As Ian tells on the 'Our Story' page of the British Car Museum web site, he has more than 38 complete Morris Minors on display in his collection, plus as many more being used for parts. This piece tells the story of how and when the Minor was born and the factors that shaped its unique design.
The Minors pictured below are just a few of those on show at the British Car Museum, New Zealand.
Eric Lord - the Director of Morris Motors - said that when the car was proudly shown to Lord Nuffield, he bluntly observed that the new Morris Minor looked "Like a poached egg" and that the car was "narrow gutted". The people in the department worked though the night to cut the car in two down the middle, then added four inches down the centre of the car; this made all the difference to it's appearance and handling. You can see it in the bonnet and also in the front bumper.
The Morris Minor had its debut at Earls Court Motor Show on 20 September 1948 with a price tag of £358/10's/7d. The new model was only announced on the eve of the show, and of course this show was the 'export-only' show. Whilst you could look at the new models there and even touch them, you could not order one or take one home!
Designed under the leadership of Alec Issigonis, more than 1.3 million were manufactured between 1948 and 1972. Initially available as a two-door saloon and tourer (convertible), the range was subsequently expanded to include a four-door saloon in 1950, a wood-framed estate (the Traveller) from 1952 and panel van and pick-up truck variants from 1953.
The Minor was manufactured in three series: the MM (1948), the Series II (1952) and finally the 1000 series (1956). Sir Alec Issigonis' concept was to combine the luxury and convenience of a good motor car at a price affordable by the working classes. The Minor was a roomy vehicle with superior cornering and handling characteristics. Internal politics inside BMC, the owner of Morris, may have led to the limited North American sales. The Minor prototype had been known as the Morris Mosquito.
More than 1.3 million of the lightweight, rear-wheel drive cars were eventually produced, mainly in Cowley, Oxfordshire, becoming Britain's first million seller, and exported around the world, with many variants of the original model. Production continued in Birmingham, England until 1972 (for the commercial variants and estate only).
The last Morris Minor (commercial) was assembled at Stoke, Nelson, New Zealand in 1974. The Minor has been described as typifying "Englishness", a "British icon" and a "design classic".
Here is a fascinating BBC documentary about the history of the Minor, including contributions from key personnel involved including William Morris, Eric Lord and the lead designer, Sir Alec Issigonis himself.