guy in an embarrassing position for him. To make matters worse his left shoulder pushed the door lock lever forward to the lock position, and he was well and truly stuck. It took me a few minutes to free him but unfortunately he did not see the funny side at the time, apart from to his ego there was no damage done so everything turned out ok, except of course that I failed the test."

Buying a Morris for £10.

"During my days as a Morris 8 owner in the 1950s I managed to buy a burnt out wreck for spares. I paid £10 which even all those years ago was a very reasonable sum. I managed to use the front axle and the differential, as well as the easy clean wheels as mine had spokes which were not fashionable at the time. The fire that destroyed the wreck was apparently caused by the starting handle falling across the battery terminals. The starting handle is clipped to the bulkhead and its not a good idea, Iíve recently purchased a 1936 series one and remembering the problem I removed my starting handle and put it inside the car, the moral of this story is a warning to all Morris owners, please check that your starting handle is secure."

Travel sickness in the back of a Morris 8.

When I was a teenager in the fifties we were not much removed from your average teenager today, ok there was not the violence and lack of respect, but it was during the teddy boy era and binge drinking is nothing new. Iíd just passed my driving test and my dad was very reluctant to let me use the Morris as it was his pride and joy. I waited until he was in a good mood and persuaded him to let me use the car for that evening.

I resided on a council estate and in those days a car was a real novelty as only midwives, doctors and other professional people seemed to own one. I could not wait to collect my mate and we soon picked up a couple of girls that we knew, we embarked on a pub crawl around the local country pubs in Leicestershire. Inevitably my mate who was sitting in the back of the car with one of the girls, had too much to drink and much to my horror suddenly decided to throw up bigtime.

I saw it coming through the driving mirror and it went down my neck and all over the girls dress, too late he tried to open the rear window as he was obviously not finished. The rear window on the Morris did not go down very far due it being over the rear wheel arch. He tried to get his head through the window but only succeeded by throwing up again on both the inside and outside of the car, I was mortified and had visions of my dad in a rage. He was a former military man, a Dunkirk veteran and that brainwashed with discipline he had very little time for the present day youth (sounds familiar) and he was not going to be happy to say the least.

We took the car to one of the girls' houses where her parents and myself cleaned the car spotless and managed to get rid of the smell of puke. I took the decision not to tell my father and hoped that he would not notice. He didn't mention anything for several weeks and I thought Iíd got away with it until we had a hot spell of weather and he took my stepmother and her relations for a nice Sunday drive in the country.

It was getting a bit hot in the car so one of the passengers decided to open a window, yes the same window - as he wound down the window there was a horrible grinding noise from the window regulator, the window stuck so he wound it back up revealing the dried contents of my friend's stomach. The grinding noise was caused by peanuts that had not digested properly! My dad made me remove and clean the regulator, not a nice job, and from that day every time I had to change a window reg I always felt sick! I wonder why?"

How not to use a Krooklock.

"Finally for now Iíll leave you with a short tale regarding a Krooklock. In case you havenít come across one, the Krooklock was a cheap anti-theft device that was very popular in the early seventies. It was a simple but effective device and can best be described as a locking extendable ratchet with a key in the centre. The ends of this device were hooked over, the idea was that one hooked end fitted around the clutch pedal and the opposite end hooked over the steering wheel, you then locked it into position and it temporarily secured the car.

One of my customers purchased one of these locks and was quite happy until one drunken night he attached the thing to the brake pedal and not the clutch. The next morning, still hung over from the night before, he got in the car (I think it was a Viva) and forgot all about the Krooklock. Had he fitted the device properly onto the clutch pedal he would have quickly remembered as he would have been unable to operate the clutch, however (I think you may have anticipated the outcome) he started the car and drove off down the hill, towards a right hand bend.

Some hundred yards from his home, he could not either steer the car or use the brakes, the outcome was that he demolished a garden fence and badly damaged his car. The good news was that he was a bit shaken but otherwise ok - you canít make em up can you!?"

Re-acquaintance with pre-war Morris motoring.

"I have recently purchased, for old times sake, this 1936 Series 1 Morris 8, in incredible condition and it brings back a few fond memories. I have been a motor mechanic for almost 50 years (retired now)."

Morris 8hp Series 1 from 1936

Thanks for the great stories Roy!!! If you have some amusing tales to tell about motoring years ago, please send them over to me - my address is on the contact page. Memories of Morris 8 ownership sent over by another visitor to this site, can now be found here.

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