Could it have been my unsuccessful attempts to buy a dilapidated Morris Minor Traveller at the tender age of 13, much to my parent’s horror? Or was it when John Noakes (Blue Peter fame), in his series, ‘Go with Noakes’, placed an advert in a shop window selling his beloved Morris Minor Convertible? I didn’t stop crying for a week and never quite forgave him! All I know is that I’ve been into Morris Minors for as long as I can remember.
In 1983, aged 13, I chose motor vehicle engineering, for an option, in secondary school. My teacher, Mr White’s enthusiasm for his subject matter was infectious and I soon caught the bug. We rescued a neglected Triumph Herald from a local scrap yard, removed all the rotten body panels and set about transforming it into a Burlington Arrow kit car and, occasionally, if weather permitted, he allowed us to drive it around the playground minus its body!
From leaving school, I owned a succession of cars, Morris Minors, Chevettes, Maestros and even a sunburst yellow Austin Allegro estate, with a matt black bonnet. My then girlfriend (now long – suffering wife) refused point blank to be seen in that one and preferred to use public transport instead!
My long time ambition to own a Morris Minor Traveller was finally achieved in December 2009, when at work a colleague, who knew I was into classic cars, beckoned me over. She was looking at ‘Sales, Wanted and Swops’, on the works computer system. In the Cars and Vans section was something that immediately caught my attention. ‘Morris Minor Traveller, 1964, well-loved car which has been in the family for 20 years, bodywork needs attention, £500’.
At first I thought the £500 asking price was a misprint but upon telephoning the seller, she confirmed, to my surprise, it was correct. This had been her father’s car and she wanted it to go to an enthusiast who would restore it. I was extremely interested but I had a dilemma. My ‘fleet’ at the time consisted of a 1970 Morris 1800 MK11, in a rather fetching shade of antelope and a rare 1952 Austin A70 Hereford. I loved both cars but the ultimatum given by the wife was that I could purchase the Traveller but on the condition that I sold one of my existing cars! With a very heavy heart and due to the rarity of the A70, I decided the time had arrived to sell the 1800 and reintroduce myself with the joys of owning a Morris Minor Traveller again. The MK11 sold quickly and this provided much needed funds to purchase the traveller.
Despite heavy snow making driving treacherous I drove to Bolton to inspect DLG 867B. What quickly became apparent was that beneath the faded paint and neglected wood was potential. A previous owner had replaced both inner and outer sills, central cross member, door pillars and rear spring hangers. Unfortunately, the bonnet was damaged, front wings, doors, rotten and driver’s side front trunnion seized. Welding would be required on the front inner wings, rear driver’s side floor, back inner wings and boot floor. Sections of the wood would also require replacement.
A bonus was the Duo-tone interior, in a rather fetching blue/grey combination, original registration number, pull starter and spoked steering wheel. I believe this specification was ‘Transitional’, benefiting from the later 1098cc engine and indicators. I left a deposit and returned a few weeks later to collect the Morris. It felt great to be driving a Morris again. On arrival home I put DLG 867B in my folding garage and began to plan its restoration.
A few years later, I was buying a variety of classic car magazines and soon realized a ‘niche’ might exist for an E-magazine dedicated solely to the Morris Minor. Tony Aston, an extremely talented website designer came on board and created a superb website.
In March 2015 I launched Minor Times, a new E-magazine dedicated to the Morris Minor and hope to provide the latest news, reader’s cars, technical articles and happenings in the Minor World. Indeed, any variant of Minor, be it standard, concourse or modified will always be welcome.