Morris Minor 1000
|1956 to 1971|
|Production||1956–71; 847,491 produced|
|Assembly||Oxford, England, Birmingham, England Victoria Park, Australia|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2/4-door saloon 2-door convertible 2-door estate|
|Engine||948 cc A-series I4 1,098 cc A-series I4|
The car was updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc (57.9 cu in). The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer.
In February 1961 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read "Minor 1,000,000" instead of the standard "Minor 1000". The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union's Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake.
The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor's top speed increased to 77 mph (124 km/h) with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers.
- 1956–62: 948 cc A-series inline-four, 37 hp (28 kW) at 4,750 rpm and 50 lb·ft (68 N·m) at 2,500 rpm
- 1962–72: 1,098 cc A-series inline-four, 48 hp (36 kW) at 5,100 rpm and 60 lb·ft (81 N·m) at 2,500 rpm
Decline and Replacement
During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. According to Newell (1997), 1.6 million Minors were made in total and Wainwright (2008) even claims that 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold.
The Minor was officially replaced on the Cowley production lines by the Morris Marina (ADO28), which was developed primarily as a response to Ford's top-selling (and in many respects, conservatively engineered) Escort. Building a mid-sized car capable of volume sales (particularly in the lucrative fleet-buying market) was becoming increasingly key in generating healthy profit margins, and was an issue BMC had consistently failed to address in the past. The Marina was developed under the watchful eye of British Leyland management, and used a floor plan and running gear deliberately similar to the Minor to streamline production changeover and minimize the financial outlay associated with chassis development and retooling.
The spiritual successor to the Morris Minor was arguably the ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range, which had been launched in 1962 and aimed at the same small family car market (and actually replaced the Minor in some export markets such as Australia and New Zealand). The crisp styling, hydrolastic suspension and innovative front-wheel drive system (itself a 'scaling-up' of the Mini principle) made ADO16 a worthy successor to the (in its day) strikingly forward-looking Minor. However, due to the British Motor Corporation's commitment to both the Morris factory at Cowley, and Austin plant at Longbridge - in addition to a healthy demand for both products - production of the two cars continued in parallel for nearly ten years. Ironically, production of ADO16 only outlasted that of the Minor by 3 years or so, before being axed in favour of the innovative, export-oriented yet under-developed Austin Allegro in 1974.
Despite the four major updates of the Minor in its 23-year production run, very few actively designed 'safety features' were ever installed. Provisions were made for seat belt fittings in the early 60s, but the rigid structure of the car's monocoque body made it dangerously unabsorbent to impact. For a short time in 1968, the thickness of the steel used in the bonnet and doors was decreased from 1.2 mm to 1.0 mm to act as a form of crumple zone, but as the wings continued to be made of 1.4 mm mild steel, the modification was pointless and ineffectual and was reversed in 1969 as it increased passenger compartment crush in collisions.
The Mark II model changed from the "lowlight" model in order to comply with Canadian lighting standards, with higher and brighter headlights to increase visibility in fog and during dark Canadian winters.
Australian models, and tourer models made in Britain and exported to Australia, had safety glass windscreens and safety glass windows, to comply with local regulations. Australian models also had blinking indicator lights in addition to the standard trafficator arms on the indigenous Minor 1000.
The Minor was manufactured in three series: the MM (1948), the Series II (1952) and finally the 1000 series (1956).
A 1963 Morris Minor 1000 Traveller in Heartbeat, TV Series
1966 Morris Minor 1000 Traveller in Wheeler Dealers series 10