Morris Minor 1000 - Classic British Cars

The Morris Minor

The Morris Minor is one of those British motoring icons that's instantly recognisable to anyone over the age of twenty, and quite a few below. Another car designed by Alec Issigonis, the designer of the equally iconic Mini. Most designers would be happy to have designed one motoring icon in their career, let alone two.

The Morris Minor came out in 1948 and was quite a change from a lot of the pre-war cars that manufactureres were still confined by costs and rationing to building. It wasn't quite the car Issigonis had designed as he had planed it with a new flat-four engine, but it got the old side-valve Series E engine.

When Morris became a part of the British Motor Corporation in 1952 the Morris Minor got the A Series OHV engine, and a year later the classic timbered estate car was released. Unfortunately the timber is a part of its structural strength so if the wood is rotten the car will fail its Ministery of Transport test (MOT) in the UK.

There was a further revamp in the engine department in 1956 when it got the newer 948cc engine, the same as used in the Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite, all be it in a lower state of tune. Top speed increased to around 70mph, and the Morris Minor became known as the Minor 1000 with new badging. 

A Pick-up version of the Morris Minor - a public domain image
A Pick-up version of the Morris Minor - a public domain image | Source

Over One Million Sales

The car passed the one million sales figure in 1959, just over a decade into its production career.

There were many period tuning kits available designed for the BMC A Series engine which could easily find their way on to a Minor 1000. Speedwell did one for the 948cc engine which resulted in a 0-60mph time of 15 seconds and a top speed of 88mph when fitted to an Austin A35, a very similar car to the Morris Minor 1000. Fuel consumption was 34mpg, imperial.

In 1962 the last major update was introduced and the engine was again updated to the 1098cc version of the A Series engine, with a whopping 48bhp. The open tourers and the four-door saloons were dropped from the range in the late sixties and the two-door and Traveller continued on until 1971. It should be said the commercial variants also soldiered as there was both a pick-up and a van version of the Morris Minor 1000.

You can still find plenty of Morris Minor 1000s, or Moggie 1000s as they are often known in the UK, in regular use. And they are easy to restore with people like Charlie Ware still offering all the parts necessary to rebuild one, and improve it if you like with brake and suspension upgrades. Ware actually has a factory in Sri Lanka still manufacturing body panels.

Popular upgrades used to be swapping the front drums for the servo assisted disc brake set up from a Morris Marina. Which gives better stopping power, reduced maintenance and a better feel to the brake pedal over the rather wooden standard brakes. Another popular mod of the day was to bolt in the BMC B Series engine in its 1.5 guise from a Riley or Wolseley 1500 and get a noticeable power boost. And as BMC increased that engines capacity through the years to the 1798cc in the MGB with a claimed 95bhp so they got fitted. Cruising was significantly enhanced, but handling could suffer as the engine was noticeably heavier than the original A Series unit.

Updated Moggie 1000s

These days it is easier to stay with the 1275cc version of the A Series as a well modified version can be taken out to 1430cc and give 115bhp, or a unit built to MG Metro Turbo spec can give at least 92bhp and often more, depending on the level of boost. It wasn't uncommon in the late sixties for the custom car brigade to bolt in a Rover V8, with 3.5-litres and around 150bhp you had a seriously quick car.

I've seen quotes for modern supercharger kits for the A Series engine giving power figures of 130bhp at the wheels on a 1340cc capacity. Or if you have a standard 998cc engine which has around 37bhp, a supercharged version will put out about 64bhp at the wheels.

Production of the Minor 1000 eventually ended in 1971 with over one-and-a-half million cars built. The convertible - the tourer - and the Traveller are still the most sought after and tend to fetch the highest prices. But it is still possible to effectively build yourself a new car from the parts still available if you have the money and inclination.

A Morris Minor 1000 on You Tube

Technical Specification: Morris Minor 1000

Engine: four-cylinder, 1098cc

Power: 48bhp @ 5,100rpm

Torque: 60lb ft @ 2,500rpm

Brakes: Drums all around

Suspension: Independent front, live rear axle

Top speed:  77mph

Acceleration: 0-60mph in 22 seconds


Length: 148in (3759mm)

Width: 60in (1524mm)

Height: 60in (1524mm)

Weight: 1,708lb (775kg) 4-door saloon

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