Minor Memories

David McCullough’s 1950 Lowlight Saloon

It was registered in May 1950 chassis number smm48806, supplied new to the Ministry of Supply. If anyone has information on the Ministry I would be interested to learn more about it. It had proper MM style seats but on runners like the later disabled cars so I wonder if it was some sort of early disabled car? 

I don’t know any other history, it went off the road in 1973 and remained in storage until 1998 when someone bought it to get the Registration. As it had been off the road so long the original number OPE 478 was off the records and an age related was issued RSJ 773. It was then traded in against a Transit van!!

Buying the Minor

I saw it on eBay in August 2007. So a bit of a bidding war went on and I didn’t win the auction. A few days later I got a second chance offer and arranged to go and see the car, asking him first if he thought it would drive to Liverpool for the boat ok… I flew over to Gatwick, got the train to Arundel where I was met by Nigel the transit van dealer. I had already decided I would probably buy it no matter what it was like, so was well chuffed to find a very original and ‘un-messed-about-with’ car. Yes it was scruffy and needed some work but everything was there and proper. I had a short test drive and we finalised the deal.

The Journey Home

So off I set to drive 200 odd miles in a car that although MOTed had done 40ish miles since MOT 11 months before and didn’t have working trafficators, a windscreen that moved inwards when it was windy and a speedometer that didn’t work as well as it being the slowest vehicle I had ever driven. All that said I was as happy as Larry!

The journey wasn’t so bad until it became dark, the lights were so poor. I stopped at every services to check water and oil and had to keep topping up with oil. At about 11 after having just come out of the Stafford services on the M6 it started to lose power. This was an unlit stretch of motorway. I kept crawling along to the first street light and then stopped. The engine was boiling. So I phoned the AA who didn’t come for about 1 hour, the Highways Agency arrived first!

Because I didn’t have hazard lights they put up comes and flashing lights… By the time the AA arrived it was well cooled, started no problems and revved freely. They took me to the next services, were I realised the wrong radiator was fitted. It had a small header tank that always was full of water, but the radiator was empty. The AA decided to take me the rest of the way to Liverpool for the boat.  

I arrived about 3.00am. I was so glad to get on the boat at 9.00am, I booked a cabin and slept the whole way home. On arriving at Belfast dock I was met by a welcoming committee who hadn’t slept the night before either worrying about my mad journey!

OPE 478
Repairing the Minor

I used the car for the three weeks that were left on MOT. An oil change showed that the filter was completed blocked with congealed oil, it probably hadn’t been changed since 1973! The car required some work. The front wings were repaired at the rear edge with panels cut from later wings as was the front panel at the bottom the later panel has drain holes in the bottom).  

The car was tipped up on its side for a strip down and repaint. I repaired both front inner sills as dodgy patching had been carried out. It’s the soundest Minor I have ever owned. The rest of the underside was painted and wax oiled, wings and front panel resprayed and the paintwork just polished up. The seats required re-stitching and new doors trims were made along with carpets and a recovered head cloth. A new windscreen and rubber was fitted, rebuilt semaphores and a proper sidevalve radiator.

The aim was to make the 60th Anniversary Rally at Stanford Hall. The MM was MOTed about 3 weeks before the Rally. We made it! The journey was slow but uneventful and we had a great time.

Since then it has had new bumpers fitted made from high quality stainless steel, new hub caps and a re-chromed grill. The paintwork is quite poor and some time I will respray the whole car. The engine was rebuilt in May this year and it’s going much better.

I have owned about 10 Minors over the last 16 years; the Lowlight is so different to any of them and great fun!

Thanks to Sandy Hamilton and AOVC for assistance in getting the original registration back.

David McCullough, Morris Minor Owners Club Northern Ireland

Minor Memories Road Sign

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