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Homepage. This page: An unusual find, a pickup version of the Morris J2.

Morris 3/4 ton J2 pickup truck, built in 1957.

I'm not sure quite why I like old commercial vehicles, sometimes even more than cars. Perhaps its their scarcity, most having been driven into the ground, worked until they could no longer move under their own steam.
When I heard about this 15cwt Morris J2, it seemed sensible (!) to find out more about it. The gent selling it had bought it new, in 1957, to use in connection with his market gardening business, and had kept it ever since. The Morris hadn't been used for 30 or so years, and as the shed it had been parked in needed to be emptied, he had decided to sell. For a change, looking at this potential new purchase didn't involve a 300 mile round trip, so I made arrangements to go and look at this little pickup. The photographs below were taken on this first viewing, a visit that confirmed that this pickup wasn't so 'little' at all, but quite a chubby little vehicle.
Morris J2 pickup
This J2, powered by the 1489cc diesel version of BMC's B Series engine, was bought from Kennings Ltd, and put straight to work. The load bay of the J2 pickup is vast, which is probably why they used to get 'well loaded'. Once loaded, the puny power output of the 1500 engine, especially in diesel form, made itself apparent.

J2 brochure pic
This old sales brochure features the pickup, but without the vertical buttresses joining the cab to the rear body. This was to add strength and lessen flexing between the cab and rear body, but was it only an option or did it become standard fitment of all Austin and Morris 152/J2 pickups?
John, who bought this example new, remembers taking it back to the BMC agent, asking for his money back. They refused, but offered to run some checks on the engine. It was found to be a bit 'down' on one cylinder, so they put new rings on one piston, re-assembled it all, and gave it back to John. Performance was little better, so I think the J2 was used on lighter duties, with other vehicles taking on the heavy stuff. It is probably thanks to the poor performance when loaded, that this J2 survived at all.

John recounted a story of how he loaded it up, and drove over to a property he has in Wales. Accessing the house involves a drive up a steep, winding lane. It was 11.30pm and pitch black in the Welsh valleys, the Morris ran out of puff half way up this lane. The only solution was to unload much of the cargo and collect it in the morning. While John was unloading it, a flashlight meandered in his direction, in a neighbouring field - a local resident had spotted the lights of the pickup parked in the lane, so made his way over in the dark to see if he could help out.

The Morris' last MOT expired in September 1977, and exists with the paperwork that came with the pickup. The original service book also survives, showing its first service, at 580 miles, which took place on the 18th April 1957. A brown buff continuation logbook also came with the J2, confirming that by 1962 it had received its brush re-paint in the green that it still wears. Overall the condition was as had been described to me over the phone. The underside of this chassis-less pickup is well preserved, thanks to the thickest bitumen underseal I've ever seen, with just localised areas needing attention here and there to the lower edges. Otherwise, the J2 just shows minor wear and tear, some bumps and dings, a reminder that it didn't really fit into the role it was purchased for.

Having agreed to buy it, I set to making arrangements to go and collect it. Three of us went down the following week, with a sizeable trailer behind a friend's van. John had already pulled the J2 out of its corner into the doorway of his shed, using a mini-tractor. With me steering the J2, he pulled it out into the daylight, its first glimpse of the sun in 30 years or so. It didn't take long to load it up, and we had a safe run back home with it.
Morris J2
Having now given it a thorough checking over, the J2's condition seems to be good. The cylinder head was removed many years ago, and a peer down into the block shows one piston with a chunk out of it, and evidence of molten pieces of metal (chunks of piston ring?) welded to the crown of the piston. Therefore the engine will either need some work or, perhaps a more satisfactory option, replacing with a petrol engine of 1489cc, an engine that the J2 could be specified with. I'll do some looking around and see what turns up. The interior is very clean indeed, only missing the seat squabs, which I don't think will be insurmountable. The doors are good and sound, as is the front panel. The pull-up windows glide easily, a reminder of the pickup's measly 30k miles from new.

It seems that examples of J2 metal-back pickup are thin on the ground. The J2 was the Morris-badged version of this light commercial, the 152 was the almost exact-same vehicle but with Austin badging and a slightly different grille arrangement. Most J2s & 152s that exist today are either vans, or, usually, campers.
Morris interior
More J2 pics
Some of the paintwork will require attention in the fullness of time, but that can be done once the minor body imperfections have been dealt with. The nearside paint actually isn't bad, the offside has a lot of white overspray on it, but that will polish off with some elbow-grease! Showing under the green topcoat are signs of the vehicle's original pale blue colour. The BMC Diesel badge affixed to the front panel was simply painted over, but I'll take that off and carefully scrape the paint off to reveal the original colours.
Green Morris J2 pickup
Update to the J2 story - some while later a new arrival meant that I no longer had garage space to house the Morris, so reluctantly I decided to sell this amazing survivor, as its uniqueness and history meant that it was simply too rare to have parked outside, even if sheeted up.

Return to the my cars page. Some period photos featuring different J2s can be seen here, in the vintage motoring photo section.

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