The split screen, the indicators poking up like perspex orange fingers, the notoriously rust-prone floors, the pootling exhaust note… just some of the much-loved characteristics of the Morris Minor or Morris 1000. Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis back in 1948, in a sense it was Britain’s answer to the Beetle — a bulbous little creation that was also Britain’s first mass-appeal car. Between then and 1972 when production belatedly ceased some 1.6 million were built. There were variants like the Morris Traveller (timber-framed estate car) and the Morris Million (painted pink), while the convertible was another popular choice. For thousands of ‘newly-marrieds’, or penurious students, it was their first car. It was also the kind of car in which the district nurse did her rounds.
In 2008, it is 60 years old, and Martin Wainwright (who proposed to his wife over the gear stick of a Morris Minor) gives us a quirky and fascinating history of this quintessentially British car. You’ll find everything from the post-70s vogue for restoring and rebuilding Morris Minors (several garages still exist to do just that, to the alarming habit of their bonnets to open at speed and entirely obscure your vision, their unreliable trunnions, and not to mention the esoteric photo exhibition some years ago devoted to abandoned Morris Minors on the West Coast of Ireland.