Minor Memories

A Path Into Madness

Imagine… It’s a sunny day in rural Northern Ireland. Just a slight breeze as you tootle along a deserted country road, the only noise that familiar exhaust note burbling happily behind you. You’ve a full tank of petrol, a packed lunch and all day to go and get completely lost… bliss! I can’t think of a better past-time, especially if you do it all in a car built a good 16 years before you were born.

Well let’s start properly. For me this particular adventure started in the murky depths of time, when I was but yea high. My Auntie June bought me a Corgi Morris Minor, but it set the ball rolling as it were. I’ve always been interested in classic cars. I blame Dad I think, but he was more interested in bikes. Anyway I was taken around many classic car events and enjoyed looking at all the cars of yesterday, but the Morris Minor always stood out.

Let’s spin forward to 2003. It was nearly time to take my driving test and for my first car I wanted a Morris Minor. I had collected models, books and lots of photos by this time and through reading every scrap of information I could get on the subject I decided I wanted a Morris Minor 1000, with the 1098cc engine, so 1963 or later, and to make life just a little more difficult I wanted a 4-door Saloon.

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In the company of other Morris Minors

We had looked at a few 2-doors. The first one I can remember looking at was a Trafalgar blue 2-door Saloon, but it really needed new sills and doors. Anyway we decided that the best place for advice was the local branch of the Morris Minor Owners Club. So we went and were welcomed like we’d been there for years.

To spin through what happened next, we went to see two more cars, one was in need of a clutch and a paint job, the other we seen at Kilbroney Show. This car was a nice little almond green 2-door Saloon. We asked the club to have a quick look at it as Dad negotiated with the owner. A few minutes later with the deal all but done and dad about to be relieved of £950 the club give their verdict by standing behind the owner and shaking their heads vigorously as the car required a full rebuild!

The day came though when I did my driving test. I got off school for the first two periods on a Friday morning, passed my test, and was back after break time (sounds easy but it wasn’t!). I went to the library at lunch and went on to the Autotrader website and saw what I was after a 4-door Saloon 1970 with an MOT!

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A sunny day in rural Northern Ireland

We phoned David and went to look at it. We eventually bought this one. It was a 1970 Trafalgar blue 4-door Saloon with 78599 miles reading on the clock. Judging by the interior and the state of the suspension and drive train this seems about right. David showed up next day and show me how to take the brakes apart and grease everything, which has proved very useful information over the years… and so the adventure could begin.

When I first got my car I knew that the passenger side front wing had a chunk of filler in it at the bottom near the A post. The rear wing on the same side started to show rust bubbles and despite attempting to rub it down and fix it, it really wasn’t up to scratch. So in my infinite wisdom I decided to replace the lot.  

In 2005 when we went to Braemore, the first year I had been without a Minor, I was lucky in picking up a set at £20 each. The front wings were bought really early in the morning on the Saturday. I remember seeing the guys unpacking as I was eating breakfast and David and I wandered over with bowls of cereal in our hands and bought them. I think the guy wanted more but it was really early and he didn’t have his full wits about him.  

Over the years wings and any work underneath were done as well as the little things, but has been and will be standard which is just how I like them. I use it every day and would love to find out a bit more about its history. There’s nothing better than an Morris Minor especially in the company of other Minors!

Stephen Gordon, Morris Minor Owners Club Northern Ireland

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